My Four Quadrants of Full Devotion

by Hans Quiazon

I know that there are a good amount of people who find devoting themselves to Kendo challenging. Even I experience that difficulty once in a while. I could quit and never come back like in Karate, but I don’t! How do I deal with it? Let me share my four quadrants framework. This is how I succeed in having what I would call “full devotion”.

In the Manila Kendo Club, there are multiple intermediate-level classes you can attend, with Saturday as the main class. I make all efforts to attend and arrive as early as possible – from three, two or an hour before class! It’s not all sunshine, though. There are days – more like, always – that I do not want to attend. Maybe I’m lazy, or I suddenly think I got bored. “Is there still anything to look forward to?”

Hans Quiazon (in lime green shirt) during Saturday beginners' practice with Manila Kendo Club Philippines.
Hans Quiazon (in lime green shirt) during Saturday beginners’ practice with Manila Kendo Club Philippines.

The first quadrant is: Force yourself!

I know it sounds too counter-intuitive but to commit, you must first… commit! As I was once told, “Never stop. Once you stop, it follows, day after day, week after week.” This is applicable in daily practice as well. It could help you follow your daily schedule in work, or in life.

Whenever I thought of not attending, I tried to not think about it. I just forced myself to go, and I practiced. Later on in class, I start having fun. Because I attended, I remember the fun in Kendo. I remember and see my great senseis and senpais, I get inspired, and I feel this beautiful atmosphere of passion.

You might think that this is basically just tricking yourself but as long as you love Kendo, your subconscious will commit for you. Deep down I know I have a heart for Kendo.

“Why’d I even join in the first place?” Let me quote myself, “Because I attended, I remember the fun in Kendo.” That’s the second quadrant, something also said by everyone, “Make Kendo fun!”

Hans practicing hitting men as a beginner back in June 2018.
Hans practicing hitting men as a beginner back in June 2018.

If you can’t, then maybe Kendo isn’t for you. Oh wait, apparently it IS for everyone! Maybe it’ll take you years before you enjoy it. Take that journey! It’ll be fun. Plus, this what Kendo is all about; it’s a journey, so don’t go whining on why it’s repetitive and long-term. As I’ve said every time, “It’s not difficult. It’s just the time it takes to improve that makes it seem difficult.”

There are many different ways to make something fun. You can “gamify” the art, have a positive mindset, or think to yourself that you are enjoying it. I’ve made a talk before about gaming. One thing I said was, “Gaming is playing – to enjoy. And it means to take pleasure, but possess and benefit.” You’re in control. You’re the pilot! You have fun, and you benefit.

You should know yourself enough that you realize you enjoy something not only because it’s fun, but also because you benefit from it and you’re the one in control. Recognize the benefits of Kendo. It’s all benefits, no cons, because Kendo is an art and as it’s art, it has no flaws. It will change you.

Don’t get me wrong. Some might say, “Oh that’s selfish. Bad character. He enjoys something only because he gains from it.” Sure, but do realize that there are no such things as cons. Whether you thought you enjoyed something even without gaining anything, you still did.

Earlier I said, “Gaming is playing.” Let me change that. Think of Kendo as a play; a stage art wherein you’re that awesome swordsman that everyone cheers for. Your fellow Kendoka are very supportive. Realize that and use it as your strength. One of the most important things in Kendo, if not the most important, is to have a strong heart. Willpower!

Hans (left-most in photo) with his MKC June 2018 beginners batchmates.
Hans (left-most in photo) with his MKC June 2018 beginners batchmates.

The third quadrant, is to: Socialize.

 

I know I hate it, but Kendo isn’t about isolation. When you have a buddy or a group doing activities with, it gets not only you but that friend or group hooked as well. Who knows? It might be fun. Come on, everyone here is absolutely friendly. It’s noticeable and lovable how they’re very approachable. Something newcomers will learn is how much value respect has, how valued it is. Another option is, have an inspiration. There are many Kendo practitioners around the globe; different attitudes, different styles, and everyone can give you their own piece of advice. Find that one or two persons that you look up to. It could even be everyone!

If all these were of no effect, take a step back and reflect. Let’s go back to my first piece of advice, “Why’d I even join in the first place?” Let me rephrase that, “Why did I do Kendo in the first place?”

The fourth quadrant is: “Find your why.” Remember that and embrace it.

But maybe you think you’ve lost your why. A simple solution is: make a new one! Remember that journey in Kendo? It could be for your attitude, for your personal health, for others – anything! A journey has goals and a journey never ends because the earth is round.

A person with a reason is one that can live the next day, inspired and excited to practice Kendo. Without one, you’re dead. You’re a slave – meaning, you are unhappy. This becomes a chain reaction. Sooner or later you’ll lose not only Kendo, but also yourself because Kendo was always there and your journey is waiting to be released from pause.

Tap that resume button and always know that devotion is all you. No one will do it for you. Only you can do it.

“As with when you lose your heart, no one is going to help you find it.”

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