Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Confidence

For Monday night's Kendo practice, all of us were greeted with a surprise visit from Kiyota Sensei. He came to evaluate us for the upcoming Kendo Promotional Exams at the Detroit Kendo Open in two weeks. Before jumping into combat he gives a short lecture about our self-development.

He says that there are three phases of development.

First, we must all work on KIHON (basic movement and technique) until the movement becomes almost instinctive, obtaining a perfect action.

Second, he says, is DESTRUCTION. By this he means to forget everything we've learned because the learning is no longer sufficient. We must forget in order to let the body respond to the action and feeling of combat. Since the moment we open our eyes to the world we learn to fear. To let go of this fear and face down the object at hand is the essence of destruction.

The third and last phase is to develop CREATIVITY. This he cannot he teach us. He can only guide and provide examples. Sensei can direct us on the path which includes combining attacks and turning defence into offence. Again, this development is not possible without deconstructing everything we have learned in the past, to observe and see an opponent's angle of attack before he commits. The key component of creativity, he says, is to have concentration. He warns against Kendo for the sake of stamina building but instead to rest the mind and truly concentrate on the moment.

When I went for my sho-dan (black belt) test last November, there was question about my testing because I was told to learn humility. I went to the test and failed. I had not expected to test again until next November but Kiyota Sensei evaluates us and recommends that Travis and I take the exam. This time he says I lack confidence. He sees in my attack a mis-trust in my own ability and to pass this test will help me regain confidence. He is right afterall. I've been doubting a lot lately what I'm capable of in my own training but still, I need to think about if I should test again so soon. To fail again will take away much more.

After practice, I guess I was feeling pretty good about Kiyota Sensei's confidence in me so I stop by Lucky's Bar to meet up with David and Jenica and the rest of the guys for some wings. It's no official Wingsday by any means but man, I craved those chicken wings.

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Kendo Confidence

Kendo isn't just a question of physical force, but also requires "sanchin" - self-control and good spirit. A kendoka with a strong sanchin is always in total control of all his movements and always maintains his situation awareness, self-confidence and fighting spirit. Sanchin is an essential part of an attack.

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