I had an opportunity to train this previous week with Unsui Sensei. The training that week was a great experience to say the least. If you have not ever trained with Sensei, I highly suggest you do it by going to a seminar or workshop. The training is of such a high caliber and the people training of such good character that you are sure to leave with many thoughts and questions which may guide you to becoming a better person in your own life. If you want to study the path of Budo, then you must watch Sensei’s Budo. What do I mean when I say, "watch Sensei’s Budo"? Read on dear friend and see for yourself.
The evening started with all the students laying out the mats and cleaning them before training. There was the anticipation of great training in the air and we were all ready to go.
I "watched" Sensei come out of the changing room, say hi to people, walk over to the mats and have the students rearrange them for training. He then tested the mats for thickness and impact on the body when thrown by letting Dave Hewitt throw himself on to the mat to see if it hurt. He determined that ukes (persons being thrown) would feel the cement beneath the mats, so we had to throw carefully and lightly. After that was accomplished, Sensei started to stretch his body and told everybody to warm up for training.
Class began with the formal bow in and a talk by Sensei of training by the principle of 10 (JU). The principle of JU informs us that when you first begin training you start out at One (the basics) and keep working your way up to Ten. At this point most people want to go to 11, 12, 13…etc., but Sensei pointed out that the person who goes back to One, after having reached Ten, will have greater progress because they are continually working on their basics. So, the effect of this is not just circular but also the individual is spiraling upward in technique and in understanding of the underlying principles associated with the Kata. After this lecture the training began in earnest.
I "watched" Sensei roll around with us, punch and kick with us, show correct technique of various kata as the night of training moved towards the end of class. The atmosphere in the dojo from beginning to end was of a safe, intense, learning environment. Sensei, Shibucho’s Shawn Haven and David Hewitt walked around the dojo as we trained and gave advice on technique, movement, distance and proper mental attitude. I was struck by how open Sensei was with each and every individual that was training. How aware he was of each person’s ability as to the level of skill and ukemi of that individual. It was as if we were his children and he our father nurturing the Budo in us by showing us his example of Budo, of movement, of communication and of understanding. That night I saw how sincere Sensei is in his teaching and how true he is to himself. I am truly grateful to have found a person of Sensei’s demeanor who is willing to teach us how to attain our own Budo.
So now you may wonder how does this relate to watching Sensei’s Budo? Well from the beginning of this you will see that Sensei was very aware of what was going on from placement of mats to the level of the individual student’s skill. What is hard to see from this article is the atmosphere, the explanations and conduct of Sensei through out the night’s training. Another thing that you would miss unless you trained with Sensei is the fact that even when he is teaching, you can see that he is always learning, always aware and always practicing what he preaches because he will do the techniques with you as uke. To feel Sensei’s Budo you must train with him and you must watch with your ears, eyes and body. Then, by "watching Sensei’s Budo ", you will be able to make that Budo your own by learning from the beginning the true basics and attitude necessary to stay on the endless path of Budo. The reason I noticed Sensei’s Budo was by simply listening and watching without opinion and by trying to copy his movement and letting it float in my mind so that someday I can live the Budo he teaches us. For now, I will end this article by thanking everybody for the opportunity to give my opinion and perception on the workshop with Sensei. Watch Sensei’s Budo, imitate it, learn and practice hard.