The proper attitude of Kumdo student by SooJee Lee

SooJee Lee Kumdo 2nd Dan,Student

SooJee Lee Kumdo 2nd Dan,Student

It is unfortunate that Kumdo, or more commonly referred to as Kendo (as according to its Japanese name), is a foreign topic to so many in our society, for it is one of the best of its kind. Although it may not seem practical to learn how to wield a sword (who carries one around nowadays?), much less a fake one, Kumdo actually serves to sharpen one’s mind, quicken our perception, judgment, and reaction, and improve our physical health. For more than five years, I have been always proud to call myself a Kumdo student. But is pride really appropriate in the attitude of a humble student striving for consistent improvement? In retrospect and reflection, I admit that the proper attitude would not be pride, but rather infinitemodesty.

Modesty, in its general sense of meaning, tends to connote a lack of self-confidence and therefore assertiveness. Pride, on the other hand, implies the effect of bolstering confidence and aggression, which could be critical in any Kumdo match and as a Kumdo participant in general. Therefore, I am not arguing for an excess of modesty or a complete lack of pride, but rather a delicate, and somewhat paradoxical balance of both traits in which modesty is given an iota more of consideration and weight.

For what is the purpose of any student? It is to learn, and to improve. In the case of a Kumdo student, his objective is obviously to become the best Kumdo player as he possibly can be. Logically, this would be achieved through self-improvement efforts. However, pride will easily halt this progress, for a student who is already satisfied with his abilities is loathe to experiment with another technique in which he has less confidence, for example, or to seek any significant improvements.

On the other hand, modesty has the power of forcing self-evaluation upon us, the students. It allows us to recognize our own flaws in technique and other faults, which, combined with diligence and determination, will inevitably lead to striving for improvement and its success. Furthermore, humility opens our minds to the suggestions and advice of not only the masters, but our peers as well (whether younger or older, and regardless of level). Unhindered by stubborn pride, we are free to take chances and other opportunities to always seek to develop our competence and skill, unafraid of the disdain of others or failure. In this way, modesty cannot help but encourage and cause self-improvement, whether by small degrees or in sporadic advances.

In fact, one might compare pride to a still lake, unmoving and unchanging, while the river, or even a stream, though modest and small, is constantly flowing, and therefore always fresh and changing. It does not evaporate or freeze easily, and is more active and dynamic than the calm, lifeless lake. While the lake and its environment remain constant (if left untouched) for many years, the river or stream has the power to break down the toughest boulders and even carve out entire mountains.

There is no doubt that any Kumdo student should adopt manners of persistence, diligence, and obedience. Such qualities are taught from the day a student begins Kumdo; modesty is acquired through awe and respect of others. Modesty is the one quality that binds the others together—without modesty and the consequential self-assessment, one would only become lazy and reluctant to change. Unfortunately, as we (as students) grow in experience and skill, we tend to grow arrogant and overconfident and thus lose that essential trait. Therefore, I assert that as a 2 Dan, the most important, critical aspect of the attitude I should hold is the simple but all-encompassing quality of modesty.

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