Although things haven’t returned to normal yet, this year – at least for part of it – signalled an ease in the restrictions many of us have been facing since the start of the pandemic. Here in Japan we were never under the (what it looked like from our perspective) often draconian rules that many across the globe have had to deal with, for which I am thankful. Still, Omicron aside, things do look the best they have been in a while. I feel like it’s only a matter of time before I’ll be welcoming guests from abroad into my dojo here in Osaka and, fingers crossed, I can visit my family and (kendo) friends at home in Scotland.. and perhaps even run a seminar.
Keiko seems to have restarted in many places abroad (surprisingly without masks and shields in some cases) and here in Japan dojo that were closed for a long time have re-opened. This includes my own home-dojo, a police one that had been shuttered since February 2020. I even managed to fit in a small Eikenkai session too!
In March I wrote an article exclaiming Chin Up! to everyone, but I must admit my motivation sunk quite low in the second half of the year, and hasn’t quite rebounded back. Due to all this, I’ve only managed to write a meagre 11 articles this year. Sorry about that.
(There is also the fact that I have addressed a massive amount of topics in the kendo sphere since the start of this blog in 2008, and kendo really is a niche interest. If you have any ideas for future topics, let me know!)
In the last week alone (Dec 18th-25th), however, I managed to squeeze in 13 keiko sessions – so things do actually seem to be looking up!
I attempted to organise all the historical articles on kenshi 24/7 in a single page for convenience. This page can be directly accessed via kendo-history.com as well.
Most popular post
My opinion piece on female gradings back in March generated a lot of feedback, both public and private.
There are two follow-ups to this. The first is, there DOES seem to have been a quantifiable uptick in female passes at kodansha gradings (6th and 7th dan) over the last year, which is good! The ZNKR are doing what they said they would. We need more time to see how this plays out.
The second the reason for the sudden pivot in regards to female members (practitioners as well as organisational) might be connected to the fact that the ZNKR itself, as a corporation, changed its’ legal status to a “Public utility foundation” during 2020. It’s super complex, and I need to do a lot more research on the matter, but I suspect this has forced change as well.
Personal favourites (history)
The following historical research articles were fun!
In May I talked a little bit about shiai changes here in Japan. Since things are starting to open up abroad, this will probably start to impact a lot more of my readers soon (if it hasn’t already).
By the way, I have heard zero negative comments about these changes here in Japan, on the contrary most people (including hachidan who run and shinpan shiai) are very happy. Of course, the vast majority of adult practitioners over here don’t bother with shiai, and nobody wasted time in tsubazeriai anyway = any changes are actually moot. The only negative comments I have heard are from abroad. There are many reasons why this may be the case but, like my initial displeasure at having to wear a mask and shield, if you actually try it for a time and see what happens, you might realise it isn’t so bad. In fact, it might be better. Shiai rules have changed over time and will continue to do so.
I managed to get on the road again! Packing my bogu, shouldering my shiai bag, and heading out the door is something I used to relish. The chance to do so has been severely restricted, so it was with pleasure I managed to get out for some quality degeiko. Not as much as I like, but still.
Choice pics from instagram:
I’ve actually been taking a lot of video, though I don’t have the time/skill to edit and or make the footage beautiful or cool. Anyway, enjoy:
So that’s pretty much it for this year!! Hopefully in 2022 we will see things turn to somewhat normal, and I can get back to writing more. Anyway, cheers, and merry xmas!