Friday, October 21, 2005
The wisdom of Sensei Victor Smithus
"Over the years while I came to adopt a 3 dan structure, it's more in my mind than my students. In the dojo nobody really ever refers to rank, ever. They frequently suggest doing away with all of it because where you train everyone knows who they are, who you are, etc. and it has no meaning. But what I've observed is first the leveling process of the sho-dan, the first two years adapting to a different level of awareness, working to begin harnessing the skills they've started to acquire. After that it's not an issue of rank or knowledge, it's more an issue about self definition. I find most long term practitioners are really most interested in their studies for their own purposes, say physical training or personal self defense skills. I refer to that as the ni-dan. A smaller set of long term practitioners are more interested in more than just their own needs. They'll work to remember more, push themselves further, etc. solely to understand a greater portion of their art's depth. I refere to that as the san-dan. Some out of that latter category (but not everyone) choose to pick up the responsibility to bind their knowledge to a new generation and in time become instructors. I tried to share much, much more. But their interests were never in what my interest lie. Which is ok, they are doing what was their path. The fallacy too many hold is everyone must do everything. You can't do everything, and every choice you make means other valuable things aren't being addressed. My course of study here is aggressive and IMO rather extensive. That I'm driven to try and know and do more doesn't mean others must do so. And having had to face the reality of human focus, you learn this is the way after all. If one just holds short term goals, you can push and drive a student to any short term level they choose, providing its within their basic capability with training. But to do it year after year after year after year, requires a pacing that is much longer, and a shift in focus. When you've worked with someone non-stop on one kata over 20 years, you see how human perception and ablity can be crafted in many ways. The arts are a totally infinite experience. Anytime you find someone saying this is right and that is wrong, I can guarantee you their vision is too narrow. So you peck a way a little. You sift through students to find those who are willing to study. You sift through them to find those who are willing to go further. You sift through them to find an instructor, and perhaps if you sift long enough, work hard enough, you find just yourself at the end. Ones skill and knowledge grows. One's body deterioates in time for many reasons. In the end we are nothing, not even wind. Subsequent generations will hardly know where our feet have trod. And perhaps we can leave our empty hand, our infinite hand in anothers." Published with Sensei Victor Smithus permission Oct 21. 2005 Thank you Sensei, I cherish this investment into my progress.