So it turns out the my Kocho-sensei (principal) is even cooler than I thought he was. At the school’s bonenkai (see “Bonenkai”) I learned that he was recently named as a finalist for hachi-dan (eighth degree) in kendo. Something like 5000 people attempt to earn their hachi-dan each year and only 16 make it past the first round! Currently there are around 500 hachi-dan in Kendo, which means that my Kocho is a top kendo player.
At the bonenkai he actually asked me (by way of translation from my JTE) if I wanted to learn kendo. How could I say no! I have the opportunity to study a traditional Japanese art under a legit, respected kendo practitioner. I’ve gone to watch the school team practice once but was overwhelmed. Instead, I got involved with soccer and had forgotten about kendo.
This past Tuesday I went to practice as I promised. Again, I was overwhelmed and felt uncomfortable. I think it’s mostly because I don’t know what’s going on, but also because the kids scream and yell in piercing, mind-rattling voices.
So…to play or not to play: that is the question.
I have decided that I will not play because I have already chosen soccer as my club. Kendo requires dedication and commitment and I can’t afford to do that because of soccer and also taiko practice. I’m going to still try and have my Kocho teach me some of the basics and the mind-set of kendo. Next year I plan to set up maybe a once a week lesson. We’ll see.