Kendo as a Do

by Jackson
(Baltimore Maryland)

I was wondering how you would describe to a Westerner how Kendo can be considered a Way.

Answer: Thank you for your question. That is a hard one. First, you should describe what a “way” is, don’t you think?

Many people describe it as a way of life. Then next question is…

What Is A Way Of Life?

Here is the concept of kendo and its purposes defined by All Japan Kendo Federation.

The Concept of Kendo

The concept of Kendo is to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the Katana (sword).

The Purpose of Practicing Kendo

The purpose of practicing Kendo is:

To mold the mind and body,

To cultivate a vigorous spirit,

And through correct and rigid training,

To strive for improvement in the art of Kendo,

To hold in esteem human courtesy and honor,

To associate with others with sincerity,

And to forever pursue the cultivation of oneself.

This will make one be able:

To love his/her country and society,

To contribute to the development of culture

And to promote peace and prosperity among all peoples.

(The Concept of Kendo was established by All Japan Kendo Federation in 1975.)

Do the Right Things in the Right Way

We actually don’t really know what is right and what is wrong. Through having lived in 4 different countries, I found it very hard to define what is right and what is wrong.

Don’t you agree?

It is best if what benefits you benefits
others, i.e. win-win situation. And also your existence benefits the society. That is what “The Purposes of Kendo” above is saying, right?

I am sure everyone has this experience in kendo.

You learn one thing and you find it very hard to do it as you are taught. And you think you are doing it right but your instructor tells you that you are still not doing it right.

Kendo Is To Learn How to Deal With Yourself and the Process

You have to struggle to make it right. Some people quit because they cannot do it. Some quit because they think their instructor cannot teach right. Some quit because they get too frustrated.

Kendo teaches you how to control yourself during the process of learning.

Kendo is derived from samurai swordsmanship and they used to kill each other. Imagine if you couldn’t control yourself in a battle field. You would die really quickly.

And if you learn kendo kata, you know that there are kata that let the opponent live. The kata are telling us that we need to live together so don’t hurt/kill others.

We Cannot Control Others But We Can Control Ourselves.

Kendo does not teach us how to kill or hurt others. Kendo is a tool to train ourselves strong physically and mentally so we can be strong as a human, i.e. we can control ourselves better. That is the first step.

Kendo is a tool to learn how to control ourselves and harmonize with others.

Hope this helps.

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