I am quite pleased to report that all of my students were successful in their grading attempts. Congratulations to you all! Alas, I was not successful in my own grading challenge, but I received some very positive feedback and good advice to incorporate into my training read more
Do babies learn to walk without falling?
Do we tell children to not speak until their words come out fully formed?
Mistakes are learning opportunities. Everyone makes them. They are a part of learning.
Cherish your mistakes. Learn from them. That’s part of your growth.
By failing, you learn how to do things better. You learn what techniques work in different situations, against different opponents. You learn what you can and can’t do, and how to compensate accordingly.
Failure helps build the foundation of your eventual success.
See you in the dojo 🙂
The term “sutemi” means to throw yourself 100% into your attack without fear of the consequence. It’s an important concept in kendo. I think it’s just as important for life.
How often we hold ourselves back because of fear of potential consequences. Sometimes the potential outcomes could be pretty bad. Most of the time though, we hold ourselves back because of things that we ourselves make more important than they really are.
What we learn in the dojo is not just applicable in kendo. The principles we teach on the floor have just as much relevance in the boardroom, classroom, the living room or in the space you occupy between your ears. Honour. Respect. Gratitude. Discipline. Self-esteem. Strength. Relaxation. Power. Flexibility. Overcoming your enemy. Overcoming your self.
I encourage you to throw yourself 100% into your self. What are the things you want to achieve? What is holding you back? What is REALLY holding you back?
We are often our own worst enemies. Negative self talk is pervasive, insidious and erosive to our self-esteem. To this I say “Sutemi Yourself”. Throw yourself 100% into overcoming your own internal barriers. They are more your enemy than anyone you’ll ever meet.
In kendo, nobody is successful with 100% of their attacks. This doesn’t stop them from attacking again. A setback in your own internal battles is just that: a setback. There is always the potential to make progress as long as you breathe.
See you in the dojo 🙂
Over the years, I’ve been asked many times why we named the club the Hayakawa Kendo Club.
Most kendo clubs are geographically named after the city they’re located in. Using this method, the club would have been called the Welland Kendo Club. Nothing wrong with that…
…except it didn’t feel right. When I started the club, the whole “run your own club” thing was a complete unknown. Would there be enough students? Would we stay in Welland? Too many questions, not enough answers.
Moreover, I had a bigger vision. I think kendo’s awesome. I think more people should take kendo training. I see lots of potential for kendo in Niagara.
Naming the club after the city name put a limit on my vision. So, I named it the Hayakawa Kendo Club. “Haya” means fast and “kawa” means river. Every major city in Niagara was centered on a river. The club’s name was a reference to my broader vision for kendo in the region.
The second question I’ve been asked a lot is “Why don’t you call your club the Niagara Kendo Club?” I sort of did, just in Japanese 🙂
However, since we are now the only kendo club in the Niagara region, I think the time is right for a name change.
I put in a request to the CKF to change our name to the Niagara Kendo Club. It was approved and has been put in place. For our club members who have CKF logins, nothing has changed except you are now associated with the Niagara Kendo Club instead of the Hayakawa Kendo Club.
I’ve updated the logo, and eventually, we will have to update our nafuda/zekken (name tags) to reflect the new club name and logo.
Aside from that, I’m pondering how to foster more awareness and growth of kendo in the Niagara region. In other words, business as usual 🙂
I look forward to seeing you in the dojo.
I’ve been away from the dojo for several weeks on vacation and work trips. While I was away, I received a phone call from Sensei Gill from the St. Catharines Kendo Club. He informed me that due to health reasons, he was closing the St. Catharines Kendo Club.
First and foremost, I wish Sensei Gill the best possible outcome in dealing with his health challenges and thank him for his years of dedication to kendo. Sensei and I had previously had discussions about what would happen if he closed the club. He wanted to know if his students would be welcome at ours. The answer of course: yes. With open arms.
The closure of the St. Catharines Kendo Club means the Hayakawa Kendo Club is the only dojo in Niagara offering kendo training. This is a challenge. Kendo in Canada is already obscure. Losing a dojo means even less exposure for our art.
I am pondering ways to keep kendo in St. Catharines. We had a foray into running classes in St. Catharines several years back but the time commitment required on my part was too great. No promises, but I’m still pondering.
This is the new reality of kendo in Niagara today. Challenges and opportunities. Such is life.
Enjoy the ride. I look forward to seeing you in the dojo.
No matter your ability of level of kendo, you will experience challenges.
There is a technique you haven’t mastered.
There is a person you haven’t beaten.
There is always something to improve.
These challenges can be frustrating, and can lead one’s mind to negative thinking.
If and when you get to this point, here is my advice.
Honour your efforts to improve.
Did you have a “bad” class? Be grateful you made it to the dojo. Honour your effort.
Honour and respect yourself, just as you do your fellow kendo travellers. Think your sensei’s never had a kendo challenge? Think again.
Everyone has them. You’re not so special that you won’t. So relax and enjoy the journey.
“Success is buried on the other side of frustration.” – Tony Robbins
As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been starting to wear some new tenugui.
For those who’ve been around for a while, do you recognize where this tenugui comes from?
Did you get it? Click here for another hint.
Did you get it? Here’s another hint:
I hope you enjoyed this post 🙂
In kendo, a tenugui is Japanese term for the cloth that is wrapped around the head to provide additional padding and sweat absorption underneath the men (helmet). There are a few observations about them.
One of the things that marks a newbie in bogu is the “rooster tail”. This is when the tenugui is improperly wrapped and sticks out of the back of the men. Rumour has it that if you go for grading with a rooster tail, you will fail. I’ve never seen this happen, but I’ve also seen a lot of people get admonished by senior students for not having their tenugui tied properly.
Another thing that marks a newbie is watching their tenugui slowly start to cover their eyes inside their men. This is a lot of fun, especially if they’re persistently continuing keiko without being able to really see you. Of course, this can be dangerous, so it’s a good idea to let them tie their tenugui properly.
It’s most considerate for all players when everyone’s equipment is tied properly so there is no time wasted during practice having to re-tie equipment. In tournament, one also wants to avoid the distraction that loose equipment can cause. I saw one junior tournament where a player used an equipment issue to completely remove their men and tenugui so everything could be re-tied, and the player got some much needed rest during that time as well. Sneaky, but it worked for him.
There are three main ways ways to tie a tenugui. I won’t get into details here, but here are some links to a few websites.
Kiai refers to the yell or shout made at the time of an attack. The kanji for kiai is made up of two characters. The first is “Ki”, meaning energy and the second is “Ai” which can be translated as “matching”, “meeting” or “uniting”.
In kendo, kiai is an essential part of the strike. Ki-Ken-Tai-no-Ichi refers to the mind, sword and body being as one. Remembering that the strike in kendo is a metaphor for a killing or disabling blow, the metaphor is realized by the presence of ki-ken-tai.
To “see” ki-ken-tai-ichi” in action means three things have to happen simultaneously:
- The attacker must shout the name of her intended target.
- She must strike the intended target area with the proper part of her shinai
- Her foot must strike the ground.
Should one of these elements not be present or if they are not synchronized, then the strike is not valid. Developing one’s ki-ken-tai-ichi is fundamental to success in kendo. To develop one’s kiai is therefore essential.
Most cultures do not encourage yelling or shouting. It is one of the joys of kendo to be able to let loose with a blood-curdling scream. Interestingly, many students have to work on their ability to yell freely.
When students are new to kendo, kiai is one of the tougher things to get used to. One has to overcome resistance to yelling as well as getting used to yelling while physically exerting oneself. Most people don’t yell while jogging or cycling but in kendo one’s kiai for a strike starts at the moment of impact and then continues during the aftermath of the strike. This continued kiai takes effort to develop but is one of the many benefits kendo training has to offer.
Kiai in Keiko and Shiai
When sparring in practice or competition, you’ll often hear a lot of kiai without striking. In these instances, kiai can be used to express one’s own spirit and determination. One thing I find interesting to observe is how kiai varies among kendoka at different levels of experience. Students are often encouraged to kiai the moment they rise from sonkyo to express their spirit. Sometimes one kendoka expresses their kiai first and the second, not to be outdone, will kiai almost immediately afterward. When this happens, my perception is that the second kendoka is in a weaker position.
Responding to the first person’s kiai seems like a natural thing to do, but often the pattern is maintained during the match. This reminds me of a “call and response”. The first person challenges and the second responds. In this way, the first person is in control of the energy of the match. This is not because they are inherently better, but because the second person has subconsciously relinquished control by only responding to the first person’s kiai. From this perspesctive, it would be beneficial for the second person to withhold their kiai for a few moments, building their energy and releasing it at a more opportune moment.
As the title of this post states, these are just some musings about kiai. I welcome your opinions on the subject.
“How has it come about that we are so bewitched by our self-hatred, so impressed and credulous in the face of our self-criticism, as unimaginative as it usually is? And why is it akin to a judgement without a jury? A jury, after all, represents some kind of consen read more