Thanks everyone for your comments on how long newbies should delay wearing bogu. The consensus seems to be “the longer the better”, with 6 months to a year as the ideal range. Everyone put some real thought into the subject and you have given me some food for thought on how we should manage the transition to bogu. Whilst the comments on this blog were immensely constructive, I noticed one or two surrounding discussions on Facebook that mentioned the money motive as a reason for delaying or speeding up the period spent before using armour.
This piqued my interest, as to the best of my knowledge no-one in my extensive kendo network makes a profit from kendo.
Obviously Japanese police and university professionals receive a salary for doing their job, as do the few official Shihan of big public dojos, but in most cases, kendo teaching is a labour of love. Even those who sit on grading panels or who run international seminars can expect no more than their travel expenses and give their time for free. Many kendo teachers even subsidise events by contributing to the cost of travel or by refusing expenses.
In both the clubs where I practice and teach, the membership fees are calculated to cover the cost of hall rental and nothing more. Even the kyu grading exam which I started last week’s post by describing, was free, even though a number of people had contributed time in organising the event and designing and producing menjo.
I am curious to know if there are any dojo which are run on a truly commercial basis. Although I see crowds of parents delivering their children to judo and karate classes, in the west, kendo tends to be more specialist in its appeal. I believe that for most of us the motive for teaching kendo is to encourage others to join us and to keep the population of colleagues and opponents at a healthy level. There is also the imperative that having benefited from the time and attention of some very kind and patient senior teachers, the least we can do is pass on what little knowledge has rubbed off on us.
I am writing this post in preparation for Monday as I am about to take another unpaid day’s leave to travel to the Sugo Cup in Sweden. My wife has resigned herself to the fact that while my frequent kendo trips do not help the family budget they keep me motivated for what the rest of my life has to offer, including work.
If you know of anyone who is rolling in money as a product of their kendo activities, I would be keen to know, although obviously I won’t tell the Mrs.