We are less than 3 weeks away from Camp Phoenix 2017, which means we could all use a few reminders about basic courtesies and traditions. I'll get to those, don't worry, but those who have trained with me know that I'm big on teaching principles first because principles inform our practice.
Honestly, as we look forward to our annual summer gashuku, I think the most important principle to keep in mind is Sosai Oyama's belief that "The martial way begins and ends with courtesy. Therefore, be properly and genuinely courteous at all times."
If we come into our training looking for ways to exemplify courteous nature, then many of the specific practices, particularly posture and stance, will fall into place on their own. I intentionally name posture and stance because that's where things begin to slack in my own dojo. We train hard together on a weekly basis. We work and sweat and improve together. Sometimes though, through that bond of hard training, things can become a little too casual. I'll be the first to admit that when this happens at The Forge Dojo, it's my fault. Never too late to alter the direction of the ship though...back on course for us!
So, what are we looking for with stance and posture? To clarify, stance and posture are not the same...at least when I think of them. Stance is physical, while posture is mental and spiritual.
With regards to your stance...is your back straight? Are your feet and hands in the correct position? Are your feet and shoulders facing the direction of the person speaking to you? Stance is easy. Stance is a checklist that is drilled into us from the time we first step into the dojo.
Posture, on the other hand, grows inside of us. For some it grows quickly, almost naturally. For others, proper posture grows more slowly. Sometimes folks just have to learn the hard way. You see, posture deals with the mind and heart. Is your heart in a place to openly receive instruction, and possible, correction...or are you coming with an already "full cup"?
Personally, I find that if your posture is right, your stance will almost automatically fall into place.
More to come as we get ready for an awesome Camp Phoenix!