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Meet RKC Dojo Member, Charles

RKC Dojo member, Charles Sun, wins the 2023 National Junior Champion!
My name is Charles Sun, I am currently still in High School. Apart from Kendo, I enjoy art and music. I started kendo in 2022 and I am proudly on the Junior National Team of 2023. I plan on representing South Africa for many more events in the future.
"Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility."
-Saint Augustine




1. How did you become interested in practicing martial arts in a dojo?


I realised that I have some aptitude for martial arts since I was learning at a really fast rate. At the same time, my friends wanted to start something to get active and I saw a billboard for kendo which led to me joining with my friends.



2. Which specific martial art(s) do you practice, and what attracted you to that style?


I only practice kendo currently. Kendo is different from other martial arts to me. It is a lifelong journey which requires one to eternally try to better themselves, there is no end goal or point where the journey ends. As a result, kendo has become an object of comfort for me since it is always available, every Wednesday and Saturday. This provides me with a break from life to take my mind off things. I also enjoy the sense of family within the kendo community and the collective dedication to kendo to the point where everything else becomes secondary. For me, kendo is a guide; no matter how complicated life gets or how lost I feel, it is reassuring that in the world of kendo, the only direction you can go is upwards.



3. How long have you been training in the dojo, and what progress have you noticed in yourself since starting?


I have been training for almost 2 years now since I started in February 2022. I have noticed growth in all aspects of life from kendo. My general fitness and health have grown tremendously and I no longer struggle for breath during keiko. I have noticed that I now recover faster from illness as well. I also have ADD which often hinders my ability to concentrate however, I have noticed that I can now focus for longer periods of time. Kendo has also brought a growth in my self-confidence; The repeated use of Kiai has actually improved my vocal projection.



4. What aspects of training in a dojo do you find most challenging or rewarding?


The most difficult part of training is to achieve growth. It is important to be able to self-reflect on your current abilities as well as your flaws to work on small details in your kendo. It is often discouraging when you don’t immediately see results and sometimes it is difficult to find motivation when it feels like you aren’t Improving. However, once you push through your plateau or once you finally fix that one bad habit, Kendo becomes the most rewarding experience. Kendo feels like building a foundation out of bricks, each improvement is small and difficult, but it is comforting that you are undeniably getting somewhere.



5. Can you describe the typical structure of a training session at your dojo?


A typical training session usually follows the structure of 30 minutes of kata-training followed by a warmup, and we sit in seiza to mark the beginning of the session. We then do fundamentals and techniques, followed by keiko. We then sit in seiza again to mark the end of the session. In addition, we sometimes have a small social afterwards.



6. How important is the sensei (instructor) in your martial arts journey, and what qualities do you admire in your sensei?


Having a sensei is honestly a lifesaver. I realised when someone was trying jōdan, a different style of kendo, that trying to learn something without a sensei is extremely difficult. A sensei is like someone who lights up the path for the next generation of kendoka. They teach you their own findings from their personal journey which provides insight for a student. While kendo is a personal journey, a sensei is like an experienced traveller who gives you tips and guidance about the road you need to take. In my own journey, my sensei’s have helped me improve more efficiently and they also helped me during things that have happened outside of kendo as well I am grateful for their gentle and insightful guidance.



7. Have you encountered any obstacles or difficulties in your training, and how have you overcome them?


Improving in kendo is mostly fixing your current kendo. I have experienced many difficulties in breaking bad habits or fixing small mistakes in my kendo since there is an endless number of things that need to be changed. This is often discouraging however, the only way to improve is to try fix one at a time. I have overcome these difficulties by being resilient and patient.



8. What principles or philosophies from your martial arts training do you apply to your daily life?


Kendo has given be the ability to view things on a larger scale. Kendo lasts a lifetime, and this daunting journey has given me the ability to plan things with respect to the end goal. In addition, kendo has given me more motivation and resilience from practicing to have a strong ‘fighting spirit.’ I used to often get discouraged and give up but through practicing to not lose spirit in kendo has slowly translated to my daily life.



9. In what ways has practicing martial arts in a dojo impacted your physical and mental well-being?


Kendo has significantly boosted my physical and mental well-being. My body has become a lot stronger than before and the frequent exercise has brought many benefits and generally improved my mental wellbeing as well. Kendo is also a source of happiness and a sense of accomplishment. It also serves as an escape for when life gets difficult.



10. Do you participate in any competitions or demonstrations as part of your martial arts training? If so, how do these experiences contribute to your overall growth?


I have participated in many competitions and demonstrations in these two years. For me, competitions served as a crucial catalyst for rapid growth. The pressure of tournaments such as the European Kendo Championships has given me the necessary push and motivation for me to improve. Similarly, upon making the national team, I gained access to beneficial training with the other team members which undeniably sped up my growth. Demonstrations help ground me since I often reflect about what I am doing since I am being watched by people who may not understand kendo and when I sympathize with their perspective it often reminds me of why I am doing what I do.




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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 6-12 years old. 4

RKC DOJO has 2 training venues within Johannesburg - RIVONIA and OBSERVATORY.

Please follow us on our various social media platforms:

Website: www.rkcdojo.com

Instagram: @rkc_dojo

TikTok: rkcdojo



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