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2 years and still 2 kyu? A question and rants (mostly rants)

by Rahman
(Indonesia)

I know, it's probably stupid to expose my poor achievement and ask for an opinion, but I still think this is important (at least for me).


In some places in the world, like where I live (not America), kendo is not a really famous practical form of martial art. Most fellow martial artists that ask me what I do in the dojo just spouted some ignorant or sarcastic remarks which hurt my resolve in practicing. Still, I survived these 2 years and had lots of fun with it. I know lots of sensei in the country, and even if they don't know, I respect them a lot.

Recently, before New Year, I finally got a certificate for 2 kyu. Not anything to brag about, but it is a really motivating reward after training on gasshuku and intensives. I finally believed I can at least get recognition for my dedication these past years.

That is all good until normal practice starts again and the usual menu on sensei's program; Men-uchi sankyodo, Men-uchi ikkyodo. And suburi. That training menu is awesome the first time I got my shinai. But it got old the next month. I had to do these mostly on every practice, with little to no variation. Sometimes I practice on my own, but when I do, my forms are crippling and I got an earful from sensei as a result, which lead to his disbelief in my skills (probably) as shown by the monotony of his training menu.

I agree on repetitive concept of practice, mind you, but this has gone too far and probably too late. Can you finally figure out why I need to rant here?

My question is simple, how do you practice correctly if no one is willing to teach you? especially waza.

I understand this maybe not the case for the rest of the world, even other students in my dojo don't feel the same way. I tried, you know, but sensei just don't teach anything that I perceived as "interesting" and I slowly lost my interest in chasing things that I'm deemed "not worthy" of.

Thank you,

Rahman.

Answer: Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm sure almost everyone has similar experience. Since your teacher didn't share his side of the story so no one knows what you think of you. So I would like to share what I say to my students.

I tell my students that you don't need to "learn" waza as long as you do the basics right. If your basics is bad, i.e. your kendo foundation isn't firm, you cannot learn waza anyway.

I teach beginners kata so they can learn almost all the basics of kendo there. And I tell eveyone that you are learning techniques in kata too. How well can you do kata? If you cannot execute good techniques without bogu on, how come you can execute kata with bogu on?

To do kendo right means, you do everything correctly. How you grab your sword, how you stand, how you swing, how you move your body and so forth based on "the application of the principles of the Katana (sword)" That is what I mean by "correctly".

Last night, my students did


  • 40 minutes of kata.

  • Big suburi for 10 min.

  • Kirikaeshi with bokuto for 15 min.

  • Kirikaeshi with bogu on for 10 min,

  • Kakarite and motodachi both kirikaeshi for 10 min.



No waza training. No other kihon. We focused on


  • breathing,

  • completing strikes (the left hand above the head and cutting down).



Kendo is to train ourselves. We should strive to do things correctly, which is the toughest thing to do. But this is how we develop the core of our characteristics, i.e. virtues such as strictness, honesty, courage, obligation and loyalty.

Once we get used to, we consciously or unconsciously learn how to cheat.That is when we get "bored". This is time to become stricter to ourselves. Know the reason why we are doing what we are told to do and polish up what we do.

If you focus to accomplish to do what you are given, you will get better no time. You won't even notice that you have improved.

I know it is a hard time for you but it is also a critical time for you. Don't blame others. Just do what you are told to do. Don't just do it. Make it better. Polish it up. Through this process, you will improve yourself as a person and kendoist.

Good luck!

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