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Archive for May, 2008

Last night, the Smiling Assassin brought back some nuggets from Tuesday night’s training with Soke. He talked about 間, ma meaning interval, and how you have to manipulate the interval yourself by changing the timing. Not by being faster than the other guy, but by manipulating the space through your footwork, and drawing your opponent’s attention. There is nothing new here, but perhaps, with turn after turn, the way to make this effective and efficient gets clearer. It is to be hoped.

Sensei talked to me about KY a bit last night. This is an aspect of life, Japanese, budo and otherwise, that I need to work on. So many slang phrases and words that Japanese teenagers use soon trickle into general usage. ケ-ワイ KY, the abbreviation of 空気読めない kuuki yomenai, meaning ‘read the atmosphere’, is one such frequently used expression. Sometimes, people do or say things for reasons you can’t fathom. Sometimes they say something very subtly and indirectly, and it is up to you to figure out what they mean. When you don’t get it, that’s KY.

I’ve made mistakes with this before. There are those moments in the day when someone says something obliquely, and much later, I have an aha! moment when I realize what the person was trying to tell me.

I realize that I, too, sometimes say things indirectly or not at all and expect the other person to read the air to figure out what I mean. If you ask me a question, and I don’t answer, the answer is probably no. This is typical of Japanese culture, but it’s also something that coincides with my own way of communicating.

It gets more complicated for actions. I did something to appease and make ammends to one person, and another person who doesn’t understand the situation thought I had offended him. Such is KY.

Soke has talked about KY in the dojo not a few times already this year. Can you read the atmosphere he creates, or that the dojo as a group creates? What’s really going on? What are you being asked to do? What openings are you being given to either shine or look foolish?

I can’t say I know, as I’m just as KY as the next guy.

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