Leon: Why we are practicing Kendo and we are still peaceful people

Why we are practicing Kendo and we are still peaceful people?

I think it’s a really common question for everyone. Few weeks ago before Rumbudan Taikai, I was talking to my professor and said we would have a competition in Wellington and I need to settle down my topic for my report as soon as possible, so I can get it down before I go. And my professor asked what kind of sport do I do. I answered that it’s a Japanese martial art called Kendo. My professor was so surprised and said that "I take back all the things I said to you and don’t hurt me". I know he is only joking. But in real life, many people just take it for granted that all budo or martial art is equal to violence and even a lot of martial art learners have that kind of thinking as well.

Personally, I think it’s not quite the case. I think the reason why we practice budo is that we want to have peace. Like we are learning Kendo, we learn the techniques, the mind set, the self control, but no one ever taught you to take a real knife to kill people.

The word budo - 武 (martial art). If we take it into parts, it would be 止 (stop) and 戈 (weapons). I think our ancestors already sort out that question for us when then invented the character, budo’s goal is to stop weapons/fighting, its for peace.

So usually, when people ask why you learn Kendo or how can we benefit from Kendo training. My answer is the first thing is physical fitness and techniques. The second thing is Kendo sharps your mind. Just like the words we put under our dojo’s logo 习技修心.

Just like Sam sensei explained the ultimate stage of an ippon. Think we are facing an opponent with kamae. If he doesn’t do anything and just hold his kamae, we are in peace. Because he doesn’t want to kill me and I don’t want to kill him either. But the moment he has the intention to kill me, I have the ability to launch my strike and kill him first. That’s the ultimate stage of an ippon.

Apply that concept to Kendo or any other material arts, we practice them not because we really want to kill people or we are violent. We practice them because we want peace and we don’t want fight. If anything happens, we would have the ability to protect ourselves and strike back. The thing is you can’t guarantee that other people wouldn't attack or hurt you, but if you are very strong and have the ability to strike back. Then other people know that you are strong and they don’t dare to come to do any bad things. In that way, we are all in peace.

Some people might ask why we need martial arts to achieve that goal, we can just do nothing and take care of ourselves. I think this question is quite tricky. But a similar thing is like the arm race between big countries. Although it cost a lot of money and resources, but countries like US or China are still competing in this field. Why is that? No one can guarantee that we won’t be invaded by other countries in the future. So we need strong army to protect us, and other countries don’t dare to try. In that way, peace is achieved.

Leon 2015