Kendo coaching, familiar faces and reaching milestones.

It’s funny that the older I get, the more I seem to recognise people that I’ve not met before. It sounds a bit stupid but I get this all the time now. I meet someone who I have no connection to, have never met before, not been to the same schools or anything but they look familiar. Maybe I’ve just lived in the same place for too long.

This happened again last night when I was teaching our latest batch of newcomers to the dojo. 3 guys who all seem very much up for doing kendo. As seems to happen, one of them does karate and they’re not the only one, we now have a 3rd dan karateka who has been with us for about 4-5 months now and is loving every minute of it.
These 3 new guys all look familiar to me. No idea how or where I might have met them before but I suspect that I haven’t. I could get all metaphysical about it and suggest that it’s just myself coming more in tune with the collective consciousness of the world or that we are old souls who met in a previous life and now that I am doing something I really love doing, I’m meeting those people again.
I’m not sure what it is, but needless to say, these guys were students to my first proper coaching session.

Myself and Chris did our L1 coaching on the 19th April and it feels pretty good to be on the kind of terms as an officially recognised coach for Kendo. Sensei asked me to give them a go over the basics of reghi and then some basic suburi. Now I know this stuff and I do it without thinking now, but suddenly I’m teaching it to 3 new guys. Okay one had been last week, so it was a bit of revision for him, but they were all in the same boat, stood there, looking at me for guidance and how to do EVERYTHING.
It was also interesting that they arrived just before Sensei, so I gave them a little welcome to the dojo, this is a shinai, it’s really a sword, it’s your soul, you treat it as such.
It all made me realise why sensei feels a little frustrated maybe and possibly a little upset when people come into the dojo to see what Kendo is about, stay for a few sessions and then don’t come back. You make a student teacher connection with them straight away. Yet again, I was not expecting this. I’m not trying to take away from Sensei being the dojo leader and him being the main teacher of kendo, but afterwards when we were doing suburi with the whole dojo, he was telling them the same things I’d been telling them just a few minutes ago. So there it is, first coaching session and dropped in with very little teaching experience I just went with what I would know and what Sensei would do. I guess that’s the cycle that it should be. That’s how dojo styles are passed on. As a junior coach you are just an extension of you Sensei.

Sensei always tells us that the dojo is not really his and it’s not a dojo until we all show up and train. We make the dojo and by actually coaching people, it can only help the dojo and build more dynamic to the sessions. Having the official coaching qualification just makes me think that no matter what happens, that Meirinkan will continue with Sensei Marley teaching as long as possible. Us taking over when he no longer can.
I have these vague visions of being in my eighties, slowly wandering round the dojo, helping people improve their kendo. No matter where I go or what happens, Meirinkan is my home dojo and I’ll make a point of going as much as I can for as long as I can.

And just to add to the end of this, the 25th of April marks the beginning of my 40th year on this planet (I’m 39 if that doesn’t make sense). As usual I try not to dwell on the fact that I’m getting older, I simply try to reflect on how far I’ve come. A lot has changed for me in last 10 and 20 years, even in the last 5. I’m married now, with a nearly 5 year old son and I feel like I’ve achieved more in the last 5 years than I did in most of my life before. My wife is a very good motivator.
As I reflect these things I just hope I have another 40 years on this planet and every year that follows will have as much diversity as the previous ones.

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