Here are three of the major reasons why Iaido is one of the most difficult arts to teach in my opinion:
- Iaido has no belt system and therefore no tangible proof of skill level, which a practitioner is oftentimes judged by the majority of the world. Skill assessment is usually done in written examinations and formal demonstrations. And if the people evaluating the trainee has ‘poor skill’ or has different preferences and opinions regarding a certain movement in a technique, acceptability notwithstanding, chances are it will be passed on to the unwitting practitioner himself. On and on and on. Also, the real danger lies when the instructor is unaware of his main responsibility: teaching his students the nuances and the importance of the techniques. But instead he (sadly) prioritizes only on self importance and ego inflation. Talk about Cult behavior. More about that in a different post.
- Confirmation Bias: Preconceived notions of what a Martial Art is. Especially when we watch too many videos, read too many articles on the Internet and then only focus training on those that reinforce our already entrenched personal beliefs. Because of this, we often end up learning and doing sloppy technique. Furthermore, we often associate “Martial Arts” with “competition against other individuals”, oftentimes unaware of its “self-improvement” aspect, which is in fact its main (if not, major) feature.
- Students with the proverbial “Empty Cups” are rare especially in these modern times. We often imagine ourselves as already knowledgeable authorities in our own right, not as beginners. We often tell ourselves that we have attained a certain level of this knowledge due to our own merit alone. Concretely, we often walk into an unknown Dojo only to assert that what we have learned so far is the “correct” one, and we are out there to prove it. This is an uphill battle if you ask me.
I have a few ideas on how to deal with this (in no particular order):
- Searching and maintaining our child-like (not childish) nature. In short, this is during our childhood years that we are most interested in learning new things, consequences notwithstanding.
- Resisting the urge to make unnecessary comparison with other people, practitioners of different fields of expertise. Easier said than done and believe me, this is one of the most insidious of all temptations.
- Although the phrase “mind your own business” gets thrown around like wet paper towels, this is in fact one of the hardest things to do. I like to cover this issue in another blog post.
At the end of the day, it is up to us to make wise decisions as we go along our journey. You must discover this for yourself.
Peace, and much love. YEAH!!!