Thursday, July 24, 2014

Kendo Klub Duties

Dojo leaders helping their students prepare for the Cleveland Kendo Tournament

Through my final days of attending Purdue six years ago (heck, even WAY before then, in a sense), I knew that I wanted to move to a location that had Kendo available (my potential locations were the Patuxent River Naval Base in Maryland and Cincinnati, OH).  In the back of my mind, I knew that I wanted to take on some sort of a leadership position with whatever club I would belong to, but I felt that it would be a few years before I would be able to do something like that.  When I think about it, part of it had something to do with me not really having the confidence to take the leadership roles in anything in my childhood.  The other part had to do with a sort of naivete when it comes to what is really necessary to be a good leader in the Kendo world.  My expectation was that I would be required to have X rank or X amount of experience to be able to contribute anything meaningful to the day to day running of local Kendo organizations.  Regardless of what I was thinking at the time, I quickly found out that what I believed, and what reality is, are two completely different things.

Not long after I moved to Cincinnati, I became a member of the University of Cincinnati Kendo Club (UCKC(.  Since I had the extra time on my hands, the desire to get better, and had more relative experience than most of my peers at the time, I ended up leading the practices at that club, and the nearby Northern Kentucky Kendo Club (NKKC), of which I was also a frequent attendee.  Little did I know that, from there, my responsibilities would only increase.  Due to the sudden absence of the secretary of the East Central United States Kendo Federation (ECUSKF), I ended up becoming the new secretary--well, more like drafted :).  After that, I started running the warm-ups for the Miami Valley Kendo Club and then became an officer for the promotion exams that are given semi-annually.

Of course, I had no problem with taking on these responsibilities.  Being a single person in my 20s with a 9-5, Monday through Friday job, I had the extra time on my hands to take on these additional roles.  I also like to be able to help out whenever and wherever I'm able to.  In the end, I think being responsible for these things has turned out to be quite beneficial to me.  I've learned some things about what it takes to be a leader in various aspects in my life, and I've learned a lot about what it takes to bring the Kendo that people know, expect and love.  It's certainly a lot of work, but I'm glad to be a part of it.  What I didn't know was that, years down the line, I would be given a responsibility that I really would never expect.

A few months ago, the previous leader of the Northern Kentucky Kendo Club told me that he has been too busy in recent months to effectively run the club and was seeing if anyone was willing to take over for him.  The other person in the club wasn't able to do it so, instead of just letting the club die off, I decided that I would take over as the leader.  Little did anyone know that he would eventually get a new job in another location in the US.  On top of the responsibilities that I have been given over the years, now I am running a Kendo club.  The good news is that, due to my past experiences, I'm more familiar with how to run a club and I have some ideas on how to keep this particular club going.

One problem with NKKC is that the club is very small.  At the moment, there is only one person that's officially signed up and a paying member of the club.  The first thing I need to do is try to increase the visibility of the club.  There are some web pages and a Facebook group I can take advantage of and some avenues of advertisement at the moment, but I still need to get everything set up.  Overall, the goal is to try to make the club more self-sustaining and be able to pass off the responsibilities to those that are willing and, at best, take a more advisory role in how the club is run.  There are some other things that I know is getting in my way, but that's better left for a different, and more controversial, article.

I'm also involved with Muso Shinden Ryu Iaido which, due to the previous leader moving, I am the only member practicing.  On top of the problems with bringing in more Kendo people, the nature of Iaido, and the fact that I'm the only person doing it, makes it a difficult thing to sell to the masses.  The good news is that there are people that are currently practicing Kendo in the area that's interested.  The problem is finding the time and place to be able to get a group going and perhaps have Iaido knowledge grow that way.

In the end, I'm very grateful to have the opportunities to do what I have been able to do thus far.  I've been able to learn a lot about what I am capable of and I've been very fortunate to have the ability to allow my ideas to be heard, as meek as I have been in the past.  With all of this, I think one of the most important lessons of my adult life has been imparted on me.  There are some people that really work hard to get into leadership positions in life, and others that are comfortable just hiding in the background.  Whatever the case,  you could never know when those leadership responsibilities will be thrown at you and there's nothing that can be done other than dealing with it in the best way possible.
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