If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may have noticed that things have been quiet during the past days. That’s because we're looking for new kendo topics to heat up the place. We don't want to post simply for the art of it, we want to deliver great articles containing useful, practical bits of information that you'll truly enjoy.
For some time now we have been looking into expanding our dojo. Possibly we will begin practice at a more ample facility that, coincidentally, has wooden floors suitable for kendo practice.
Wooden floors are important because they provide the best support for feet. Undoubtedly, wood surfaces are best for executing proper fumikomi ashi. Try it yourself: train in a concrete floor and then train in a wooden floor and you'll notice a slight change in foot pressure. This minor variation is critical for proper footwork and balance and it has to do with floor's hardness.
Repeated practice in concrete floors can result in kidney, leg, knee and feet pain and you may even stop kendo altogether because of it. Advice: if you cannot practice kendo in a wooden floor always remember to wear protective feet gear. Keep looking for other surfaces to practice besides concrete floors. If you can't find a good quality location try placing inexpensive martial arts mats or karate mats but don’t get accustomed to them. Wood floors are essential to kendo so keep searching for a place that has them.
Our first kendo exhibition as members of the PAKA club took place at the Jose Beto Remon Municipal Gym (Panama City) on August 28. It was an exciting time for us as we had the opportunity to showcase kendo prior to a karate tournament organized by the Golden Karate Club presided by Jaime Garcia de Paredes Sensei.
Exhibitions are major stepping stones when it comes to spreading the word about kendo and Japanese traditions in general. To take part in a kendo exhibition is a huge responsibility and it should not be taken lightly.
As a demonstrating kendoka you must face audience, sensei and teammates with the right mental and physical attitude. Check that uniform is properly tied and wears comfortably; check that bogu and shinai are in order, tie men and do firmly. Try to relax and calm your nerves, go through waza in your head or review program with your teammates if you find it soothing. Once you are in the open maintain full concentration on the action taking place. Remember, you are not at dojo so seek to perform at your peak level, with confidence. Become an excellent partner; stay alert and aware of your partner’s moves. Always use powerful kiai. Minor slip-ups during exhibition are guaranteed so don’t fret about them and continue onward until exhibition is over. Be cheerful and friendly before, during and after demonstration.
Finally, a good thing to have is a narrator with a microphone or loudspeaker that introduces the group to the audience, explains actions unfolding and delivers a brief description of kendo while kendoka change positions and put on bogu. It helps move things along and keeps audience motivated and interested.
To take part in a kendo exhibition is a great honor and an amazing experience. It doesn’t matter if your participation was less than stellar, surely there will be other opportunities to shine. What’s important is that you are learning to overcome your natural fears and you are showing character and commitment to kendo as an art and as a way of life.