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  • Can previous MA experience be detrimental for new students?

    Hello all,

    After several years of wanting to give Kendo a go, I've finally had the opportunity to sign up for lessons. I've not had a class yet, but am slated to start with this Sunday.

    I have a background in Shotokan and Goju-Ryu although I haven't set foot in a dojo for several more years due to work, relocations, and other obligations. I've recently tried to get back into Shotokan but it just didn't hold the fascination for me as it once did.

    Just wanted to introduce myself and ask a question that may have been asked before (apologies if this is the case - not great at forum searching), but was wondering for those of you who got into Kendo after being exposed to another legitimate MA, what were the advantages/disadvantages of your previous experience?

    Believe me, I have as much disdain for the "self-trained grandmaster 15 y.o. ninja/samurai/karate etc." farts as the majority of KW posts I've seen for the past few weeks.

    Just an honest question from an inquiring mind. Sounds like the National Enquirer, doesn't it?

  • #2
    Welcome!

    We have new groups of people coming in avery couple of months. You usually find that people with previous MA experience are better tuned in and they seem to be a lot quicker to figure things out. Some people complain about old habits creeping up (different footwork, etc..) but other than that they tend to do fairly well.

    Not to mention the fact that they have a fair idea when it comes to going with the flow of the class, I am talking about reigi as well as general instructions (rotate, etc...)

    Hope you enjoy it

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    • #3
      Shotokan should be of particular benefit, in my own experience anyway

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      • #4
        Previous experience is a mixed bag. If you can keep an open mind to the kendo stances and fighting attitudes, then you can use your experience to advantage. Some people have habits that are hard to break and their attitudes don't help. Sounds like your attitude is good though.

        On the positive side, people with other experience are used to working hard, understand that boring repetition is part of getting good, and know how to learn by watching and doing.

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        • #5
          Thanks very much for the quick responses! Much appreciated

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          • #6
            One more thing I would like to add... You will need to understand Kendo is a life thing: In otherwards you shouldn't have any time or level goals in kendo. When I decided to start, my wife warned me don't start thiniking you will do it fro 5 to 10 years then retire from it, because most people will train their entire life & use it to strengthen and discipline their daily life. I hope that I'm explaining that correctly.

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            • #7
              What I have seen most frequently is that people's first instructor tends to leave an indelible stamp on that person. This seems to affect how they view martial arts more than how the act physically. Having recently started my 6 year old daughter in martial arts, the advice I give other parents is that it is better to never start than to start with a mediocre teacher. So if you are coming from a decent, traditional, dojo, you should have no problems changing arts, but if you come from a McDojo, better to just quit martial arts altogether and take up a sport.

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              • #8
                People with training in other martial arts sometimes get very frustrated because the get tuned up by everyone. They start thinking "Well if I use this stance or whatever from my karate/TKD etc training it will be better".
                99.99% of the time it isn't.

                That being said, I think Neil hit it on the head.

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                • #9
                  FWIW, I agree with Neil -- it's a mixed bag.

                  one of the things that I've notice over the years with some of our new folks with MA backgrounds is that sometimes they have trouble understanding the concept of just going straight towards/through the opponent. Sometimes, this inclination hides itself until they get into bogu, and they have a tendency to want to circle the opponent.. or they hit and want to go around rather than through..

                  This is -- after 20 seconds of thought -- the thing that sticks out in my mind with SOME folks with prior MA history..

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                  • #10
                    The only benefits I noticed starting kendo after doing wado-ryu for a few years was that by the time I started I was in fairly good shape, and I was pretty used to getting pounded so I didn't get completely flattened by the time I got in bogu. The problems I had were things like getting used to things like footwork etc. but I just followed my sensei's instructions, and just "forgot" about what I learned before while I was on the floor and never really had any problems crossing over.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bokushingu View Post
                      One more thing I would like to add... You will need to understand Kendo is a life thing: In otherwards you shouldn't have any time or level goals in kendo. When I decided to start, my wife warned me don't start thiniking you will do it fro 5 to 10 years then retire from it, because most people will train their entire life & use it to strengthen and discipline their daily life. I hope that I'm explaining that correctly.
                      I believe I understand where you're coming from. I've been looking for an art in which people just don't look at your technique, but your character as well. My wife teases (out of love, she tells me ) me about how introspective I get sometimes.

                      Originally posted by Bruce Mitchell View Post
                      What I have seen most frequently is that people's first instructor tends to leave an indelible stamp on that person. This seems to affect how they view martial arts more than how the act physically. Having recently started my 6 year old daughter in martial arts, the advice I give other parents is that it is better to never start than to start with a mediocre teacher. So if you are coming from a decent, traditional, dojo, you should have no problems changing arts, but if you come from a McDojo, better to just quit martial arts altogether and take up a sport.
                      I agree. I've had and seen some mediocre instructors - fortunately, I knew I was looking for something "better". I've also had some great instructors, people whom I could trust would not steer their students in the wrong direction. No McDojo's for me - some places just didn't feel "right", and always made sure the dojos I did train at were affiliated with a recognized governing body. Thanks for your input.

                      Originally posted by Ignatz View Post
                      People with training in other martial arts sometimes get very frustrated because the get tuned up by everyone. They start thinking "Well if I use this stance or whatever from my karate/TKD etc training it will be better".
                      99.99% of the time it isn't.

                      That being said, I think Neil hit it on the head.
                      I can assure you I am going in with an empty mind - not that there's much to empty lol. I've done a lot of research on Kendo to see if it was something I'd like to try, but I'll be the first one to admit that I know *nothing* about it and wouldn't even think of trying to cross-pollinate two completely different styles. Thank you for the input.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by tango View Post
                        one of the things that I've notice over the years with some of our new folks with MA backgrounds is that sometimes they have trouble understanding the concept of just going straight towards/through the opponent. Sometimes, this inclination hides itself until they get into bogu, and they have a tendency to want to circle the opponent.. or they hit and want to go around rather than through.
                        I didn't want to get too much into specifics but yeah, different arts tend to produce different habits to be broken. Judo guys are too low and flat-footed, counter-punchers don't want to attack, traditional karate-ka can't shake that back stance, etc etc. Like I said, if they have an open mind they can learn the kendo techniques and then use their experience to advantage.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ignatz View Post
                          People with training in other martial arts sometimes get very frustrated because the get tuned up by everyone...
                          Every once in a while, a sensei will ask "what did you do before kendo?". Two asked "how long has it been since you did Judo?" (A: almost thirty years...).

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Paikea View Post
                            Every once in a while, a sensei will ask "what did you do before kendo?". Two asked "how long has it been since you did Judo?" (A: almost thirty years...).
                            lol on this one. Hopefully I don't end up running around screaming "Osu!!" at the top of my lungs

                            Thanks to all for your thoughtful input - I'll be keeping it mind as I get underway.

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                            • #15
                              From my experience, prior training can only help out new students.

                              Originally posted by NoNameKleenex View Post
                              Hello all,

                              Just wanted to ask a question that may have been asked before (apologies if this is the case - not great at forum searching), but was wondering for those of you who got into Kendo after being exposed to another legitimate MA, what were the advantages/disadvantages of your previous experience?

                              Just an honest question from an inquiring mind. Sounds like the National Enquirer, doesn't it?
                              While I have yet to begin formal kendo classes, I have had some experience in this area. I studied tae kwon do for 5 years, as a young man. About a year or so after I earned my first degree black belt, my Master began instructing some of us in gumdo techniques. While I was never tested or ranked in gumdo, I had become fascinated with the way of the sword. Years later, I took up Olympic-style sport fencing. Everything I thought I knew about swordsmanship was WRONG (in regards to European fencing). The stances were opposite, the approach was different, EVERYTHING seemed foreign and awkward. Like Neil said, I had developed habits that kept surfacing. Still, regardless of the challenges, I found that the experiences I had gone through gave me certain advantages. In terms of discipline, slow-and-steady absorption of techniques and a sense for timing and distance, my prior study lent some insight to me. Before too long, the mechanics of the system became second-nature. Several years later, once again, I found myself faced with the same mixed-bag, when I took up the practice of Chinese swordsmanship. Once more, the stances were unfamiliar and at first, awkward. After some time, I found myself adapting just fine to the new system. When I am fortunate enough to find a kendo dojo in my area, I am sure to be faced with a new set of challenges and adjustments. I think you are much more likely to easily find your way. After all, you have practiced Japanese martial arts before and the stances and foot-work will be similar. Good luck with your new pursuit!

                              Sincerely, Jon Palombi

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