Over the last few months I have been privileged enough to start on a journey into the world of Okinawan kobudo (Okinawan originated weapons training). After some initial karate training at Dojo dai San, Sensei dai San invited me to join the Saturday class which is dedicated to more advanced techniques, grappling and take downs and also kobudo. I really had no idea what to expect from the class, but, in hindsight, that really that wasn’t such a bad thing, since if I had actually thought about spending 80% of the class on the floor, (often having been thrown or wrestled down there by someone twice my weight), or swinging weapons around close to my head, I may not have taken him up on the offer!
According to my karate notebook, I first attended a kobudo class at the end of February. It was a baptism by fire and a large leap outside of my comfort zone. However, a leap taken with only a shred of apprehension which evaporated as soon as my mind was on task. Since that first class, I have been to at least 3 more.
We have been studying Nanchaku, which (for those not familiar with Bruce Lee or Michaelangelo of TMNT fame) are those 2 sticks connected by a short cord or chain. My first class was less than a week after I broke my toe. That in itself was inspiration enough for me not to drop them or let them slip from my hands in a hurry (in case I needed any)!
It didn’t, however, mean I didn’t hit myself with them at all. It was just that I was just pretty fearful of hitting myself in the head. I have been learning pretty quickly though, that being fearful is the worst thing you can do. When you are frightened, you tense up and when you tense up you restrict your movement. When you restrict your movement, you relinquish control of your weapon and when you relinquish control of your weapon, you end up letting your weapon control you. This is a bad, bad, plan since when your weapon is in charge it can hurt you!
Controlling something which essentially has a universal joint in the middle is really not as easy as our friend Mr Lee would have you believe. In fact, it is actually really pretty tricky. And when you kind of start to feel comfortable swinging it in one direction in one hand and then try to change it up or swap hands…..well. And then when you try and use it on the move, or try and follow a sequence where you have to remember all the steps……it becomes a whole new ball game! I don’t generally sweat a lot on the outside in kobudo classes but my brain is working overtime – I couldn’t be sure but I expect there is steam coming out of my ears!
Today though, I started to feel more comfortable (though not complacent) and more relaxed (though not less careful), and at last things started to fall into place. Like any new skill this is going to take lots of time and effort but it was good to feel myself inching forward a little. I am not Bruce Lee or Michaelangelo but I am starting to feel more in control and less fearful.
Today’s class also had cameo appearances by 2 Sai and a knife. Who knows what is next?…..There was talk of several weapons I hadn’t even heard of…..I have now learned to expect the unexpected…..keeps things fresh and exciting!