Thursday, June 11, 2020

My Current Training - Seishan

I recently had the honor of talking to Master Mark Jorgensen for his ongoing "Meet the Masters" chats on Facebook.  Having the chance to talk to an old friend again, even in an interview setting, was really wonderful, and highlighted some of the things that I greatly miss about training with a great group of people.  The reasons for my absence, which I was happy to share and discuss, are still there, but that doesn't mean I've taken a break from training on my own.

Training on my own has allowed me to have a more narrow focus on facets of the art that interest me.  I still walk through the other forms as a sort of moving meditation and memory maintenance, but for the moment, I've stuck to three forms: Bassai, Seishan, and Mountain Wind.

With the onset of COVID-19, and working from home, I've increased my intensity on these forms, especially Seishan.  This seems fitting to me, as it is one of the designated forms for my current rank, and also - at least within our Organization -- is the first "Master level" hyung.  This designation brings lots of questions to my mind.  Questions I'm seeking answers to through study and training.

During my interview, I was asked to give advice to anyone watching.  I shared the question that my instructor and his were fond of asking: "What are you working on?"  My friends, in my mind, there is nothing more embarrassing than being asked this question by a senior Master and having no answer.  If you're not actively engaged and owning your own training, why should someone else be willing to invest time in you? 

We also talked about something I've become somewhat known for in our region: performing hyung backwards -- starting with the last movement and working through to the beginning.  It's not a unique idea, but I'm probably one of a small handful in our group who have taken the time to do this intellectual exercise for more than the introductory forms.  For me, it was an opportunity to put one of the training requirements to the test: 

When you learn new techniques, learn thoroughly the theory and philosophy as well.
Learning a form is one thing.  Learning forwards, backwards, up and down, trying to understand the intent of the entire form as well as sequences, learning the history of the form, seeing how other styles do the form, exploring the similarities and the differences, and more is another.  Too often, when we start to collect and accumulate the movements, we rarely take the time to explore them past the surface.  I'm not going anywhere, and I have no plans or desire to test anytime soon, so why not really delve into my current form?

That's right, while my friends are making sourdough starters, I'm working on Seishan in rich, utterly boring and minute detail. :)

Right now, my intent is to share some of that with whoever wants to read it.  I suppose that comes with the standard disclaimers:


  • Opinions are mine, and mine only.  Please don't try to attribute anything I say to my parent organization.
  • I'm not your instructor.  If you like or hate what I'm saying, cool.  I'm neither trying to cause a revolution or undermine your way of doing it.  You do you, as the cool kids say.
  • There are no secrets, and I'm not giving anything away that you can't already figure out from another source.  Everything I share or pull from is already public domain in one format or another. If you think Seishan is super secret master-level stuff, I know some white belts in Isshin-Ryu that will make you very sad.
  • Don't take anything I say personally or as sacrilege. The bullet point above is a perfect example. :) . No disrespect intended to any of my peers or predecessors.
With that out of the way... please stay tuned for sporadic updates.

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