Road to 1st Kyu – Week 4 Day 2 – The Tea Master and the Samurai

Originally uploaded by markdeso

One of my favorite short stories is the one of the Tea Master and the Samurai:

A master of the tea ceremony in old Japan once accidentally slighted a soldier. He quickly apologized, but the rather impetuous soldier demanded that the matter be settled in a sword duel. The tea master, who had no experience with swords, asked the advice of a fellow Zen master who did possess such skill. As he was served by his friend, the Zen swordsman could not help but notice how the tea master performed his art with perfect concentration and tranquility. “Tomorrow,” the Zen swordsman said, “when you duel the soldier, hold your weapon above your head, as if ready to strike, and face him with the same concentration and tranquility with which you perform the tea ceremony.” The next day, at the appointed time and place for the duel, the tea master followed this advice. The soldier, readying himself to strike, stared for a long time into the fully attentive but calm face of the tea master. Finally, the soldier lowered his sword, apologized for his arrogance, and left without a blow being struck.

 There is a hidden moral of this story that I didn't get for a while, and that is: we all come with a certain mastery about us.  Because we start one discipline doesn't negate that we have talents in a broad number of other areas.  There are a couple of people that are new on the mat at our dojo that bring talents from other areas.  One is a chiropractor, the other is an architect by vocation and a dancer by his avocation.  As we start new ventures, new disciplines or tune up the ones we've been practicing for a while, we can draw upon our experiences in a vast number of other areas to help us with the frame work of the new disciplines we partake in.

For me, I find a lot of similarity in music to Aikido. I’ve been a guitar player for almost 35 years, and an understanding of rhythm, timbre and harmony, help me understand Aikido on the mat. Conversely, Aikido, and all of the things we learn on the mat about being present, being in an embodied state, and a sense of timing help me with as a musician.

Tonight was a good night. We had 12 people on the mat, a lot of folks for our space, and I really enjoy training with a full mat. We may not have the freedom to throw as fully as with less, but I like the energy that happens when you get that many bodies in a room. Before class, Sasun, one of our instructors met with me to work with me on some techniques for the test. He will be my uke for my kyu test and so we went over a few of the techniques that I will have to perform come test time.

So, time to hit the hay now. Till next time!