|Photo courtesy of W. Sinclair|
I love training. It's obvious if you know me in person. I love working on my kendo and making both big and small improvements. I regularly check in with people around me to assess where I'm at and what I can work on, on top of reading articles, blogs (like this one), forums, and watching videos. I'm always looking at new ways to improve and grow my kendo, but sometimes I think it's beneficial, and even healthy, to put that aside for a while.
What does this mean? to me, this means I let myself stop worrying about all the details and let my body do what it does without thought...or perhaps, with little thought. I think of it as a supervised auto-pilot; I'm still in control of what and when I'm doing something, but instead of thinking about all the small points of hitting a kote, for example, I just think, "here comes my kote," and let my body do the rest. This allows me to not only get comfortable with where I'm at at that moment, but also helps me to build confidence in my skills. They don't have to be perfect, and they never will be, but building that confidence is just as important as sharpening my skills themselves, and in a way is another skill to improve. But if I'm too busy trying to improve everything else I never really give myself that chance to work with what I've got, and I need that periodically in my training.
Letting myself go on this auto-pilot setting also helps me to remember to have fun with kendo. Training can be just like anything else that we do; it can be super fun but it can also end up being a bit of a grind if we let it, and that can cause us to lose some interest and motivation. Every once in a while it's good to let go of what you're actively working on and just enjoy the training. Remember the reasons you came to enjoy kendo in the first place, and just let that be enough. In these times I don't care if my footwork dipped a bit, or if my strikes weren't super accurate and polished (although I still do my best to hit the target!). What matters to me at those times is just being on the floor and enjoying the training, the company and the things that I've learned so far. This not only helps me remember to have fun with training, but coming back to something I've been working on after that can give me some new insight and possibly help me grow in a way that I hadn't expected.
I encourage anyone reading that has never done this to give it a try. Have some fun with training every now and then. Give your perfect kote strikes a rest for a minute and just enjoy the drills and keiko for what they are. It might help open up new directions to take your training, and it will definitely refill the fun meter, if you are in need of that. I know it does for me.