Much has been posted on this blog and others about weapon forms and what we should be doing about training and a myriad of other topics. These topics are all important and should have not paid to them, however there is another topic which needs addressing. A school curriculum is only so long and the completion of such a curriculum is important and an achievement of note, however the question remains when this curriculum is completed... what's next?
A good school will teach the basics in a formal or at least semi-formal manner in order that the student can build their skills gradually. Regardless of the weapon form chosen, this process will teach the student the basic operations of the weapon and set a foundation for the student in order that they can participate in the martial aspects of the school. Once this foundation is laid then the student will, or should, after a while, ask "What's next?"
So the student will progress on to more advanced techniques. These may involve more advanced techniques on the same weapon and/or may include the addition of other weapons. Once again, based on the foundation laid in the beginnings of training, the skills of the student will develop. This is the purpose of the training at this point in time to develop and hone the skills. This will, no doubt, take some time if the student really wants to understand the weapons properly. Once, after some time, the more advanced techniques are learnt the student will eventually come to the end of the curriculum. At this point in time the student will be fully involved in the martial aspects of the school. The swordsman is well-developed and on their way. However, just as at the end of the foundation elements the same question should remain, "What's next?"
Up to this point in time, for the most part, the student has been fed techniques and principles from senior students and trainers. Now the student can count themselves amongst the senior students. The trainers at this point in time should be asking this student to help with training and to learn how to become a trainer. This is not an easy process and the student to trainer development will take time. Indeed this process should start while the student is undertaking the advanced training syllabus. So the student becomes a trainer, over period of time. They are teaching new students, and even the more advanced students. This is not the end of the road, the question remains, "What's next?"
The swordsman should always attempt to keep sharp. This applies to mind and body. Basic drills should be a normal part of the regimen along with combats against other opponents. These keep the body sharp but in order to keep the mind sharp more is required. In order to stay motivated the swordsman should always be looking for new projects and new things to learn. This can be broad or focused dependent on the interest at the time. There is always something which can be learnt for fencing or something which can be refined. The swordsman should always be thinking, "What's next?"