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How the Japanese see lifelong learning differently to Westerners

It is not unusual to see Kendo sensei training regularly into their 70s and 80s. It is something that we love about Kendo; that barring a major injury or health problem, we look forward emulating that dedication, to continue Kendo until we fall off the perch.

This attitude to practice is thanks entirely to Kendo's Japanese-ness. Were it a Western pastime, someone my age (about to turn 50) would be rationalising that it was time to slow down a bit, or hang up my boots, or move into coaching. I probably would have done all those things already.

Admittedly, in the last twenty years or so the phenomenon of "Masters' games" has developed, so that there is an outlet for those who want to pursue their sport and compete into advanced age. But nowhere are these athletes considered the pinnacle of their sports like they are in Kendo. And besides, old-age kenshi are just not newsworthy like elderly sportswomen and men are. Admirable, yes. Exceptional, no.

It is the Japanese ve…

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