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Having a goal in Kendo and Life

Saturday 5th November 2022 Keiko Reflection - Janet

Today we had another fruitful Keiko with many of our Kohais joining in the intermediate to advanced Keiko. Thanks to Marleen & Sam Sensei’s teachings they all came with great Kihon foundation skills to continue build up & improve on. We especially applaud them for their willingness to learn & adjust very quickly during Uchikomi-geiko today, with the focus on Big Men & Kote strikes & the follow up Zanshin run through.

Prior to Keiko today, Marleen Sensei reminded us of our journey through kendo & the reason behind all our efforts to come to Keiko regularly was to improve & perfect our kendo through the repeated continuous Kihon training, with the ultimate goal for all Kendokas: To deliver the perfect Ippon (一本) or Yuko-Datotsu (有効打突) or valid strike.

The Kihon training: Ashi-Sabaki/ footwork drills, Kirikaeshi drill, double Shinai warm ups & Suburis, & Kiai training during warm up drills are all designed to help us systematically build up good understanding of the mechanics behind kendo so that we can learn to better use our bodies in the most efficient & effective way without unnecessary movements to maximise speed as well as reduce weaknesses for the opponents to take advantage of.

It will help us develop good stamina, spirit/ Ki, muscle strength, muscle memory (especially engaging our core muscles) & gain better perception of our bodies movements.

So that we can eventually display consistent good, beautiful Shizentai posture, maintain strong dynamic Kamae, generate strong Kiai, have swift stable footwork & be able to execute accurate & beautiful slicing cut with Tenouchi, in order to perform Ki-Ken-Tai-Icchi/ 気剣体一致(to synchronise the movements of spirit, sword & body into one), which is one of the requirements of being awarded an Ippon.

For me it was a little daunting to step up being a Senpai, as I will not only be responsible for my own training, but for others as well. I need to pay even more attention to my own Kamae, judgement of distance & the correct timing to expose an opening to be a good enough Motodachi for the Kohais. I need to learn to observe attentively to give accurate & useful feedbacks to help others improve. I can now better appreciate what efforts our Senseis & Senpais put into us & what it really means to do what we preach ourselves at all times. It’s truely not an easy feat. 

I’m thankful to all the Kohais that trained with me today with an open mind, as I’m also still adjusting & learning myself so it’s essentially a mutual learning process. It’s a real privilege to be a part of their kendo journey so I wish to do justice of what I’ve learnt from Sensei’s & Senpais.

Many thanks to all the Senseis & Senpais for being patient Motodachi/ opponents during Shidou-geiko (指導稽古)/ teaching practice, to help the Kohais improve by providing individualised training menu depending on each person’s level & providing honest feedback to help push us to become better & better.

Last but not least, Sensei reminded us that it’s normal to encounter bottlenecks during different stages of our kendo journey, but the most important kendo spirit is to never give up in front of obstacles & constantly try to improve oneself. Having a goal is important however, remember to celebrate even the smallest successes along the way to reach that ultimate destination. 

Keep asking ourselves have we done anything that is better than yesterday? If we did then awesome! Even if we didn’t, at least we acknowledge it & are still working on it, & that’s all it matters. Don’t feel deflated or retreat when you are beaten or failed, but rather be grateful for the experience, as a famous Chinese proverb says “Failure is the mother of success”, each failure will help you find out the weaknesses & why it didn’t go right, so we can learn from our mistakes, grow to become a better person & have the chance to create future successes.


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