Kendo – Intercultural Communication – GCD Reflection
I started my pursuit of training in the Japanese sword- fighting martial art Kendo（剣道）in the summer of 2016. And I have been attending to practice consistently and continuously ever since. At the time of writing this reflection, I have already achieved the level of １級 and am working towards the net level.
During the course of practising Kendo, I have experienced and learnt many aspects of Japanese culture such manners and etiquettes（礼法）which I found very intriguing and realised that are unavailable to one unless being a part of a local community. More specifically I had to master the art of Seiza（正座）, which is the proper Japanese way of sitting. The dojo that I practice Kendo in is called Shubukan（秀武館）, which consists of many other fellow native Japanese people who practices this martial art. Therefore, this means that the Sensei will be speaking in Japanese when teaching a lesson, and when seeking feedback from Senpai I will have to try my best to communicate in Japanese as well.
When I first decided to start doing Kendo, my Japanese speaking and listening skill was incompetent. And I has even intimidated to some degree. Thus I went through great difficulty trying to communicate with my Sensei and other people when practising Kendo. To combat this incompetency, I came up with and utilised multiple strategies to improve my Japanese skills and communicate with people from Japanese cultural background.
One of the strategies is to quite obviously stuy Japanese. During the time of the summer holidays when I first started Kendo, I spent the majority of the day studying and practice Japanese by studying Minna no Nihongo, which my parents purchased previously for their study of Japanese. Then, since the dojo opens from 7pm to 9pm, I practiced Kendo at night, not only focusing on learning about the Japanese culture and it’s martial art, but also trying to understand and challenging myself communicate by speaking more in Japanese. With the help of some gradual but definitely existing improvement of my Japanese listening and speaking skills from the morning study sessions.
My personally thoughts on the language and ways of communication from the Japanese culture was largely impacted by doing Kendo. It is to our common knowledge that a large portion of the Japanese culture is about courtesy and politeness. Therefore, many polite terminology must be used in everyday speaking and communication, much unlike other language from other cultural backgrounds that I have experienced. In addition to terminologies, I also learnt that communication in Japan not only requires being verbally but it also cannot lack the physical etiquettes as well. For example, when speaking to people with higher rankings or status in terms of levels in Kendo, the Senpai must sit closer to the Kamidana (indoors Kami shrine) in the dojo, in order to acknowledge their higher status. Thusly, through the course of practicing Kendo up to now, slowly but surely my communicating abilities have improved, by learning and adapting to the Japanese culture.
Furthermore, this inter- cultural communication strategies has proven to be beneficial to my academic achievements as well. As I was able to promote into the Semi- Native Japanese class in school, and am able to keep up with the level of challenge in class.