Patience is just as much a skillset as the rest of the kendo art form.
Today at the Dojo here in Yorkshire we had a large class for some of our beginner (Kyu) level kendokas.
As we do with all our classes we start off with a warm up and progress to more strenuous/quick thrusts.
I noticed one of our students who was a Ro-Kyu becoming more and more frustrated as he struggled with the technique and following through with clean, well placed hits.
After about 5 minutes or so he threw his bokken on the floor declaring he can’t do it. Getting to know this student in previous classes he confessed to me that becoming a Hachi-Dan was his ultimate goal in his studies.
This is a level that even I myself haven’t even achieved therefore I know the vast amount of time, patience, and perseverance that must be involved in achieving that level of expertise in the kendo art form.
He also expressed his interest in learning the art of Iaito and properly yielding one of the samurai katanas passed down from his great grandfather.
These are big ambitions, no question about it.
Remembering this I confronted the student asking him why he was frustrated. His response was that he’ll never be the warrior he envisions.
Seeing his eagerness to up and walk out of the dojo I shared a story with him of my struggles when I first started. I was a bloody buffoon on the floor; dropping my bokken, tripping over my own feet, stubbing my fingers.
I at times had thoughts of quitting. I however realized that not even the greatest of ancient samurais in their starts held the level of expertise that they later held in their prime. I pushed forward, stuck to my studies and worked with my sensei to correct my form.
Asking for help and taking feedback from others is key in correcting your form. Once you are open to accepting help from others and turning frustration to concentration you can work towards improving your technique.
After sharing my story and reminding him of his goals in the art, he calmed down and changed his mindset. He promised me that from here on out he will be more patient and take the time to properly learn this art form.
Moral of the story: Be patient, remember your goals, and be open to feedback from your sensei.