From the library of a kendoka

In my piece “Combined motivations in kendo and iaido” (Zanshin, 2020-3), I wrote that when I searched for my “why” in kendo, I found that I wish to learn (about) kendo for three reasons. One: I desire to gain a better understanding of Japanese sword culture and history. Two: I aim to become better at kendo and enjoy this practise. Three: I want to understand and remember kendo jargon and related Japanese terms in order to pass the theoretical part of my first Dan exam. In this blog post, I shall discuss some books that help me to grow as a kendoka.

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Combined motivations in kendo and iaido

In the last issue of Zanshin (2020-2), I wrote about the challenges of continuing your dō in these times of Corona. After its publication, many people reached out to me, mostly with questions on how to keep motivated enough for all these self-directed activities. Therefore, in the following article, I would like to share some more tips on how to keep your (budo) spirits up.

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Budoka in Quarantine

As a scholar and a musician, I can carry on with my work. Of course, things have changed – conferences became Zoom calls and concerts got replaced by recordings, for example. Still, I feel that I continue to grow in both areas from the safe place of my home. But how does this work for a martial artist? In this writing, I would like to share the various ways in which I currently work on my martial arts journey, and show you one of my “kata study drawings” as an example. It is my hope that by sharing our ideas, we can support and inspire each other to stay happy & healthy in these times of Corona.

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The dō less travelled by

A ‘90’s schoolyard, somewhere in Suburbia. The children are happily playing soccer, with their teachers as referees. But one chubby girl sits aside. She is not joining at all, not even looking. She is playing with a stick, quite monotonously and repetitively trying to draw perfect straight lines in the air. “You see, we just cannot have her join…” – the teacher explained to the girl’s father. “She doesn’t understand the rules and will just try to get the ball in order to bounce it and roll around with it, refusing to let go. Then of course, the other children will get annoyed and start kicking her. So that is why we as teachers decided that she should be on the side, so that the other kids can enjoy their game.” The father shrugged. “Well, if she likes to play with that stick, let her do so.” The chubby girl pretended not to have overheard this conversation and continued her stick play, striking and cutting through the air, imagining herself to be fighting alongside Xena Warrior Princess, or as the fourth Samurai Pizza Cat or the fifth Ninja Turtle.

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Budo books

Of course, when it comes to learning a martial art, nothing beats hard practise. But sometimes – if you suffer from an injury, for example, or you forgot a certain term – it might be really nice to cuddle up on the couch with a beautiful book about your favourite fighting style. For inspiration, here is a list of the books that I have read or plan to read in 2019. Enjoy and please let me know if you have any additions.

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