Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Elemental Balance

Originally uploaded by amylitt
This past weekend I was fortunate enough to be invited for a getaway to a beautiful estate in Red Hook, NY. The house itself was gorgeous, and our hosts were fantastic (not to mention the jacuzzi!), but what left the greatest impression on me was the beautiful landscape surrounding the house and the breathtaking view. You see, their house faces the Catskills National Park, so their view will never be tarnished by ungainly development, sprawl, or logging.

I took the chance to exercise and practice my forms surrounded by lush fields and mountain views. Additionally, my good friend Amy Litt - social networking guru, amateur photographer, and all-around powerhouse - was kind enough to take pictures of the occasion . While training in this incredible setting, it felt... right. I suspect that the progenitors of the Asian sword arts similar to Sil Jun Do Bup studied in this manner. In most Asian cultures, and especially in the Japanese culture, there is a close kinship between man and nature that has never fully developed in Western cultures. There is a bond between our actions and natures' and we affect each other in everything we do.

In Sil Jun Do Bup, after learning the basics, you progress to the four forms that comprise the art: Earth, Water, Fire, and Air. This is no coincidence. In each elemantal form, you are performing similar movements, ie. in Set Earth, the first cut is an overhead diagonal cut. After you make the initial cut, you stop. Solid. Powerful. In Set Water, the first cut you make is still an overhead diagonal cut, but your body and the sword continue to "flow" into a more natural finishing position. Fluid. Adaptable.

For the warrior, the sword is an extension of the self, and the self is a balance of the elements. By focusing on one element, we can incorporate its characterists into our training and become more powerful in that element. By training in a natural setting, we are closer to the elements and can more freely associate ourselves with them and let their energies flow through us without the blockages imposed on us by the 'modern world.' We can free ourselves, and feel the elemental forces of nature both around us and within us.

You can look at the rest of pictures HERE.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Greetings to visitors from the Midsummer Magick Faire! I'm very excited to be leading a workshop at the Faire where I will give an introduction to Iaido - the Way of the Sword. Using wooden practice swords, we'll learn the 8 basic cuts and forms that have been practiced for centuries. We'll discuss the mythos surrounding the curved asian sword known as the "katana," and explore other questions: How and why were eastern and western sword styles similar? How were they different?

Availability for these workshops is extremely limited, due to the space requirements and the supply of wooden swords available. Please show up early!!!

For more information about the Faire, go to their page: http://www.midsummermagickfaire.com/index.html


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