The 4th IGA Ken Gasshuku was such a memorable event for the participants that many of them have spontaneously written about their experiences and thoughts about it. This is the fourth of a series of articles showcasing these reflections.Verns is one of the newer members of the Dasma Dojo, having joined only earlier this year. She has been participating in the club activities in many ways beyond training, providing much needed logistical support. She was a big part of making this particular Gasshuku a success, and for that we salute you Verns. And once again, congratulations on passing the bogu exam!
They say “it takes a village to raise a child”… In my case, it took the whole dojo!
So theres no way this gratitude speech would be short-as much as I try!
I remember introducing myself to Johnny sempai who was expecting a male student, thanks to my awesome confusing name… Instead he got me! Haha!
The same with Koji sensei, who looked at me surprised and said to Johnny sempai “i thought it was a boy coming today!”
I honestly didnt know much about kendo. I thought a shinai was a spear-not a sword, and most of all: i didnt know about BIG VOICE! I didnt see that in the movies! And i certainly wasnt expecting to be shouting! I had to take a moment to come into terms with it and accept the fact that Shouting will be a part of my future if I continued.
I would scream my lungs out in the car, on my way to training just to feel comfortable with it. And when I did it in the dojo, sensei would look at me and say, “more big voice!!!!”
It frustrated me for a while, coz I didnt understand what big voice he meant. To me, it was the biggest voice I could pull out!
And finally…. Sensei threw me into a bogu one random saturday– and then I understood. Indeed my kiai wasnt loud enough… I couldnt even hear myself inside the men, what more for the people outside! And it wasnt just big voice… It was everything! It was different, and it made me realize I still had so much to learn.
The bogu class make it look so easy, and they look so cool, but i realized that each one of them earned that honor, and with it, the responsibility and discipline.
I realized that Kihon class was really just the beginning, and that learning to keep what I learned while in bogu was is challenging without the proper Kihon training.
One had to develop the discipline to do shibori and everything else taught in kihon class, even when it felt difficult in a kote, men and do. The endurance for it is another story! I thought i was gonna pass out the first several times sensei put me in a bogu. It made me appreciate my kihon class, and i found a different level of respect for the motodachis.
I wanted so much to be in bogu… Until sensei made me try it.
4 months later, sensei warned me that I will already be taking my bogu exam during the gasshuku. A part of me was hesitant, because I was scared and felt unworthy of the honor. But another part of me wanted to level up and learn more.
I’ll never forget everyone that came together to help me pass the bogu exam.
Thank you Koji sensei, for always reminding me to do beautiful Kendo especially when my competitive nature turns on. I am inspired by your way of Kendo and hope that I may one day reach the same grace and elegance. I am very honored to have met you and to be your student.
Thank you Junko mama for everything-especially the delicious curry! Your gentleness and care is unmatched.
I want to also say thank you to Alain Duminy sempai for tirelessly correcting my mistakes, and watching for new ones, and for your patience in explaining and teaching me techniques and the reason behind them.
Thank you Johnny sempai for correcting my ashi sabaki and for telling me if I did something right.
To Michael James, Mhark, Angelo and Allan, for taking time out of your busy schedules to willingly becoming my practise motodachis during the days leading up to Gasshuku, and for imparting the things you’ve learned from your own bogu tests.
To Rikki sempai for threatening to kill me if i forgot everything he taught.
To Kristopher sempai, for giving me the death glare in STI when I hit the wrong way even after how many times I’ve been shown to do it the right way.
To Loida sempai, for fixing my kote Maai and for not allowing me to move to another motodachi in Arena until I was hitting you the right way.
To Marc Y sempai, for fixing my Do and allowing me to hit you several times…. Even when 90 percent of it wasn’t on target. (Sorry!!)
To Dennis sempai for helping me out in bisaya so I’m more at ease.
To Margaux and Maria, for your encouraging words and cheer. You’re next guys!
To Inoue Elvira sempai and Shu Inoue sempai, for allowing me to join on Mondays and for welcoming me in your dojo.
To Takahashi sensei, for teaching me your style of kendo, and for your patience.
To Abegail, your signature banshee-like kiai is the best! And I can only hope to one day have the same hair raising shriek. My kiai is inspired by yours.
To Nakagane sensei, Matsumoto sensei and Tachibana sensei: thank you for all the advice and for reminding me to always stay calm and have fun.
To Prince and Ponj : thank you for sharing your stories and for encouraging me at my most tired moments!
To all the sempais I’ve encountered in Arena, Dasma and MKC: thank you for all the tips and advise and for the inspiration and challenges.
To all the Kouhais who thought I was their sempai, I’m a beginner just like you, but thank you for the challenge to live up to being a sempai and I hope I can be as inspiring and helpful as my sempais were to me.
And lastly, to the greatest husband and sons in the world, for allowing me to do the things I want to do and for supporting me all the way
I LOVE YOU GUYS!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!