Monday, January 02, 2012

Year in Reflection And Looking Ahead

To open up the new year, we held our annual Hatsugeiko practice.  It’s an opportunity for all participants to start the year off on a high note to make the current year better than the last with a high-spirited practice amongst friends and families.  For us in the ECUSKF, that involves having a dinner the night before, and then make it to the practice spot so that we can start at 6 AM on New Years Day.  Afterwards, we have some food, like zoni, kimchi and other dishes that I can’t really identify (but tasted good) as well as the requisite alcoholic beverages (and water for those that don’t drink or are too young to do so).  I love going to these kinds of practices as it’s a surefire way to start off the year on a high note.  I get to hang out with my friends as we all battle through the initial sleepiness and grogginess of waking up so early, and it’s just a nice Kendo practice overall.
In addition to that, I like to do some personal reflection on the past year’s events and think about the year ahead.  For Kendo, it was surely a big year.  I was able to participate in the AUSKF Kendo National Tournament in Atlanta on the men’s team and attended a wonderful seminar in Seattle, whose purpose was to give the attendees ideas on how to build and maintain a Kendo club, no matter where you happen to be based.  Iaido was a little less exciting, but I did attend the Iaido national seminar and tournament, which is where I got my 3rd Kyu.  However, some recent developments makes this next year for Iaido much more promising, which I’ll get to shortly.
This year isn’t going to be chock full of events beyond the regular tournaments and seminars held every year, but I expect nothing less in terms of acquiring better knowledge about the martial arts I know and love.  For Kendo, I plan on taking my 3rd Dan exam in March.  I’ve been preparing for this for a long time now by improving whatever I can, so it’s just going to be up to the judges as to whether they feel it’s enough.  I was also recently put on the promotional exam committee for our federation so I will be responsible for planning, organizing and running the exams every year.  I’ve never planned events of this caliber before so I’m a little nervous, but I have a great support structure to help me out if I have any questions.  For Iaido, I would like to be able to go to another seminar and test again.  I don’t know about the events that are being planned this year, so I don’t know which ones I will be able to attend.  The biggest thing though is that I’ve been hearing about there being a large demand for Iaido in this area of the country.  For now, people are making do with the materials they have, but they would like to collaborate with our dojo, being the only official AUSKF Iaido dojo in the immediate area, to help build up interest in their areas.  It’s nice knowing that there’s a demand for Iaido, and I’d love to be able to see it grow and give people more opportunities to practice it.
While I’m not much of a fan of setting those new year’s resolutions, I do like to be able to think about what I want to do based on where I’ve already been headed and set some goals along the way.  First and foremost, I want to be able to pass my 3rd Dan exam.  The sooner I pass it, the sooner I can concentrate on other things Smile with tongue out.  I’ve also been gathering materials to try to make a good program to keep practices fresh and kata learning more fulfilling.  I got copies of the Japanese-English Kendo Dictionary and Kendo Kata:  Essence and Applications for Christmas, which should really help out.  Of course, I’d like to get better and Kendo and Iaido and blah, blah, blah, but why should I plan for that?  That tends to happen just by virtue of going to practice regularly.
Anyways, I wish all readers a successful 2012 in their budo practices and everything else in life.
あけましておめでとうございます、皆さん!(Happy New Year everyone!)
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