Translation: Jouke van der Woude
He continued to be active in the Tokuren for 14 years, and the driving force behind his success was his awareness of the need to build a body capable of fighting in the realm of Shiai.
We asked Okido, who has competed in various tournaments including the World Kendo Championships and the National Police Kendo Championships both as an individual and as part of a team, about “training that makes the most of one’s individual strengths”.
Satoru Okido, Renshi 7th Dan
This year, after successfully completing a 14-year career as a Tokuren member without serious injury, I was transferred to the Ikuno Police Station in the spring of this year.
My 14 years of Tokuren training has been a period in which I have been conscious of my body’s ability to fight in the realm of Shiai. I believe that my emphasis on such points as warming up, stretching, and muscle strengthening is the reason why I was able to survive the hard days of training.
When I was younger, I had a lot of physical strength, and there was a part of me that relied on it. Because of my youth, I pushed myself too hard even when things were physically demanding, and I think this put a considerable burden on the body. However, over the course of several years, my injuries increased. Also, when I was taking time off due to injury or in a slump period, I saw more and more junior members excelling, and there were times when I felt frustrated and wondered if I would just end my participation in the Tokuren program.
I then began to ask myself, “What can I do to win?” Through trial and error, I came to realize that in order to win, you need to make the appropriate preparations to fight through a tough year, so I began to think about the required measures.
Fortunately, when I was invited to the All Japan Kendo Federation’s training camp for the World Kendo Championships, I received a lot of guidance from the physical training coaches and was able to increase my knowledge about physical training and diet.
I also started to look at the situation I was in objectively. I felt that my lower body strength was weak, so I began training to compensate for that. I also felt that I was a slow-muscle type, with good endurance but weak fast-muscle and lacked instantaneous power. I thought I could not make use of these characteristics in Kendo. But I aimed to make the most of my strengths and have a body that is injury-free and has enough strength and endurance to fight through fierce battles. I was prepared to accept that there was nothing else I could do if results wouldn’t follow.
I think the number of Shiai for the Tokuren members is less than 10 a year at most. Since the Shiai dates are scheduled, I set goals for the remaining 355 days of the year and how I would distribute them, including doing Keiko on my own. I practiced several elements, but I especially spent a lot of time on Suburi, physical training, and jumping rope, which put a lot of stress on my lower body.
Although I was 37 years old, I felt confident that the results that followed could be attributed to my efforts.
For me, the period of trial and error after the age of 30 in my 14 years of Tokuren life remains as a particularly intense memory (Okido Satoru won the National Police Kendo Championship both individually and as a team at the age of 32, and was the captain of the Japanese representatives at the World Kendo Championships at the age of 35).
The older I get, the more “particular” I become about Kendo. However, I would like to constantly improve myself by asking myself what I should change and what I should keep.
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