Being a kendo nidan is being a person just outside a window display looking in. Then again, that is probably the same for a kendoka at any level but I feel this most strongly now as I am just considering taking the sandan exam next year.
Taking a self-inventory I find so much that needs to be learned and developed, though that is in itself a good thing. Looking inward and seeing nothing is cause for concern.
In the next 9 months my focus will be on the following:
1. Reiho: how I carry myself, how my bogu is worn, and cared for.
2. Kiai: working on finding my true voice. A voice that is effective.
3. Sutemi: learning to open myself up in every way in jigeiko, committing to single actions with alacrity and purpose. Pushing through regardless.
4. Basics: continuous improvement of my footwork and the quality of my strikes.
5. Conditioning: building physical strength and stamina through exercise, developing my lower body and my lung capacity.
With these 5 personal initiatives, I am confident that I will be in an advantageous position in 2015.
1. Buying new himo for my do, properly folding the hakama and, if necessary, actually ironing the hakama I use for regular training.
2. Committing to a real kiai, not just clearing my throat and exhaling. Directing my kiai to my opponent and, when striking, making it clear and loud (as per my sensei’s instruction).
3. Thinking less of hitting but, instead, hitting with purpose and commitment. Be willing to be hit and not reacting emotionally; making each strike a true combination of my will and my body.
4. Focusing on posture, tanden, ichi-byoshi, and fumikomi. Slower but better has the advantage over faster and sloppier. Kendo is a marathon, not a sprint.
5. My program of heavy bag work, kettlebells, and the training from the NYC Ballet will provide a good basis for the above 4 details and the above 5 areas of focus.
Finally, I will explore my artistic side. My skills are rudimentary, but I enjoy writing and calligraphy (Western and Asian) and I will explore that with greater effort.