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  • kendo and religion

    I am interested to know from people on the forum their experience of the following:

    Have you ever experienced conflict between the practice of kendo (including etiquette) and your own, or someone else in your dojo's, religious beliefs? What has been the outcome?

    ...or the positive corollary of that question...

    Have you ever found a surprising synergy between yours/others' beliefs and your kendo practice?

    ...or finally...

    Have your religious or spiritual beliefs been shaped by kendo?

    The potential for this thread to become incendiary is high (moderators have your red pencils ready! ). Therefore please at all times be respectful and try as much as possible to share your own experience rather than just make comments on others'.


    b

  • #2
    Well I sometimes underestimate the power of the dark side........

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    • #3
      Thanks, James

      Jakob

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      • #4
        Ben,

        Don't mean to ruin your thread but my answers are all 'no' . It's 'oogy-boogy' you know.

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm really glad you brought this thread up, Ben.

          I am a Christian, and I am constantly amazed by the paralells I see between kumdo and Christian practice.

          The best example is Christ's seemingly cryptic command: "he would keep his life must first be willing to lose it" (apologies if the translation from the Greek is off).

          This is wholly applicable in kumdo. IMHO, one must be ready to die to get his cut in. When you go to cut mori, you have throw yourself into the target, completely confident that you have the point and utterly fearlessly. If you hesistate, if you hold back, if you wait, you are lost.

          This is much the same in Christian practice. You must throw yourself into your faith and trust in God. You must be completely ready to die, confident that even that can't separate from Him.

          I've always found that paralell quite interesting.

          Comment


          • #6
            An interesting question. I'm Jewish, and was raised in a fairly observant household. In college (that's "uni" for many of you), I started losing touch with Judaism, and eventually that started getting me down. With 3 semesters left of college, I decided it was time to start going to Friday night Sabbath services more regularly, in the hopes of finding the spiritual part of my life that was missing.

            Around the same time, I started kendo. Conflict -- kendo practices were also on Friday nights (bad timing for college students, but they still drew a fair number of people most weeks). For a while I waivered between the two, then ultimately chose kendo over the Jewish services (I won't say I chose kendo over Judaism, 'cause that's certainly not true -- there's a lot more to being Jewish than Friday night services). A few months later, I found that my life was more spiritually satisfying. I don't think it was kendo alone that had that effect (especially because I was too busy those final 3 semesters to attend practices regularly), but it was definitely a factor.

            Now I'm in Hokkaido with, as far as I can tell, probably fewer than a dozen Jews on the entire island. But my spiritual life is pretty good, and I know that kendo is a big part of that!

            As for specific beliefs, I'm pretty sure there's nowhere in Judaism that says "thou shalt hit thy neighbor over the head with a wooden stick, screaming at the top of thy lungs," but themes such as respecting others and constantly questioning, learning, and trying to improve yourself are definitely present in both... does that answer your question?

            Rachel

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            • #7
              And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword
              -Dt 20:13

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              • #8
                As a Buddhist, Kendo is so in-sync with my beliefs and practices its untrue. There was a strange sense of "coming home" when I started Kendo, in the same way as when I discovered Buddhism - everything felt very right.

                As a Buddhist there is plenty in there to fuel ones practice - ego obviously is a big issue. I'm looking forward to entering shiai to test out just how good my "ego-destruction techniques" have been

                I dont see Kendo as being "Buddhist" as such, but from experience, the two complement each other nicely. I dont think Kendo would lead you to Buddhism/Zen if you weren't there already...well maybe as an "interest" - I think as sceptical Westerners you tend to need something a little more substantial to set you on the path.

                My only frustration is that the meditation only lasts for 30 seconds at our dojo - you cant meditate for half a minute!! But, I wouldnt wish to change this - we are there for Kendo - go to a temple if you want a meditation class!

                One thing - in my (limited) experience, Kendo people are good people. Is this just my experience?

                <rei>

                Dave

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                • #9
                  I would have to say that kendo has reinforced my religious beliefs (Christian) and I hope it would do the same for anybody. That said, the secular nature of kendo has always been emphasized in my experience. That is, it's pointed out to me in kendo in America that some of the etiquette comes from a Shinto or Zen background, but that this is a formality to be invested with one's own personal - if any - spiritual beliefs.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    > One thing - in my (limited) experience, Kendo people are good > people. Is this just my experience?


                    I believe it's just your experience. I've met so many people who are a complete pain in the *ss . Ego is the main reason I think. A stupid sense of superiority. Some people lose it on the way, but many keep it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      by achilles

                      This is wholly applicable in kumdo. IMHO, one must be ready to die to get his cut in. When you go to cut mori, you have throw yourself into the target, completely confident that you have the point and utterly fearlessly. If you hesistate, if you hold back, if you wait, you are lost.
                      Sounds like what they say for every sport.eg. rugby, my Dad, my coach always said to us. If you tackle someone don't worry about anything else. If you start thinking of things like "gosh, this fucker is big!" you will hesitate and get hurt.

                      This I can sorta agree with.

                      This is much the same in Christian practice. You must throw yourself into your faith and trust in God. You must be completely ready to die, confident that even that can't separate from Him.
                      Blind Faith is a dangerous thing. It leads people to war, to commit murder or worse. You can trust in yourself because no one knows you better than you. But to trust in the words of man or men is a little bit more tricky.

                      I am not saying the christian god doesn't exist. But the bible is written by men and translated by men/or women. They are not without fault. The pope started off the first crusade by claiming the muslims were defiling Jerusalem. But it was actually his move to try to bring the Greek Orthodox Church under his power.

                      If we all followed blind faith then we would still be killing jews and muslims in the name of god. We would still believe the world was flat. The sun revolves around us and much of the other thoughts of the dark ages.

                      Listen. Think. Then Do.
                      **************************************************

                      My religion and kendo has never been in conflict. Yes, I am a buddhist but I take it as a philosophy. The best thing a buddhist teacher(my mom...yes) once said to me was this,

                      "The only day you stop learning is the day you die."

                      I take this with everything I do. Always keep an open mind and never be too unyielding.

                      In his encounter with the famed courtesean Yoshino (Eiji Yoshikawa's Musashi), Musashi is given a lesson similar to this.

                      She points out how her shamisen's beautiful sound comes from the balance of the crosspiece/bridge. If it is too rigid the sound will be too sharp and the instrument might snap. If it is not strong enough it will be slack.

                      This is one of the conerstones of buddhist thought. One should always maintain balance. It applies to everything...if you think of too much kendo your wife will leave you. (which leads to the other cornerstone of impermanence. Nothing lasts forever.)

                      PEACE
                      MENG


                      MENG

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        None of the kendo or iaido dojos (all in the US) I have been to taught in such a way that it would conflict with anyone's religion. However, I have seen one or two students intentionally try to create conflict.

                        As an aside, did you hear about the Appeals Court case wherein a Judo student attempted to sue the Judo federation to stop the rei requirement? He won at the trial court but was overruled by the appeals court. My understanding is that they are seeking certiorari to the Supreme Court, but they don't have a snowball's chance. See,
                        http://www.hollandsentinel.com/stori...11302021.shtml

                        Although I was 'raised' Presbyterian, I rejected organized religion and have practiced Taoist philosophy since college. Kendo is, therfore, an excellent fit. In general, I have noticed that those who are drawn to kendo for the long haul typically have a higher degree of respect for others, which includes tolerance of alternative viewpoints.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          If we all followed blind faith then we would still be killing jews and muslims in the name of god.
                          Can't say as I noticed that this has stopped.

                          In Nigeria a woman has just been sentenced to death by stoning, because she has had a baby (even thought this was over nine months since being divorced from her husband), under strict Sharia law.
                          However as she is going to be breastfeeding the baby - they aren't going to stone her to death for a couple of years. Now that's tolerance! Lucky we're not living in the middle ages.

                          In general, I have noticed that those who are drawn to kendo for the long haul typically have a higher degree of respect for others, which includes tolerance of alternative viewpoints.
                          yeah... unlike most organised religions

                          I'm with the oogy boogy man

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                          • #14
                            I don't have a religion but i go to kendo religiously ( can u say that in english?).

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                            • #15
                              Since I started kendo I have a known a couple of people to refuse to bow to the kamiza/joseki on religious grounds. In each case they asked if it were possible to do kendo without bowing. In each case the answer was no, so they chose to move on. While I disagreed with their fundamentalist reading of their own religion, I respect now their honest and upfront way of dealing with a situation that was for them, a matter of conscience. And I think the answer given to them that no, there is no kendo without bowing, was also correct.

                              The sad thing I think, is that perhaps they weren't given a better explanation of what it is they were bowing for/towards.

                              Interestingly I know a devout Muslim who practices kendo. I asked him whether it was blasphemous to bow to the joseki. He said no, because for him it is only a religious bow before God if his forehead actually touches the floor. In bowing from seiza his head remains a few cm above it.

                              b

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