36 Years old Kendo beginner Christmas wish

Dear Santa:

I’d like to make a deal with you, I’ll help you make and distribute all the presents you need for the kids of the world, in exchange of one single tiny Christmas miracle: Please bring back the flexibility and strength of my body so I can do better Kendo everyday…



Five months into my kendo life and if I’ve learned anything is that I must be a real masochist… I can barely walk, my Achilles tendon on my leg foot is killing me, the first night I practiced “Fumikomi ashi” I thought I was going to pop out my right knee cap (thankfully I think I’ve corrected my footwork a bit, let’s not mention timing for now), and generally I think I was getting Arthritis and didn’t know (many joints complain after each practice) and yet I find that I love this thing more after each practice, pain and all… I’d gladly trade Christmas for Kendo practice any day of the year… it appeared into my life during a rough patch, and it’s really helped me overcome some of the overly depressing moments and feelings I’ve been having for the last couple of years, if I had one regret is that I didn’t find out about the existence of my dojo sooner., but I’m not going to lie, it’s demanding (really demanding), practicing everyday takes a big toll when you’re “old” (mid 30’s), overweight and had over 25 years without practicing a martial art (Karate for those who are curious). I have no aspirations of winning any championships (I leave that to the other guys) all I want is to be faster, stronger, and fight like my life depended on it; I don’t ask for much, all I want is to fight the strongest and overcome them, just so I can find someone stronger than that to overcome too.
Maybe I overdo it (I do kind of stand with my feet on “Kamae” position and move around sliding my feet everywhere I go – Makes for a few funny faces at the office); maybe too many years of bad posture and bad habits are knocking on my door to collect their earnings; or maybe I’m too weak; whichever way, I need to conquer myself, overcome my weakness and become strong, I will not  be defeated when all I can see is only the tip of the iceberg; but damn, I could use a bit of youth back…Merry Christmas everyone

Kendo: What I think I’ve learned after my Go Kyu Exam

Disclaimer: I'm a beginner, the text below might or not be correct or accurate, however,
it's my current view on the subject, which is very likely subject to change in the future
as I gain more understanding of kendo and myself.

Wait, what’s Kendo?


Interesting question, if I wanted to oversimplify matters I could say: “Kendo is a sport derived from Japanese Sword fighting where 2 people hit each other with bamboo sticks” and technically (for most of us westerners) this would be an accurate description of what the eyes see… And yet, nothing could be farther from the truth.

I could also say that Kendo is a Martial Art, created by Samurai to train and practice without the risks involved in the usage of real swords, and perhaps this would be more accurate, but not even close to the correct answer.

If that’s the case, then what is Kendo? Well, there are many places where you can get a “correct answer“, so I will express here is nothing but what I think I’ve learned in 3 months of practicing. I’m sure this answer will change in time, and the only purpose of this post is for my own benefit, to have a log of where I am today only so I can see how much I’ve advanced (if anything) in 10 years from now.

So, What how do I define Kendo today (or should I say at this stage)?

I can’t find any one single word that I can use to define kendo, when I think about kendo the words: discipline, respect, patience, tradition, hard work, ability, control and awareness immediately come to mind. Never had I knew of a sport where someone would be penalize for celebrating scoring a point (which is completely disrespectful to the opponent), you might think that’s crazy and anal, but then there’s a reason why this is so. The 2 people fighting are (for all intents and purposes) in opposites sides of a war in Feudal Japan, within the next 3 minutes one of them will be able to go home, the other one will perish on the spot, every time they get hit and a point is allocated to the opponent, that person is one step closer to death, furthermore, his/her death will probably mean his family and/or whatever else the person loves will be unprotected and open to abuse or destruction. When you understand this, you understand that being disrespectful to the opponent who just got hit, is the equivalent of laughing at a man who just got shot or wounded but still gets up to keep fighting, because not doing so means his wife will be raped and/or his children enslaved or slaughtered…

Now, Kendo is a mental fight, don’t get me wrong, you must be in proper physical shape to do be able to perform the different waza (techniques), swinging your sword to take a hit takes only a fraction of a second…. but the thing is, before you or your opponent makes a move the point has already been scored or decided if you will, it’s hard for me to explain, so bear with me, in a fraction of a second your brain has to decide whether to attack first or counter attack, figure out what your opponent is doing and decide whether to counter a counter attack might be required and what would be the most efficient way to achieve results… so there’s only one way to do this… practice, a lot… put yourself in that situation and solve the problem enough times that when you encounter it you don’t have to think, your body will move on its own… In this sense, kendo is like any other sport, furthermore, imagine this situation, pretend you’re a basketball player and your practicing your 3 point shots, if your approach is to take a ball, stand on a spot and shoot, you’ll probably get good, but you won’t be the best, simply, because when there’s another 1 or 2 or even 3 people trying to block your shot, the intensity of the moment will probably cause you to miss. So in Kendo, it’s necessary then to transport yourself in every single battle, practice or competitive to the state of mind of “I need to do this as best as I can, my life LITERALLY depends on it”. Personally, I have only wore bogu (the armor) and participated in gi geiko (sparring practice) with my sensei once, but it was by far one of the most intense feelings I’ve felt, I can’t tell whether I moved appropriately or not, but certainly, my mind raced, I kept telling myself: “Every time this person hits you on the head his one step closer to kidnapping your kid” and that feeling kept me moving forward, made me see his movements clearer even though I couldn’t move my body to match his attacks.

Kendo Men

And with the above example I will close with an idea that came into my mind the other day…. A Men (kendo helmet), has a grill in front which is to protect the face, now initially I thought “well, with all the advances in technology you’d assume that they could’ve changed this to some form of polymer that will allow better vision” but then I just shaved it off as “well tradition requires it to be like this”, but after watching a great short film called 4th dan, I realized one thing, then man gane (the grill) also has the function of hiding the opponents face, for (I think) 2 reasons, (1) it shouldn’t really matter who your fighting, what they look like or what their expression is, as far as you’re concerned he’s death coming to collect you; and (2) they also represent your internal demons, you have to fight them off, control them, tame them even, and then you need to look for an opportunity to vanquish them…

Ultimately, kendo is about bettering yourself as a person, it’s a long path where your whole objective is to make sure and just keep putting one foot in front of the other, as long as today you’re an inch better than yesterday you’re achieving this goal, fights in kendo are not against another person, it’s with yourself, it’s about being aware of what you’re doing to the last detail….

For me the struggle is like most of the challenges I’ve had in life, I tend to be good in the theory and then suck at the practice, my hope is for kendo to help me change in this (among many other regards)

Truth? You can’t handle the truth!!!

Freedom of speech doesn’t exist.

Everybody censors themselves to avoid offending someone else, and those of us who don’t are called assholes and casted away from the rest of society.

Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe we don’t belong in this “precious” society of yours. Maybe we belong in the dark where it’s quiet and we’re left alone.

I’ll go now, to be alone in the dark; at least I’m not a hypocrite fooling his own heart.

Off I go to cultivate my greed, because It will be what really sets me free. Off I go to make myself rich.

My first attempt at writing

I censor myself for the sake of peace on earth.
I censor myself for the sake of love among friends.
I censor myself so I don’t feed the hate.

Hate, a four letter word very much like love.
Hate, a four letter word that i know so well.
Hate, a four letter word in which I get lost.

Love, do I know what you are?
Soul, are you still alive?
Rage, can I live without you?
Life, do i even care about you?

For life, you are nothing but a constant  stream of tragic events.
Life, why do I have to go through you?
Life, you damn bitch… I can’t wait to get my hands on you.

Proofreading fail

How different can a phrase be if we put in (or remove) a coma.


Stop using Internet Explorer… PLEASE!

I found this online, and really agree with everything he says, so please give it a read and leave your comments if agree or disagree. The original post is here.


Don’t use IE

Why move off Internet Explorer?

Dear Internet Explorer user,

Why you should care? Because you are unnecessarily limiting yourself and also limiting others. Let me explain.

There are many advanced features in modern browsers, that you, users, can benefit from. They provide for websites that can be nicer, faster, easier to use and with broader functionality (e.g., some allow for real time updates of a web page, others for browsing history without reloading whole page, easier file uploads, and many many more). These are also easier and faster to develop for us, developers. Unfortunately, most websites simply cannot use these advanced features, because the site would not work in Internet Explorer and would be useless for many users.

This is the only page on this website, that works well in Internet Explorer. The rest of the site uses many of those advanced features mentioned. You can try browsing it with Internet Explorer and you will see how broken it is. If you want more detailed information, please visit sites like html5demos.com or caniuse.com.

The usual argumentation why Internet Explorer does not support the advanced features is that they are not standardized yet. That is true, but any feature that is adopted by all major browsers becomes a de-facto standard and there is little reason to wait for some kind of official approval. Web technologies develop very fast, and such approach would be quite inefficient.

So here is my plea: if you use Internet Explorer and you don’t absolutely have to (e.g. because you have pre-installed software on your company computer and you are not allowed to install any new software), please install a modern browser like Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Opera. If you do have to use Internet Explorer, try at least installing Chrome Frame, which turns IE into a usable browser. And tell your friends to do the same. You will help yourself to better websites and help developers deliver them to you.

Thank you very much

Josef Richter, web designer and developer

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