One of our long-time members, Chris Hamilton, had the pleasure of meeting and practicing with a Kendoka named Mr. Henry Smalls. If you have not heard of Mr. Smalls before, he is a 6th Dan Kendoka who is also physically challenged as he has lost both of his legs. This however did not stop him from training and excelling in a number of martial arts. After Chris had a chance to practice with him, he was able to speak with him for some time, at which point Mr. Smalls gave Chris some great advice. Chris passed these words of wisdom along to me, and now I shall pass them along to everyone.
"Evey match is an `encounter', you are not simply hitting (or cutting) an animated hitting dummy. Moreover you are not just simply striking, you are learning. To do this you must not think about yourself, or think about your opponent, you must establish a connection. With a connection you learn from your opponent, you become your opponent, you grow by the shared experience and by assimilating them into you. With every match you increase in size and strength. If you see your opponent as a target rather than a person, if you make contact but fail to establish a connection, you are failing to practice and failing to grow; you are simply exercising. Find the rhythm with your opponent, mirror the rhythm then break the predicted beat. See their motions in their eyes, see with your eyes half closed and by becoming your opponent, once you obtain/understand their mind you can shape their actions and predict their future. Learn your opponents name and their history and make these things your own when you kill them. Do not cut... kill. And if you are killed in the process, so be it. You have fulfilled your obligation. If you are cut down let your opponent be cut down a heartbeat afterwards, but not two heartbeats later!"