Nothing in the world is weaker or gentler than water.
Needless to say, this made gripping my sword a painful experience. I started off the rest of our training session by first thinking I would shrug off the pain, let it be another stimulus to work through and work with as I trained. It quickly became apparent that would not be the case. As the muscle continued to seize, my grip became weak. I could hold my sword, but not with the deft comfortableness needed for fighting.
As we closed to corto techniques, the drills we were working on utilized my forearm for checking defenses and hacking attacks. This too became difficult and certainly painful. It became apparent to me that I would either have to stop training or find another way. It would be nice to say that I made a conscious decision to do what I did, but the reality is I didn't. It happened because my arm was just fed up with the pain.
It got weak. It didn't allow me to push through, to meet force with force. So as my arm collapsed against my partner's strikes, I would have to shift and move at other angles to keep myself covered or to counter. Checking became redirecting. Meeting became receiving. And we kept flowing and I managed not to lose my sword. I didn't look good, and my techniques were not smooth, but we kept moving. My partner said he could feel that I wasn't there.
None of this was a great revelation. It was all something I "knew". I've read the Daodejing. I've wrestled, I've practiced Taijiquan, I've learned Humbak, I can quote Sijo's "Be water, my friend" speech in my sleep. So I came to no great revolutionary conclusion that countless martial artists haven't had before. What was revealing in a personal sense was that I did not have to make this decision on my own. I knew it, but I couldn't put it in to practice. Pain removed the "I" from the equation, and it moved all by itself.
Now if only the American presidential candidates would spend some time reading the Daodejing, but that is an entry for another time.
Special thanks to my brother, Dale Dugas, for his Tiger Exits the Forest Dit Da Jow. My arm is fine and back in working condition.