「若い時に流さない汗は年寄りになったら涙になる。」

The Japanese school year is moving swiftly into the second semester. The ol to do list is becoming a double sided A4 page, cram-packed with assignments and presentations due in the coming weeks, and the timing is such that training is extra intense in preparation for the fast approaching All Japan Student Champs.

Although it can be a bit of a drag, all things considered, the school work is not so bad.

The training on the other hand

The preparation trainings for such a highly regarded competition as the All Japans, is nothing less than full on. With the demands of the high physical intensity comes a natural physical and mental exhaustion for the people involved. And recently, despite my best efforts, trying to keep up as well as apply the invaluable advice from my sensei to my technique, I was getting very tired!

Signs of improvement were quickly fading, and I spent more time getting hit than ever before. Even with all the time I spent thinking about my right arm, my left foot and my breathing, I found I was experiencing the complete opposite of what I had intended. My techniques became slow, my timing was off, and my endurance was poorconsequently leading to a record low in my motivation level for trainings.

In fact, it got to the stage where I actually looked forward to the 2 hour Tuesday statistics lecture, as it meant I would have a bit of a late start and therefore a shorter training! (My apologies to anyone who likes statistics, it was never one of my strong subjects!)

I began to feel incredibly guilty. I was here to do kendo, yet I couldnt stand the thought of it. I was here to learn as much as humanly possible in two years, but I couldnt even get excited about jigeiko. And, as it all compacted, I got hit more, lost more motivation, thus got hit some more! Rinse and repeat.

Day in and day out, training just wasnt pushing my buttons anymore. Who would have thought that you could have too much of a good thing!?

Why wasnt I getting better? Why were these little buggers able to hit me whenever the felt like it, and all I could do was stand in the same spot? Why wasnt I getting better?!

In this respect, I found myself facing a pretty big brick wall.

Truth be told, I ran straight into it!

Before we go any further, please understand that this is not a Dear diary, poor me entry. I know that everyone encounters tough times. Rather, I wanted to write about the advice I got that helped me get over my gigantic wall of demotivation, and get on with the task at handa problem shared as it were

In an e-mail conversation I was having with a sempai and very close friend back home, I was explaining the series of events that were causing me to have my mini freak out. I was quickly and completely losing my motivation for kendo. My attitude to training was poor, and this worried me!

His response was, What you dont sweat out when you are young, turns into tears when you are older.

I felt better.

Thanks mate, I replied, thats just what I needed to hear

He said, It was your bloody phrase!

Though Id love to take the credit, these words of wisdom were passed onto me from my brother/kendo teacher, in the early stages of my kendo journey. No doubt they helped him to achieve some great things, and likewise they struck a chord with me through the tough timesnamely the fatal beatings dished out in large helpings at the Canterbury Kendo Club!

Before I left New Zealand to come to Japan8 months ago nowI reminded my club-mates of these words, in the hope that they would see them through the darker days. And as my sempai reminded me of the advice I gave, that was given to me, I found a new head space.

In some ways it was this die hard attitude towards training that put me in front of the wall to begin with. I was putting so much into trainings that I began to burn out. But the important point that my sempai was trying to get across was that of dont over think it, be patient, harden up and just do it!

The timely reminder from my sempai helped me remember that the best way forward was to sweat it out, train hard and know that results will come one day. Impatience can lead to a complete mental block, but simply giving it all there is to give will pay dividends when the time comes.

I dont believe that this saying suggests that we dont work hard at out technique. In my humble opinion, I think it is all encompassing. That is, kendo trainings are harder when we use the correct technique. Nothing new there. It is a matter of trusting that the effort we put in now, no matter how slow the results are to appear, will one day pay off.

For me, the fear of being regretful in my older years inspires a new frame of mind and attitude to trainings at Taidaiand, with only 15 months left to learn as much as I can from two young 8th dan, a hand full of 7th dan, and a whole club of some of Japans best fighters, I dont have a moment to spare.


Thanks again mate.


KB