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Will my body affect my performance?

by Ha Bee Lee
(Houston, TX)

I have a question. I'm 17 years old, almost 18 and I finally started taking Kendo classes, twice a week, 1 hour a day. But it's not a real dojo...He is a real teacher, but there are like... 6 year olds in class so it's hard for me to learn while he takes a lot of time teaching the kids.


Anyways, is my body going to make Kendo extremely hard for me? Every time I move, I crack my joints, my knees, arms, wrist, etc. When I strike the sword, my shoulder and elbow hurts. When I bend my knees, it sometimes cracks and it hurts. And when I finish training for the day, my fingers hurt and are kind of rough to move my joints.

I was told I was born with a weak body. I did injure my knees while running way too much when I was young. It hasn't healed and it's already been 7 years... the Doctor doesn't know what causes it and says it may be permanent.

Also, I used to crack my fingers a lot as a kid and now, it hurts quite a lot when doing Kendo. How will this affect my performance? Can I lessen the pain by building more muscles and perfecting my techniques?

Also, I've ran A LOT when I was a kid. I've run in countless marathons and etc. But I've never stretched so I'm seriously inflexible. Will that affect me and can I improve my flexibility?

Also, I need to buy a new bamboo sword and Shinai. I am 5'8 and weigh around 134 pounds. What length of the sword should I get?

Hmm.. and tips on practicing at home without a weapon would be nice too!

Sorry about all the requests and thank you for your time.

Answer: Thank you for your question. First of all, congrats on having started kendo! You just started hard yet wonderful budo that gives you opportunities to realize what kind of person you are and also to correct yourserlf.

1. So it's hard for me to learn while he takes a lot of time teaching the kids.

When your teacher is teaching someone else, you should still pay attention and learn from what your teacher is telling them. People think learning is directly from their teacher but it is not true. Whoever your teacher is teaching you should learn from it. Even when you cannot hear what your teacher is saying, you should pay attention to his/her action.

2. How will this affect my performance?

If you cannot do your best because of the pains, then it affects your learning. If you cannot learn right, you are not learning well.

Over the course of years, I injured a lot and I still have to suffer from the pains. However, we also must learn to better our body as well.

3. Can I lessen the pain by building more muscles and perfecting my techniques?

I do not know. You should talk to your doctor about it. It sounds like you have chronic pains. That means you must first figure out what causes the pain and what you can do about it.

Like you asked here, you should ask your doctor the same question; if building muscles would help to ease the pains or not.

4. I'm seriously inflexible. Will that affect me and can I improve my flexibility?

It is said that if you are flexible, you would not get injured as much. But people who are more inflexible than I am do not get injured but I do :). But inflexible people certainly have some limitations on their movements.

Yes, you can improve flexibility.

5. Also, I need to buy a new bamboo sword and Shinai. I am 5'8 and weigh around 134 pounds. What length of the sword should I get?

Basically shinai length for training could be any length but if you want to participate in an official tournament, the shinai length is decided by age. If you want to buy one just for practice, 39 is the right length to you.

6. Tips on practicing at home without a weapon would be nice too!

Just do it with your hands. To check forms, you don’t need t have anything in your hands.

Hope this helps.

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