お前とやりにくくなったなー "It was difficult doing (*in this case) kendo with you" is what sensei said to me after keiko last night. I can't think of any other activity where I would be pleased to hear that. If a woman told me that I'd be gutted. If I were on a baseball team I'd feel ashamed with my performance. After kendo, I feel great! In fact if I were told the opposite, 上手やな "Your really good" I'd be completely unsatisfied because it meant that sensei was just humoring me.

Last night for the first time in maybe 6-8 months I practiced with one of my favorite sensei. At the time I did not notice, I was just doing kendo as usual, but in retrospect something definitely felt different. Against him I remember often being very tense and eventually tired out by the end. This time things went very smoothly like a well-rehearsed dance. He still beat me silly but I didnt feel like a complete mess at the end. Afterwards when I thanked him for practice he laid that gem on me with a toothy grin, and proceeded to rifle off a number of faults that he no longer saw in my kendo, and quickly added a whole new set for me to work on. I was particularly happy with being told that because everyday I practice with people that are so much better than me that I really have no way of measuring my progression and often wonder if I'm making any progress at all. It often feels like I am running in place and makes keiko a struggle against my own ineptitude. Sensei's comment that evening gave me chance to reflect on how far I've come and also a much needed pick me up to continue the long journey ahead.