Kendo has given me enormous satisfaction in overcoming challenges, a few blinding flashes of mushin and a general feeling of well being at the end of each session. Training however is about stretching oneself physically and emotionally to get to the next level. A general rule of thumb is that if you are enjoying it, you are not trying hard enough.
This principle should apply to all aspects of kendo -not just to keiko and shiai. Teaching, refereeing, judging on grading panels are all serious endeavours that affect other people and therefore need to be taken seriously. That is not to say, you cannot be pleasant, even humorous in the process, but you need to stay focussed on the fact that people are there to win, or to learn, or to be judged fairly.
Kendo of course has a social side and it is only natural to be open and friendly in the pub or restaurant, but in the dojo or shiai-jo, you need to get on with the job.
I just returned from one of my many kendo weekends away, this time for the Irish International Goodwill Tournament in Cork. The schedule ran along the lines of – Friday seminar, Friday evening keiko, Saturday- refereeing all day followed by keiko, followed by sayonara party. Sunday started with keiko then we had a grading examination. Finally the teaching team went off for lunch, a quick walk around the city, then off to the Airport to catch a late plane home. I arrived in time to unpack my bag and go to bed ready for work on Monday.
The whole weekend was very well organised and as always in Ireland, the food and drink and the craic made for a really pleasant time. Nevertheless it does not deter from the fact that an awful lot of physical and mental energy has been used over a period when most people “recharge their batteries” .
These days, when I hear the question, “did you have a nice relaxing weekend”, I know that the easiest answer is yes.