A reminder

Just a quick note to remind all students and prospective visitors that Kendo class is canceled on Saturday March 16 due to our annual Iaido seminar.

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Valentine’s Day Practice

The Hayakawa Kendo Club will be holding practice as usual this evening.

I know a few people will be away to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I feel like sharing some perspectives on Valentine’s Day. These relate to other holidays as well, so don’t feel like I’m singling you out ; )

From my perspective, Kendo is a lifestyle choice. It is something that is done for one’s own self development and personal evolution. I think developing one’s self is the most important thing you can do in this lifetime. In other words, even when you’re not in the dojo, you should be working on bettering yourself.

Relationships are commitments. The degree of commitment may vary (i.e. married vs. dating), but it is a commitment nevertheless. It is a 24/7/365 commitment if you’re married. I’ve heard it said that marriage is like dating, except with rings. From that perspective, you should be communicating your love, respect and appreciation of your partner every day of the year.

The modern Valentine’s Day is highly commercialized and is a day rife with anxieties and pressures. There are expectations that there will be demonstrations of one’s affection, flowers, chocolates, dinner dates etc. It’s effects are transient and in my opinion, aside from the commercial boost to the economy, I don’t see much value in it.

When considering the relative merits of Kendo (self-development), relationships (a daily demonstration of commitment) and Valentine’s Day traditions (giving into pressure to fit societal expectations of ‘romantic’), I don’t see a reason to stop practice on Valentine’s Day. That’s my perspective. I also feel much the same way about other societal traditions, so I’m not just being Mr. Grumpypants about Valentine’s Day ;)

Whether you’re doing Kendo tonight or being ‘romantic’, I hope you’ll do your best ; )

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Rush had it right

From the point of ignition
To the final drive
The point of a journey
Is not to arrive

Anything can happen…

And that’s Kendo training, in a nutshell.

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Canada Day Weekend Schedule

Just as a quick note, the club is practicing on June 30, 2012.

Yes, it’s the long weekend.

All the more reason to do Kendo!

See you Saturday!

Happy Canada Day!

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Summer Schedule – RSVP Required

Due to summer vacations etc., it is reminded to all students who don’t have a “set” schedule to let me know they’re coming to class. If I don’t get a notification at least 1.5 hours prior to class, don’t assume there will be one : )

In other words, unless you’ve told me in advance that you’ll be there every Tuesday and Saturday (for example – classes are still running Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday), please call, text or email to let me know you’re coming.

I strongly suggest to club visitors they do the same. Thanks!

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Victoria Day Weekend 2012

There will be no class on Saturday, May 19th. It’s the Victoria Day long weekend, but that’s not the reason we’re not having class.

The reason is that I’ll be on my M2 motorcycle course. And, of course, asking an instructor from another club to come to Niagara on the May long weekend to teach the class might be kind of tough.

Hmm. Then again, they’d be in Niagara on the May long weekend. That’s pretty awesome in and of itself. Maybe I COULD convince someone to come down and enjoy the long weekend. Hmm………

Class is still cancelled, unless you hear otherwise.

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Bogu Carrier – Prototype 1

Well, the bogu carrier has had its first run. Here are the pictures and some responses to some questions.

1) How does it handle in the wind?

I have no idea. It wasn’t windy when I rode it last Saturday morning to practice. However, it sits right behind me so I don’t think I’ll feel it if the wind’s coming from directly in front of me. And we all know how often THAT happens…

2) How is it at highway speeds?

I have no idea. I only have my M1 right now (3 weeks to go until my M2 course). I had it up to 80 km/hr and it was fine.

3) Why didn’t you make it out of metal?

Because I made it out of scrap materials hanging around my garage.

Here are the pics.

There you go.

Oh, and it’s sitting on a 1987 Yamaha Virago 535.

Next step: try and get a nicer rack made (perhaps in metal) that sits lower to the seat or goes around the rear seat.

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What Did Einstein* Say?

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

This quote is often attributed to Albert Einstein.*

Every day we live, we are faced with a singular challenge: how will I become better today?

What can you do to become better today?

Could you treat people nicer?
Could you treat YOURSELF nicer?
Could you eat more healthily?
Could you modify your attitude to become more positive?

There are myriad things you could do to become a better person today.

Did you do any of them?

Every time we train in Kendo, we do the same things, over and over again. Every day, kirikaeshi, big men, big kote, big do. My kids often whine that Kendo’s always the same. My response is that it’s never the same, unless you’re putting in the same effort as before.

This reminds me of a story that CAN be attributed to Mr. Einstein:

“Student: Dr. Einstein, Aren’t these the same questions as last year’s [physics] final exam?

Dr. Einstein: Yes; But this year the answers are different.”

Beginners and 8th dan sensei all strike the same strikes. HOW they perform those strikes is the difference.

If you’re not progressing in Kendo, it’s probably because you’re comfortable doing Kendo the way you’ve always been doing it.

The next time you step into the dojo, keep in mind you are there to improve yourself.

That is the purpose of Kendo.

That is the purpose of life.

* Some sources say there is no evidence to support that claim. The first appearance of a similar quote is in 1983 in Rita Mae Brown’s book “Sudden Death”.

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Kendo Road Trip – The Big Dream

I have a dream . . . to travel by motorcycle across North America, visiting as many dojos as I can along the way.

I’ve talked about this with my indescribably awesome wife and she’s said she’s fine with the idea, so – wow – time to start making this dream a reality.

The big question of course is “Why would you want to do this?”

The answer’s pretty simple: I want to see as much of the country (and the US) as possible. Doing it by motorcycle puts you IN the environment, not separate from it, so it’s a better way to travel. And, most importantly, I want to train with as many different Sensei and kendoists as possible. Every match is an opportunity to learn and develop. I think it’ll be an awesome journey on many levels.

So, here I go. I’ve announced the intention. I’ll keep everyone posted on progress.

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Should you push to win in tournament?

We played the Canadian Women’s Team at the U of T Tournament last weekend. In one of the matches, our biggest, tallest player was matched up against the smallest player on the women’s team. She stepped out of bounds once. If he’d played a more physical game (i.e. more pushing), he might have been able to get her to step out of bounds again. That would have resulted in a point for us. All other things being the same, we would have won the team match.

I talked with my student later about why he didn’t do that. His response reminded me of words I’d uttered myself in U of T tournaments past. “I didn’t want to be known as THAT guy who won by pushing out a smaller opponent.”

It was interesting to hear that. I’d lost a match in overtime years earlier because “I didn’t think it was a proper way to win” the match. I backed off slightly and my opponent promptly took advantage of that and scored a point, winning the match. A former sensei said to me after the match that I should have pushed my opponent out because, after all, it’s a tournament. You lose, you’re done.

Pushing in keiko is generally a waste of energy and time. In tournament, there’s a different dynamic to pushing. When there are clear rules about how points are scored, it’s important to know what they are. If you can avoid taking penalties and get your opponent to take one or two, you’re closer to winning.

Is it “perfect world Kendo”? Of course not. Ideally we’d win because we did our best Kendo. The reality is if you win by making your opponent take two penalties, you still win.

Obviously, Kendo isn’t sumo. Only scoring points by pushing your opponents out of the ring isn’t good Kendo. However, if there’s a reasonable opportunity to “push your opponent off a cliff” (the metaphor I like to use for stepping out of bounds), I think it’s warranted.

I should also point out it’s absolutely fine if you make your opponent step out because they’re backing up in response to pressure from you. If they step off the cliff because they’re not aware of the edge of the ring, well, that’s their problem, isn’t it? Same result, different method – a push with spirit vs a physical push.

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