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  • What would you Recommend?

    I was wondering, what would you kendoka recommend to all those kids aspiring to do kendo? You know the kids that have delusions of grandeur as to what they are going to be doing in this new hobby of theirs. What is the best information/books that you would want anyone claiming to have an interest in samurai and kendo to read, in order to dispel ignorance and such on the subject.

    I read that "Do you know Rei?" story and I think I can understand some people feeling like that. I think it's always good to have the right mindset when starting something, especially when it's from another culture. I like to think if I do something like kendo, I never want to be a sensei (if I ever get that good ). It just doesn't seem right to me teaching something that isn't really "mine". Anyone getting my drift here? From my viewpoint, I'm just some white boy lucky enough to be taught something I may never really understand fully. As stupid as I may already sound, let me add that I almost feel guilty sometimes not being able to have an interest in my own culture, cause let's face it, every culture is beautiful in it's own way. I am the so-called "sheep in a wolf's skin". Anyway, please don't flame me or anything. I just like sharing stuff, even if it sounds preposterous.

  • #2
    First, I would recommend that kids learn about consumer literacy, that is, how to avoid getting ripped off, and critical thinking. Then, read nothing at all about kendo -- indeed, try to forget everything they think they know. Just go to class with an open mind.

    Most of the time people take "ignorance" to mean a lack of knowledge. However, what you are talking is not a lack of knowledge, it is incorrect knowledge. You cannot correct this by pouring more stuff into someone's head because the fundamental problem is that the person does not know how to discriminate the good from the bad (if they did, there would be no problem). More information just creates confusion. Or, if the person does not read deeply, whatever they find interesting will be retained and whatever boring will be forgotten. In either event, the solution is not more, it is less.

    I understand what you mean about not wanting to teach something that is not yours. But kendo is not an object that belongs to one single person. Kendo is not a koryu with a grandmaster who sets the rules down and authorizes teachers. When you teach kendo, you do teach something that belongs to you: you teach what you know and from your own personal perspective. Everyone's perspective is unique and valuable.

    That is not to say that a beginner can teach kendo as well as a high ranking sensei because, obviously, a beginner does not know as much about kendo. However, someone who has been doing kendo for 30, 40, 50, 60 years probably does not have a clear memory of what it was like to be a beginner, and almost certainly does not have a clear understanding of what it is like to be a teenager learning kendo in today's world. So, whlie a beginner cannot teach someone about kendo, a beginner can help others by exploring their personal experiences learning kendo. That can be a very valuable thing. There is a big difference between telling someone "this is how you hit men" and "doing this helped me improve." All sensei are sempai, but not all sempai are sensei.

    Also, you may not want to be sensei some day but you should understand that without sensei, kendo would disappear.

    When you say "lucky enough to be taught something you may never really understand fully," I will ask you: is there anything you can really understand fully?

    If every culture is beautiful in its own way, what harm is there in being more interested in this one or that one? What difference does it make if this one happens to be one you were born into and that one is not? I will say this much: culture is not a bundle of facts, it is a way of thinking and a way of being. You already belong to your culture. An interest in a different culture does nothing to change that and, if anything, it is an expression of your own culture.

    For the most part I am not trying to offer any answers here, but am just replying to your musings in kind. The things in your postings remind me greatly of how I remember myself when I was a teenager, so perhaps you will be able to accept these comments in the spirit that they are offered.

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    • #3
      Don't be so quick to reject teaching eventually. The best possible way you can repay your sensei for all they have given to you is to eventually teach others. It's like being a parent, in a way - the only way to repay your parents is to parent your own children the best way you can.

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      • #4
        Also, Kendo is just a Japanese way of learning universal values. So you don't need to be japanese to master them.
        Being Japanese is not a requirement to become a great Kendoka, though I think it helps, at least they're used to sit in seiza......

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        • #5
          Thanks for the wisdom. I guess I just want to feel confident in what path I choose to take. It would just be unfortunate to end up quitting again because of some silly preconceived notion.

          When you see a Japanese person do kendo, you think "they're helping to promote their own way of life." As a Canadian, what can be said about our way of life? It's really broad and mixed with other traditions and people from numerous origins. It seems hard to find anything to identify yourself with, other than maybe snow and hockey . Bah.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Kikuchiyo
            When you see a Japanese person do kendo, you think "they're helping to promote their own way of life."
            No, when I saw Eiga sensei during his demo I was thinking like "WHAT THE .... !!! He's amazing!"

            Kendo is an important representative of japanese culture, but not THE way of life for most of them.

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            • #7
              Well I didn't mean kendo was the entire summation of culture. This is a little off topic but are you ever allowed to thrust to the chest for a point, or was that back in the day?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Kikuchiyo
                Well I didn't mean kendo was the entire summation of culture. This is a little off topic but are you ever allowed to thrust to the chest for a point, or was that back in the day?
                I've never heard of thrusts to the chest, maybe someone else can correct/confirm this.

                Thrusts to the throat are done, they're called tsuki.

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                • #9
                  Often the best way to learn is to teach..A whole new perspective of understanding comes from the ability to: know, explain, demonstrate, communicate, then transmitt and correct. Like anything in life, if you set your mind to being the best that you can be, remain honest in your assessments of yourself, and continue to develope your weaknesses while maintaining your strengths. Sooner or later people will want to know what you know. Why?? Because you have become one with your passion. Becoming one with your passion (Kendo) is the ultiment goal. The journey is taken day-by-day, arriving at the goal is rarley realised. Keep the "beginers mind" and there are no limits to what you can accomplish.

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                  • #10
                    "Disclaimer: I'm not a teacher of Kendo, but only an enthusiastic student. I offer this in the spirit of sharing what I've learned so far."

                    Disclaimer from a website, sorry, lost the address...

                    I like this quote.

                    So in response to "teaching something that is not yours" and also thoughts of being good enough to be a sensei, think of it as sharing and helping kendo grow.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Shiro
                      I've never heard of thrusts to the chest, maybe someone else can correct/confirm this.
                      Used to be legal target if the aite took jodan. No longer, they changed the rule a few years ago.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Neil Gendzwill
                        Used to be legal target if the aite took jodan. No longer, they changed the rule a few years ago.
                        I still thrust to the chest, whether opponent is in jo-dan or not. Had keiko with a few players just this past week where we practiced it. In which Federation(s) is it no longer allowed.

                        Cheers

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                        • #13
                          "do not follow in the footsteps of the masters, seek what they sought"

                          -basho

                          especially in today's world, we cant go around the country challenging people to duels like musashi and bokuden did. But I think in a small way we can do our bests to improve physically and mentally just as they did.

                          thats what I think anyway. but I dont suppose i'm right

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Neil Gendzwill
                            Used to be legal target if the aite took jodan. No longer, they changed the rule a few years ago.
                            And weren't the legs legal targets too? But I think that's waaaaaaaay back. I think I read that somewhere.....

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Matlock
                              I still thrust to the chest, whether opponent is in jo-dan or not. Had keiko with a few players just this past week where we practiced it. In which Federation(s) is it no longer allowed.

                              Cheers
                              They aren't illegal, mune-zuki just doesnt count as a point.

                              Jakob

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