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My quest for infinite progression…

The idea of classifying artists, even those performing a martial art, into higher or lower levels does not comply with my approach to art, where the main issue is about searching for truth behind appearances, and where each individual «artist» contributes something of himself to his art form.

Who would ever think of saying that Picasso was greater than Michelangelo, that Mozart was greater than Chopin, or that Baudelaire was greater than Apollinaire? Or to classify them into different levels?
Who would dare to express an opinion on the levels of MIYAMOTO Musashi, SASAKI Kojiro or SAKAMOTO Ryoma?

I elaborated at length in another note about techniques being just a support, a means to build ones own person. Attributing grades to a technique means skirting round the essential issue, making those that perform an art believe that their efforts are reduced down to mere elements that serve to assess them.
This attitude is perfectly conceivable in sports where physical performance is assessed, but not at all so in Budo.
What is reprehensible is the skilfully maintained ambiguity in certain groups that leave us to believe that the attribution of technical grades automatically comes with simultaneous recognition of a «spiritual» level. Of course this is totally untrue, but for the novice, it seems perfectly obvious.

If progress in Budo is made at first by striving for technical excellence, one has to admit that it is necessary to achieve this as quickly as possible, in order to be able to best use this support that desserts us very quickly over the years. However, if transmission has been carried out correctly, one day you will notice that you have simply changed the support, and that your progress in improving the «Kokoro» will blossom into infinity…
In this context, each individual’s level can only be subjective, in the same way that one is free to think that such or such an artist is the best in his field.

Man’s desire for power, however small, makes them want to be given grades by means of an objective ranking system to compare oneself against another, and therefore to determine, without ambiguity or possible questioning, the conditions of their life within the group to which they belong.
In this context, reducing the practice of a sport down to just techniques is reassuring, since this attitude avoids dealing with genuine transmission-related problems. Nobody should be able to come between the Shisho and the Deshi, and in any case, not structures that would superimpose an artificial hierarchical relation on one that should exist between the Shisho and the Deshi, that is to say, a relationship based on respect, mutual trust and a freely consented acceptance built on the conviction of reciprocal enhancement.
Unfortunately, many people have thought that they were progressing along the Budo path because they could see themselves progress technically, which is considered the final aim. They have been mislead by being attributed technical grades that are assumed to include other elements that have never actually existed, and find that over the years this very technique has deserted them, even though they still have their diplomas to show that they at one time successfully reached a certain level that has been lost to them for years.
Putting aside the useless and incoherent nature of this type of grading within the context of learning Budo, it should be stressed that classifying into closed ranks restricts progress by leading us to believe that the main objective is to reach a higher level.

My quest is that of my Shisho, IKEDA Shigeo Sensei, a quest that enables me to believe that everything is accessible, even the impossible.

Each individual’s ambition should be to reach and surpass the level of our senior’s and our Shisho, because this is the only way to thank them for what they have given. I endeavour to do this and help my Deshi to do the same. The Shisho is a guide and therefore he has a duty to be the guarantor for genuine progression.

10:00 Posted in THE BUDO | Permalink | Comments (0)


Being a « Shishô» means being a good «Deshi » all through life

Japan has always distinguished itself from other countries in many different areas, but this specific characteristic is fully expressed in all arts, whether they be of Japanese or Western origin.
What makes each «Japanese style» practiced art different, is firstly this particular form of transmission from the Shishô to the Deshi based on very old educational principles. The originality encountered in this human relationship that combines respect and loyalty, can only lead to a form of practice that largely exceeds the purely technical context of the discipline that is being taught, this discipline merely being a support for demands that should be integrated into each individual’s life.

Using art as a tool, a means to progress.

Even if changes in the rules of life in society have sometimes enabled considerable progress in terms of  improving conditions of daily living, the consequence of these changes has been a deterioration of spiritual values that are the genuine cultural wealth of a country.

The tool has become more important than the object it helped to create

An artist is only recognised through the price that is put on his work and not through the spiritual elevation that he has reached in his pursuit of excellence in the practice of his art. The rules that underlie the relationship between human beings are changing, as are their preoccupations and their objectives of life are evolving. These changes are reflected in the education they give to their children, integrating less and less values that over time shape the culture of a country. The arts have been nurtured with values that are specific to the Japanese soul. It is time that these arts help us to retrieve a taste for lost values through a traditional approach integrated into a fast-moving world.
The basis for these considerations on a daily basis is the will to change our way of being and to participate in a revaluation of human relations.

12:55 Posted in THE BUDO | Permalink | Comments (0)