Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kendo Police?

What I want to write about today is something that has sort of getting under my skin for a while now. And since I want to actually do something with my blog, now's the time to do it. Keep in mind that this can be extrapolated to other aspects of life, but since this is a Kendo blog, I will be specifically talking about Kendo.

People on the Kendo World forums should already be familiar with this sort of thing. We see a video on Youtube that showcases some random yahoo doing what they think is Kendo and some people decide to get up in arms about it. In most cases, it's posted for people to laugh at. But in its most extreme case, some will go to the source of the video and pick it apart and pretty much flame the person to the point where the video is taken down. You may also see cases where someone will get on the forum and post something that shows that they don't really know what Kendo is, but they feel they do. As a result, the Kendo hounds sniff it out and pile on the person.

It is understandable to do this sort of thing. Everyone that does Kendo knows that it isn't easy. First you have to find the nearest dojo which, for most people, is not just around the corner. Then there is the long period of trial and error that people go through for the rest of their Kendo career which takes a lot of effort to keep up with and improve on. So to have one person come up and just say that they are doing what we are doing can understandably get under someone's skin.

Despite this going on, is this really justified? To be a little miffed, that is understandable. But I do think that there are better ways in which we can handle this.

A lot of times, we tend to make assumptions about the person, where they practice and why they do what they do. The majority of videos on Youtube and the like have people just dicking around, not really thinking much about what they are doing. Then you have the cases where people might be misguided, thinking that they are doing what they are doing is the right thing. What we may not know is that the person may not know about those intricacies of Kendo techniques, where a dojo may be, or how to find a dojo.

Making assumptions and immediately flaming people from the get go can only cause harm to the Kendo community. Ever since I have been involved in Kendo, I have only met kind and accepting people with the bastards being a very small minimum. This would be a huge contrast to what others may think if they thought all we do is go around finding bad Kendo videos and immediately chastising the person for what they are doing. While we know that everyone is an individual, we still represent the Kendo community as a whole wherever we go, whether or not the general public knows that we do it. It's hard enough to get people to stick with Kendo, but we would only be making it harder to spread if people think we're total bitches who can't allow people to enjoy themselves.

How can we better handle the situation when we encounter these kinds of people? If we see a video online, then don't immediately angerly flame the person. First see what the intent is and take appropriate action. If they are just screwing around, then just leave them alone and let them go about their business. We may be worried that they will hurt each other, but Darwin works in mysterious ways. If they are misguided and providing erroneous information, then you can correct them, but don't expect to have a new convert who is hurrying to the nearest Kendo dojo. If they start spouting out random samurai phrases to prove they are on the higher path...then run away, lol.

Really, the best way to combat this is information. If you happen to be in a conversation with a misguided person, you should be able to answer any questions they have. If you don't have the answer, then you should know where to seek it and get back to the other person.

The previous point brings up something else. We all know that there is a lack of information out there about Kendo compared to some of the more common arts like Karate or Tae Kwon Do. Let's face it. Most of the information that is really out there for people to easily see is found in anime and movies. Not to mention that there's the erroneous information about kendo and living the samurai way and stuff.

That means that we need to take charge and get this info out there ourselves. If you happen to be HTML proficient, you can make webpages about what Kendo is, what it means to you, the dojos you go to, things to look for in a Kendo dojo, journaling your own training process and other things of the such. If not, there are various blogging sites like Myspace, Facebook, Blogger and Live Journal where you can do similar things minus all the HTML work. You shouldn't have to be a 5th Dan sensei to do stuff like this either. In fact, it would be nice to have views of Kendo from people who may not be so proficient in Kendo to have that realistic view of what it's like to be a beginner out there. Plus, it's a very nice way to get to know more about the art you're doing with a little bit of research beyond the Wikipedia article.

I would say that the main point of the article is that we should concentrate less on the others and more on ourselves. We may be able to take one video down through flaming, but with the capabilities of Web 2.0, five more videos may show up within minutes. We know what Kendo really is so we should be able to stand up and take charge and be the forefathers (and mothers) of using the internet to our advantage.


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