Physical Training Oct 2006
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Don't Even Think About Starting:
unless you can attend three practices a week

copyright © 2006 Kim Taylor, all rights reserved

Oh my, three practices a week minimum in front of a sensei. That's what I saw recommended somewhere on the net, and if  you can't do that, don't bother starting.

Wow, what a different generation it is, and how lucky to be able to have such an opportunity.

While I have no problem with someone who wants to devote so much time to an art, I would remind people that it's also important to have a life. By that I mean that it's important to do as much practice as you can, without making it a burden on your life. If it's a burden you aren't going to do it.

I can't begin to count the number of "super keen" students who have started, practiced each and every class plus on their own for several more per week, and then simply disappeared never to be seen again after a month or two. I suspect they realize that they can't make all the classes they promised themselves (and often me) that they'd make, so they don't make any at all.

I'd also like to point out that if you can get to a class once a week, you're doing as well or better than we were able to manage in 1987, and a hell of a lot better than I could manage from 1983 to 1987 where I was dependant on the occasional seminar somewhere in North America.

But more important, if you can practice iaido once a week for 15 years it's going to do you a lot more good than nothing, or three times a week for half a year and then quitting because you managed to get a life and have other things to do with your time for two of those three class slots. 

Another small point, now 23 years after my first iaido class, I will say that if I tried to practice iaido three or more times a week I would not be walking. I work out 4-6 times a week, but several of those are "cross training" which allows my shoulders, knees, wrists etc. to keep doing iaido. Can we say Repetitive Strain Injury...

Anyway, not to make to big a fuss here, but if people are assuming it's now a requirement that one practice iaido at least three times a week, I would suggest that it's simply because now it's actually possible to practice three times a week. No such requirement was present or possible 15 years ago. We practiced as often as we could, and then swung the sword on our own time as much as possible.

And as an aside... what have I noticed with students who have the luxury of a sensei so often these days? Students who have incorporated the correction of sensei into their kata. It now runs, do mae, have sensei say "you've got a hitch at the top of your swing" and the student replies "oh dear is that still there, sorry sensei". And on it goes for years.

Having done that much teasing, I will say that students today are improving a hell of a lot faster than we did, as they should be, and perhaps it's because they have three classes a week they can attend. Or perhaps it's because they have so many more good instructors now, and those instructors are taking them past the stumbling blocks so much more efficiently than we went past.

But a final thought. In our club we have indeed had three classes a week for many years, and from the beginning one of my senior students recommended that we cut back to 2 or even one. His argument was that with three classes it's awfully easy to skip one, intending to make the next. With fewer classes the students tend to show up.

Since I made every one of those classes for all those years, I've got to agree with him.

Our Sponsor, SDKsupplies
Physical Training Oct 2006