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Nov 20, 2009
Training methods are different from dojo to dojo
by: Kendo-Guide.Com

Agchan, I could not write my comment in your post, since this system limits the number of words we can write. So I am posting here.

I completely understand how you feel about not knowing what is going on. It must be very frustrating.

I must say that his training method is quite eastern. That is ?learn by watching?. As a youngster, I was not told why we did certain things or how things worked. We just had to do what we were told and repeated the process.

Through my kendo history, my teachers gave me good feedback only a few times. Most of the times, they point at what I am doing wrong.

Now we cannot complain how they teach, because that?s how they teach. It must be hard for you because you were not raised in such manner.

My advice is to accept how your teacher teaches. Even though you think what he does is not right, that is how things are in his dojo and probably how things are in Korea. It will be too stressful if you keep questioning his training method.

If you have questions, you can ask here.

Nov 19, 2009
by: Agchan

Thank you for all comments. They have been indeed food for thought.

I understand that I just should get along with everything that is happening in my dojo without a word of complaint. And I do not want to complain. Actually, I just sometimes want to know WHY certain things are happening in this way or another. This is why I'm visiting Sensei Masahiro's webpage so often. :)

I don't want to look like a pup barking at a lion. It would be completely silly and I wouldn't want to see such behavior in my own students, too.

 I know my place in the dojo, I'm aware of the rules - once I have accepted somebody as a teacher, I should follow the person's instructions. I try to be humble.

I put on my bogu - at my teacher's order - very early, when I could not really perform any of the basic strikes properly (I still cannot). In the second hour of training in the armor (feeling like a cat that got stuck in a can with its head) I entered jigeiko.

All my opponents (7 people), accidentally (or not) were approximately 1 to 6 year senior to me. All males much taller than me (I'm rather short, I look like a Korean middle school female student, according to my kendo teacher's own description, though I'm 30... in Japan nobody would call me an obasan, as well :))

I'm always having a lot of doubt concerning my skills (is it maybe the very element that my teacher want to erase in my mind?). In that situation I just panicked. I was determined simply to defend myself and save my face somehow. I had no intention to show my superiority over anybody.

Perhaps at the moment I was very aggressive in my attitude. In anything I do I'm trying to do my best and the perfectionism is working against me, sometimes.

As I mentioned, many things in the dojo are happening too quickly for me. I wish I could receive more instruction before going to the next level, instead of feverishly guessing what is on my teacher's mind.

I do my "homework" through watching kendo-related videos and doing exercise at home, but when my teacher discovers that I know something "by myself", he is immediately pushing me into more advanced training with no warning, of course.

In a word, I feel like a laboratory animal tested for endurance.

The persons who entered the dojo at the same time with me are still 5th kyu. Perhaps my teacher's high expectations toward me should be seen as a flattery, but, speaking honestly, I cannot help feeling irritated when I'm criticised for wrongly performing something I'm doing for the first time in my life. And why does the teacher keep testing his KI on me? I never try to challenge him mentally.

In January I will have a chance to practice kendo in my home country for a few weeks. I think a degeiko will give me a new perspective on the matter.

I would like to thank Masahiro and Matt Senseis for their opinions - I really learned a lot.

Nov 17, 2009
by: Matt

It is not uncommon in some dojos for the training to take the form of 'stand like this, now move like this, now hold the shinai like this, swing it like this, good, now put on bogu and let's do jigeiko'.

As for 4th kyu, at your level I don't think you are really qualified to determine whether you deserve it or not, so the fact that you passed the test means you did.

As for why your training is so harsh you have not provided enough details but I have a suggestion; very often beginners, especially when they are new in bogu try to 'beat' their seniors or sensei. This type of attitude and style of practice is usually dealt with pretty harshly during jigeiko.

Instead of trying to 'beat' your opponent you should be trying to practice kendo, specifically the things you may have learned that day. For me if I am practicing with a junior and they are swinging correctly and doing good footwork, I will let them hit me.

If they are doing strange things, and being rough with the apparent attitude that they are trying to beat me I will make them regret it. I have seen some sensei that deal with this behavior by lining up the offender with the dojo door and knocking them out of the dojo (and in once case down the stairs).

Kendo-Guide.Com Thank you for your post. About training to beat "sensei or senior kendo practitioners". You described very well. Thank you for that.

Since we do not know the situation in Agchan's dojo, we do not know if that is the case. But it is true that many people try to do jigeiko "equally" with their sensei or senior students.

Jigeiko is translated as sparring. I think that is the problem. It is not equal sparing. For example, if you are kyu level, you should not worry about getting a point or not, you should execute cuts correctly and straight with a good kiai.

If you are doing jigeiko with sensei or people with a higher rank, strike more than they strike you. Keep attacking. You do not want to forget the feelings of attacking.

Once you start blocking or try to do jigeiko equally with them, they will start attacking you. If you cannot counterattack, then they will tell you that you should attack more with or without verbal warnings.

This is one of the reasons why we say kendo is not a sport. If it a mere sport, it does not matter how you spar. But since it involves self-development, we must teach our junior students how they should behave in jigeiko.
Blocking does not teach us much. Getting struck by our opponents teaches us our weakness. So do not be afraid to be get struck, if you are afraid of getting hit.

Nov 14, 2009
Supari explanation
by: Anonymous

I should put some explanation to the Korean understanding of "supari". The one word encapsulates three rules of an individual application of kendo training.

1) Follow your sonsaengnim(sensei)'s teaching.

2) Do your own study of it.

3) Apply it in the cultivation of yourself.

What word among the Japanese kendo terminology corresponds with this set of rules?

Thank you for your time!

Answer: Now I know what they are, I think. It is Shu, Ha, Ri in Japanese. Here is an article on shu, ha, ri.

Nov 14, 2009
Learning pace
by: Agchan

Thank you for your answer.

I took my first exam after 2 months of training, and the second one after following 2 months. It makes 4 months of training. I WAS/I AM a super-beginner. I've not been given much time to think what I want to do and when I want to do it.

Apparently my teacher believes that "the best soldier is a despairing soldier", as one of Chinese generals of Ming dynasty. Maybe this is what other senseis do, as well.

I somehow keep discovering there is a hidden and rather abnormal struggle of minds between me and the teacher. Like a private sparring.

He is driving me into exhaustion through his training and ridicules my mistakes. I am doing my best to avoid being killed in the process and keep my mind uninfluenced by his vicious remarks to preserve my concentration. It is not a very mature attitude at either side, though.

As for suparu/supari, I will check it in other Korean dojos. I'm preparing my own comparative glossary on Kendo terminology in Japanese and Korean. Maybe I will write an article on the topic someday. I want to contribute to kendo, too, in the future. :)

Answer: Thank you for your post. It is very hard to tell you what your teacher?s intention during jigeiko (sparring).

We do have to go through very hard training during jigeiko. Well, usually jigeiko turns into kakari-geiko (keep striking until your receiver or motodachi stops you). Sometimes it feels like it will never end.

If you ask me whether or not I give such hard time to a 4 month beginner, my answer is "no".  At my dojo, it is quite rare for beginners to put a set of b0gu on.

I am not sure if all the Korean dojos are like that. But I am sure that not many Japanese senseis give such hard training to 4 months beginners.

Does your sensei give such hard training to other students as well? If so, that is his way of teachings. And if other dojos do the same, maybe it is what they do.  

It is true, in kendo, training can be very very hard and vicious. But the way I instruct is to aim at gradual improvement. So I personally cannot agree with the way your teacher treats you. It is my personal view. It does not mean I am right.

Hope this helps.

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