As some of you know, I am spending days at home this week because I hurt my right foot in Aikido training in monday evening. During practicing of one technique, my friend pushed me with all his weight down to mat and ligaments on my foot couldn`t hold us both. A nasty sound I could feel more than hear, let me know I am done with aikido training for a while. Pain came right after, luckily not as hard as I expected.
Being bored at home, between changing cold compresses, I was thinking about what has happened. This is the first serious injure I had in about 12 years now – the one that will prevent me from training Battodo about a week, and from training Aikido and Iaido for about a month. Maybe even more. Well, some of my friends would say not to take it too seriously, injuries happen, especially in martial arts. But what concerns me more is a fact that situation just few seconds before was under control. To be precise, under my control and it should stay that way. What happened?
Long time ago, in medieval Japan, there was a swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi. A long after he died, a historical novelist Eiji Yoshikawa wrote a book about his life and there was an event described there, event that helped Musashi to realise that times of learning has not come to an end. He was walking over the bridge and while thinking about something else, failed to notice a rusty nail peaking from a board; he stepped on it and it entered deep in his foot, causing him much trouble. What was most important, that put him in possible danger for he could not be able to defend himself if he was attacked. For someone who was shugyōsha, medieval Japan was not a safe place. While he was thinking about what happened (and why!!!) he came to conclusion that his mind was too occupied with not so important things, preventing him to be aware of danger. He then understood that he could be attacked as well, without being aware attack started.
Being reserved as if the story was a fiction or true, this was a nice example of things in everyday life that could be understood in different levels. For the most it was just accident; for someone, it presented a difference between life and death. I don`t want to compare myself with a great swordsman Miyamoto Musashi was; I would not dare. What I wanted to say is that situations like that one happens everyday. Mind is like a butterfly, flying from one flower to another, enjoying life. Then car arrives and butterfly finds itself stuck in a cooler…
So, I was not careful enough. Despite the years of training my mind was bound to a certain situation, failing to see whole picture. And to predict things that could happen. It was all my mistake.
Another great swordsman of the same time (16th and 17th century), Yagyu Munenori, wrote a book Heiho Kadensho – Book about martial arts and military strategy of Yagyu family. The following is a part that is the goal of many martial arts practitioners. As with a lot of martial arts books, this excerpt could be applied to everything else in life.
Once you have trained yourself well, your body and limbs would move automatically without any conscious effort. Your mind will not be overwhelmed by your physical movements. You will employ techniques unconsciously without having to think. Once you have attained this state of mind, not single doubt nor a hesitation will arise. No opponent, not even the devil, will find the opportunity to attack. Train yourself thoroughly and then forget about it. Throw away your mind. You will follow the way without being aware of it. This is the mistery of the way.