United States Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu Gennankai


Reflecting Pool

Imperfection Wears Black

Brent Eastman (Gentou), 2008-03-01

Time passes. Students move up, students move on. Training. Review. More training. Some improvement. Wash, rinse, repeat. Iaijutsu has the same cycles as our other life pursuits; we leave one job and start a new one, we leave one location and end up somewhere else. We work through the changes, adapt, move on, return to the beginning, start all over again, add a new coat of paint. Our hair is suddenly strangely more grey then it was just a few years before.

We persevere. Rarely do we find perfection. We dig deeper and find more bedrock.

A number of years ago I wrote a piece for this section about changing roles, from student to teacher. Since that time, the Clarkston Branch has been established, students have moved up, students have moved on. I very nearly left myself due to the economic situation in Michigan, but we adapted. We changed training days, Karwowski Sensei changed his role from Assistant Manger at the Honbu to the Co-Manager at Clarkston. We persevered, Teki takes on many forms.

A new year comes. We now have two new Deshi entering the instructor training program and I am excited for them, excited for us as an organization. It was nice to see them in their new black keiko-gi for the first time the other day. US Tamiya Ryu Deshi wear a white top until they start on the path to becoming an instructor. This is not for ego, not to create class structures, not to indicate perfection. It just helps tell the teachers apart from the students in large groups. I think we should keep this fact in mind more often.

As my spiritual pursuits have always been a catalyst for my Iai training, it is not surprising that I heard a similar statement not long ago while I was at the Zen Temple. Our teacher there (in priest’s robes) made a similar comment on the outfit of a priest is nothing more then an outward symbol of their dedication to the path. They are not perfect, they don’t have all of the answers. They practice, train, review, more training, some improvement. Wash, rinse, repeat. They persevere, they dig deeper and find more bedrock. Mara takes on many forms.

Technique does not come from strength; perseverance does. That strength comes to us everytime we do kata one more time, everytime we get into our car to drive to class one more time, everytime we pick up our katana, press our uniform, tie our obi one more time. We dig deeper, we find more bedrock, our uniform turns black, our hair turns grey, we adapt, we move on, Teki moves and we cut.

Respecfully Submitted,

Brent Eastman
Godan, USTRI Clarkston Branch Manager