United States Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu Gennankai


Message from the Head Instructor

The Path is the Path

James Russell (Gennetsu), 2022-09-26

Budo training is, to perhaps state the obvious, a Do - that is, a Way. Much has already been written elsewhere on what that means. The typical metaphor is that Sensei has walked this path ahead of the student. The student is guided by Sensei while Sensei points out pitfalls and obstacles to watch out for. This serves to illustrate the relationship between deshi and sensei but doesn’t really capture what it is like as a practitioner traveling on the way.

To me, as a fellow traveler on the path, I’m often struck at how often I return to a technique, principle, or kihon in my own practice. The image that comes to mind then is actually creating a path between point A and B, - less skilled and more skilled. Practice long enough and you will encounter plateaus that must overcome. Sensei will play a role in that but it is largely a task one must tackle from within.

Some times one is on the less skilled end, trying to travel to more skilled. Some times, finding oneself actually at the more skilled end, there is no place to go! This is the plateau. Now, one must reexamine their technique, break it apart, some times radically so, and put it back together. This is moving from more skilled to less skilled - technique will be less precises, more open to counters, and just generally less pleasant. Keep at it however and the end of the path will be reached. Having returned to less skilled, the path back to more skilled will be a bit more clear, a little more worn in, and one begins the process of integration while moving back to more skilled.

Back and forth, back and forth.

This is the practice.

It’s not about specific techniques, specific kata, even specific principles. Those things are important, yes, but the most important aspect of Budo training, is in making those turns, at point A and point B, and traveling down the path again, even though this path has been traveled before. The discipline and dedication it takes to do that can at times be hard to find when it’s taking longer to get back to the where you want to go, but that is the training that really matters.

By walking this path, you will come to demonstrate what is called “Bi no Tamiya” and “Kurai no Tamiya”.

James Russell (Gennetsu)
United States Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu Gennankai
6th Degree, Jokyō
Gennankai Head Instructor
Brighton Branch Manager