Looking for a way out of the hamster wheel

The three-day visit of the Manila Kendo Club (MKC) senseis and senpais together with Ono Masahiro sensei who came all the way from Hong Kong rekindled the drive I used to have in Kendo. It may not be back to its old form, but I feel relieved that the spark is still there.

A big part of me still feel like I’m trapped in a hamster wheel. Where all the time, effort, and money I invest into this martial art that I love seem to be leading me nowhere. It’s like I’m just doing things for the sake of doing them with little or no room to correct myself in the process. The lack of feedback has long left me uninspired. I was shocked and grateful at the same time in the sheer amount of feedback, insightful observations, and the corrections I got from the visiting senseis and senpais. It was exactly the kind of training I’ve been looking for. Because I simply cannot progress on my own. I’m a beginner after all. I need teaching and guidance. I can’t exactly teach or correct myself based on what I read or watch on videos alone. I believe that relying on self-training will not compensate for the value of feedback and proper training. It will only reinforce the bad habits and wrong techniques I’ve acquired in the past 18 months.

Sometimes I question myself why I still keep doing this knowing that I seem to be getting nowhere. I guess I love Kendo that much that I can’t quit it despite all the disappointments and misgivings I’m having. I just wish that I could actually make progress with it instead of being stuck with the same mistakes that I’m unaware of because of the lack of immediate feedback.

It’s been two weeks since the MKC visit. And here I am wishing that we don’t go back to the same routines again. As I watched everyone during the kyu assessment, I noticed how most of us really have weak basics that we need to work on. But I find it hard to work on my basics when we focus more on speed than proper execution of techniques during keiko. I find myself wishing all the time that I could just train with the beginners. Because there’s nothing I need more now than to work on the things I need to improve on.

On another note, yesterday’s practice tested my patience early on. Warm-up was a noisy affair with several kouhais (junior members) telling our club manager how many we should do for each of the suburi drills we’re doing. Our club manager was asking the Japanese 3rd Dan senpai who was the most senior member there since Lim sensei wasn’t around yet and many were throwing out numbers at him. I think it was a breach of etiquette as we are supposed to stay quiet during practice. Besides, it’s not up to them to decide how many we should do. Two senior members are discussing it and we just have to wait and do whatever they decide on.

Outlook/mood in Kendo lately: Struggling and feeling stuck.


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