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  • growing kendo around the world

    This is a related issue to the "Kendo in the olympics" thread.

    Most people who were dubious about kendo as an Olympic sport still said they could see benefits in the extra support kendo would receive from the exposure. Most people seem to take as read the expansion of kendo internationally as an inherently good thing.

    I believe that it is, of course, a good thing to welcome newcomers to kendo and to make training sessions as accessible as possible to all regardless of age, gender, physical ability or financial situation.

    However I would like to pose a caveat to the above statement. I believe it can be detrimental to a teacher's ability to teach kendo in the short term, and to the clear focus of the art in the long term, for too much emphasis to be placed on increasing membership.

    This is the underlying isssue to the Olympics issue, the assumption that we might hate what the Olympics and TV might do to kendo, but we all recognise that the opportunity for the whole world to embrace kendo is one not to be missed.

    Well I think we should, in those countries where it is the case, embrace the fact that we are a small community. This outlook does not, I believe, limit the number of people who might potentially start kendo in the future. Numbers will grow by themselves (the "if you practice, they will come" theory). But it recognises that it is often futile to go 'touting for business' when the potential marketplace for students is going to be relatively small.

    It is much more important to look after the students that have come to kendo of their own volition (how many of you teachers out there have trouble remembering your students' names before they get into bogu?) than try and streamline beginners' courses, simplify grading requirements, valorise shiai over keiko, design glossy brochures/uniforms/websites or whatever strategy is deemed most effective to attract new members by making kendo more 'contemporary', 'Western', 'relevant' or 'less elitist'.

    And we should face the fact that in many cases, our family and our closest friends are never going to understand what we do or why we do it, let alone the ability to endure the aroma of bogu!

    I'd love to hear others' input on this issue.

    B.

  • #2
    I don't see why not? Every host nation gets to introduce a sport eg. Australia introduced surfing or something like that.

    So if japan were to get the next olympics after china it could introduce kendo.

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    • #3
      Well in general I must agree that intrest in Kendo will naturally develoup. Usually, newcoming Kendoka have some prior intrest in Japanese culture (I'm not sure if this would be considered a cultural thing, it probably would, but look how many people have anime-related avatars on this board.)

      Typically, here in the States, the practice of Kendo is rather limited. I live in Connecticut, and I was hard pressed to find the Dojo that I now attend and the fine sensei who teaches there. To most, when I explain Kendo to them, I get a response along the lines of "It's cool that you are a big sword guy, I would like to be that way, but do I really want to devote hours to practice?"

      The idea of learning the practice of swordsmanship appeals to a lot of people here, but only because of how it looks on the outside, not because of the deeper aspects of it. That is where the true Kendoka are seperated from the people who want to whack each other with sticks. The true ones come back for another Keiko.

      I was personally introduced to Kendo by friends and anime, and I have come to greatly appreciate the values of honor that it has to offer. Since I was younger I have been interested in the ideals of the samurai (hence my namesake, Hagakure ) and what they could offer me. I now have the chance to participate in a traditional practice of those ideals. It is a very special thing for me.

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      • #4
        I remember sitting at our Kendo stand during a club and society day at uni. Now I take a rather showman attitude to things and was there calling out to passerbys to join up. Sorta like the army recruiting drive...

        One of my seniors then said to me...don't, let them come to us...Kendo is not for everyone.

        Looking back at it now I understand because it takes a certain amount of commitment and mindset to be a kendoka. Many people come for the beginner course then drop out after they finish.

        Kendo is a life commitment. You never stop learning till the day you die and that is one of the great aspects of it.

        heh, My senior today was telling me about a championship fight in Canberra between the (then) australian champ and the (now) current australian champ.

        The former champ fell over and most of the time one should try to score a cut before the referee calls stop. But the current champ decided to not take a hit and proceeded to walk back to his side, thinking the umpire had called stop. Unfortunately, nothing was stopped and the former champ got back up, picked up his shinai, calmly strolled over to his opponent and executed a perfect men cut as he turned back around.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by KhawMengLee
          Many people come for the beginner course then drop out after they finish.
          You get them to finish the beginner course?

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          • #6
            heh, My senior today was telling me about a championship fight in Canberra between the (then) australian champ and the (now) current australian champ.

            The former champ fell over and most of the time one should try to score a cut before the referee calls stop. But the current champ decided to not take a hit and proceeded to walk back to his side, thinking the umpire had called stop. Unfortunately, nothing was stopped and the former champ got back up, picked up his shinai, calmly strolled over to his opponent and executed a perfect men cut as he turned back around. [/B][/QUOTE]

            It may be a bit OT to answer this but I can't help myself and, well hey, I didn't bring it up...

            What happened was this: the shushin failed to call 'yame' even after my opponent, Arpad Maksay, was on the ground. My mistake was that I missed the opportunity to cut him *straight away*. A full second - maybe three - passed with the shusin still not showing any decision on the fall. By that stage a cut would have been too easy to take. I wouldn't have felt like I had won the shiai, so I decided to walk back to my starting position. On any other day I think Arpad would have done the same, but being the final of the National Championships, I'm sure he felt he could not relinquish the advantage, and so he took the point when I turned around.

            Many people thought I did what I did because I was confused. I was not. I knew before I turned around that the shushin had not, and would not call 'yame', even though I thought he should have. I knew my opponent would take the cut. When I turned around I did not attempt to block it.

            I'm pretty sure this was the first point, so I could have won it back, but either the match ended 'ippon gachi' or Arpad scored the second point I can't remember. Either way, Arpad beat me fair and square.

            Thanks, btw, for crediting me with being the "current champ". I was not. Best to nip these little myths in the bud. Nice to be spoken of though. Even more gratifying to have been a part of a memorable shiai.

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            • #7
              heh..sorry for the misinformation but I got the story from my senior. Whoops...

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