This is a problem I’ve been struggling a lot with lately: how my kendo is doing. (TL;DR: Not so well)
Which is a pretty silly concern on the surface, seeing as how I’m still a beginner. But that’s the root of the problem: I feel I’m not supposed to be this much of a beginner after a solid 3 semesters of doing kendo. It’s college kendo; I started in freshman year and had no external training, but nevertheless. I’m doing kendo for my own sake and I do take it as seriously as I can, but it seems impossible to get much better without any natural talent or strength.
A quick intro about our club: the NYU Kendo Club is our japanese martial arts sword-fighting club at the university. I am Secretary of said club! We compete in 3 collegiate tournaments a year, including the upcoming Cornell Tournament on Oct 11-13!
Fun fact: This will be my first time going to Cornell (studying abroad Fall Semester in London, I missed last year’s)…so I went and sold my hard-won NYCC Saturday ticket for this :c
Another fun fact: It seems I’ll be fighting 3 matches = individual’s, women’s division, and C team since we have so many people. Although those 3 will be my only ones, as I will assuredly lose them haha.
So I joined and it quickly became the basis of my strongest friend group, as well as something I became passionate about. Too passionate about, for someone who is athletically challenged.
I just had Wednesday night practice, and I contemplated starting off my “Kendo Journal” here right off the bat, but with all the frustration and convoluted advice I’ve been receiving, I thought it best to use this new space here to reflect.
The thing is, one of the main reasons why this “block” exists is my own expectations and how much I care for kendo. Does this sound similar to what anyone else is going through, perhaps? That no matter how much I convince myself to just slowly keep going and not compare myself with others, I am constantly disappointed at how little I can do when people that have started after me get so far ahead. I dreamed of getting so far, and now it seems I’ll never get close.
I’ve done the same before in many things. I’ve tried lessons in swimming, piano, tennis, art, writing (no longer want to become a published writer so much as part of the editing process, that is). I gave up on many of those things because I saw I had no talent, leaving them to be mere hobbies. The only difference is, I don’t plan on quitting until I graduate, and I like it too much to not put my full effort in it.
Well, saying all that, I should still note that kendo IS just a hobby for me. Whatever I expected from the beginning – more improvement, more tournament-readiness – I didn’t consider competing beyond that. But there is quite a gap from doodling and swimming on the side to facing an opponent and expelling your lungs in a combative scream as you aim to hit his head. If you’re not in somewhere close to 100%, you become [even more, for me] of a wet blanket, which is far from fun for both parties. So I yell, and I swing and try to take in advice, and even as I miss I keep dragging myself back for more.
Believe me, I have also tried to go in low-effort, dispirited, no expectations. What I don’t care about won’t hurt me, right? It doesn’t work. At all.
So my note of sympathy for all others facing similar problems, whether they be struggling artists, writers, musicians, whatever: IF YOU WOULD REGRET QUITTING, KEEP DOING IT. If I continued to languish on my own blog, I would be missing the entire point of it! There are many, many motivational quotes out there. One of my favorites, the long version:
Let it drain you of your all. Let it cling onto
your back and weigh you down into
Let it kill you and let it devour your remains.
For all things will kill you, both slowly and
fastly, but it’s much better to be killed
by a lover.
Another well-drawn and relatable comic [my slight geekery is showing]:
Get the Rings by cartoonfuntime.tumblr.com (Geneva)
I’ll likely be constantly struggling with this in future Kendo Journals. I don’t have a solution except to keep fighting! So I hope you will too, and blocks don’t strictly exist. You simply can’t see what progress, however small, you are constantly making!