The Kendo Journey – The First Steps Might Just Be the Hardest

“People think I’m crazy to put myself through such torture, though I would argue otherwise. Somewhere along the line we seem to have confused comfort with happiness. Dostoyevsky had it right: ‘Suffering is the sole origin of consciousness.’ Never are my senses more engaged than when the pain sets in. There is a magic in misery. Just ask any runner.” ~ Dean Karnazes

Yesterday’s visit by Ono Masahiro sensei was the best keiko I have had since I started my Kendo journey. It was the first time I met someone at his level. I learned many things despite the short time he had to practice with us. I tried to soak up everything I can by listening and observing him in that brief period of time. It became even more glaringly obvious to me that I have barely skimmed the surface of what I needed to learn to be a passably good beginner.

I have been struggling with Kendo for quite some time now. I feel like I am floundering. There are times when I think I am not getting the basics right. The lack of feedback is not helping me at all. I do not even know if I am doing things right. I am concerned that the mistakes I make would become ingrained that it would be doubly harder for me to unlearn them.

To be honest, my motivation is chipping away. But I am pressing on. I think one of the hardest things for me is reigning in my passion and curiosity. I can be pretty intense when I am passionate about something. I fear that asking too many questions might be misunderstood as disrespect for our teacher or seniors. At some point during keiko yesterday, before Ono sensei joined us, I asked my two seniors about what is really the proper way to do kirikaeshi. I noticed that they were doing it with 5-forward/4-backward strikes after the men strike which was different from what I have been doing of 4-forward/5-backward. I was confused. I was next in line so I asked them. I am not even sure if it was proper for me to do so since it was not my turn yet. It was one of those times when I think I have committed a faux pas. But the curious part of me need answers. I learn better by asking questions, especially ones that can help me improve in whatever it is that I try to do.My two seniors told me that it should be 5 forward and 4 backward for kirikaeshi.

Sometimes it can be a pain to want to do things right. But past experiences have also taught me that it is more difficult to correct the wrong things once they have taken root. Lately, this path I have taken on is filled with uncertainties and doubts. Ono sensei’s visit, however, inspired me to continue on. I will just have to find a way to use the time I have now to learn, absorb, and hone whatever it is I need to learn at this level. And to correct my mistakes as quickly as I can before it is too late.

I guess for now I just need to focus on these things:

~Kihon. Kihon. And more kihon.
~Get feedback.
~Develop my stamina.
~Learn timing because right now I honestly do not have a clue on how that works in Kendo.
~Learn to be an “offensive” player since I have always been a “defensive” player in the other martial arts I have tried.
~Ignore the things I am not happy with and just work on improving myself.

Overall mood in kendo lately: Discouraged and lost, but hanging on.

Thanks to Ono sensei for inspiring me at kendo again.


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