Posts Tagged ‘Benefits of kendo’

Ryutaro HashimotoFrom my limited experience, kendo in Japan is a fairly egalitarian pursuit, attracting tradesmen, company workers, their wives and children and of course the professionals from the police and university factions. It also attracts some of the leaders of Japanese society.

Whether this is due to kendo’s samurai heritage or because Japan’s senior universities all have thriving kendo clubs is beyond me. It might be because many government departments and leading businesses, METI and Mitsubishi for example, have their own dojo that encourages the continued practice of kendo amongst Japan’s movers and shakers, but it could be argued that this is a function of effect rather than cause.

I can think of numerous government ministers and industry leaders who are active in kendo. In fact the current President of the AJKF, Cho Fujio who is honorary Chairman of Toyota recently took over from Takeyasu Yoshimitsu a former government minister. Probably the most senior kendoka in recent history was the late Hashimoto Ryutaro, former Prime Minister of Japan.

It could be argued that kendo either attracts successful people or that its practise develops habits that lead to success, but I wonder how this relates to those of us outside Japan who do not have the same cultural legacy. Any sport tends to attract competitive people and there are numerous examples of athletes who go on to become successful entrepreneurs, or build business or political careers. In most cases their concentration of effort tends to move from one to the other in that they focus exclusively on sport in their early years and then switch their energy to their working life.

Where kendo differs from other sports is that its pursuit can continue into old age, so it makes demands on time that might be added to the hours invested in work. Of course many career focused individuals take time out for the gym, but thirty minutes on the treadmill can be squeezed into the busiest schedule, whereas kendo training takes place at set times and dates and very often entails time spent travelling to the dojo.

For those of us who train regularly, this can equate to a considerable time investment.  My own kendo activities take up between 8 and 10 hours per week, which if added to my consultancy time sheet would account for another day’s income. Still I am totally convinced that the de-stressing benefits of kendo can keep us sane enough to continue making the most of our working lives. I am interested to learn your thoughts on the subject. Would you be more or less successful with or without kendo?

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Mochida SenseiThank you all for the many well thought-out comments on last week’s post. In spite of me breaking the first law of blogging, (never post anything ironic without including a smiley face or lol), you gave me some deep personal insights into what we really gain from our kendo practice.

The qualities you mentioned or described included, courage, perseverance, perception, the ability to stay calm under pressure and perhaps the most interesting from my perspective, durability and stamina; keeping our kendo practice moving forward into our old age.

In comparison to my teachers and seniors I am a mere child at the age of 64 and yet I look forward to each keiko session as much as I did when I started aged 17. I can’t remember what it is like not to do kendo but I am fairly certain that I feel better than many of my peers who lead more sedentary lives.  OK, so the knees do ache a bit the morning after practice, but apart from that, fingers crossed, my capacity to enjoy kendo and life in general is undiminished.

Kendo has a way of making allowances for the changes brought about by aging that many other sports and pastimes do not. I have heard stories about heart-attacks in the squash courts, whereas in kendo if you learn to breathe correctly and keep going, kizeme takes over from physical power and you can continue to train with younger, fitter partners.

What was also obvious is that most people embraced the fact the kendo really is a lifelong route to self-improvement and not just a competitive sport. You also gave me some great examples of how you put the benefits of your keiko into action. Eric’s coolness in avoiding being hit with a 300kg piece of metal and Steven’s resilience in the face of life threatening cancer and its painful treatment are 2 very different, but equally valid examples.

I am writing this in advance of its Monday morning post, as I am spending the weekend at the European Referees’ Seminar in Brussels. As well as brushing up refereeing skills it is a great opportunity to catch-up with old kendo friends. Getting together with other kendoka, be it in person or through this blog, reminds me of my other reason for continuing kendo. It’s great to be part of an international community of like-minded people.

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