Monday, August 08, 2011

What Is a Hobby?

There was a thread started on the Kendo World forums not too long ago that was discussing whether or not Kendo should be considered a hobby.  One thing that everyone can agree on is that there are various elements of Kendo that personally makes it enjoyable enough for use to continue.  However, the fact that it’s easy for Kendo to go from just an activity done outside of the home to something that affects just about every aspect of our lives made the discussion all the more pertinent.

Over the past few years, I’ve been able to involve myself in many Kendo events in the area and sometimes around the country.  I usually attend between three and five practice every week, attend tournaments and seminars and I try to help out the Kendo community as I am able to spread knowledge of the activity that I hold so near and dear to my heart and hopefully transform knowledge into interest, and ultimately into attendance.  In that regard, it’s easy to see how Kendo has become something more than just something I do on the side.

First, we can look at the dictionary definition of what Kendo is.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary states that the word hobby means, “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.”  In other words, it’s considered any extracurricular activity or any activity that is done outside of working hours.  For some reason, the term hobby has turned into being perceived as something that’s fun, but doesn’t take much effort such as things like video games or sewing.  While the word hobby states that it’s something that we do for fun outside of school or jobs, it doesn’t mention anything as to how involved we are in these hobbies.

For instance, video games, sewing, and even stamp collecting can be considered activities that don’t take much effort.  However, a little searching can show how much dedication that people put into putting themselves on the tops of the leaderboards with video games, making the fanciest sweaters with sewing and trying to find the oldest and rarest stamps to add to their scrapbooks.  Kendo is not much different than that.  There are people that just go to practice and go with the flow, and there are others where they let Kendo permeate to other aspects of their  lives to reach their highest potential, whether it be rank, tournament performance or just technical prowess.

I can understand that Kendo has become something so important to us that we can’t really define what it means to us in just a word or a sentence.  But, at the same time, we must remember that it is also something that we do in our free time.  The other issue I see with those that feel like calling it a hobby is a bad thing is that it also diminishes people who are just as involved in many other activities which can also take the same amount of dedication to become great at what they do.  That sort of thinking doesn’t exactly help anyone since, instead of seeing what we do as a wonderful activity that we would like to share with everyone, people might get the perception that we are an elitist crowd of people who put ourselves above others who might not necessarily like the same things that we do.  Ultimately, maybe we should just find solace in the fact that Kendo means many different things to many different people, and just get together, relax and simply just enjoy practice together.


Chris said...

I agree that it's many different things to different people. For me, Kendo is definitely something that goes outside of the regular hours of practice. It, indeed, permeates everything I do these days and has helped shape me into a better person. And it continues to help me improve in aspects outside of Kendo itself.

Great thoughts on this subject!

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