This has been a chance to reflect on the highs and lows of my last kendo year and to make plans for the year to come. The highs were refereeing in the 16WKC in Tokyo and in meeting and enjoying keiko with old friends from various parts of the globe as well as making new ones. I also felt a sense of pride seeing the improvement of some of my regular keiko partners at Mumeishi and Sanshukan dojo. The Mumeishi 3s ran without a hitch and we are already planning the 2016 event which we hope to make bigger and better.
I am now trying to get my schedule in order for 2016. So far the Brussels referees’ seminar is firmly booked, as are the annual BKA Spring Seminar in Watchetts and Summer Seminar in Kristiansand in Norway. I am also waiting to put final dates in the diary for a number of other seminars, taikai and grading panels. Sueno sensei will be running a Mumeishi seminar and we are looking forward to a visit from Hitotsubashi University.
My wife and I recently bought a holiday home in Marbella, Spain, so I also hope to have the occasional keiko with Shion dojo.
My personal kendo objectives are the most difficult to plan. I naturally want to improve my keiko, but I face the dual challenges of old age and limited access to teachers who can help me reach the next step. George McCall has touched on the point in his kenshi 247 blog that kendoka outside Japan who talk about learning from occasional exposure to Japanese teachers (forgive me for paraphrasing George), are deluding themselves.
As an overseas kendoka who has lived in Japan, I can see both sides of the argument, but I lean towards George’s view. Were time and money not limiting factors, spending a serious amount of time with my hanshi of choice would probably take me to where I hope to be, that is with a fighting chance of challenging for hachidan. I am not suggesting that I would ever pass, but my objective would be to reach a level where I would not be totally wasting the shinsain’s’ time.
As things stand, it is unlikely that I will be in a position to become anyone’s elderly uchideshi in the near future, so I shall have to continue to make the best of the opportunities that I have. Still I intend to enjoy the coming year’s kendo whatever happens.