Shugyo 修行

For perhaps the fifth year (or maybe it’s the sixth) I find myself going through ramadan. Well, not exactly ramadan, as I am an atheist (though not irreligious), but I co-opt the month to do my own sort of spiritual and physical discipline (for the same reason I have tried Lent before). During this period I fast during daylight hours, allowing myself only a banana and a piece of chocolate before 6am if I have asageiko on that day, otherwise I eat no food until 7pm-ish, or around about whatever time the sun sets. If I have keiko in the evening it means I may not sit down to eat until after 9pm. As I may do anything from one to three keiko sessions some of these days, I do allow myself to drink water or maybe a cup of black coffee. Even though it’s not ramadan proper, I do believe it still serves as a spiritual exercise meant to better me as a person. This is, to me, an important part of my personal shugyo, of which budo is a part.

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Teaching beginners 初心者の指導法

As many long-term readers of kenshi 24/7 know, I’m in a super rare kendo position here in Japan. This is something that I am keenly aware of myself, and am extremely thankful for. Because of this, I get a lot of people emailing/messaging me asking various questions. Some questions are easily answered, while others take some research. One common enquiry I get is about teaching beginners, specifically how I approach it, what type of exercises I do, and how long it takes. I’ve also had people asking for advice about starting up kids and university level clubs.

As teaching is something I am quite experienced in, I give advice as best I can, but always with an important caveat: teaching and rearing beginner kenshi in a Japanese high school environment is quite different to the situations they are in.

Now and again I’ve pondered about whether people would actually be interested in hearing about how I teach beginners, even if the situation I am is completely different from theirs, and so here today I have decided to take some time and briefly explain my process. I hope it’s interesting!

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Eikenkai (May 2017) 英剣会

After the flurry of kendo activity that was the Kyoto Taikai, it was nice to have a relaxed keiko with a bunch of friends. Whereas the last session was jam-packed, today’s was a more reasonably sized group of 15 people. Still, we had six countries represented (Scotland, England, Italy, France, America, and Japan), and people from grades nidan to nanadan.

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