I have decided to use this section of the website as a news/blog page. Club related news will of course still be posted here, but I also want to have somewhere to type up thoughts on our kendo. Too often in training we don’t have time to talk in depth on anything, and a topic that deserves 10 minutes of discussion only gets two sentences. Of course it’s important to use our time training and not just talking, but the talking is valuable too. Why do you think I invite people to the pub every week?
That said, I am not a natural writer. Or very experienced at it. Still, I’m hoping that with time and practice my muddled thoughts will start to become a little more useful. Or if not useful, at least coherent.
Right now everyone in Ko En Kai is going through some kind of big transition. I myself am moving from student to teacher, something I have only dabbled in before now. The challenge is to try to maintain my own learning and kendo while also running sessions and advising others. It’s a balance that I struggle with, and I expect I will for a while yet!
Our April intake, the club’s very first members, are just starting to wear bogu. We’re not quite wearing men yet, and we’re a few weeks away from Jigeiko, but just do and kote is enough of a change! When wearing kote, there are two things that always get thrown off unless we’re careful. The first of these is our grip when in chudan kamae. And the second is tenouchi, at the moment of the strike. Wearing gloves that are bulky and stiff can be a big distraction, but the best thing we can do is consciously practise kendo the way we want our kendo to be. This will help to reduce the negative impact on our technique from wearing kote, and of course it’s just good practice in general! Then once we start wearing men everything changes again. The air is hotter, our shoulders are restricted, and we’re getting hit on the head now. The most important thing here is to focus on keeping the fundamentals correct. We spent three months getting the basics right, now we need to keep them right even though there’s so much else going on! This transition is, in my opinion, the most exciting time in kendo; jigeiko is the point where someone goes from “kendo beginner” to “kendoka”. I hope you agree.
And of course, we can’t forget the people who started in July! Going from “never done kendo” to “doing kendo” is obviously the biggest change that you’ll see in kendo. The first month is always hectic, with at least 5 different things to think about at any time! It’s important to make the most of this time and build a solid foundation, but it’s also vital that we don’t burn out. Kendo is lifelong, and you have months before you’ll wear armour. Do what you can now, but don’t worry if it takes a little while before things start to feel solid and comfortable.
In my experience, kendo is full of transitions like this. You incorporate something new into your kendo, you get a month or so to enjoy it, and then it’s back to working on something else! Any time your kendo is going through a transition period, here’s my advice: accept that things will feel difficult while you adjust, make sure you don’t lose too much of your old kendo while you bring in something new, and don’t be in too much of a rush to reach the other side.