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Held Back

by Jessica
(Canada)

I've been taking kendo at my local university for about a year now. I was graded to get my bogu but unfortunately I failed. Unlike the other students who had also failed, I've been a dedicated student and trained just as much as any of the other beginner students.


I was told that I was held back because the senseis did not feel that I could handle bogu yet, but that I was really close to passing. The thing is I really feel that part of their decision to hold me back is that I'm a girl (also Caucasian). I do feel that their decision is kinda fair, but I do feel that they are doubting my strength (I'm a farm girl, I throw hay bales a lot, I'm not that weak... >.>)

Aside from that I feel that I'm holding myself back. I've read a few of your articles that say that there are a lot of philosophies in kendo. At the beginning of practice we meditate and we're only supposed to focus on kendo for the entire practice, and also the sensei's can tell when a person is really kiaing or yelling.

The past year I've been through my parents getting separated and my best friend having a baby, which has been really stressful for me. And I'm quite sure people can hear it in my kiai. My senpai constantly tells me to kiai properly, and it's gotten to the point where sometimes I don't even kiai.

Do you know of anyways where I can use kendo teachings to help me become a stronger person/ help me concentrate on kendo so that I'm not holding myself back? Also if the subject comes up again, can I ask the senseis why they based their decision to hold me back, or is that too rude... ?

Answer: Thank you for your question. Asking your senseis questions is not rude, as long as you are humble and show respect.

I tell my students that kendō and our lives are connected. When our life is good (or bad), our kendō becomes good (or bad) and vice versa.

Kendō is to train something that is intangible through training with swords that are tangible. If you want to become strong inside, you have to train very hard.

We are very weak and vulnerable. That is why we have many ways to become stronger. To start your training, having a lot of kiai is the way you should choose.

It is true that kiai is not just a shout but shouting is the start. Shout as much as you can. Eventually you will lose your voice. Once you lose your voice, that is the start of the real kiai training.

If you stop shouting there, you will never learn how to use your stomach to have a good kiai. Ref: Strong kiai training

When you have a lot of kiai, you can concentrate more. Many people stop shouting because they cannot concentrate. But that is why they have to shout a lot as if you are getting all the stress out of your body.

Start from there. I am sure something will change inside you.

Hope this helps.

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