Lockdown & Return: In the Mind of a Sensei
Warren HO sensei was recently interviewed for an article regarding the recent lockdown and subsequent re-opening of our dojo. Here is an extract of that interview:
1. How long was the dojo closed for?
This recent closure of the dojo was since the announcement of the adjusted Level 4 lockdown. We closed the physical dojo on 28 June 2021. It was also the directive from our national governing body, the South Africa Kendo Federation (SAKF) that we close down. However, since then, with the easing of the lockdown regulations and the decreasing infections rates, we had decided to re-open the dojo again as of Wednesday,21 July 2021.
All other South African Kendo dojos are still closed.
It should be noted that our online classes continued during the lockdown period. These were initiated during the 1st hard lockdown of 2020, and we have kept at it since then (even though the physical dojo reopened soon after the hard-lockdown was lifted).
2. How did having the dojo close affect you and the Kendo community?
Personally, the closing of the dojo only meant not being able to interact with my fellow members PHYSICALLY. However, the training did not stop. Whether it was solo training, or online training with our fellow members, we continued to train diligently in our 3 disciplines of KENDO, IAIDO and JODO.
I am in the firm opinion that the dojo exist merely as a safe place where we can ALL practise the martial arts together, but true martial artists can make any space their training environment.
I reiterate again: The training does not stop. This is a personal choice and if a difficult one to stick to at times, but this is the DISCIPLINE that so many people seek when enrolling in the martial arts – the discipline it is just showing up to train.
As for my Kendo community, let me rephrase that to the “Rivonia Kendo Club (RKC)” community that I belong to. Our small community consists of members doing Kendo, Iaido, Jodo, or a combination of these 3 disciplines (you can always find out more about this 3 separate, yet related, disciplines on our website: www.rivoniakendo.co.za ). I have come to understand that as much as I am striving to be the best martial artist that I can be, there is only a handful of other that want to, or can practically aspire to do the same.
Therefore, not everyone will have trained as consistently as I would have liked, whether it be online or even at the dojo, but that is ok. Different priorities, different goals in the martial arts, and different life circumstances will lead everyone to make their own decision as to how much they want to commit to the martial arts. Thankfully, I think our club has evolved to a point where we can offer these disciplines in a variety of ways to more people and their diverse goals. So, from that perspective, I feel that our community was able to weather through this lockdown once again. Some trained, and other took a break.
Perhaps one of the observations was that there was a drop in online participation during this period of lockdown. This could have been a combination of “online fatigue”, stress from the recent rioting and looting, or just an overall concern/frustration of this ongoing pandemic.
3. How did it feel to finally have the members back in the dojo?
In one word: WONDERFUL! As much as I promote the idea of training consistently where ever, or in what ever conditions you may find yourself, there is nothing more special (sacred) than being able to practise the martial arts in a training areas that is dedicated to the training of martial arts!
It should be noted that we rent out the community hall at the Rivonia Sports club, but, for those 2 hrs that we are in session, the community hall becomes our sacred space in which we can fully express ourselves via our martial arts practise. That is very special and I encourage my members, as well as prospective members, to come to the dojo and experience this.
The Rivonia Kendo Club (RKC) train the traditional Japanese martial arts of Kendo and Iaido (sword-based martial arts), as well as Jodo(the art of the short staff/stick), that encourages the cultivation of the human character.
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