Skip to main content

Thoughts - Benjamen

06 Nov 2007


I don’t remember the last time I cried. Probably when I was young, whenmy mother left to go overseas or something like that. Well, yesterday I got pretty emotionally choked up: but out of happiness and understanding, not sadness or anger. As Omar put it – I was shell-shocked, after Jeffrey taught me what was probably the most important lesson of my kendo life.

Let me explain. I am not an angry person. Generally, if someone annoys me, or makes me angry, I just walk away and get over it. Even when I wasa stupid young kid in high school, and we had fights on the field after class (as stupid kids tend to do), I was never angry, and always made sure the other person was alright.

I can’t really recreate in writing how I felt yesterday fighting Jeffrey. Perhaps the best way to put it would be to say it felt, for thefirst time, as if it was real. The normally polite and calm Jeffrey was suddenly fighting, or so it seemed to me, as if he wanted to kill. Trust me: there is a huge difference between watching him do this and being onthe receiving end of it. I’m not sure if it was just 90% or 100%, but it doesn’t really matter: to me it was the same, I didn’t know how to deal with it – I was overwhelmed.

How do you deal with an opponent, after 2 months in bogu, who will not help you in any way, who keeps attacking relentlessly, who does tsuki cuts on you for the first time, who's shinai never opens? I can’t see anything: there’s sweat in my eyes: “keep going!” I have no energy:“keep going!” Give me a chance, I can’t even hit you: “keep going!”

How did I deal with that? .... I gave up. And I think it was the most important moment of my kendo life. I realised many things in that moment. By whining and complaining, and making excuses, I was looking for a way out instead of going forward (now that I realise this I am ashamed of it). Expecting Jeffrey to give me a chance, an opening, “I’m only a beginner!” and so on. Why should he give me a chance? Why should anyone give me a chance? This is true both in kendo and in life.

Simply to hear these things is not enough, I had to really experience them to fully understand them. And now I see things differently. BeforeI thought spirit was just yelling and shouting and throwing yourself at your opponent, but now I think I understand it better... it’s hard to put into words: spirit, for me at least, is the opposite of what I felt yesterday: fear, shock, frustration. And now that I understand this I can work towards it.

However, I think a large amount of frustration came from the fact that I was expected to show spirit, yet I was powerless to do anything. It was as if there was a brick wall between Jeffrey and me, and Jeffrey was on the other side yelling at me to attack. How? By running at the brick wall? Shouting at it? The frustration came because I do not have any technical ability with which to show spirit. How can I show spirit when I do not have the tools to destroy the brick wall? How do I attack when there is a shinai in my chest every time I move forward? I believe these are the things I will learn with time, and through which I will be able to show spirit when I have learnt them. But I also believe that the amount of frustration I felt, the utter disbelief, shows that there is some spirit in me, trying to get out. If I had had no spirit at all Iwould not have cared about not being able to attack, and would have forgotten about it afterwards.

I believe this was the most important lesson I have learnt in kendo, and perhaps even in the last few years of my life. Jeffrey: I really meant it when I said ‘thank you’ yesterday. I believe no amount of words could have made me understand what I understand now. I will never forget it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Secondly (if anyone is still reading):

I would like to say a big thank you for training with me to anyone who I did not say goodbye to yesterday. After leaving the dojo I felt very sad, and I realised how much kendo and our kendo family really means to me. I can only hope to find such a great group of people to train within Japan.

(also to Leo and Darrin: I’m sorry I didn’t say much or make any sense,my mind was still racing with what had just happened to me. *bow*)

Anyway, enough writing. Keep in touch :)


Waikato Kendo Club:


Popular posts from this blog

2020 Kendo Beginners information

Our first 2020 training (keiko) starts from Wednesday 8 January
You are warmly invited to join us and 
start your New Year resolutions as a Modern Samurai. 

--- Information for Year 2020 Beginners ---

Starting Dates:
Class A: 1.30 – 3pm Saturday 11 JanuaryClass B: 1.30 – 3pm Saturday 14 MarchClass C: 1.30 – 3pm Saturday 11 JulyClass D: 1.30 – 3pm Saturday 10 October
Note: The Class B is postponed one week (from 7 Mar to 14 Mar) due the the current corona-virus status. 

Course Information:
No previous experience required.Regardless of gender, ages from 8 to 80 are all welcome.First lesson is your Free trial.Fees: 99.00 — 10 weeks course (equipment rental included)Family discounts: the 2nd family member is 50.00, the 3rd one is 25.00, and from the 4th one is free.Full membership after the Beginner Class
Programme Objectives: 

By the end of the course, you will be ready to put on Bogu (armour) and start your Kendo journey as a modern Samurai!

School of Education (SOEGymGate 4, Hill…

Koboitchi – 2019 Yamagami Sensei Seminar in New Zealand

Photo Credit: Auckland Kendo Club
Original text in Chinese by Sam Tsai English Translation by David Pan 

This is the fourth time I have had the pleasure of attending Yamagami Sensei’s Kendo seminar.
In 2016, the seminar topic was about the fundamentals of kendo: The five sections of the shinai – Jin-Gi-Rei-Chi-ShinIn 2017, the seminar topic was regarding the “heart(mind) of self-control”, namely: 克己心 / こっきしん / kokkishin: the mindset of overcoming the self平常心 / へいじょうしん / heijoshin: everyday mind 不動心 / ふどうしん / fudoshin: immovable mind In 2018, the seminar topic is 三殺法 / さんさっぽう / San-satsu-no-ho or San-sappo 「竹刀・太刀を殺す」: Kill the sword 「技を殺す」: Kill the waza 「気を殺す」: Kill the spirit

The topic this year is 攻防一致 / Koboitchi. Most kenyu probably heard of it by the more classical term 懸待一致 / けんたいいっち / kentaiitchi, a realm or level of understanding which we hope to attain one day thru training. That said, how do we actually work on this in our daily training? I think this is a question that many ke…

Do not give up just because something is not going your way - Carl Ann

Best wishes to your anticancer pharmaceutical research project!
Life is full of obstacles and challenges but they shouldn’t stop you from moving forward, meaning, do not give up just because something is not going your way. In fact, they should be the driving forces of your progress. I don’t know everything about Kendo, only what my sensei(s) and my mother have told me. There are some steps which I can’t do but I still train because that is how a person makes progress. You cannot improve if you don’t do anything. Being the person I was and still am (a total weirdo), I never really understood what giving up meant before. I had never so-called given up on anything I started because I didn’t know what it was. It sounded like a silly human sentiment to me. How can you stop doing something that you have not mastered? Doesn’t it feel incomplete? Shouldn’t it motivate you to try harder because it feels good to master something or it enriches your life ie. makes your life more meaningful?