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Grading Reflection - with an open mind, positive attitude, & be willing to learn from our mistakes

Saturday 15th October 2022 Junior Grading/ Shinsa & Keiko reflection - Janet

Another Junior grading been & gone, first of all, well done to all those who participated in the grading, it was a great effort & achievement on your Kendo journey & a true testament of your hard work & training so far. Keep up the good work as we all help each other to get better & better through every Keiko.

Sensei reminded us that grading & rank promotion is not the ultimate goal in learning Kendo, it’s merely a way to systematically evaluate one’s learning progress so far & to check if we’re on the right path or not. It may act as a motivation to work & train harder, but unlike other martial arts with the coloured belt systems to symbolise one’s ranking, in Kendo there is no outwards signs to distinguish between ranks. The emphasis of Kendo is on personal growth, development & humility regardless of your experience & skill. 

True Kendo spirit is to not be afraid nor withdraw & never give up in front of obstacles or failures. 

Like how one of our Little Samurai kendokas reflected today, the grading for them was fun, therefore, we should learn from them also to enjoy Kendo & the learning process.

Listen to Sensei & Senpais feedbacks & suggestions with an open mind & positive attitude, & be willing to learn from our mistakes. 

Come to Keiko regularly & always train with a mindset as if we’re in a Shinsa or Shiai, that way, when it comes to grading or competition day, all we need to do is to do our best like we always do. Likewise, what we learned from the grading & competition, we can bring back to Keiko to improve & work on, like a positive feedback loop.

Always appreciate those around us (Ichigo-Ichie/ δΈ€ζœŸδΈ€δΌš/ treasure every encounter as it will never recur as no Keiko is ever the same) & support each other to maximise training so we can keep refining our swords to make our Kendo become more beautiful as we go on this lifelong journey together.

For those of us that observed the grading from the sideline, it was a great learning experience to do Mitori-geiko, stepping up to become a Senpai ourselves & learn to observe, evaluate & provide some advice, share & pass on some tips we had also received from our Senpais before us for the new Kohais to improve on. As often we won’t be able to see or feel our own posture or movements easily, so we are essentially each other’s mirrors, reflecting through each other’s eyes πŸ‘€ to help pick out some learning points to improve our kendo. Therefore, it becomes a mutualistic partnership.

For the senior Keiko today, we welcomed the new Kohais joining in with us. Following our usual warm up drills, double Shinai suburis, foot work drill team challenges, we had a fruitful afternoon doing Uchikomi-geiko: 

  1. Big & Small Men-Uchi.
  2. Small Kote-Uchi followed by Tsuba-Zeriai (one of the ways to perform Zanshin after the strike by closing the distance & disrupts opponents Kamae)
  3. Small Kote-Uchi followed by slight touch on Tsuki (one of the ways to perform Zanshin after the strike by maintaining centre line with proper Chudan-no Kamae with Kensen pointing to opponents throat restricting them to move forwards easily)
  4. Small Kote-Men-Uchi with slight pause in between to ensure Kote-Uchi is done with proper Tenouchi, maintaining centre & Chudan-no-Kamae, before executing the Men-Uchi.

We were also introduced to different Shinai techniques to create opportunity for effective Small Kote-Uchi: 

  1. With Kensen going over top of opponents Shinai if their Kensen is lower. 
  2. With Kensen going under opponents Shinai if their Kensen is higher. 
  3. With Kensen going under opponents shinai & using left wrist to perform Harai waza, a straight line horizontal slap with the Ura or right side of Shinai to knock away opponents Kensen from centre.

Many thanks to Marleen & Sam Sensei, & all the Senpais for being on the grading panel today & continued to lead our intermediate to advanced Keiko afterwards. Thank you all for your hard work/ Otsukaresama deshita/γŠη–²γ‚Œζ§˜γ§γ—γŸπŸ™



Many thanks for Rhone for all the photos!


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