The Iaido Journal  Mar 2008
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Japanese Swordsmanship – Iaido: A Second Conversation.
Creating the Virtue of Lifelong Learning through Reflective Practice

copyright © 2008 Chris Gilham, all rights reserved

Note: The first Iaido Conversation was a fictional dialogue written for my final paper in the course Spirituality of Inspired Leadership. This paper is a second conversation - another fictional dialogue.

“Hello friend. It’s been awhile hasn’t it?”

“Yes it has been and I’m so glad to meet with you again. I know we’ve got little things to catch up on but I want you to know right away that if you’re OK with this, I’d love to talk with you more about Japanese Swordsmanship. What was it called again? It was something like ‘ee…”

“Iaido. Don’t worry. Most people I know have a real hard time remembering the name. “

“I’d love to talk about it. Can I buy you a coffee first?”

“Let me buy since I’ll be asking you all the questions anyway.”

“Are you sure? I don’t mind buying for us.”

“No. No. Let me buy. When I come back let’s get right into it OK?”

“Sure! I’ve always appreciated your direct style.”


“Thanks for this. I do love my Sunday afternoon coffee.”

“No problem. Thanks for getting together again. So listen, I’ve really thought about your martial art since our last really great conversation and I’m quite interested in learning more about it. I’m more curious right now about the philosophical side of the art. Last time you explained the meaning of Iaido. What was it again?”

“Iaido is composed of three kanji, or Chinese characters. The end character is very important. You see it in words like Judo and Aikido, Kendo and even Karate-do. The ‘do’ means ‘way’ or ‘path’. I’m not an expert in Eastern philosophy so I don’t have the best explanation from that perspective though I can tell you that the way encompasses a lifelong path of continuous learning, a kind of learning for life attitude. I recently read a very interesting article where life long learning is seen as an intentional, self aware process. (Crick and Wilson, 2005, p. 359). Martial arts have their physical components for sure but really they are vehicles for getting on the ‘path’ or the ‘way’. The other two characters which make up the ‘iai’ part of the word are often translated as a ‘constant state of readiness for all things.’ As I’ve moved along in my training over the years I’ve come to believe the ‘iai’ part of the art is more complex and encompassing than a basic sense of ‘readiness’. Anyhow, not to bore you with long answers: When you put the ‘iai’ part of the word together with the ‘do’ part of the word you have ‘The way or path of being ready for all things’, more or less. According to Crick and Wilson (2005) character growth is “concerned with the awakening, support and development of personal confidence and a sense of responsibility for one’s own becoming.” (p. 370). I do believe the ‘way’ of Iaido is exactly that.”

“You’re not boring me at all. I’ve got so many questions”

“It’s rare I get to share my thoughts in depth. Ask away.”

“Well, in our last conversation you talked about this state, this ideal state of the practitioner where the action and thought become one, a state where the technique simply ‘is’. There’s something about this that makes sense to me and yet I struggle with the idea. I’d love to practice iaido and find this state but I’d hate to be disappointed if I couldn’t experience this. I know it takes time and all but it sounds so spiritual in a sense. What more can you tell me about it?”

“That state is often described as ‘mushin’ in Japanese or “no mind”. I have to tell you, I’ve struggled with this term and concept for years. I’ve experienced it but the articulation of what might be going on before, during, and after an experience of mushin has been a long standing internal conversation of mine. It’s important to me to be able to understand this with more clarity because iaido is such a deeply centering practice. Iaido brings calmness and serenity to my life and I think this is because the practice has been designed to do just this. Some people might describe this as spiritual. I have trouble with the word and so I’ve thought a lot about what might be creating these feelings and overall wellness. I’d love to be able to express this for myself and others. There’s learning in this for lots of people, for several reasons.”

“Go on.”

“In general, Iaido is a reflective practice. Categorically, I would think that most Japanese martial arts are reflective practices. There are probably lots of other reflective practices out there. I think Iaido is an excellent one. Because it is reflective practitioners are able to experience deeply calming and centering feelings, as well as attitudes of being in a ‘ready state’. By ‘ready’ I don’t mean ‘charged’ or ‘looking for something to happen.’ By ‘ready’ I mean there’s a kind of cognitive flexibility and emotional regulation that easily adapts to life’s daily situations. The cognitive flexibility helps people to be open to continuous learning. Again, I see Iaido as a structure within which the virtue of lifelong learning is created, nurtured and grown. This comes about from reflective practice. I think people don’t have a lot of opportunity to build these attributes through directed reflective practice. In another article there’s some talk about busy people and reflection. Just a second, I actually have some notes…Here’s one piece I agree with.”

“Busy people typically do not engage in reflection. They rarely treat themselves to reflective experiences unless they are given some time, some structure, and the expectation to do so.” (Killion and Todnem, 2002, p. 14)

“I completely agree with you! We are such a busy world now. I admire your investigation into Iaido at more than a practice or teacher level. It’s as if you’re a researcher as well.”

“I’d like to think I’m living the virtue of lifelong learning gained from all the years of Iaido practice. But I’m starting to talk about things that come a little later. Perhaps our conversation might be the start of a Master’s thesis proposal eh! Really, I’ve read a lot of translated classical Japanese works that speak to Zen Buddhism and Confucian thought and their direct connections to the Classical Samurai Arts and warriors. One snag in all this is that ‘real’ research in this area would probably require a working reading knowledge of older Japanese in order to access original texts. My understanding of Iaido would then be more aligned with its Asian philosophical origins. Then again, the Japanese themselves claim that non-Japanese can never truly understand ‘Rei’ or ‘Japanese Heart / Character’. When I lived in Japan I came to believe they’re somewhat right. I think this is one reason why I’ve struggled to articulate what iaido is truly about.”

“I sure struggled with Husserl and Heidegger in my bachelor’s degree in Philosophy! Maybe the cultural and language differences pose the most significant challenges to understanding the great ideas and practices of other cultures.”

“I think what you’ve just said covers what I mean by the Japanese having it ‘somewhat’ right. The situation with iaido has other complications. Roughly speaking, you’ve got a classical traditional Japanese art, itself changed at the turn of the last century because of the loss of the feudal system in Japan, further affected by the events during and after World War 2, transplanted to foreign countries. The last recognized ‘headmaster’ or top person for the style of swordsmanship I know is said to have changed the name of the art from ‘Battojutsu’ to ‘Iaido’. ‘Battojutsu’ is definitely a more combative term. Perhaps the last headmaster, Nakayama Hakudo, changed the name in response to the changing times. Again, an ability to read Japanese text would be helpful here as would more research. For the here and now, I’m at a point in my understanding where it seems more reasonable to articulate iaido through and within the context of our society and our perspectives on wellness, education, and life-long learning. Today, training in iaido for practical combat purposes is nonsensical.

“At the least, wouldn’t translated work help non-Japanese to better understand the origins and thinking behind the arts?”

“Yes. Dr. Karl Friday is one academic in particular who stands out for me. While I was living in Japan his book Legacies of the Sword: The Kashima-Shinryu and Samurai Martial Culture (1997) was published so I went into Tokyo to pick it up. I haven’t run into other texts that provide the clarity he does around some of the things I’ll share with you. I’ll refer to Friday’s work to show briefly and lightly the connection between eastern philosophy, martial arts training, and reflective practice.”

“Great. I have to admit, going back to what you said about ‘rei’: The solo practice of swinging a sword around in a complex series of movements without ever being in a ‘sword battle’ or a sword fighting culture can be seen as pretty weird to a lot of people. Maybe that’s partially why I’m hesitant to try it. I wonder if it gets boring.”

“I think for many people it is boring because they only see the outer practice. This includes many beginners who quickly lose their interest because they want more and more technique. For the most part, certain kinds of people come to iaido and stay in iaido. Of course, people with an interest in swords and things Japanese come to us. Over time, lots of time, the people who stay, I would say, are people who originally had some reflective skills or the potential to build reflective skills, though they may not have known this, even now. Look at me, only now beginning to articulate this after fifteen years of martial arts practice!”

“Maybe your articulation will then help people become more aware of and therefore intentional in their training.”

“That would be great and you’re getting to some key understandings quickly. Let me explain more. For me Iaido is an excellent vehicle for reflective practice. In and of itself there is great wellness in this training. By extension, I think the intention of modern day iaido practice is to take or internalize the structures of reflection built into the practice so that an iaido practitioner truly embraces a complete life of sincere reflective practice. If this is indeed the case, and again, this has taken me some time to begin to understand and articulate, then iaido is only minutely concerned with sword technique: iaido is largely about making better people, or making people better. I’d like to think that if people embrace martial arts, or other types of activities with similar structures, we would be contributing to overall wellness of individuals within communities. When I think of the Japanese and their earnestness for their hobbies and passions, and the purpose and drive that earnestness provides them with, I’m not surprised they can live such full, rich lives.”

“If you were to look at the iaido community I belong to, you would see like minded people engaged in a terrific community of practice. Boud and Walker pointed out that, “…a collaborative model of reflective practice enriches student’s personal reflections on their work…” (as cited in Ferraro, 2000, p. 2)). In our training we spend a lot of time helping one another by looking at techniques and offering advice. We generally accept that there are times where we’re all able to contribute to one another’s learning, regardless of level or rank in the art. Perhaps in this sense we may be doing things different from the traditional Japanese training style. Regardless and importantly, if the students take their sense of collaboration, reflection and community from within our iaido community as an example for other communities they belong to, that’s a great thing, isn’t it? Better yet, if they can ‘become’ the attributes they practice within the training hall, then they have the skills to continuously learn in all things and model this virtue to others around them. This is truly what modern day iaido is about, in my opinion. This all reminds me of something one of my first sensei told me. He said ‘We leave our outside troubles at the door of the training hall, train to be stronger and more equipped to deal with those troubles, and leave the training hall and deal with them.’ I understand this very well now.”

“A wise sensei he was. Is it possible to get into more detail?”

“We can try. I think we’ve got the overall sense of my position. You’re right though – it all needs fine tuning, some detail. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and studying and dialoguing with some great people lately so my mind has many ideas in it. I think meeting with you is perfect because if I know you, you’re going to push me to be concise and clear yet once again!”

“I push you so I can get it right my friend!”

“I’ll try then with your help. I do think it’s important to lie something out on the table right away: I’ve only just started here. There’s so much to research! Over coffee, I think we’ll be thorough enough and perhaps when we meet next time, I might just have gone deeper down the rabbit hole!”

“I understand. Let me then push you a bit right now over this coffee. What do you mean by reflective practice?”

“You begin where I left off. Excellent! Let me briefly talk about knowledge. Norman Bauer (1992) wrote about Aristotelian philosophy when he explored different kinds of thinking related to ‘reflection’. He told us Aristotle had three kinds of knowing. One of the three relates to reflection. According to Aristotle, ‘Practical science’ has as its end “…not to attain a theoretical knowledge of any subject, but rather to act in a certain way…to know what excellence is, is not enough; we must endeavour to acquire it and to act accordingly…” (as cited in Bauer, p. 5, 1992) Bauer also wrote that Aristotle’s ‘practical science’ way of knowing was lost for a long time, until John Dewey and Donald Schon came along. (p. 6)"

“I’ve heard of Dewey but not Schon.”

“Dewey and Schon were philosophers and educators – as if the two roles could be separate - and they philosophized about education and what it is to learn. Schon’s work is quite new to me and the little I have read about his thoughts interests me greatly. I see a strong connection between what Schon articulates as reflection and what I believe is happening within the microcosm of Iaido. Schon’s position is basically this: Reflection is…”

…a critical process of refining one’s artistry or craft in a specific discipline. Schon recommended reflective practice as a way for beginners in a discipline to recognize consonance between their own individual practices and those of successful practitioners. As defined by Schon, reflective practice involves thoughtfully considering one’s own experiences while being coached by professionals in the discipline. (as cited in Ferraro, p. 2, 2000)

“This tells me what he has in mind with reflective practice but not what it is or how it works. Does he somewhere?”

“Truthfully, I’ve not read his books on the subject and ideally, I’d like to as part of thesis work for my Masters degree. Again, I’m putting pieces together right now. Let me show you a quote from Bauer’s paper which includes quotes from Schon so you can read for yourself more of what reflection is through a description of the reflective process. Before I do though, I want you to know it’s not just me struggling with articulating what is happening in Iaido. I see Iaido as reflective, and Bauer (1992) wrote “…language is not sufficient as a means for grasping the complexity of reflective thought.” (p.7) I don’t think he’s copping out when he writes that so I think I’m not copping out either. We could talk for days about Iaido and you’ll learn lots but like Aristotle would likely point out, you won’t be able to fully embrace it as a reflective practice unless you embedded yourself into iaido practice.”

“Fair enough. I never truly appreciated the coordination of skills needed to play the piano until my wife started trying to teach me how to play! Let’s read what Bauer (1992) wrote and quoted of Schon’s position then.

“In an extended passage Schon outlines what he terms “…a sequence of “moments” in a process of reflection in action: There is…a situation of action to which we bring spontaneous, routinized responses. These reveal, he suggests, “knowing in action”…tacit, spontaneously delivered without conscious deliberation;…routine responses produce a surprise – an unexpected outcome, pleasant or unpleasant, that does not fit the categories of our knowing in action…This, “ he claims, “leads to reflection within an action present…our thought turns back on the surprising phenomenon and, at the same time, back on itself. At this point,” he argues. “reflection in action has a critical function, questioning the assumptional structure of knowing in action. We think critically,” he believes, “about the thinking that got us into this fix or this opportunity;…Reflection,” his analysis concludes, “gives rise to on the spot experiment. We think up and try our new actions intended to explore the newly observed phenomena, test our tentative understanding of them, or affirm the moves we have invented to change things for the better.” (p. 23)

“And you’re saying swinging a sword around does this? I am going to push you. Describe what we’ve just read in the context of Iaido.”

“You bet and I’m ready for this I think. This is the core of my position so stay with me. Iaido is ‘essentially’ a solo art where one engages in kata – a series of movements put together which emulate a particular scenario with an imaginary opponent(s). Kata is pattern practice. There are people who learn these movements and are able to constantly work on them, so much so that at certain points the movements become spontaneous, without conscious deliberation…”

“This would be the ‘mushin’ we talked about earlier.”

“…yes, I believe so. Those moments are really sometimes just that, perceived moments because the responses were so unified with mind and body that everything else simply vanished, including the perception of time. Once the kata is over, so is the experience of ‘mushin’, wherever it was within the form, through its entirety or only in key moments. These moments of complete congruence are also sometimes described as ‘ki-ken-tai-no ichi’: where the technique occurs in harmony with the sword, body, mind and emotional state of the practitioner. With both mushin and these improved moments of synchronicity the practitioner is surprised. Hence the iaido practitioner goes back not only to the moment, but the moment before the moment, to critically analyze the mental foundation or framework within which the new surprising moment occurred! During training this is reflection in action, and this is essentially what an iaido practitioner does, at least a good one who has been around for sometime! Such practitioners therefore spend hours on simple techniques doing ‘on the spot’ experiments to recapture them. If they recapture them correctly chances are they have recaptured the before, during and after moments accurately. Those pieces, in the context of iaido, would encompass the technical, mental, emotional and physical states of the practitioner.”

“I see it! It’s an intentional practice for reflection.”

“Exactly. Let me explain a little more. After the fact or experience occurs, we stop and think about it. This is reflecting-on-action. (Smith, 2001, P. 9) When we are thinking as experiences occur, this thinking is not so technical or deliberative, it is more ‘in the moment’ and based upon ‘leading ideas’ or our own personal ‘theories’. This is reflection-in-action. The key here is to understand that ‘the knowledge inherent in practice is to be understood as artful doing.’ (Smith, 2001, p. 8)”

“Hmmm. Help me out here. Iaido seems to be very technical so how does one reflect in action in a non-technical way with technical pieces?”

“Here’s where the teacher and an iaido concept known as ‘Shu-ha-ri’ come into play. The teacher, known as a sensei, has the role of model, mentor, and advisor in training. The word sensei means ‘one who has gone before’. This fits extraordinarily well with the idea of reflective practice because it is the teacher who exemplifies the striving for artful practice to which students aspire to. Dr. Friday (1997) writes about another classical term for a martial arts instructor – shihan.

The role of the teacher in the bugei (martial arts) tradition is to serve as model and guide, not as lecturer or conveyor of information, and the standard appellation for teachers of traditional arts, “shihan,” reflects this role...the term literally means something more on the order of “master and model.” Bugei teachers lead students along the path to mastery of their arts – they do not tutor them. (p.100)

This is important in reflective practice. Boud and Walker (1998) suggested new teachers don’t have the skills to be reflective in the intentional way Schon suggests and so when ‘new’ people are asked to be reflective the reflection is not guided or modeled, or set within a framework of meaning for those people. They just don’t have the capacity for meaningful reflection. They suggest teacher-coaches “create an environment of trust and build a context of reflection…” (as cited in Ferraro, p. 2, 2000). This is one of the roles of the iaido sensei or shihan. Firstly, sensei is technical director or model for students. Trust is built here within the context of sensei’s experience as ‘one who has gone before’ and in the mutually respectful atmosphere of the training hall. The reflective process begins to reveal itself through and after lots and lots of technical practice. Reflective practice is also nourished through watching others – in the art of doing. This is known as ‘mitori-keiko’: to ‘watch and take practice.’ Obviously, this is more than the traditional text-book rational approach to learning. This is artful learning.

“So where is this ‘Shu-Ha-Ri’ concept? I’m still not getting this part because it seems we’re still talking artful practice during technical moments.”

“Ah yes. As students begin in iaido they are at the ‘Shu’ stage of training, the beginning stage – mainly technical. This technical stage is simply laying the framework or structure for future reflective practice. Many students actually do not move beyond this phase because they don’t have the disposition, or the potential, or more importantly, the attitude to see that getting the motions right eventually requires less of sensei’s modeling and more of their own reflective practice.”

“You’ve mentioned this before. Are you saying there are people out there who already have the reflective disposition?”

“I think so based on my experiences as an educator in public and private school systems as well as being an iaido sensei. Also, what I’ve read about Schon suggests something similar. Ferry (1995) writes “Schon indicates that reflection in action is an innate process emulating from the competencies one already possesses while also postulating that reflection in action is generated and reshaped through experimentation and reflection.” (p. 2) Here I see the ‘Shu’ part of Iaido training, the technical part, as laying the structure out, the innate framework for moving into further reflective processes. Right at the start I showed you a quote about how busy people are. I think people are so busy they have no idea of their potential innate background of experiences to reflect in action as an artful process. As a highly specialized discipline Iaido does not assume this background and so it builds the initial background competencies upon which, or through which, people can then move into the ‘Ha’ phase of training and begin to reflect in and on action, thereby enabling them to truly understand the martial art. Sensei’s role in the second phase – the ‘Ha’ phase, is more mentor and advisor, than model.”

“Are you contradicting some of what you said earlier then? I thought you said some people could come in and demonstrate that reflective capacity?”

“I did say this and I want to admit here and now my thoughts on this are not fault proof. I do believe there are certain people who come to iaido and are already somewhat reflective and this is why they are able to make iaido a truly lifelong pursuit. They are engaged in a focussed, deliberate and manageable cycle of learning that never ends. They have the groundwork already to be on the path of iai. My wife often tells me how unique the long time members of our iaido club are – they are a group of their own for sure! Ferry (1995) did a study of novice and experienced educators and found that there were both reflective and non-reflective practitioners in both groups. (p. 3) I emphasize the novice yet reflective educators. I think one would find this across an entire spectrum of people, not just educators. So, to be clear as I can with you on this: there are people who come to iaido and are innately ready to reflect in and on action, though obviously not without having to first struggle through technical proficiency of the art – the ‘Shu’ phase. Such people are drawn to their strengths and I give them great credit for listening to their inner voices. In busy times our voices still cry out to us! There are also those who come to iaido and are not reflective. In my limited experiences with iaido students the ones who are already reflective make iaido a lifelong pursuit while those who are not reflective tend to not stay with it, though the initially non-reflective ones who do stay are those who I can say have most often truly embraced the virtue of lifelong learning and have become reflective practitioners. As a side note, this has especially been the case with students who started training in early adolescence. Sadly, I have seen non-reflective practitioners stay in the art for a long time – a rarity. This shows in their practice and their level of commitment. Most of us can think of people we know who have remained in their professions for too long, perhaps.”

“Iaido can help people to become more reflective in their lives outside of training. Ferraro (2000) wrote “Licklider’s review of adult learning theory (1997) found that selfdirectness … is an important component of adult learning.” (p. 3) The beginner phase of iaido helps to create the structure for the self-directness that ultimately takes precedence in the middle phase or ‘Ha’ phase of one’s training. This self-directness, I believe, is part of what it is to have the virtue of lifelong learning as an intentional self aware process.”

“Whew! I see you have gone deep into the rabbit hole. So the experience alone doesn’t create this reflective process does it? It’s how one directs their experiences isn’t it! (Ferry, 1995, p. 6 ). Iaido seems to me to have this irony about it. You are practicing this solo art form and hopefully reaching this self-directness, as a means to become a lifelong learner and through it all you require a sensei in order for true reflection to occur. Am I correct in saying this?”

“Indeed you are. Back to what we learned about Schon’s views earlier: there is a need for coaching. In life, I’ve come to really embrace the social nature of who we are as a species. Certainly, the importance of personal growth through mentors and coaches is tremendous. Communities, in whatever form they take and I’m speaking much more generally now, thrive when there are these kinds of people to help others grow. As the ‘mentor-coach’ or sensei for our Iaido club, there’s no doubt my students learn from me and I continue to learn all the time from the people around me as well. The learning is reciprocal, though through different levels or access points. I would not have come to this place in my understanding had I not had the privilege to teach iaido to others. Interestingly, Schon’s work has been largely applied to teacher education and so as an iaido teacher I’m thinking about and attempting to apply or clarify the reflective practice within iaido education. Since most of the students in the club engage in peer teaching it makes sense for our group to be mindful of reflective practice. This conversation is an important one to have with the members of the club.

“What about the final phase – the ‘Ri’ phase?”

“I think I’ll refer to Friday’s (1997) work to explain all three because I’m comfortable talking about the first two phases since I think I experience them but not the third.”

In the first stage he attempts to merge himself into the kata, to bury his individuality within its confines. He is made to imitate the movements and postures of his teachers exactly, and is allowed no departure from the ordained pattern. When he has been molded to the point at which it is difficult for him to move or react in any fashion outside the framework of the kata, he is pushed onto the next stage, wherein he consciously seeks to break down this framework and step outside it. He experiments with variations on the patterns he has been taught, probing their limits and boundaries, and in the process sharpening and perfecting his grasp of the principles that underlie the forms. Only when he has accomplished this can he move on to the final stage, the stage of true mastery. Here he regains his individuality...He moves freely, unrestricted by the framework of the kata, but his movements and instincts are wholly in harmony with those of the kata.” (p. 108)

“This quote succinctly captures much of what you said earlier, doesn’t it?”

“Indeed. Here’s a pivotal connection I’d like to make now and so I’ll talk more about Dr. Friday’s book to show the connection. In short, I would say that starting with Dewey, Schon’s work represents the Western empirical world catching up with or revisiting the theories of learning and knowledge embedded in early western philosophy for example Aristotle, as well as Eastern philosophy as practiced in Japanese and perhaps other Asian cultures. Those cultures have understood what we are calling ‘reflective practice’ for a very long time, I suspect.

“You’ve shared a great deal already on Schon and Aristotle. Show me the Eastern philosophical side of this.”

“Pages 100 to 108 of Friday’s book excellently cover this material. This next quote runs quite parallel to Aristotle’s thought. Friday writes that martial arts...

...exist chiefly to propagate knowledge, but not knowledge – in the conventional western sense—alone. In the martial and other traditional Japanese arts, knowledge of the cerebral sort matter less than understanding—learning acquired by the heart rather than by the intellect. (p.100)

The next quote further elucidates the importance of having the intentional structure in place to be able to move towards true understanding. If you take the next quote and embed it into what we’ve talked about before, especially the details of Schon’s reflective practice, you’ll see martial arts, Iaido in our case, have a nice fit within it all.

But learning through pattern practice probably derives most directly from Confucian pedagogy and infatuation with ritual and ritualized action. This infatuation is predicated on the conviction that man fashions the conceptual frameworks he uses to order - and thereby comprehend – the chaos of raw experience through action and practice. One might describe, explain or even defend one’s perspectives by means of analysis and rational argument, but one cannot acquire them in this way. Ritual is stylized action, sequentially structured experience that leads those who follow it to wisdom and understanding. Those who seek knowledge and truth then, must be carefully guided through the right kind of experience if they are to achieve the right kind of understanding. (Friday, p. 105, 1997)

“This really says a lot of what you’ve explained about Schon’s work in relation to Iaido. The main training method for Iaido, the kata practice, is this ritualized practice Friday talks about. The practice is a tool to bring about reflection so that one can attain the skills to reflect not only in Iaido but in life. The skills embed themselves into the very character of the person, so that they become lifelong learners, seeking and attaining true understanding and wisdom throughout life. This can’t happen unless one is involved in a community, the community led by a sensei or shihan.”

“It sounds like you’ve got the essence of it.”

“Obviously, I won’t fully understand unless I actually train in iaido. With what I’ve learned now I feel ready to begin.”

“I think you’ve already begun and yes, we do need to get you swinging a sword around now. We’d be happy to have you come out and try iaido.”

“You started this conversation with lots of questions and now I have more questions as well. Schon also talks about single and double loop learning which I think fits nicely with Iaido. I have to admit, I might be trying to fit cubes into peg shaped holes with all this talk. There is concern that Schon’s reflective practice work is being ‘applied’ to all kinds of situations and experiences and some wonder if this would have troubled him, were he still alive. (Kompf and Bond, 1995) For my part, I’m comfortable with what we’ve shared today.”

“Well, I’m just about triple looped in my brain at this point. I say we stop here and save the last drops of our coffee for small talk.”



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TIN Mar 2008