** Written by RKC Dojo member, Jason EASON (Kendo 1st Dan, Jodo 1st Dan).
Today, 27 November 2022, I reached a milestone in my kendo journey as I successully passed my black belt (shodan / 1st dan) exam - an achievement after many hours of training in the dojo. In my opinion, sports can have a major impact on one’s personal development and as well in the workplace and on ones career. I took the time to analyse my latest passion and I wanted to share with you the effect it has both personally and on my work as a scientist.
Kendo is a martial art originated from the experiences of the samurai who trained to use Japanese swords on the battlefield. It is believed that through learning kendo one can gain an understanding of the “principles of the sword”. The purpose of kendo or in Japanese ”the way of the sword”, is to mould the mind and body and cultivate a vigorous spirit through correct and rigid training. Kendo combines the elements of a full-contact sport with the strong martial arts values such as discipline and respect. The kendoka (person who practises kendo) wear protective armour (bogu) and wields a two-handed bamboo swords called "shinai".
How has Kendo helped me in my everyday work life?
Some of my challenges in my kendo journey have been the 4 “shikai” or “sicknesses of the mind” which are: Surprise, Fear, Doubt and Hesitation. As you can imagine, these emotions are also very common in a workplace environment. These are four things that we should of course avoid. Easier said than done. The importance of the “shikai” is not just their avoidance, but a study of the “sicknesses of the mind” and by practicing kendo it gives us insights into our own path to improvement of our character.
Through the study of the kendo, the “shikai” has helped me in navigating the workplace. Often, one is faced in the workplace with the exact situation we train most to avoid in kendo. The “shikai” somehow affects all of us daily and to keep them under control is the most difficult.
After each class all students have the opportunity to kneel in front of the sensei to get feedback on how we performed or to discuss the techniques we are struggling with most. If the sensei are too busy students can kneel formally in front of a senior students or fellow students at the end of the class to get their feedback on how their experience in the dojo can help navigate our kendo journey and do better. For me this concept of feedback is so relevant in the workplace, often we don’t get feedback from our managers or our colleagues on how we are performing and importantly are we meeting expectation. We blindly continue with our jobs not even asking if we doing it correctly. Continuous feedback whether in the dojo or in the workplace is so important if we are to succeed in life.
Lastly because kendo is a traditional martial art passed down from centuries of samurai culture etiquette is very important and each action and detail once stepping on the dojo floor has to be on point. In my line of work as a scientist or even now managing a factory detail is important to ensure quality and safety of the formula once it get into the consumers hands. Everything has to be done correctly to a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and so bringing elements of the martial art to my work is important and like in kendo try each day to do one thing well at the same time dealing with complexity has helped.
A quote from one of the greatest samurai warrior of all time Miyamoto Musashi- “To know 10 000 things you must know one well”
By training Kendo I am a more grounded person in the workplace and feel more calm when under pressure. Daily training in the way of the sword really does affect the way we live and sometimes what we do as our hobby or sport outside of the workplace can have an impact on how we show up at work. I encourage you to try something new - take up a new hobby or learn a new skill outside of work. You will be surprised how it can change you in more ways than you think and make you a more interesting person not to mention making new friends.
I hope this testimony will inspire you to deep dive into your passion as well!
The Ryū Ken Chi (RKC) Dojo train the traditional Japanese martial arts of Kendo and Iaido (sword-based martial arts), as well as Jodo (the art of the short staff), that encourages the cultivation of the human character.
Kendo Kid is also available for children aged 6-11 years old.
RKC DOJO has 2 training venues within Johannesburg - RIVONIA and OBSERVATORY. Online training is also available.
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