A pair of lines, six abreast, sit kneeling and facing the shrine. Uniform in dress, yet varying in age, race, and gender. Each is clad in blue uwagi and black hakama with the only allowances for personal expression are the subtle variations in adornment to the katana that sits to right of each on the mat.

“But which way is the correct way?”, breaks the silence.

A considered pause.

A lone figure sits in front of the group, facing them. Though similarly clad as the rest, his location and presence project an air of authority.

“Both”, the response.

Quickly followed by, “How?”

“When I teach, you will do it the way I show you. When another kyoshi teaches it, you will do it their way. If you cannot be flexible in your mind, how can you expect to be flexible with your blade? You must be willing to surrender your preconception of what is the right way and what is the wrong way if you ever hope to truly understand the technique.”

Ten years later on a paragliding launch…

“I haven’t seen that launch technique taught since 1995.”

Words of protest.

A simple explanation of how a newer method of forward launching could be employed, allowing the pilot more opportunity to verify the inflation of the glider and reduce the risk of damage in the event of a snagged line (the lower launch has a plethora of line grabbers just sitting in wait).


A learning opportunity lost.

Courses such as this present the opportunity for growth, if we are willing to let go of our preconceived notions of what is the right way to fly and what is the wrong way. Kelly has pointed out that he cannot teach us his way of flying, because it is made to fit him. What he can do is give us the tools to adapt the lessons that he has learned, fitting them to our own flying style.

If we are willing to listen…

… to try…

…to surrender.

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