Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Seitei Jodo at Mokuren

Of all the experts in the world at Jodo - I'm not one of them. But I want to write about Jodo today, and, as Dorothy Sayers put it so aptly,

That I, whose experience of teaching is extremely limited, should presume to discuss education is a matter, surely, that calls for no apology ... Bishops air their opinions about economics; biologists, about metaphysics; inorganic chemists, about theology; the most irrelevant people are appointed to highly technical ministries; and plain, blunt men write to the papers to say that Epstein and Picasso do not know how to draw. Up to a certain point, and provided the the criticisms are made with a reasonable modesty, these activities are commendable. Too much specialization is not a good thing. There is also one excellent reason why the veriest amateur may feel entitled to have an opinion about education. For if we are not all professional teachers, we have all, at some time or another, been taught. Even if we learnt nothing--perhaps in particular if we learnt nothing--our contribution to the discussion may have a potential value. (Sayers, The Lost Tools of Learning, Oxford, 1947)

Anyway, I'm not an expert at Jodo, but I have practiced it for the most part continuously for the past 12-15 years, so I have thoughts that I'd like to express not so much to enlighten others, but so that perhaps someone who is more expert could educate me further.

If there are any serious problems with Seitei jodo as a system, they are two:

First there is no system of randori that allows experimentation against resistance while maintaining safety for the participants. I have some ideas on how to correct this, but perhaps I'll mull it over a few years before I try to get a partner and put that into effect at Mokuren.

The other potential flaw in the system is relatively minimal education for the sword-wielding partner. We are currently working on this at Mokuren. We basically have an informal study group playing with with various sword exercises in an attempt to get at least a little more comfortable with the sword half of the equation. The exercises we are playing with include the kendo kihon (basics) and kata set as well as the tachiwaza (sword-using) and tachidori (sword-taking) techniques from Aikido's Koryunokata. I figure we certainly won't become swordmasters working on this, but if the sword man becomes even a little more comfortable then his jo-wielding partner will have to become sharper too.

So, If there is anyone around Southwest Mississippi who would like to play (safely and reasonably) with sticks and (wooden) swords with me, drop me a line.

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