For me, Kendo started when I was a freshman at Ohio University. I joined on a whim, not really knowing much about it except that it was Japanese and it used bamboo swords. I had no idea what kind of journey it would take me on. During my first practice I was flooded with new information. I had never done any kind of martial arts before, so I had no knowledge about entering or exiting the dojo or how you were supposed to act in the dojo. I didn’t even know where to stand. However, the more I practiced, the more I fell in love with it.
What interests me most about Kendo is the mentality behind it. In Kendo your real opponent is yourself, not the person you are facing. You must wipe all fear, anger, confidence and pride from your mind to be the absolute best. A Kendo player should not only do this in the dojo but outside of it as well. In this way, I never stop playing Kendo even when I have left the dojo. Of course, this condition is extremely hard to reach and takes decades of practice. It is something I am nowhere close to. Another thing I like is how you must score a point.
The hardest thing I did though, was when I studied abroad in Nagoya, Japan at Chubu University for six months of my sophomore year. There I practiced five to six times a week, two and a half hours a day. I learned what it was really like to play Kendo.In Kendo you cannot just simply hit a target. Many things must come together as one. You must cleanly hit your opponent in the proper place while simultaneously stomping, using a strong kiai (yell) and maintaining proper zanshin (remaining presence). Simply put, you have to put everything you have, mentally and physically, into your attack. At first I found putting all of this together very hard but now it all happens almost instinctively.
The hardest thing I did though, was when I studied abroad in Nagoya, Japan at Chubu University for six months of my sophomore year. There I practiced five to six times a week, two and a half hours a day. I learned what it was really like to play Kendo. Chubu’s Kendo team was very strong, so during my time there I did not defeat a single person. At times I was defeated in less than ten seconds. A couple of those times I would fight back tears as I bowed to the person who just dominated me. It was hard, yet when I arrived back in America I was much stronger not only in Kendo but as a person.
Kendo has made a huge impact on my life and it will continue to for the rest of my life. My dream is to one day attain Eighth Dan, though I am only First Dan now. I have a lot of hard work and training ahead of me but for me it is worth it. It is something I truly enjoy and have no idea where I would be in my life without it. My Kendo journey has only just started but I look forward to the challenges and will meet them head on.