A State of Equilibrium

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Has your kendo club reached a “State of Equilibrium?”

When there is little chance for interaction with other clubs it is quite common to reach this state. A “State if Equilibrium” is when every practice has basically the same level of intensity. We all experience an extra surge of vigor and intensity when we keiko with someone new. All the old challenges of vying to test yourself come out of the closet and we practice hard and seriously. When the club and yourself see the same people week after week it is very easy to reach a “State of Equilibrium.” This “state” is a progress killer. After each exchange a brief moment of rest is taken, a relax period, then each of the aite assumes kamae and another exchange ensues. If a dojo or club is to move to the next level and continue to improve then the state of equilibrium cannot continue.

Keep Pushing Yourself

An interesting thing about kendo is the type of personalities it attracts and more importantly keeps, those individuals that stay for the long haul. It has been my experience that they have strong personalities, especially those attaining the higher grades. Everyone in kendo likes to be the hitter and not the hittee, with this in mind as you keiko if your partner wants to rest after an exchange – don’t let them. Hit them, attack them, press them and they will up their game. Each person in the club needs to force their partner (aite) to respond, the net effect will be to break the state of equilibrium. Everyone in the club needs to practice with sincerity and seriousness.

Practice with Sincerity

What do I mean by this? To practice with sincerity is to practice such that the shinai is not just a bamboo stick but as if we were using swords. If we were using swords many of the practices of kendo today would go away. It is now the norm to see the young athletic kenshi practicing this manner, all sense of using a sword is gone. I had once heard a famous hanshi complaining about the creation of 4th Dan stick hitters. (I could go down this path of discussion for an extended length but that is not the point of this article.)

Defeat Equilibrium

To practice with seriousness is really the point of beating the state of equilibrium. If each person practices seriously with the goal of constant improvement then it will force everyone to step up to the challenge. The secondary benefit is the results of individual shinsa as you pass your grading exams. We are all familiar with the plateaus in kendo, we tend to plateau as we run of of “basics”. You can progress quite well if you are young and a good athlete – but this does not work for the average kenshi starting as an adult. Despite the “basics are boring” concept amongst some this is the key to true progress. Constantly refine your kihon, constantly practice with seriousness and sincerity and you will break the “State of Equilibrium”.

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