Death and Taxes


Time for a little bit of a soapbox moment.

Many of us got into the combat arts because it was something that was cool, playing around with sword just sung to us or we had a love of history/martial arts/whatever. In sort most of us got involved in whatever art we study because it was fun.

Then something happened. People started talking about safety, liability, insurance and risk mitigation. What we started doing because we loved the idea of Knights became a game of bureaucrats.

Yes, I understand the need to comply with the modern world of insurance and liability but at what point do we go too far in a contagion of compliance?

Lets us grab a few friends and do some practice in a local park. Do I really need to seek council permission? Do we really have to set up a roped off area?

At what point do we stop having fun with doing ‘medieval stuff’ because it just takes too much paperwork?

I can go to the park and kick a ball around and no one thinks twice about. I can take my bike out to plummet down a mountain side without signing a thing.

I understand that for formal sponsored events we need to do the minimum of compliance, but why is it that to participate in an SCA tournament I need to go though several levels of cards, sign in and checks (often by officials who’s knowledge of the requirements are haphazard at best). At a kendo tournament I only need to put in an entry form and in mountain biking, pay my entry and sign a simple waiver (with no one breathing over my neck)?

Perhaps we need to step back and ask what is it we are trying to achieve. What are the minimum hoops we need to jump through? Let’s focus on doing medieval stuff rather than trying to be all important with rules and procedures.


Going without GPS

So here we are again, writing on this little blog.

Back at Easter I was in Melbourne for the National Kendo Championship and grading. The main aim of this was to go for my first Dan grading.

I had been preparing for this exam for some time. I was attending every training session I could. I spent time at home revising kata. I was going to ace this with flying colours.

I failed.

The study of any martial art or combat sport will always have its ups and downs. There will be time were we have a crap training session. There are time that, despite all our training and efforts we get knocked out of a competition a lot sooner than we would have wished. We have bad days were nothing goes right.

Now I could give you some nice hippy stuff about ‘we all have bad days’ and ‘setbacks build character’. I won’t. These times suck. Sometimes they suck total ass, and there is nothing you can do about it. Life can be like this. Not everyone can be a winner.

It was a long drive back from Melbourne.

So what can we do when we have failed at our goals or not reached our expectation?

I am not sure I can answer this. Sometimes we only need to wait until a new day and things will be different. Sometimes we need to take a deep breath and go again. Each of us will have our own share of disappointments and failures. I suppose that is just the nature of things.

What is important is that we do pick ourselves up again. Maybe we will walk away; maybe we will look at what we need to do next time. Each of us has to answer this stuff in their own minds and hearts. It is because we hazard the chance of failure that makes the pursuit of success something worthwhile.

So after the bitter disappointment of the Melbourne exam I took a bit of time out of the dojo. I got some feedback from my teachers, all of whom told me of their exam failures. Some perspective was gained and maybe some humility learnt. Training began anew.

So after a very short time I was able to test again, this time in Sydney in June. I passed. So here I am, kendo first Dan. This is a big thing for me. I have had support form a bunch of wonderful people to get here. But this is just another step. In time the disappointments will be forgotten except as some dim memory as will the successes. There will be new thing to do, new challenges. I will both fail and win through. This is just the way of things.