My name is Shakti Daly and I’m a law student at Wits. Other than kendo, my past-times include gardening, arts & crafts. My word to live by are “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." — Maya Angelou.
1. How did you become interested in practicing martial arts in a dojo?
I was initially never interested in martial arts, my preference swung towards outdoors sports like netball and swimming. This was until my godfather introduced me to Kendo in 2022. Since, I’ve gone fascinated by various martial arts that I hope to practice in the future.
2. Which specific martial art(s) do you practice, and what attracted you to that style?
I practice the Japanese martial art of sword-fighting, Kendo. My decision to practice this martial art stemmed from its high intensity and competition style.
3. How long have you been training in the dojo, and what progress have you noticed in yourself since starting?
I’ve been practicing kendo for about 18 months now. Not only have I become physically stronger in training, but also mentally. As a woman in this male-dominated martial art, I realised that there was no room for shyness. In this I had to adapt, and have found myself becoming my confident in the dojo and in other aspects of my personal life - work, school, and socially.
4. What aspects of training in a dojo do you find most challenging or rewarding?
The most challenging aspects of training in a dojo, especially with regard to kendo, would be the high intensity of training. Definitely, the most rewarding aspect is finding the strength to push myself to complete a challenging session, which happens quite often.
5. Can you describe the typical structure of a training session at your dojo?
A typical session at the dojo begins with dojo set-up. This is arguably the most important part of the session, as one cannot train without a clean, organized dojo. For the first quarter of our training we practice kata, followed by a warm-up session led by any experienced dojo member. Following that, our sensei leads technique training, which varies from absolute basic to advanced techniques. For the last quarter of the session (typically half an hour), we practice jigeiko. We also begin and end our training with reiho: an etiquette used to show respect to our dojo, our sensei, and our fellow dojo members.
6. How important is the sensei (instructor) in your martial arts journey, and what qualities do you admire in your sensei?
A sensei is a crucial aspect of any dojo. As the most experienced in the dojo, they lead the session and bestow their knowledge onto the less-experienced dojo members. A sensei serves as a motivation; something to aspire to. The qualities that I admire in my own senseis is that they are generous with their experiences and always willing to advise where necessary and answer any questions I, or any dojo member, may have.
7. Have you encountered any obstacles or difficulties in your training, and how have you overcome them?
The existence of obstacles are inevitable in any part of life, and training a martial art is no different. As someone who has an incredibly busy personal and work life, a struggle that I often come to face is making the time to go to the dojo and train. This is a constant obstacle and so I constantly have to overcome it. In doing so, I try to time-manage my life so that I will be able to go train.
8. What principles or philosophies from your martial arts training do you apply to your daily life?
The Shugyo spiral (more specifically San-ma-no-kurai) is a concept which I recently learnt about, that is often seen in budo but can be descriptive in learning any skill. There are three parts to it: to learn it, to practise it, and to improve on it with feedback. This is a continuous process.
I try to actively apply this principle consistently in my training, as well as in my university studies.
9. In what ways has practicing martial arts in a dojo impacted your physical and mental well-being?
Since starting kendo, I have felt physically stronger and mentally sharper. Stress management has gotten a lot easier for me not only because of the physical outlet that kendo brings but also because of the discipline that comes with the martial art.
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 about five or six demonstrations for promotion of kendo and my dojo, as well as various competitions. These demos and competitions have helped me grow as a kendoka in that it forces me to reflect on my journey in kendo thus far, and it allows me to implement the techniques I’ve learnt in a wholesome way. From competitions specifically, I’ve learnt immense focus and I walk out of each competition feeling stronger and more confident in my abilities, whether or not I obtained a medal.
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.
RKC DOJO has 2 training venues within Johannesburg - RIVONIA and OBSERVATORY.
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