This evening I was reading in Masaaki Hatsumi’s book Tetsuzan, about the dialect within martial arts, and how it can taint your movements, but we usually don’t recognize that we do have a dialect, so that is where the problem can be located.

The actual passage says:

“I have trained myself and instructed others in Kihon Happo (Basic Eight Rules) and felt that those who have had a previous training of Karate, Judo, Aikido, Kung Fu and other fighting techniques tend to stay with them and they have trouble learning budo from a blank slate. The fighting forms stay with the student even though he start the training of budo. When do the previously learned techniques disappear? I think it is up to his talent. The phenomenon is just like a dialect disappearing after he lives in a different part of the country.”

He goes on to say:

“No matter how hard one tries, one would never become an announcer if one speaks in dialect. The same thing can be said for budo.”

Finally he says:

Bugei is the same way. If one reaches to a higher rank, he only needs to eliminate his faults. It may sound easy, but eliminating faults is very difficult to accomplish, because we tend to think we are faultless. Faults can be translated into something different in budo. The can be suki (unguarded points), or carelessness, presumption, arrogance, etc… they all become our fault.”

Using another example, my sensei/senpai (teacher/mentor) Dai-Shihan Phil Legare posted on his blog about training with the sword, where he said:

“Look at each of our Te no Uchi. What do you see there? Mark Lithgow has said that. ‘how someone grips a sword is a “tell” of which sword school you trained in’. Each sword school has their own signature grip.”

Here’s the main kicker about what Soke (grandmaster) and Dai-Shihan Legare is talking about. This is not just about martial arts or sword training, but also our overall character. Pay attention to those around you and notice how they are living with their own dialect from their upbringing, environment, training, etc. Now pay attention to your own dialect(s). What do you notice, and are they something that would be easy to change or not?

Many people have a hard time with change, changing their diet, changing their habits, but most of all changing their way of thinking. In Buddhism there is a saying about emptying your cup. When your cup is full you can’t put in anything new, thus we must be willing to empty our cup to learn new things, to make changes, and thus eliminate your dialect.

It is my wish when teaching, when working with my patients, and just by being, that I am learning how to become a better person, empty my cup, and have the ability to grow more, but also I wish to help others be able to do the same thing in their lives.