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  • Overcoming the thoughts of quitting

    Hello all, just an warning, this is going to be long...

    I recently (about 6 months ago) wanted to completely quit Kendo, and have been thinking/analyzing why so I won't have to go through it again. I'm not talking about beginners who did Kendo for the first 6 months and quit. I'm talking about people who have been doing for 5+ years, Yudansha. I find it disturbing that one day we decided to hate Kendo enough to quit after spending 5 years doing it, and I wonder what you guys think of the following.

    Personally, I've been doing it on/off for about 6.5 years. If it wasn't Batzu-maru sensei, I would've been gone from the Kendo scene, and I'm forever grateful for his inspirations and advises. Lately I have found out quite a few people I know in the Kendo scene have also gone and talked to one of them to find out what happened. I come from a very small dojo, the highest ranking is my Sensei who is Yondan. This might not apply to every dojo, but I think I've narrowed it down to three main causes:

    1. Dojo environment / lack of support - issues with dojo mates, training that isn't challenging enough, not getting constructive feed backs, that eventually lead to #2

    2. Not seeing progress - we all know as we progress, it's harder to see small progresses. Within the dojo, especially as Yudansha and seniors to others, we should question what our roles are. As seniors to Mudansha, we're expected to help the juniors, but for Yudansha, I feel sometime that I was being forgotten that we need to find and develop our own Kendo. That leads to frustrations and can't see small progresses. Someone told me winning in shiai is "the" validation of our skills, sadly to say, sometime it is. Of course, if you lose, it feels like it says something about your Kendo which shouldn't be. Next thing we know, this sucks, I'm quitting. One of the hachi-dan sensei always say: "Do Kihon as if you're doing keiko, and keiko as you are doing Kihon". From that saying, I feel to fix not able to see progress is relatively easy: asked to be pushed harder and expect more from ourselves. We can blame this and that, none of us have mind reading power... maybe some... But simply by asking our sempai to push us harder, and expect more from ourselves like getting nice clean Ippon on beginners, no ducking, weird Kote etc... I feel we can better ourselves slowly without realizing it, and "winning" will come with strong basics and high expectations.

    3. Personal issues - I feel that they're never the issue. Personal issues are just excuses. It's always been there. Work, life, boyfriend/girlfriend, and what not. It's always been there before Kendo. A matter of pulling ourselves outta our own asses really Unless you move etc... something extreme.

    What are your thoughts on this?
    Last edited by Mugu; 4th November 2011, 01:52 AM.

  • #2
    I agree with your number three completely. With number one and two, I think that a supportive dojo can help you overcome the learning curve. I've found that at least for me, the Dojo and the people in it are the pivotal point and I think that's why I ended up walking away from Tae Kwon Do permanently after almost 7 years, the people in the dojo soured my experience so much that it ruined the sport for me.

    I know now that if/when I look for a new dojo, kendo or otherwise, the number one thing on my list is the people there, and after that everything else. (which is actually kinda funny because I'm very much an introvert)

    From number one comes all other problems, until the last straw when you lay down your shinai and walk away.

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    • #3
      I do not wish to see myself quitting from it... at all in the far future.

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      • #4
        I agree. I asked myself the same question that I want to do Kendo as a hobby or take it more seriously. I know I want to do it as a hobby, but at least I want to get something a bit more out of it.

        We cannot control how others behave. I guess what I'm trying to do is to how and what I would do to overcome something I can do about. How others act that I have no control. By focusing what I need to work on, I'm hoping to filter out the unnecessary noises also. Fortunately that I practice with a great group of people, I was going through #2 more than #1.

        @sarge127 - I hope you won't neither. It's just part of what life is, we all have our ups and downs. Just trying to understand the frustrations of others.

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        • #5
          I think most people will feel like quitting at times. Changes in life circumstances cannot be helped, and the dojo environment probably can't be helped unless you live in an area where there are multiple dojos you can train at. In that case the solution is to change dojos.

          If it's because you can't see improvement, I think the cure for that is changing your routine. You've probably hit some plateau and no amount of advice/encouragement seems to help. It may help to get inspiration from outside sources; you may gain ideas from reading books or watching videos or, if you're fortunate enough, visiting other dojos and seeing how they train or hearing how those sensei explain a waza or critique a flaw. I like to keep a video of Miyazaki doing kote-kaeshi-kote that I think is just amazing. Even though I think I'll never be that fast or have such beautiful timing, it still inspires me to train harder. And it helps to practice fun waza like kaeshi waza just to get away from the common debana/aiuchi waza. Or, go back and look at older videos of you if you have them. You'll surely see a difference and realize that you have improved. Sometimes you might even need to just take a break from kendo for a month or 2. Do something else for a bit and come back to kendo with a fresh outlook. Maybe just go back to focusing on basics like suriashi, suburi or kata and have faith that you will eventually be able to incorporate that improvement into those areas where you don't think you're improving.

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          • #6
            I agree with turbo, I think most people have thought of quitting at some point if they have done it long enough. I don't necessarily agree with Mugu's third point however, life can at times be hellish bad and I don't personally think of it as an excuse if you've lost your job, had your house foreclosed on and declared bankrupty. I think of that as a huge obstacle that is a valid reason to at least put kendo on hold.

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            • #7
              @turboyoshi - completely agreed with your points. Where I'm at, my dojo is what I have, the other one is about an hour away. So just tried to make the most out of it. Funny, I tried all of the stuff you said lol But no fire. Sadly to admit, it was after a big shiai and shinsa was coming up that finally got my head outta my own ass to start pushing harder. Because of that, I also remember why I did Kendo, cause there's no better feeling than whacking someone on the head and get a bruised elbow from a missed Do while loosing weights :P

              Originally posted by MikeW View Post
              I agree with turbo, I think most people have thought of quitting at some point if they have done it long enough. I don't necessarily agree with Mugu's third point however, life can at times be hellish bad and I don't personally think of it as an excuse if you've lost your job, had your house foreclosed on and declared bankrupty. I think of that as a huge obstacle that is a valid reason to at least put kendo on hold.
              Well, I did say there are exceptions :P And to your point, I agree also. Well, I'm saying like "ohhh I broke up with my bf/gf... DEPRESSED! Quitting!" If I lose my house or whatever, I'd put it on hold also :P There's the saying "If there's will, there's a way" I'm just saying

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              • #8
                Originally posted by MikeW View Post
                I agree with turbo, I think most people have thought of quitting at some point if they have done it long enough. I don't necessarily agree with Mugu's third point however, life can at times be hellish bad and I don't personally think of it as an excuse if you've lost your job, had your house foreclosed on and declared bankrupty. I think of that as a huge obstacle that is a valid reason to at least put kendo on hold.
                +1 rep

                [I'm apparently not allowed to give more rep to Mike without spreading it around more, but that's what I would have said too. I think about whether I will quit, whether it's because of the cost, or the time investment, or because I'm tired of getting injuries or headaches or whatnot. But if you have serious personal obstacles, those are pretty good reasons to put everything else on hold for a while.]

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                • #9
                  I've taken time off from kendo time in the past because of various reasons, I don't necessarily think it's all that bad. Sometimes life takes another direction on you. I never thought I'd leave kendo permanently, don't think I ever will, but my wife and I have started having that 'kids' talk and I could see needing to possibly having to take time off again when life throws that curve ball at me.

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                  • #10
                    I hope you find a way through Mugu, I think that the questions you are asking yourself are all part of the journey. We will inevitably come up against in 'impass' from time to time, I see this as completely normal and I think that finding the way through is very much part of your shugyo. If you feel that you don't have sempai/sensei to push you - maybe you could try asking what keeps the kodansha (outside asia) going when they have been in that situation for many years, how do they challenge themselves and keep improving regardless of (in alot of cases) only having low dan and mudansha to practise with? Not only do they carry on but they still find a way to continue learniong and pass 6/7 dan shinsa in the process, of course they may have had a good grounding to begin with but there is still (surely) difficulties at times in keeping their budo in a positive light internally.

                    Something that comes to my mind was from a good (one of many) KW article from a while ago, "Kendo to me, The Attraction" translated by Helen Iwata. It is the short autobiography around Makita Minoru sensei, in the first paragraph he mentions;

                    "There were times when I spent every spare minute on kendo, times when I took appropriate breaks, and times when I wanted to train, but couldn't. I love kendo, so I never considered giving up (even if he did would he admit it?). People say that "continuity builds strength". I think that's true and I'm glad I continued. I'm very grateful for what I have learned through kendo."

                    I don't know why but during the hard times I always think of the first sentence in that exerpt. Of course it's apples and oranges (maybe even laughable!) comparing my own shugyo to that of a hachidan hanshi but it inspires me to carry on none-the-less. I just came through another rough patch earlier this year and I'm really starting to enjoy kendo again now (and progress) - I hope you can get through yours and find the right head-space again.
                    Last edited by Fudo-Shin; 4th November 2011, 04:42 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Just a thought to add to that, I have started to notice in the last few years that only a very small percentage of "kendo" is learning the use of shinai/katana/bokuto etc, there is a whole lot more (that I cannot even begin to articulate) to "kendo". As Neil and many others would say; "Never give up!!". Taking a break, IMO, is not giving up - unless you are resigned to the fact that won't step into the dojo ever again, I guess.

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                      • #12
                        The thing about quitting is that quitting is easy...going back when you realize you miss it is hard. This is because there are even more excuses (my favorite being "I'll go back but I have to get in shape first"). Sometimes kendo does get frustrating and, if there's not a supportive atmosphere to get you through it, either in the dojo or at home or in your peer group (yeah and how many of them understand what you go through in practice), there will be that little voice in the back of your mind saying...screw this... I should just quit. I suggest instead, if the voice gets much too loud to ignore..not quitting taking a break, a sabbatical if you will to give it the name one kenshi I deeply respect gives it.

                        During that break (put a time span on it)...keep asking yourself questions about kendo
                        - Why do I do it?
                        - Why did I want to stop doing it?
                        - How can >I< approach kendo in a way that helps me:
                        * Get more from it
                        * Figure out where and how I need to improve?
                        * Break through whatever was frustrating me.
                        - Do I want to go back to kendo?
                        - If not why not?
                        - If so why?

                        If you've stuck with it as long as you have, and are where you are now, you'll probably go back..and having called this a break, with a fixed time span will make it easier to do so. The questions you ask...yourself as well as maybe your kendo friends here...may help you when you do go back.

                        Minneapolis means I probably know your dojo and instructor...feel free to PM me if you want to talk a bit more about what you might not want to share publicly...and everything you do share will be held in confidence.

                        Ron.

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                        • #13
                          I have pondered quitting multiple times since i pulled my groin muscle...And not just for that reason.

                          !) I have found it very hard to fit in. not so much because of the people, but mainly because in my area it is such a tight knit community. there are families and generations of kendo. in fact many of the adults in my area have been doing kendo with their friends for decades! Then here i come only for a few years. im pretty much an outsiders...most of the kenshi in my fed are very hospital and include me in many things! i can't blame them. i just know deep down inside it will be decades before i truely become one of them.

                          2) sometime it's hard to understand things around me. i get yelled at a lot. i try to relate things but the bottom line is i just can't understand why things are the way they are. for example just recently i failed the kata for my 3 dan test. i passed the shinsa geiko. but i failed the kata...my mind just cant get it. recently im doing kata everyday now to prepare for the make up, im hoping it will click. people do spend a lot of energy explaining it to me, but to be honest, i really don't feel any love for kata. Im not sure if that coming from my boxing background or what. It's not that i failed the kata that makes me feel hopeless, it's the reason why i failed. San dan is a very serious rank. how can i be a good 3 dan if i can't connect to the kata?

                          personal conflict or loosing or not seeing progression has never been a reason for me to think about quitting. I feel that way because you will meet those hurdles in any social enviornment...they are just trials and you can't let that stop you.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I am a former quitter

                            1.5year of Kendo with great sensei(s) in a prestigious club, reached nikyu, realized I hated the part of Kendo where you have to actually fight!

                            Took me 8 years to have the balls returning to Kendo... Now 3 years later I can't spend a week without it.

                            Sometimes I wonder what would my kendo be like if I hadn't quit...and then I want to knock my head of the wall

                            Ben

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                            • #15
                              2) sometime it's hard to understand things around me. i get yelled at a lot. i try to relate things but the bottom line is i just can't understand why things are the way they are.
                              My sensei yells at me a lot, too. But I take that as he has high expectations from us. If he doesn't yell at what we're doing wrong, I take that he doesn't give a crap about me. So I personally won't take being yelled at as a bad thing. You know how tough-love sensei's are, they yell at you, make you feel embarrassed and frustrated. But after a while you realized what they were saying, they really just want the best from us. I guess I was going through the same thing and felt frustrated also, but this is part of Shu-Ha-Ri in order to progress on anything, not just Kendo.

                              for example just recently i failed the kata for my 3 dan test. i passed the shinsa geiko. but i failed the kata...my mind just cant get it. recently im doing kata everyday now to prepare for the make up, im hoping it will click. people do spend a lot of energy explaining it to me, but to be honest, i really don't feel any love for kata. Im not sure if that coming from my boxing background or what. It's not that i failed the kata that makes me feel hopeless, it's the reason why i failed. San dan is a very serious rank. how can i be a good 3 dan if i can't connect to the kata?
                              I also almost failed my Kata last weekend for Sandan (I managed to skip one set no one saw it). But quite a few sensei's told me right before the test, don't worry about Kata too much. If you passed Shinai geiko, you still have one full year to re-test for Kata. Since the most important portion is the Shinai part. Therefore, I don't think you should feel hopeless. But as I was told, but Yondan is a different story.

                              Thanks for the input, this is exactly what I'm wondering from other Kenshi. What their experiences were. Thank you for sharing.

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