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Real Kendo starts at 4th Dan.....?

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  • Real Kendo starts at 4th Dan.....?

    .....this is something a Shodan friend of mine had said to him, and passed on to me as a "so they say" kind of statement.

    Just wondered if anyone had any insights on this - I dont think I'll get to find out first hand for a good five/ten years or more....

    As a complete novice I am getting a huge amount from Kendo already (maybe it was the 20 year delay in getting started...), so this comment intrigues me a little....Does anyone who has this rank or beyond know what this is supposed to mean?

    Dave

  • #2
    Funny, I thought it started at 8th dan ?!?!?!

    But seriously, if your friend is a shodan then how can he possible know what he is talking about (following on from his comment -> by his own admission) !!!

    Just keep practising.

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    • #3
      Oh thanks George !
      I am the shodan guy from the message.
      i was just passing opinion given to me by JP Raick, kyoshi nanadan. He may be wrong and I admit I may not understand what he meant, but I would not risk such a statement of my own !
      BTW, I also thought it all started at 8thh dan :-) and anyhow, it really depends on what one means by "really starts", I suppose...
      cheers,
      Antonin

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      • #4
        Hi George

        ...yeah, I did say this to him! To be fair (as I hinted) he was passing it on as a comment made to him, not something he was being strident about. It came out of a conversation about whether 1st Dan was a big deal or not in Kendo, relative to, say, Karate, where it seems like the ultimate goal for a lot of people. My Shodan friend refers to his grade as "advanced beginner", and this is the general impression I get from others. Is it that Kendoka are just more modest, or have a longer path in mind....?

        Regards

        Dave

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        • #5
          Hey Antonin

          Wasnt wishing to "drop you in it" by the way, just thought it might make for an interesting topic for discussion! (hence not naming you..)

          Hope no toes have been trodden on (given my standard of footwork it would be no great surprise!)

          Dave

          Comment


          • #6
            Antonin,

            heh heh heh, you know what I mean ! Good luck at Stoke, but you probably dont need it. Anyway, you are right in regards to the semantics.

            Dave - you've probably made antonin really mad at me now, for which I am sure he'll give me a good seeing to. In fact, i'll let him have his revenge round the back at the bowdens .....

            Cheers,

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            • #7
              Hey George !
              i'm not mad at all, don't worry folks ! I am just being latin !
              I'm not grading in Stoke. I have to wait untill November anyhow ! And I am ;ooking forward to kicking your ass again ! More likely the other way around, but hey....
              On topic, maybe saying that kendo starts at 4th dan is a bit overblown, but the fact remains that shodan and nidan are advanced begginer level in my opinion.
              No ?
              Antonin

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              • #8
                For this "Real Kendo starts at Yondan?" question,

                When you consider in Japan, millions of kids started Kendo in their primary school. In junior high they've have Shodan, then in senior high their Nidan. Sandan in Uni, and probably a large proportion would have dropped out, either due to time-management for study, meeting boy/girlfriends, boredom or whatever reason they can give. So when they reach Yondan, it'll be likely that they're having some commitment in Kendo, as their life-long interest.

                Okay this logic can only apply to JAPANESE. I suppose the drop-out rate for Sandan westerners is very low. Mainly because people take the grading and stuff so seriously (oh, aren't you?). To the Japanese that might be just some yearly routine.

                Oops, I just think we need some Japanese to explain this... I'm purely making this up.

                Comment


                • #9
                  It's Nidan when they enter high school and Sandan before they leave. It is a matter of course. Training in the morning and practicing in the afternoon plus weekends there are few that fail gradings. Most drop out at Sandan.

                  I know it sounds strange to hear of someone just gives up after so much hard work. But this usually "is" the reason they finish. After quite a few years total commitment they have "had enough". I have quizzed my kendobu students as to why they drop out. Personally I would be more than pleased if a few popped in now and again for a practice to help out their Kohai. The Judobu have an obi-kai once a week once a week and it really does help.

                  The local Police riot squad do pop in now again to help. Most of them graduated from the school anyway.

                  Those that will make a career that has Kendo connections (Police/Education) will continue at college/university.

                  Godan is a prefectural grade. Rokudan plus a national one. If you take Rokudan its on prefectural recommendation. If you pass Rokudan forget your weekends etc. You are expected to help out and at the yearly never ending events/taikai's holding a nationaly recognized grade. As an over fifty representative of school kendo teachers association I am one of only four in the whole prefecture.

                  Saying all this I don't understand this starting starting idea? It's a never ending process. Its really up to you as to how much you want to become involved. Speaking for your normal Yudansha its a job and a responsibility, not an interest and you don't really have a choice. I left posting for a few minutes to help with Kendo student in the sickroom who was injured at training this morning. She has now been taken to hospital. There are other things in life wife family etc that they have to try and fit in.

                  One is indeed very lucky to be able to reach a higher grade and to escape the responsibity that goes with it in Japan.

                  Hyaku

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I left posting for a few minutes to help with Kendo student in the sickroom who was injured at training this morning. She has now been taken to hospital. There are other things in life wife family etc that they have to try and fit in.
                    BY Hyaku.


                    Yikes! What happened, is she Okay?

                    Heh, I took one of my seniors to hospital recently. She is a student from Japan and had sustained this huge bruise on here hand from repeated kote strikes. I mean it was the size of a golf ball but she was pretty calm about it. Luckily it was not very serious but she told me this happens all the time in Japan.

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                    • #11
                      "Saying all this I don't understand this starting idea? It's a never ending process. Its really up to you as to how much you want to become involved. Speaking for your normal Yudansha its a job and a responsibility, not an interest and you don't really have a choice.

                      "One is indeed very lucky to be able to reach a higher grade and to escape the responsibity that goes with it in Japan."

                      Thanks for an interesting post Hyaku. It's good to hear you talk about what a responsibility it is being yudansha. It's also interesting to hear you tell of all the 3rd dan kids who drop out. I've met many such Japanese on exchange in Australia. If they're still doing kendo at all it has usually fossilised at the level they were practicing in high school. They're no longer passionate about progressing. They do it as a way of meeting some friendly foreigners and to counteract home-sickness. I'm sure back home there are pressures on these kids a non-Japanese can't easily understand.

                      For myself being a yudansha is both a blessing and a huge responsibility. I don't feel like I have the luxury of being able to have a bad day in the dojo. I know my technique is being scrutinised every minute. It's not because I care what they think so much as I want to be the best example I can. And the really good students are all out to prove themselves against me. Some days I feel more than equal to the challenge, other days not so. It makes it hard to practice my own kendo. Then there's the responsibility of being a shimpan.

                      On the other hand, as a recent 4th dan I do feel like finally I can make some headway in kendo, like I am ready to understand the subtler aspects. I suppose at some level it is like being a beginner again because I no longer have any expectations about where this kendo thing will end. It all feels new. Whereas in the beginning it was all *shu*, nowadays there is some *ha* and *ri* as well.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        "I don't feel like I have the luxury of being able to have a bad day in the dojo. I know my technique is being scrutinised every minute. "

                        Is this not a disincentive for people to grade? I'm not saying not to progress, but to not actually grade, so people dont apply a label? Then you could have that luxury bad-kendo day.....? ;-)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hi

                          "I don't feel like I have the luxury of being able to have a bad day in the dojo. I know my technique is being scrutinised every minute. "

                          and

                          >Is this not a disincentive for people to grade? I'm not saying not to progress, but to not actually grade, so people dont apply a label? Then you could have that luxury bad-kendo day....?<

                          As hyaku mentioned - with an increase in grade there comes and increase in responsibility (for better or worse). *That* can sometimes be a disincentive. (e.g. never-ending yondans)

                          As someone who feels that scrutiny all I can say is that I am thankful for it. I might want to melt into the background but, in actual fact, it makes me face my kendo demons and [attempt to] overcome them. This includes passing grades and doing well in taikai (if I can).

                          As to bad-kendo days being a "luxury" .........

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                          • #14
                            Actually, I wouldn't have it any other way...

                            When I was starting out, 4th dan seemed like an unattainable peak. Now it's 8th dan that seems 'unattainable'! I also envied being able to take classes and not have to follow instructions all the time. Now I realise it's not quite that simple.

                            Is it a disincentive to grade? Maybe. But I believe you do have to pit yourself against the harsh reality-check of the objective benchmarking process. And it's not about ego and showing off your accomplishments, probably the opposite. It's the same with competition (for me at least).

                            You grade because you recognise that you have to be measured against the same criteria as everybody else ("I think my kendo's pretty good, but I need to test out if the World thinks that too.") You grade also because eventually you will have to take responsibility for the path of the organisation which gave you your start. You will have to teach, judge, go to meetings, sit on committees, etc, etc, none of which is 'fun' like jigeiko. But it is necessary, and rewarding.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Nicely said Ben

                              I'd previously not really considered that with grade came responsibility (duh!), but you have expressed it in a very positive way. Already I do feel a great debt to my seniors and sensei, and each time I rei, it is always because I am genuinely grateful for what they have given me, even if it is only 1 min of receiving kirikaeshi.

                              I guess that the logical extension of this is that at some stage you have to start to repay that debt - if not to them, then to the people that come after. I can see that this must be very rewarding - a friend came along for his first session this week, and I just helped him with a few of the basics of suburi. Although a complete novice, I realised that I did know (slightly) more than nothing after all. ;-)

                              I think instructing others always makes you realise / question what you know yourself, which, especially in Kendo, must be a good thing.

                              Thanks Ben

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