Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
I feel refreshed and lighter practicing kendo after shedding all that unnecessary baggage I’ve unwittingly carried in the past.
My sole focus now is to improve because:
- I’m back to zero. Really. It’s like I’ve had to learn everything again from scratch.
- My stamina is at record low.
- My basics are pathetic.
- My tenouchi/shibori seems non-existent.
- My timing is off — by a lot.
- My footwork, especially my fumikomi-ashi is laughable and just wrong in so many ways.
- My zanshin isn’t as near as it was before.
- And even my kiai is not as it used to be.
Given all these, I spent most of the time relearning everything. It was a tall order since there were new techniques and drills I had to learn as well. So when one of the kouhais who leads the group now (apart from our club manager) asked me for feedback after practice, I told him that I can’t give any because I’ve been focused on how to improve my own kendo. I also felt that I had no business discussing someone’s mistakes when I’m doing a lot of things wrong myself.
During uchikomi-geiko my kouhai partner asked me if she was doing the technique right and to teach her how to do it correctly. I told her that it’s my first time to do it as well so I might end up teaching her the wrong thing(s). Besides, in an environment where many are just too eager to teach that even newbies have no qualms about teaching just about everyone, one less person doing it shouldn’t matter much.
I’m not saying I won’t share feedback or correct a partner if needed. But I will not do it haphazardly. Because if my goal is to help someone improve, I have to be more conscious of what to impart. I don’t know if that would be taken as selfishness on my part. But I think it would be more selfish to teach anyone something that I can’t even do right. The best people to do that would be the senseis or senpais who are teaching us, especially if it’s during keiko. I think I’d be of more help improving my kendo and setting an example by how I approach every practice.