My friend Tet, lovely girl that she is, started the campaign #whywekendo to promote Kendo in the Philippines particularly Manila Kendo Club (MKC), my first Kendo family. I started Kendo a little over 3 years ago and I’ve only been with MKC a couple of months before I moved to Saskatoon. One of the things that I thought of when I moved was if there’s a Kendo club in the city. I am glad that there is – Saskatoon Kendo Club – and so here I am continuing the journey, an ocean away from where I’ve started.
I don’t have some deep, spiritual calling to practice Kendo. At least I don’t think so yet. I hope I will. I didn’t exactly start at a young age so how I am experiencing it is not the same as that of a kid who is full of energy but there are massive challenges at any level.
To be honest, I am still figuring out the reason why – I think I wanted a profound, personal reason. I had a talk about this with one of my sensei and she told me plainly – you do it for yourself. No better reason to.
Despite my physical limitations, Kendo makes me push myself physically for the better. Though not obvious, I have scoliosis so I have never been in the best of forms (and it’s painful). Kendo is helping me to be more self-aware, how to take care of my health. It makes me think of ways on how I can be healthier and stronger – diet, exercise, time management – all because of how much I wanted to be better at it.
Training in Kendo is known as one of the hardest and most challenging, not just physically, but also mentally. With the help of my senseis and through correct training, I am learning how to strengthen my mind. Being an introvert, not very confident at times, it’s a great feeling to be able to go through and survive every drill, every keiko (practice). To be honest, Kendo scares me – I quit every time before practice starts but then I go through it all as best I could, as much courage I could muster.
Manila Kendo Club, 2013
Some of the best people in my life right now practice Kendo. I have friends, senseis, and sempais, old and new, who are very supportive and encouraging. Not many people understand why I do the things I do – one of those things is Kendo. To have such persons in one’s life, who are at times going through the same thoughts and feelings as you are, it keeps you grounded. It’s humbling to be taught by highly skilled senseis (teachers) and sempais (senior) who believe in what you can achieve.
Moving to a new country where everything is different, many things are new, it changes you – some for the better, some not quite. You can get unsettled by the unfamiliar. One of the things that make me continue Kendo was that feeling that it is familiar. It’s something I did in my “old life”. It was something I liked doing and I liked myself during those times and so it feels right, normal, continuing it.
Saskatoon Kendo Club, 2016
Last March, I survived my first tournament/seminar and I passed my first Kendo grading exam. It might only be ikkyu but it was a big deal for me. I am truly thankful for the lessons from my teachers and seniors, for friends who support this endeavor #TeamDecisive, for family who tolerate my not-so-traditional choices. I have a looooong way to go and I hope I can continue; perhaps truthfully find that deep, profound reason #whywekendo.
So, try Kendo for yourself, whatever your questions and hesitations might be right now. You’re reading this post for a reason.
Saskatoon Kendo Clubwill be accepting beginners again in the Fall term, September 2016. We practice at the YMCA in Saskatoon every Wednesday (7-9pm) and Sunday (3-5pm). The club succefully held its 27th Annual Saskatoon Kendo Seminar last March where practitioners from all over the prairies, from BC and from Ontario attended.