Cranes on a train!

Posted on 08.08.2013


This post is late, because I got sidetracked while visiting my friends in Gent and taking in the wonderful and large Gent fest, which I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in the city… except maybe make one trip for the fest and a second for the actual city, as the city tends to get crowded during the fest…

I took the train down from England (where I flew in) and while ON the train, I folded cranes as there were no movies to watch, and the time went by much faster than I’d expected it to.

imperfect crane coming: note the left side is uneven!

imperfect crane coming: note the left side is uneven!

Something interesting happened on the train while folding… I finally made a perfect crane. I had been having an issue in which each crane had ONE fold (left) show itself that would undo its perfection, and I’d know beforehand if it was going to be perfect or not. It turns out that a LOT rests on the first four folds you have to make, and once I got that through my head, I got a lot closer to getting them right.

In this photo, you can see that the left side is uneven. I would know HERE that the crane was imperfect, but by then, it would be too late to correct the folds I had made.

#761! Perfect!

#761! Perfect!

Then came the crane that was perfect. Honestly, I think it had a lot to do with the paper I was folding. This was an interesting paper that was NOT the typical, thick woven paper that you get from Japan, or the really thin paper that shows up often, either. It was an in-between, with a nice thickness to it that made the creases hold better, but without the weave of traditional paper. It was like a hybrid and came in a pack of 200 sheets, mixed in with the thin and thick versions. Odd, that.

So anyway, I got so excited about my first perfect crane, I had to take a photo of it. As it turned out, I ended up making this entire 5-set perfectly. After that, though, I went back (unintentionally, of course) to making imperfect cranes.

DSCN8498sOne of the things I realized, and made me laugh, was that this is an example of one of the major concepts in my martial art: that of body memory and skill, and the ideas of perfection. One of the things stressed to us at every stage of our training is the importance of reviewing and practicing the basics, because if any part of your technique is wrong, it probably goes back to the foundations. So to make a perfect crane, I had to first set a perfect foundation in the first four folds, and then try to push it towards perfect after that. It’s a lot like what we do in the JNK, it always starts with a proper kamae.

I’ve been training for 12 years now, and one of the things I’ve learned is that although I might be able to teach a newer student a technique, I am still not perfect at any of them. That’s ok. I know how it works and can help others, but I have to keep repeating it, over and over again, drilling it into my body’s memory and sharpening it until it’s perfect. It might never be perfect, even if I can do it with my eyes closed.

And that’s what the cranes feel like. Trying over and over again to get something perfect, and most often coming close, but perfection is a hard thing to strive for:) There is always something more to learn, something more to see, and something more to hear. Someone will always be further ahead of you, but that doesn’t matter. It’s the journey, not the destination, right? I look forward to hopefully making a few more perfect cranes before this is all over:)

Posted in: 0rigami