The Kendo in Me: Patricia Talavera

Bakit ka nagkendo? Sa dinamidami ng martial arts, bakit yan pa?” (“Why kendo? Of all the martial arts, why that one?”)

I’d say instinct or impulse.

I wanted to find a physical activity that will balance my work- home pattern. I had a list, but in the end, I chose kendo.

Manila Kendo Club Philippines batch January 2018 beginner, Patricia Talavera

I think one of the reasons is that I am your typical anime fan (disclaimer: not a cosplayer just a simple anime/ manga fan). But because of anime, I was introduced to the Japanese culture which I admire. I admire their discipline, the way they maintain tradition, and they way they fight for their honor. I have been a student-athlete all my life, that is why, I think I needed to do a physical activity after work. Maybe the kenshi-tachi in anime series were so cool it made me choose kendo. But, I wanted to find something that will help me in my way of life and I believed that kendo will help me with that.

So, I would say I am right.

“Do” means “way” and kendo is the way of the sword. It is based on principles and a way of life. They said something like that during the Manila Kendo Club beginners’ orientation, but I came to understand it on my own as I watch the sensei-tachi (teachers) and the senpai-tachi (seniors/ upperclassmen). They asked me why I joined kendo and in return, I asked them too. The answers were different as to why they joined kendo. Instead of simply answering the question, they added why they stayed. Most of them lead to the same conclusion – kendo helped their way of living (both physically and mentally). It was not a verbatim answer, but it was how I interpreted it when they answered it and when I observe them.

There’s the whole Japanese culture thing but the following are things I observed from the people in the club and kendo itself.

Kendo strives for simplicity.

As I practice, I see how simple kendo is the more you know about it. You learn and practice the basics and then you get to have a match. That’s all. Even the basics only have four moves (which are hard to get). There are no complex processes or explanations. You basically do the same things repeatedly. And the irony is that this simplicity makes kendo difficult. As we aim for improving ourselves, the harder it gets to successfully land a hit because others around you are improving as well.

You face different people with different ranks in the Manila Kendo Club. That’s the fun in it. You can learn a lot by having to face a higher rank. The senpai-tachi and sensei-tachi are very accommodating. Their lessons are non-stop before, during, and after keiko (our usual practice period), so we usually end up extending a bit (:D). But, to be honest, the two-hour practice twice or thrice a week may not be enough if you really want to improve. They tell you things that can improve your way after the match either through words or through their actions. I can go all out because the senpai and the sensei are giving us the opportunity to attack to grow. Because there is no rank to worry about, you can focus on what you can do.