Why Kendo? Short and long-term goals

March 9, 2013 Uncategorized 0 Comments
Miyahara Sensei’s 80th Birthday party at Pasadena Kendo Dojo in 2001
At the end of my first year of Kendo in 2001, a classmate of mine asked me why I decided to stop going to practice.  I told him that I can’t seem to find the motivation to continue it at the time.  I had made a short-term goal to learn enough to defend myself and I felt like I had accomplished that goal.  I don’t mean it in the way of defending myself well against a Sensei but perhaps a random trouble-maker in some local public place.  My second reason was that I had always wanted to learn break-dancing when I was younger but never had an opportunity to do so until now.  So I veered away from Kendo for a few years.

 Photo taken at my Shodan Shinsa in October 2004.

Miyahara Sensei convinced me to come back for a year to earn 1st Dan in 2004, and then I went back into break-dancing for several more years.  These were all short-term life goals.  I guess it is typical for an impatient young person to make more short-term goals.

It wasn’t until 2008 that I began to think about long-term goals.  I got married.  Then I started investing my money in the stock market.  When I had spare time I played Chess.  It was then that I started to realize how much I missed Kendo as it was a topic that often flowed out of my conversations with friends and family.

 Miyahara Sensei and I at the 2010 San Fernando Valley Kendo Dojo Christmas party
Photo by Eileen Dong

At the beginning of 2010 I came back to our dojo.  In April 2011, I passed the 2ndDan exam.  Miyahara Sensei has been doing Kendo for 80 years.  That shows us that Kendo should definitely be a long-term goal.  It keeps me sharp mentally and physically with a minimal amount of injury from practice.  It is a practical art in many ways because it improves my everyday life outside of practice.  During my work-day, I think about my posture, my voice, and my breathing.  I think about dangerous obstacles that I have to avoid around the workshop.  I think of distance between my car and the car in front of me when I drive.  I think of ways to make my life and the lives of those around me safer.  I am training my mind to sense incoming danger so that I can handle life’s challenges more confidently.

Miyahara Sensei’s 90th Birthday party at Saladang Song in May 2011
(Back row from left to right:  Kaneshiro Sensei, Greg Tria, Sean Barley, Bailey Sensei, Roger Fachini, Nguyen Dong with Andrey Kostin behind, Leo Sukisassiyan.  Front row:  Miyahara Sensei, Yuho Matsuo)

Being a part of the Dojo gives me a sense of being involved with a community.  It encourages me to meet new people and maintain good relationships.  Kendo is interesting to me because age, sex, size, weight, and athleticism isn’t as important as knowledge and experience.  A person of lower rank has a chance to win a point against a person of higher rank.  Although most people tend to think of Kendo more as a sport today, I still think of it as an art form.  To be great at any discipline takes a lot of time and patience.  There’s no way to achieve greatness with short-term goals alone.  The short-term goals must serve towards accomplishing a long-term goal.  For me, Kendo is the instrument that serves my long-term goal to become a better person.  These are the reasons that motivate me to be a part of Kendo for the long run.