Well, my second grading day has come and gone, and I now think back on the things I have learned and at the same time I think forward to my next steps in my kendo journey.
Since the last grading day around three months ago many suburi have been cut, footwork has been worked on, and a balance in my life has been sought out. As usual the hectic pace of work-related life and study have meant stress levels increase. I find that kendo is continuing to help restore balance to my spirit, I have not been simply looking at YouTube videos as much these days (although there are lots of good ones to watch) I have been focusing on the physical aspects of training. I have still been watching what I eat, increasing my exercise and trying the best I can to sleep (not much success there yet) I also seek advice from sensei and senpai at the dojo so that I may improve myself.
I have started to explore forms of mediation and relaxation, it does me wonders to listen to meditation music as I drive up to the dojo as this starts to calm my mind in preparation for class. The tie between the physical and spiritual sides of Kendo should not be overlooked as one cannot simply rush into a strike, you should calm your spirit, build kiai and whilst seeing the whole picture let your body do what it now knows.
It was an interesting day yesterday because having many people of different ages and abilities participating in grading showed me that I need not worry. I relaxed enough to focus and listened to instructions as they came. I laughed to myself at the young children showing the happiness they always express, and to the reaction of Sensei and senpai’s when the children did what they thought they heard. (Sam Tsai – Sensei, your expressions were priceless). And I shared in all the successes. To see and experience the bonding in the dojo from all levels reinforced to me how caring my kendo family is.
So what’s next for me?
Sleep, work, eat, family, fun, kendo and repeat. This journey through life with Kendo as an integral part of it has no timeframes. No point to rush to class, rush to train or feel pressured to succeed (although succus will come with time). As sensei has said many times, when do you complete your kendo training? The answer is you do not, you just keep training and there will always be more to do, learn and share with others. So, whether its jumping suburi, mokuso or Marleen sensei’s cupcakes I am sure my next steps will be well worth the wait.
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