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Title [Martial Arts Globe] I will go on with my training

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  • Date
    17-06-2022
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(c) LEE So 

I will go on with my training

 by Lee So

About the Author

I write, draw and practice Kendo as a hobby. I also create content such as online texts - interviews and news snippets - as well as images. My content is inspired by my daily Kendo training. Although I work the front desk at my training center, I’m usually shy around strangers.


Stop crying!”

 

At the training center of the Korea Kumdo Association in Eumseong, Chungchungbuk-do, I burst into tears after failing my 5th Dan performance examination - the first step required for promotion.

 

Perhaps I was feeling sorry for myself, having rushed to depart Seoul in the early morning. I may have been embarrassed by the fact that this was my third failure. Maybe I was suddenly overcome by exhaustion after practicing hard for six months and getting all sorts of injuries. My Kendo instructor who was looking at me with tears in my eyes consoled me with the encouragement “I know you will continue progressing in Kendo despite this setback.” On my way to Seoul, I was joined by other Kendosas (Kendo practitioners) who had experienced the same disappointing result.

 

You are not a professional Kendosa. Having a 4th Dan is impressive enough for someone who practices Kendo as a hobby.”

I get nervous taking the promotion test with professionals.”

I can’t possibly understand how to meet the standard.”

 

This was my third failure. Having seen some senior Kendosas passing the test on their first or second trial, I thought “Maybe this is not my forte. It’s not like I make a living out of Kendo, so I shouldn’t feel too sorry for myself.” That might be right. There are many more important things in my life than Kendo. Still, I was eager to improve my Kendo skills. Although I don’t make money from Kendo, it is my hobby and I have been enjoying it for a long time. It was natural that these thoughts came to me and it was difficult to dismiss them. I tried to find excuses to get away from these ideas thinking “after all this, I’m not good at Kendo.” I was unhappy because I felt as if I was intentionally ignoring the voices deep inside me.

 

I was never good at physical activities so I never expected myself to be a great Kendosa. In fact, having practiced Kendo over the last few years consistently, I was sometimes surprised by my enjoyment of a field that I don’t particularly fit in. Every time I lost a Kendo sparring match, I told myself ‘I don’t have to perfect this, just enjoy.’ I was right. I don’t have to improve my skill, but… I also realized I was leaving a limited room for improvement because I didn’t set a high bar for myself out of fear of falling behind and becoming frustrated.

 

Through all this, I learned one important lesson in training consistently. I am becoming a better person, even if the progress is slower or less astonishing than others’. With time, I gain more experiences of victory, and more importantly, having the 4th Dan means my hard work has paid off. If you like something, you naturally want to be better at it. When you gradually take a step toward your dream, regardless of whether you move slowly or fast, one day you will reach the goal. Of course, in the pursuit of our dream, my fellow Kendosas and I will improve.

In reality, hard work doesn’t guarantee a good outcome. But, even so, everyone wants to be better at the things that they enjoy. It brings joy to clearly understand your dream. Just like Hee-do in the drama Twenty-Five Twenty-One, who was consistently following her dream as a fencer, you might achieve an unexpected outcome when you pursue your dream. You will never know how you would have changed if you give up in the middle.

 

I may be hesitant to take another step after this repeated failure. Still, I want to be better at Kendo. So, with ambitious ideas like ‘I will nail this one day,’ I train hard and rest hard. I don’t think promotion is the only reward for my hard work. Rather, having a sense of purpose by challenging myself, practicing for the test with other Kendosas every day and accepting my ambition to be better… Doing Kendo practice every day is itself a reward.

 

On a normal evening at my training center, I overheard a 5th Dan instructor, who was coaching a junior Kendosa, saying “I know how it feels. I failed the 6th Dan test many times.” I couldn’t help myself from chuckling. I couldn’t resonate with him more, and I was inspired by his skill in gradually improving to 6th Dan.


I will go on with my training, finding every little joy during Kendo practice.


Views in this writing are the author's own.