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Title [Martial Arts Globe] Repeated Practice to Drop a Bad Habit

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    78
  • Date
    09-12-2021
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Drawn by author. 

LEE so


I like to write and train. I’m a freelancer who produces online text and image content such as interviews and card news. In my free time, I’m a sports hobbyist who trains kendo. I write and draw content based on training in the context of my everyday life. I’m usually the first person to greet newcomers to the dojang, but I’m actually quite shy. (Instagram: @life_kendo)

 

“When you strike the head, you shouldn’t keep making movements that are out of beat

“When you strike the wrist your body tilts to the side. Your opponent is likely to use it to attack you.”

 

I’ve been practicing kendo for more than ten years. Although it seems that I train similar things every day, the performance of the practice varies largely depending on my condition.

 

I wonder if any other practitioner of other martial arts would agree with me. One day everything is fine, but on another day, my body does not work well. On the day I do not do good, senior practitioners point out my inappropriate posture. As soon as I stop being attentive to my movements, my posture immediately turns bad. Maybe my body only wants to feel comfortable. It’s difficult learning the right posture even with help, but performing bad postures doesn’t even need teaching. Very interesting.

 

“I cannot believe I’m not able to perform what I could yesterday!”

 

There are moments I feel ridiculous about myself. It is annoying when you find it hard to perform skills that you had finally acquired after hard work, make a mistake in the basic footwork, or put your left hand on the wrong location of a bamboo sword. If you ask me whether I skip practice a lot, the answer is no (Maybe it’s just me who thinks so). It is quite unfair for me because I try to practice every day if it isn’t for inevitable situations. Anyway, when I receive many negative comments about my practice, my brain becomes busy remembering all of them.

 

I need to tuck in my hips and fix my left foot to point straight! Whenever I think about my hips, I mess up with my left foot, and vice versa. Apparently, I have failed to fix both things at once. I know there is only one way to fix the situation: settling things one by one after listing up the points I need to improve. I feel related to other amateur kendo practitioners who posted on blogs or Twitter about the bad feedbacks they had received during practice. Because I enjoy handwriting, I usually write them down in my notebook.

 

Then I walk through what I wrote. They are divided into two parts: things that are hard to fix, and those that are not. I first look into the things I can make an improvement right away with a bit of determination. For instance, you might have a bad habit of releasing the right-hand grip on the sword. As for this issue, you can make a quick improvement if you decide not to. Of course, it will take some time to get used to it, as you need to intentionally think about it.

 

On the other hand, if you want your left foot to follow up quickly, you need to raise the strength and speed of your left foot through steady practice. Regardless of the next attack you’d like to make, your right foot should be placed forward followed by the left foot. The left foot plays an important role by pushing the body forward. The movement should be followed up with your right foot swiftly. Only then you can continue your moves even if you fail your attack once. Therefore, kendo practitioners often say that most skills of kendo start from the left foot. Given the significance, you should continuously practice pushing your body forward with your left foot. But it is really easy to forget to put strength in your left foot, no matter how hard you try.

 

This kind of approach doesn’t lead to the kind of achievement you feel at once. I understand it is more exciting to practice flashy skills you can see in kendo YouTube channels. But fix your postures, and then practice, practice, practice. Your hard efforts and the master’s hard training during times of tediousness and difficulty will allow you to finally perform postures with preciseness.

 

These endeavors turn out to be the biggest joy in kendo when you play a match with an opponent. Even though I do not make an intentional decision, my body knows what to do. This does not happen often, but I am so happy when these moments come. I feel proud of my body for doing the right thing at the right time. “One single strike without any intentional thought (無心)” may be the right word for the situation. A posture as solid as my strengthened left foot. My efforts, like Lego pieces, built up this moment of silence, serenity, and beauty.

 

Sometimes during training in daily life, it comes to my mind that what helps me in a decisive moment is steadiness. The steadiness gives me the power to rise and take an action, when necessary. Is it similar to the boring story that straight-A students tell you they only focused on the basics in textbooks? I bet my story is more monotonous than watching movie characters making lethal moves in martial arts films, but this is what I’ve learned through long consistent work.

 

If you are a man of will and action, achievement is a matter of time. I’d like to say that the moment always comes. Of course, I cannot deny the fact that repeated practice is really dull, regardless of the fact I also expect productive outcomes. To develop the strength of the left foot, today I’m doing lunges to push my body forward, but it’s the same as yesterday.

 

To be honest, the basics are so tedious that make me loaf around. I think my master will have something to say about this when he/she finds out.

 

※ Views in this writing are the author’s own.