About this blog..

This is a blog that I started in April 2006, just after I first put on my bogu (kendo armour). It collects the advices given by more experienced kendo practitioners as well as those from my own experiences. Both technical and the mental aspects of kendo are written in the blog. I hope someone will find them useful or interesting at least!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Confucius says

I'm on the train to Leipzig right at this moment, on my way to London. I'm really supposed to get some more sleep, but as soon as I close my eyes, thoughts start to come in my head. What thoughts? Thoughts on what kendo means to me, and how it has integrated in my life in the past two years.

Kendo is a reflection and manifestation of someone's own personality, and therefore experiences in life. Some people play aggressive kendo -- continuous attacks and plenty of taiatari -- some play calmer kendo -- move little, but strike sharply when the right moment comes. It is important to bring the daily experience in life to kendo, and the experience in kendo to life. Thus kendo is alive, instead of just a physical sport. It's perhaps why there is a minimum age for testing for the hachidan. One must mature as a person to qualify for the highest grade in kendo.

In my family and at school, as the majority of Taiwanese families, I was educated with Confucius. It's an attitude of treating the people around you and treating yourself. One must be strict with oneself but be tolerant with others. Be humble and self-critical. The true confidence is when one can admit his own weaknesses in front of all others. The truly intelligent people appear na\"{i}ve, as Confucius said: ``Da Chu Ruo Yu". One must let go of his own ego and be a student of everyone else. As Ozawa Sensei signed in my book: "All are my teachers but me".

In Europe, however, this education does not help one to elevate his status among the society. People need to know how to sell themselves. In Germany, this is even more important to show other people that you are strong, and people really do take it for granted as to what you say about yourself. Often when I criticise myself in front of a person as a sign of modesty, it is usually taken as a lack of self-confidence, and I see the person's face changing from an approving smile to an awkward and rigid expression, avoiding the eye-contact. People do believe what you show and say, which perhaps has something to do with Germans' directness. When I say the same thing to a Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese or even Thai or Malaysian, the general reaction would be a violent head-shake with disbelief, followed by a few no-no's, ending with a demand to correct myself to say that I am good.

Fascinating isn't it? Hard to understand maybe? Impossible to do the same perhaps?

But this is part of kendo. I'm not saying everyone should also do it in the west, as this is not the culture here. After all, it doesn't work in the western society. But at least to understand it, and perhaps everyone can learn something.


Georg Lorenz said...

You didn't answer your question directly.
houghts on what kendo means to me, and how it has integrated in my life in the past two years.

Probably the expectation for an answer is German too, but I think I know your answer. :)

Anyway I hope you will never ever stop playing and training Kendo. Coping with difficulties of life (like time) is Kendo as well. I hope you never forget that.

And if you'll forget what Kendo means to you... I'll personally visit you and try some strikes and thrusts. :>

We will miss you a lot in Dresden Ivan. It was a pleasure to play Kendo with you and watch your Kendo growing.

HandsomeW said...

It´s very interesting what you comment on different ways to take "humble" or self-praising comments Ivan.
I have experienced exactly the same but in the opposite side of the road ;) It´s quite typical for me to joke with my friends about how perfect I say I am, and how good I look and blah,blah...all into the understanding that I´m indeed kidding when I say that stuff (in fact my "handsome" nick has a lot to do with that...and in fact they call me by that nick in my dojo ;D it´s some kind of inner joke).
All of my friends do cath this, but the couple of times I tried this with an asian...my god what a disaster ;D seems like even if they could tell I was kiddin´, they were having a tough time hearing that way of speaking...so it´s kind of a cultural difference that I try to keep in mind when dealing with other people.

Ivan said...

Hi Georg, thank you for your kind words. It is a pleasure doing kendo and learning kendo from you. For sure I will visit Dresden from time to to even after next year that I move away. There are many nice memories.

I think I'll never finish writing what kendo means to me. Since it grows with me, as I have new experiences in life everyday. But perhaps you have to connect the threads in the entry together yourself as I hate to write my blog like a question sheet. :) For example the first sentence in the second paragraph might tell you someting? :)

Ivan said...

hi Handsomew, I understand that you are only joking when trying to act proud. But if one does that too often then it is difficult for the others to think any differently of you. So it's a dangerous act if you don't consider yourself that kind of person. The first impression is very important for Asian people. One prefers not say anything rather than saying something the other person doesn't like, until they slowing get to know each other. The first meeting is thus very polite. A little different from in the western society where people try to chat as much as possible in the very first conversation.