Who’s your best friend?

“Knock me and I’ll just get up again
Stronger, wiser
The adversary will now become my friend”

From ‘Stir it Up’ by Howard Jones

Yes, you poor souls who’ve had to drive with me long distances listening to my 80’s electronic-pop mix know I like Howard Jones.

One thing you may not know about Howard is that he’s the musical director for the Soka Gakkai sect of Buddhism. Looking back at his song lyrics over the past 25 years I’m amazed I didn’t pick up on many of the positive messages embedded in his music. So now, older and somewhat wiser, I listen to the same music with a different ear and a new perspective on life. Howard still rocks : )

Kendo has many challenges to one’s body and spirit. Physically, it can be tough. I recall training at the University of Toronto back in the late 80’s with more skilled opponents who were rough on me (from my perspective). When I went to Japan, I realized they weren’t rough at all…

One’s spirit can take a beating too. Many were the days I felt my Kendo sucked, and that I sucked as a result. The truth was far from my perception of things, but I don’t deny how I felt. I suspect you will go through a phase or two like this in your Kendo training. Especially when you play people who are better than you all the time. It can be demoralizing, if you let it be.

Remember this: your training partner is your best friend in Kendo.

You can’t do Kendo alone. You need someone to train with. Your choice of training partner is very important to your Kendo development. If I had my choice, I’d train every day with the top Sensei in the world because my Kendo would get better.

The stronger your opponents, the stronger you will become.

When you look at it that way, it makes sense that “The adversary will now become my friend”.

Another way to look at tough training partners is in the words of Jim Rohn, “Don’t wish it was easier. Wish you were better.”

Skilled and Tough training partners are a blessing.*


*Note: as long as those skilled and tough training partners know their limits and don’t purposefully hurt you. There is a world of difference between someone who demonstrates they want to help you improve and someone who just beats on you because they can. Learn to discern the difference.