Reindeer Games

November 08, 2006

Starting last year about this time I have been searching for a martial art activity for myself. Initially I started with karate as that is what I had done before. Being out of shape and trying to return to something I was once very good at was disheartening to say the least. The mental image I had bore no resemblance to the physical reality I was experiencing. My return to karate lasted exactly two evenings.

Discouraged, I sat out the entire winter, thinking about doing something but never following through. Eventually I decided to go and watch the local kendo club. Since I had never participated in kendo before I wouldn’t have prior experience clouding my expectations. At first I really enjoyed kendo; it was new, the people were nice, and it felt good to be out doing something again. That I was also altering my lifestyle so as to lose some weight helped.

My enthusiasm for kendo has diminished, however. It is more tightly focused than karate and therefore more repetitious. My karate experience encompassed principles and techniques from jujitsu, judo, aikido, and plain old boxing. The focus of practices were varied. The kendo workouts have become predictable and a bit boring. I find that I always look for excuses not to attend, and when I do attend, I spend the entire time looking forward to the end of class.

Organizations or clubs are like living organisms. And like all life forms they will reject that which is foreign to them. I don’t feel rejected by the club or its members, but I don’t feel like I fit in either. My goals or objectives are being met by the style or practice, or the style of the art. In short, I need to move on to something else.

There is some sadness at ending my kendo workouts. I will miss the shared camaraderie of two hours in 108 degree heat, I will miss the people. I will not miss the feeling that I have to go. I need to keep looking until I find something I want, so that attending is what I do, not what I have to do.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.