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Bad consequences for a professional pianist?

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  • Bad consequences for a professional pianist?


    Before I posted this topic I did a search on the forum and I couldn't find an answer, that is why I created this topic.

    I'm interested in practicing a Zen discipline and the only one available for me is Iaido. I went for a first session and at the end I noticed some stiffness on my hands, as well as blisters starting to form (Before I had none).

    Being a professional pianist I'm concern with possible Iaido consequences that could interfere with my profession.

    Could you please tell me if Iaido practice will cause changes in the hands that will be a problem for a pianist?

    Thanky you very much!

    (English is not my native language, I did my best)

  • #2
    I've scraped my fingers enough to bleed on noto (resheathing) using a mogito (dull alloy practice blade but still pointy). No real damage but it's the sort of injury that pops up once in while. With a shinken (live blade), the risk of serious injury is not to be taken lightly. Aside from cuts, tennis elbow and other strain injuries can occur. Palms will toughen up a bit but it's not like working as a bricklayer. With proper technique most of the real work is being done by the core and legs.

    Apologies for pedantry but it's probably debatable whether iaido has any real connection to Zen.


    • #3
      Thank you dillon for your response.

      I have no interest in practicing with anything else than a Bokken with Saya. For me it is just the Zen aspect of this discipline and this is why I must ask the debatable connection between Iaido and Zen.

      Originally posted by dillon View Post
      Apologies for pedantry but it's probably debatable whether iaido has any real connection to Zen.
      I don’t see pedantry in your statement. Could you explain why it is debatable?

      Many thanks.


      • #4
        I do not practice Zen, so the following is just my personal but reasoned take on it. Apologies in advance if any of what I state below is factually in error.

        My understanding is that the practice of Zen aims to reach a transcendant state of mind/spirit and that this is a mental process than can manifest in various physical activities such as zazen. Nevertheless, it is the mental activity that defines the practice. Conceivably, Zen can be practiced through any number of activities such as fixing motorcycles (yes, I know Pirsig wasn't actually writing about Zen). Due to the shared pedagogical heritage Zen and Japanese budo have in common, Japanese budo tend to lend themselves readily to a Zen style of practice. But that is not the same as saying practicing Japanese budo is itself practicing Zen.

        Different ryuha also have differing levels of relation to Zen Buddhism. On one end of the spectrum, there is (Yagyu) Shinkage-Ryu, of which the early proponents were strongly influenced by Zen concepts, exchanged letters with Takuan Soho and wrote a body work describing swordsmanship and strategy in escoteric Zen terms. Then there are the family of Shinto-ryuha that tend to have more academic influence from primordial Shinto practices.

        In either case though, saying that Shinkage-ryu is a heiho manifestation of Zen or that TSKR is the heiho manifestation of Shinto is putting the cart before the horse. The body of knowledge were developped a priori the concepts that would later be drafted in to rationalize and systematize the knowledge into a medium for transmission. Zen, being a indefeasible philosophy (ok one can debate this too) is both the content and the vehicle.

        So in summary, you can practice Zen through iaido and the Japanese arts tend to lend themselves well to this. But be careful not to expect to learn Zen only through iaido. Chances are if you expect this you'll either not find Zen and be unsatisfied or be satisfied because Zen wasn't what you were really searching for. I've been practicing iaido (ZNKR seitei mostly and Muso Shinto Ryu) for about seven years and so far the content is technical correctness of techniques, cutting correctly and kihaku and the vehicle is kihon. So far Zen has never been mentioned in keiko. I've had a few koan moments though.
        Last edited by dillon; 31st August 2016, 04:20 PM.


        • #5
          Thank you very much dilon.

          I have been practicing for 3 weeks and now I got a pain in my right palm (when pressing my palm). This is alarming because it may be an obstacle in my piano playing.

          My Iaido teacher said I should not worry about technique until I have developed the necessary muscle strength to no danger myself.

          I think I will continue with cautious and, if the pain continues, I will need to stop Iaido.

          About the Zen, we learn mostly Kenjutsu katas which for me are much more difficult to assimilate, so I have not be able to get into the meditative state.


          • #6
            Your sensei probably already showed you this but concentrate the grip using your pinky and ring fingers. The amount of strength could be described as holding an egg firmly. The other fingers should be much looser, just there to stabilize.

            I once practiced kendo for 5 hours a day, six days a week over a month long period. At the end of this, I had soreness in my forearm and a tendency for my pinkies to lock up (this eased off after my training schedule stop being so intense). This isn't the sort of thing you want as a piano player but I just wanted to illustrate that pain in the palm doesn't seem to be typical if the grip is relatively correct, even with an extreme (by today's standard) training regime.

            Also, this is a jodo thing but the bokuto should be of unfinished wood. This helps prevent the bokuto slipping out of your hands from sweat. If the bokuto is slippery, the tendency is to grip tighter to compensate. If you have varnish, etc. consider sanding it off.

            Good luck.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Mravinsky View Post
              Being a professional pianist I'm concern with possible Iaido consequences that could interfere with my profession.
              If you're a professional pianist, don't do any manual work as your hands (and your whole body) are your livelihood. Swinging a piece of metal around at high velocities and stopping it dead with your muscle, ligaments and tendons is bound to cause issue at some point. Since practising Iai, I have developed Tennis elbow and Golfer's elbow which cause me all sort of problems never mind dealing with pain but then I'm an amateur keyboard player and probably don't play as much as you and my salary doesn't depend upon on my hands....well not too much! (you can hear one of my pieces here...yes I'm a Tangerine Dream fan....

              If you want to try a Zen discipline, why not Zazen itself? It is the essence of Zen (by definition) and you can have a go at home!
              Last edited by Kokoro777; 18th October 2016, 07:20 PM.