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Psychological training methodologies

by Pavel
(Ukraine)

Psychological training methodologies


Are there any psychological training methodologies for kendo tournaments?

What I mean here… During trainings we do pretty nice kendo. Even in jigeiko many things work well. But when it comes to shiai everything becomes different.

When we do shiai between our kendo club mates who we know for a long time I can say that we perform so-so, anyway worse than in normal training. When it comes to shiai with unknown people in some tournament we do so weird things that I even don’t know where we could get them.

Why it happens and how to train our mind so that not to behave like that in tournaments?

Answer: Thank you for your question. It is very interesting and probably many people are wondering too.

When you do jigeiko with people you know, you feel easy and familiar. You know what kind of kendō your kendo mates will do against you and you probably know what works and what doesn’t on your kendō mates.

When the status of your mind is normal, you can more likely perform your own kendo.

But when you confront people you don't know very well, you get nervous. Since you don't know their strengths and weaknesses, you become more cautious. Simply you're fighting unknown people. It is normal for people to become afraid of and/or uncertain about their opponent. It is quite possible that your opponent surprises you by his/her movements because you are not family with him/her. You may get puzzled by the way they do kendō because simply they do kendō differently from what you usually see at your dōjō. These states of mind called “shikai

We train so that we are not going to have shikai at important moments of our lives.

And in shiai, a lot of thoughts come into your head such as "I want to win", "I do not want to lose" or "I can't lose" and so forth. These thoughts make you more nervous and as the result you lose the state of the mind called “heijōshin”. Heijōshin means “the normal status of the mind”. So when you feel comfortable and you're not nervous, the state of your mind is “heijōshin”.

So our job is to keep heijōshin and have shikai away from us. It is very hard to do but once you train hard, it gives you confidence.

Confidence gives you more certainty in your kendō. You will have no doubt about your kendō and your execution of strikes. Your mind is clear and normal. You can see your opponent well even though it is your first time to fight him/her.

This is an ideal state of your kendō.

Do not forget about deep breath (mokusō breathing) whenever you can. Try to keep your mind under control in daily life. When you get irritated, frustrated, scared or surprised, try to keep your mind calm, i.e. heijōshin.

Try to imagine that the state of your mind is calm while you’re fighting. You are doing exactly you practice at the dōjō. Your kiai is awesome and the pressure of your kiai is so strong that your opponent cannot do anything about it. You are so certain and all you are going to do is to execute your beautiful cut that you have practiced at the dōjō.

Hope this helps.

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