Any lingering doubt that November has been a particularly challenging one for me has been blown to bits this morning. Failing my kendo 1st kyu assessment earlier today, the last day of the month, was like a fitting farewell to the grueling four weeks behind me.
I welcomed this month with one goal in mind — to prepare as much as I can for the kyu assessment. After all, that was what made me decide to give kendo another try. I initially thought the increased pressure at work that called for longer hours and learning new stuff were the only hurdles I have to overcome. But I was wrong. The challenges just kept piling up that I felt like I was drowning. The worst part came when my dad had to stay at the hospital for several days. I was able to breathe normally again only after he came home a few days back.
Failing is a bitter pill to swallow. But as soon as the initial disappointment and sadness faded, I could actually think of some reasons to be thankful for.
1. A confirmation of what I already knew all along – I almost gave up on the assessment knowing that there’s no way I can perform well. Today’s disastrous results proved what I already knew after my second day back in training:
2. Supportive kendoka – Ma’am Ruby, who is one of my first batch co-members, not only managed to make me come back. She also taught me Kata 1-3 every time we practiced beginning a few weeks back. Then there’s Paul and Alain who taught us Bokuto 1-9 last Wednesday and Thursday.
3. A good reminder to myself on the importance of trying despite the odds being stacked against me – The day before the kyu assessment, our club manager who was supposed to be taking the 1st kyu evaluation with us, said that according to the Manila Kendo Club (MKC) senseis we can only take up to the 2nd kyu. I was happy to hear this because I thought that I’m really not qualified for 1st kyu. So I went home thinking that I’ll be trying to pass 2 kyu the next day. I even spent some time reviewing the Bokuto 1-9 before I slept and as soon as I woke up this morning. So I was completely shocked when we were told that we’ll be taking the 1st kyu assessment instead. I didn’t even had time to practice Kata 1-3 before the assessment. I used up the spare time I had before the start of the evaluations practicing bokuto 1-9 which I was expecting to perform for 2nd kyu. In hindsight, I should have stuck it out with 2nd kyu or went for 3rd kyu instead of going for 1st kyu. But something good still came out of it because I learned thatI can rise to the challenge and give it a try no matter how all the odds are stacked against me.
4. A testament to the importance of just showing up regardless of how many hurdles I have to overcome – This quote I shared on day 1 of pre-kyu assessment training with the MKC senseis and senpais together with Ono Masahiro sensei from Hong Kong inspired me to just show up despite the toll of the hellish weeks I’ve had.
5. The lessons learned – I learned so many things in the three days of training with the visiting senseis and senpais. I wish we could train like that more. But I’ll take whatever I can get as a gift. And our gracious guests have generously taught us a lot. For that I’m extremely grateful.