[Kendo Musings] Finding the lost drive and the serendipity of letting go

(Photo credit: @verywellnoel)
(Photo credit: @verywellnoel)

My kendo journey hit a wall in 2015. I lost my commitment and drive. And I even went on a long hiatus twice. I only came back a month before a scheduled kyu evaluation last November. I of course failed the grading given my lack of training and progress.

I am still struggling to rekindle my motivation. But at least I have been able to drag myself to the dojo to continue training.

There are several external and internal factors at play that pushed me to the brink of quitting. I have tried to do something to address both early last year. But I quickly realized that I am powerless in dealing with the external stuff. I figured it is best to leave them alone. It is a tall order for me because I am wired to observe, analyze, and act. Unfortunately, I seem to operate differently than what others are used to. Given the lessons I have learned, I decided to focus more on myself. I need to learn how to accept the nature of my current kendo environment without compromising the things I stand for.

I am still working on completely letting things go. It is not easy to let things slide when they have a direct or indirect effect on my progress. But taking baby steps leaves me empowered. Kendo is teaching me a lot about humility. It is teaching me to endure the unpleasant and irritating things even if they impact or derail my training. Above all, it made me realize that taking the higher ground is easier said than done. But taking a small step towards that direction feels like a major achievement.

But my need to learn and improve is so strong. I am desperate to understand more of what I am doing because I learn better that way. I have yet to find a mentor to help me with that.

Today though, I am just happy with these discoveries I had while reading some kendo resources:

Yakusoku geiko

Yakusoku in general means “promise”. So the targets to be struck are already decided (prearranged). Therefore, if you have the targets to be struck in certain order, i.e. “onaji no waza uchikomi geiko”, it is a yakusoku geiko.

Now if we apply the definition of yakusoku geiko, all the training for techniques such as debana kote, men kaeshi men and so on are all yakusoku geiko, because both motodachi (receiver) and kakarite (striker) know what target and how they should strike.

So yakusoku geiko is a general term for training in which the practitioners know what targets should be struck.(Source: Kendo-Guide.Com)


…continued practice of men and taitari followed by hiki waza (Source: kendoinfo.net)


In jigeiko, the higher ranks will make openings to the lower ranks so that the lower ranks can learn good opportunities to strike. (Source: Kendo-Guide.Com)

Knowing these terms and understanding their purpose is a big deal for me. We have been doing them during practice but I did not know that there are specific terms for them. I feel that now I can optimize their benefits more. It also made me understand a bit better why the senseis and senpais I have done jigeiko with use them. Hopefully, I could use this newfound knowledge to be a better kakarite. It may even help me become a better motodachi to my kouhais.

Learning all the Japanese terms is not an easy feat given that it is rare for us to use them in the dojo. But I find that knowing the term and the rationale for each drill or technique helps me execute it more properly. At least as properly as a newbie like me can.


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