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  • kendo diary- HELP!

    Hey, I'm Heather from the States, exchanging in Kyoto, Japan. I joined my school's kendo club because I have a pretty strong background in martial arts and I couldn't stand the idea of not practicing for a year.

    But kendo is different from anything I've ever done before. I don't know Japanese and joined my club with the attitude that kendo is not important. I have a lot to study and work with as it is and don't want to get distracted with another martial art. However, I'm finding really incredible similarities between what I've been studying and kendo am sure it's enhancing my martial arts. So yeah, I'm hooked. I like it. I don't know much about it. I'm often frustrated with the language barrier. I came knowing just how to introduce myself and whatever Japanese I picked up in karate.

    Anyways, all that not-so-important info is just to introduce myself. What I need immediate help with is writing in my kendo club's diary. Today is my day to write in the diary that goes around to everyone. Yuck. I don't know what to write. Today's activities? My impressions? Questions? All of the above?

  • #2
    thoughts of the day?

    glad you like kendo its really addictive
    we had a few people come over from shotokan karate,

    Make sure to let us know where we can read your daily rants I always love hearing people that start kendo express their enthousiasm

    if you have doubts about japanese commands etc, dont be shy to ask here,
    does your sensei speak anything besides japanese? dodgy english perhaps?

    ps: I wish I had the opportunity to train in kyoto you've only just started and people are already jalous of your training

    Comment


    • #3
      Hello Heather!
      Im an exchangestudent from sweden, who also picked up kendo when I got here. Even if Ive only been doing it for a couple of months, I still envy you. The beginning is sooo much fun! (not saying it gets boring =)

      And good luck with the diary, can you ask the others what they've written? that way you could figure out some topics to write about.

      Comment


      • #4
        Hang in there! If you find similarities between Kendo and your studies, it won't take much time until you can draw parallels to life, which was one of the most amazing things that happened to me and got me completely hooked. So maybe taking it a bit more serious is in order....
        Getting the right attitude is crucial but once you manage you will find that Kendo just supports your lifestyle rather than distract it.
        Just my two cents.

        Comment


        • #5
          Why don't you write what you just wrote to us?

          Comment


          • #6
            That's interesting. Is that common in Japan? The club keeping a collective Diary. Last year I began keeping a Kendo Journal. It has helped my progression & understanding a great deal.

            For your question...what Neil said sounds perfect.
            Good Luck

            Comment


            • #7
              en <> jp

              Hi Heather,

              welcome,

              about the kendo diary;
              • it's great that they make you do that
              • what Neil said!
              • you are in the honeymoon period; where everything is interesting; misconceptions you may have had, or outsider's views of kendo will be very interesting to your clubmates. How you relate it to other arts you have studied, or how you feel your opinions are changing will be good for them to hear, and for you to remember later.
              • If someone is very helpful (or the opposite) to you, be wary about singling people out too much in writting, remembering to praise the club, and the group as a whole.
              • Since you talk a bit about the language barrier; if you haven't already got it. I recommend you get the Japanese English Dictionary of Kendo from the All Japan Kendo Federation. It is small enough to carry with you at practices and formated like a phrasebook with pages split in half with Japanse and English next to eachother. That way it is easy for you to find the english for something and point at it and your teachers or clubmates can read the japanese, and vice versa.

              Here's a page I've scanned, probably breaking numerous copyright laws:
              http://www.bindpose.com/kendoJisho.jpg

              And here's the cover + 500円 to show scale
              http://www.bindpose.com/jedk.jpg

              Gambatte ne,
              j

              Comment


              • #8
                Do you have to write your entry in Japanese? Of course it would be more proper, but maybe they will like the novelty of having at least one foreign language entry from a visitor. As Neil said, you can write your thoughts just as you shared them with us.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Wow, that was speedy. Unfortunately, I already wrote it, but thanks for all your advice.
                  I wrote it in Japanese and spent about three or four hours writing just the two or three paragraphs. I kept writing something and then realizing I don't know the language well enough to follow it up, so I have a bunch of half-formed ideas in there. Not so good, but considering I've been studying Japanese for 5 months, not so bad. In case you're interested, here is an English version of what I wrote:

                  This week, only the 11th graders at at practice, so it's been run a little different from usual. This month, I've learned a lot.

                  Kendo has taught me a lot about Japanese culture. Everyone works really hard all the time. Sunday is the only break. I was really suprised to learn this!

                  The most difficult thing for me is distance. In karate, being close is better for people my size, so I'm nervous when I'm far away from my opponent. I haven't learned how to use the shinai at such close distances, so I always hit with the wrong part.

                  Also, I don't understand the shiai practice we do everyday. In karate, we use two hands and two feet, but kendo just uses one shinai. That also makes me nervous.

                  As expected, Japanese is also difficult. Everyone speaks to me slowly, but sometimes I can't understand. When I don't understand, it makes my heart tired. I'm especially disappointed because I can't understand Sensei's Japanese at the end of class. Darn. I want to understand. Explanations are important, but everyday, I don't understand.

                  Please tell my how to say this in better Japanese.


                  Hehe, I sound like a two year-old, but at least I did it and in Japanese even.

                  To SmellslikeBogi, I'd be really interested in meeting the Shodokan/kendo people. I'm really excited about the parallels between karate and kendo. When I got here, I really wanted to find a karate dojo or at least aikido or judo, but the only thing my school offers is kendo, so I joined.

                  Club diaries are fairly common, especially in high school clubs like mine. Our diary is also a record of the attendance and a means of communication between my Sensei and the club members as he responds to every entry. I also think it's a good idea.

                  And I agree that I ought to take it more seriously, but I was afraid in the beginning that I would get sucked in and that it would detract from my martial arts studies. As my dojo back home pulls ideas from such a broad variety of martial arts, I didn't want to add another set of ideas and techniques to my already unfocused path. Does that make sense? But alas, I like it and am finding that actually, the techniques and ideas are the same and that kendo can only help me. And that I didn't take it seriously in the beginning does not mean that for a second I didn't try my best.

                  I have a few books that explains some kendo techniques, which I use mostly for language barriers and that's helpful.

                  Thanks for all the support. I will definitely use this site as a resource.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by hnicholsh View Post
                    Also, I don't understand the shiai practice we do everyday. In karate, we use two hands and two feet, but kendo just uses one shinai. That also makes me nervous.
                    like in karate the whole body has to work in the right way, or the shinai will not find the right way you will see

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      about the shotokan to kendo transition, what IVe noticed is this:

                      people that come from shotokan have problems with,
                      -keeping their feet parallel.
                      -standing up straight, making yourself as tall as possible
                      -relaxing the shoulders
                      -relaxing the shoulders

                      what I notice the most thats different from other beginners is that there motions are really muscled, and strong, and they hit hard
                      in kendo it is all about relaxed fluid smooth motions, with just that tiny fraction of a second of tension at the moment of impact.
                      you'll be allright. the thing that will get you the furthest is dedication and the will to learn

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I transitioned to Kendo from Karate-do (Wado Ryu). If I may offer you some advice, it is to accept Kendo for what it is without prejudgement. Trying to understand Kendo by drawing parallels or noting distinctions with Karate-do will only confuse you. They are so different that only the most general things (good manners, strong mental focus, keeping balance in motion, etc.) apply in the same way to both arts.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JByrd View Post
                          I transitioned to Kendo from Karate-do (Wado Ryu). If I may offer you some advice, it is to accept Kendo for what it is without prejudgement. Trying to understand Kendo by drawing parallels or noting distinctions with Karate-do will only confuse you. They are so different that only the most general things (good manners, strong mental focus, keeping balance in motion, etc.) apply in the same way to both arts.
                          I came from a western fencing background. I had to divorce the two (kendo and fencing) and realize that, in addition to what Byrd sensei has posted, that the concepts of distance and timing as well as controlling your inertia are universal. My wife has a karate background from Goju-ryu karate-do and before she quit kendo secondary to a knee injury struggled with making the transition.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Funny you mention those problems. My biggest criticism is in:

                            -keeping my feet parallel
                            -standing up tall
                            -relaxing my shoulders
                            -and extra especially relaxing my shoulders

                            I'm not Shodokan though, and I hear the Shodokan karate-ists are stronger (more conditioned maybe?) than us Shorin Ryu people. Hehe, thanks to me the whole kendo club now knows how to say "Relax!" in English.

                            I've also found that comparing the two arts only confuses me, but it's really difficult not to. I've been doing karate (and stuff) for six years and compare EVERYTHING to it - be it math or nice walks or good friends. It's really defined who I've been these past few years. And especially because I have a hard time understanding the advice I get, I draw on my martial arts background to better understand what they are trying to tell me. It messes me up if I think about it too much, but I think it really helps me get harder concepts down. But I'll try to take your advice and focus more on kendo and less on karate.

                            Anyone with a karate background, please get in touch with me! I have a lot of observations and questions I've been dying to ask these past few months. Woops, so much for completely separating the two...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by hnicholsh View Post
                              Funny you mention those problems. My biggest criticism is in:

                              -keeping my feet parallel
                              -standing up tall
                              -relaxing my shoulders
                              -and extra especially relaxing my shoulders

                              I'm not Shodokan though, and I hear the Shodokan karate-ists are stronger (more conditioned maybe?) than us Shorin Ryu people. Hehe, thanks to me the whole kendo club now knows how to say "Relax!" in English.

                              I've also found that comparing the two arts only confuses me, but it's really difficult not to. I've been doing karate (and stuff) for six years and compare EVERYTHING to it - be it math or nice walks or good friends. It's really defined who I've been these past few years. And especially because I have a hard time understanding the advice I get, I draw on my martial arts background to better understand what they are trying to tell me. It messes me up if I think about it too much, but I think it really helps me get harder concepts down. But I'll try to take your advice and focus more on kendo and less on karate.

                              Anyone with a karate background, please get in touch with me! I have a lot of observations and questions I've been dying to ask these past few months. Woops, so much for completely separating the two...
                              Now I don't have any karate background but could you explain a little bit what is so different and what confuses you? Just like you, I tend to compare my whole life with, in my case, Kendo and I can hardly imagine any martial art to be completely different. Then again, Naginata, Jodo, Aikido and Escrima are probably all very familiar.
                              So what exactly happens in Karate?

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