To misquote a well known saying!
I use a number of business networking sites for work and do get a lot of value from one in particular – Linkedin. This site is of a size where it has lots of specialist groups, including one for Kendo Business Professionals. In the Q and A sessions for this group, one question that regularly pops up is, “Do you believe that kendo has an impact on your working life”. People come up with some pretty good answers based on allegory using kendo images. Here are some recent examples:
“It does. Ki-Ken-Tai can be seen as intention, action, result and this applies to work too. Also Zanshin is important.. this relates to quality, attention to what has been done and how it worked. Well this is my opinion, I believe KenDo really is a way to achieve greater self-consciousness and increase willingness in life. ”
“Definitely. It teaches me to undergo tasks with full potential, purpose and concentration. It helps me deal with stressful situations without losing inner calmness or clarity of mind.”
This is by no means a new phenomenon, back in the eighties and nineties when the Japanese electronics and automotive industries were wiping the floor with their western counterparts; everyone was talking about keiretsu and kaizen. Even non-Japanese methodologies were jumping on the bandwagon with six sigma practitioners qualifying for their green belts and black belts. Books that were originally written to describe kenjutsu techniques and strategies, such as Musashi’s Book of Five Rings became business strategy bibles, much to the delight of their then niche publishers and translators. Chinese philosophy became conveniently japanised. I have somewhere, on a not too visible bookshelf, a copy of “Sun Tzu and the Japanese art of War”. And of course, we had the specially created books like “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, – one of my favourites.
If I think about it objectively, you can draw parallels from any sport or pastime to any other aspect of existence. Life can be a “marathon”, negotiating a “game of chess” and (for UK TV viewers only), in the words of Swiss Tony, “Business is like a beautiful woman”. Kendo players are therefore absolutely right to use elements of their chosen shugyo as an illustration of other areas of their lives.
Where I am not convinced however, is that you should practice kendo specifically to become a better business person, parent or pupil. There is only one reason for practicing kendo – because you want to, and the reason for continuing, even though you hate kakarigeiko whilst you are doing it, is because you enjoy it.
That’s the motivation taken care of. But I do believe that Kendo makes a difference. Significant time spent training hard and sincerely, observance of kendo’s rules of respect and courtesy and the ability to relate to people from around the globe who share a common interest have together, got to help you become a better person. Just do not expect that that extra twenty minutes of kirikaeshi will make you any better at closing deals.