Benji from JP -- competition & the meaning of 1st Dan


Today we went to a competition/meeting for all the kendo dojos around Nodashi. It was really impressive.

First to fight were young children, I'm not sure how old they were but some of them looked like 5 or so. Then there were highschool students, and last were older people from university and so on.

Everyone fought really well, especially when they were in the finals haha, they really went at it.

I also saw a lot of people do jodan, which was interesting to watch. It was also quite funny because I knew a lot of people who were there, and people came to talk to me (I suspect because I am somewhat of a novelty, being the only foreigner there, or at the dojos). I've uploaded a short video of the warm-up here:

My camera is really bad :(

I myself have been feeling great.

The sensei who runs the old dojo is generally really grumpy and criticises me a lot: I hold my shinai wrong, I fold my hakama wrong, I bow wrong and so on. He is 7th dan koshi, which is the level under hanshi (most of the teachers at both dojos are 7th dan.... the 6th dan people are still students haha).

He told me that I wasn't good enough to do kata, and that I needed to improve first. Well, the last training session he came up to me and told that he was impressed with how fast I have improved, and that he will start kata with me now. So I'm really happy about that.

I've been told a few times now that I could pass shodan, but I feel that here in Japan it is a little different than in New Zealand: here shodan is the starting point of kendo, to prove that you can do the basics, but in New Zealand shodan is a great achievement, or at least that's what it seemed like to me.

I hope all is well at Waikato Dojo,