As we have now finished up our first month of the new year, we have had a few weeks to apply our 2021 goals in our training. At this point we should have an idea of whether we are doing what we need to do in order to meet those goals. How is your 2021 plan working so far? Have you made any progress? Or are you still running into the same wall?
If so, the concept of Genten-Kaiki (going back to basics) may be of use. People use this phrase or concept when they are struggling with a challenge. To achieve a particular goal, people often try a lot of new or different things. But, sometimes despite their best efforts, they find that these things just aren't turning out good results. In such circumstances, we reflect on Genten-Kaiki to clarify for ourselves why we undertook our activity or goal in the first place. From there, we think about what we need in the most basic sense in order to achieve that goal. After doing so, we will often find a solution to our challenge.
For Kendo, we try to improve during every Keiko. Ways that we do so include, trying new techniques (Waza), working to bump up our physicality, as well as trying to learn new things from other sports activities, etc., and applying them to our Kendo training. But, sometimes we lose our way in terms of our main purpose. When this happens, often it is because we only focus on Waza, speed or muscle power and neglect Kendo fundamentals. As a result, our Kendo may not be beautiful or attractive in the Budo way because by its appearance alone, it is evident that something is lacking. That missing element is “Balance."
Outside of the dojo, people are trying to make a better life for themselves, but sometimes they might switch between “purpose” and “method” while they are looking for what they need. Take for example, someone who loves cars and starts a car business. After several years, the business is highly successful. However, if this person forgets their LOVE of cars, and instead develops a love for money, it might ultimately cost them their business. There are many such examples of this, and they share a failure to balance goal purposes and the methods for achieving them.
Going “back to basics” or “back to original motivations” is very important for clarifying who you are. Kendo is the way of the sword and it is a way of life. People sometimes feel lost on their way of life, perhaps because they are exploring a multitude of new things to add to their Kendo. At the time it may feel like they have completely lost their way and created so many detours that the goal is no longer visible. They need to remember their original map, because without it, it creates so many detours that they lose sight of why they went on the journey in the first place. So if you feel lost, consult your original map because it provides you with the path to your original goal. Remember, many times tried-and-true basics are the fastest way to accomplish your goal.
This entire new year will present many great opportunities to consider our resolutions. While we do, let's try to go “back to basics”.