Many of the principles that we study in Siljun Dobub have applications outside of the dojo. While most of us are unlikely find ourselves in a sword fight while walking down the street (though never say never!), but there are many skills we practice that can carry over and impact other areas of our lives. Perhaps the most significant of these lessons I have learned over the course of my training is about focus. I live in Manhattan, which is a constant whirlwind of people and activity. My day job is chaotic. I try (with mixed results) to balance my work, family, and social lives, which often involves very intricate multitasking. Like so many New Yorkers, I frequently find myself burning the candle at both ends.
In Sword Class, I found a place where all of those commitments and demands on my time could be put aside. No matter your skill level, when you’re training, all of your attention is on your sword. Whether you are learning to draw your sword for the first time or practicing the finer points of Set Hwa, there can be nothing else on your mind. At first I found this difficult. My mind would wander to an issue at work or what to have for dinner after class. Quickly, I learned that this type of inattention would cause me to make simple mistakes that I wouldn’t have otherwise. More importantly, I also realized that I was missing a golden opportunity.
The hour or two that I am training on any given day is a wonderful reprieve from the hustle and bustle of my daily life. My mind is committed to one thing and one thing only. I leave class feeling refreshed and my mind is clearer. It took me time to learn to focus on one thing, but before I knew it, I was doing it outside the dojo as well. I am more productive at work and more able to be present in the moment while spending time with my friends and family. Other than increased proficiency with a katana, increased focus is one of the biggest benefits we can gain from sword training. It is a skill that can improve all aspects of our lives, if we choose to let it.
Sara Tunick is a 1st Dan in Siljun Dobup and the General Manager of Sword Class NYC