Skip to main content

The Sun Sets...

A thought occurred to me last night during training;  a thought that made me both happy and a little sad.  I realized that, if all goes well this weekend, last night was my last training as a shodan.  I will be testing for nidan this weekend at the PNKF shinsa.  I feel ready for it, and everyone else says that I'm ready.  I just need to relax and not be nervous, and let my body do what it's been trained to do.  I'm glad to have this opportunity, though.  Sometimes I feel like it's too soon since I've only been training for just under four years.  In fact, it will be four years in May.  I feel like I've accomplished a lot in such a short time, but compared to this entire journey that I've set myself on it's only a drop in the bucket.  I definitely have my dojo, and the members, to thank for getting me where I am right now.  They all push me hard, right to the limit, but they also encourage me and will be the first ones to lend me a helping hand or encouraging words when needed.  And I have to thank my sensei for their instruction and for bringing out the best I have to offer. I wouldn't be where I am now without them.

Last night's practice was a bit different.  We started off with a local shinsa, in which a lot of our newer members were able to test.  We had both kids and adults, men and women, testing for ranks from 10 kyu up to 5 kyu.  Kyu, for anyone that might not know, are ranks below the black belt level (dan ranks).  One big thing that I noticed is that everyone had great spirit and kiai, and all of them did great with the basics.  Full swings, keeping the left hand in the center, etc.  Even the kids were doing great with these points, which was awesome to see.  Oh, and I also got to be on the judging panel, which was new for me.  I noticed as we went up through the ranks that the level of kendo presented rose.  Timing became more synchronized.  Swings were faster, cuts were sharper, footwork was a bit more refined.  Again, very refreshing to see, and great job to everyone last night because they all ended up passing.

After the shinsa we had open floor, and we used the time for jigeiko.  We grabbed partners and did over an hour of jigeiko, and in that time I had many great rounds with my friends and partners, and learned a lot during that time.  I tried to just focus on doing the best kendo that I had, because that's what I'm planning on doing at the shinsa on Saturday.  I worked on making my own strikes sharp and defined, and making my timing as perfect as I could, and keeping my footwork crisp and snappy.  I had a few good hits, and a few misses, but all throughout I never gave up and kept my focus.  I still have a ton to work on, but for now I feel good about where I'm at with my training. 

I can feel the sun setting on this chapter of my kendo journey.  I had a great year at shodan, but the end of this chapter marks the beginning of a new one.  I am hopeful and positive and will work to make this new chapter the best that I can.  I'm looking forward for what's in store for me in the future.


  1. Nice bit of retrospection there Chris. Best of luck to you! I'll be keeping an eye on you, slowly following in your footsteps :)

  2. Ah thanks! It's always nice to receive best wishes, especially from other countries. I find it amazing that when I started this blog I don't think I even had a rank, and now here I am moving into the yudansha ranks, slowly but surely :)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Kent Taikai 2018: How to Deal with Disappointment

A sobering entry today, but hopefully a valuable lesson for me and anyone reading.

Last weekend my dojo mates and I participated in the Kent Taikai in Kent, WA.  I look forward to this tournament as it's a little smaller and more intimate than the PNKF Taikai we attended last month, and it's a chance to catch up with my kendo friends in the area as well as participate in some good matches.  This year delivered in that regard.

We had six competitors this year, ranging from 1-3 kyu up to the 3-4 dan divisions.  One of our new-to-us members participated, as well, so that was fun to welcome him to our crazy taikai weekend trips.  The trip itself went well, and the pass was clear for us so we had a smooth ride to the Seattle area and to training at the Bellevue Kendo Club on Friday night.  It was a good night, and I was able to have a lot of quality keiko with the kodansha over there, as well as received some helpful feedback and advice that I'll be putting into practice soon.

PNKF Taikai 2018

Last weekend a few of my dojo mates and I loaded up and headed to Seattle for the 44th Annual PNKF Taikai.  This is the biggest tournament in our region and sees many, many people from not only around our federation but also from Canada, Hawaii and beyond.  This year I heard we had around 300 participants and welcomed a couple of new participating dojos, including a new dojo from Canada and from as far away as New Jersey.

Our trip to the tournament began the day before.  Friday three of us headed over for training at Bellevue Kendo Club.  J Marsten Sensei welcomed us with greetings and a good, hard practice.  I picked up some new things to try for my own improvement, and after warm-ups and some basic drills we broke into open floor.  I was able to practice with some of my long time friends before I was grabbed by one of the members and pulled over to own line.  I relished the chance to practice with her, since I haven't had a chance throughout all of these years, and she did not …

Active Teaching, Active Learning

Most of my kendo life I've been happy and content being a student.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still very much a student and I don't think that will ever change.  That's part of the beauty of kendo; there's always more to learn and more to improve.  Three yeas ago, though, I started teaching the beginning class as their main instructor.  That mantle has only recently been (mostly) passed onto another member.  Here and there I would lead the other classes, as well, including our main class, where the bulk of our members come to train.  I never thought much of it, though, and would either follow a set plan or I would run basic drills and our basic format.  Most of the time I tried to follow a coherent plan of drills that would build on top of each other, i.e. kote, kote-men, then using kote-men as a counter to kote.  I also liked to build drills around a theme, such as kote drills, or counters effective for men, or other things of that nature.

Lately I've been …