What it means to be on Team Canada: Giving back with my training

Posted on May 11, 2014 in Volunteering/Charity events

Sometimes the things we are passionate about consume our lives, at least I feel like I have been in that situation. It is good to take a step back to be grateful and look at the bigger picture.

My experience on the women’s national kendo team

I have competed as a member of the National kendo team twice, once for the 14th World Kendo Championships (WKC) held in 2009 at Brazil, Sao Paolo and a second time for the 15th WKC in 2012 at Italy, Novara. I am now training and going through the selection process for my 3rd WKC which will be held in Tokyo 2015. This time around I have been selected to be the assistant captain of the women’s team.


14th WKC Brazil, Sao Paolo in 2009

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15th WKC Italy, Novara, 2012

But really…is this a big deal? It really isn’t…it’s just something I am personally passionate and devoted to, something that I had dreamed about and trained for. But what does being on Team Canada really mean? Being on Team Canada is SACRIFICE, hard work, dedication, team work and discipline.

Whose sacrifice is needed for Team Canada? I’m not talking about mine!

I have made many “sacrifices”, at times busing 4 hours from University of Guelph to practice in Toronto, funding my own training and moving away to Vancouver to train with the team, not to mention the grueling practices. But only thinking about my sacrifices is a very narcissistic point of view. My “sacrifices” pale in comparison to the sacrifices the people who support me have made. When I say sacrifice, what I mean is the sacrifices that OTHERS have given for me to achieve my goals and dreams. My parents who have not just financially supported part of my training but also been patient with my busy lifestyle.  My friends who have stood by me and understood when I had to leave to train. My mom who works all day to support me and doesn’t see me at night because I am at practice. My team mates and my instructors who give the time and effort to me. My coach who opened his home to me when I moved to Vancouver. My kendo students who have placed their trust in me. By the end of my second WKC in Italy, I felt was starting to feel like my training was selfish, I was acutely aware of the sacrifices of others around me.

So what makes being on Team Canada worth it?

Why I am still training

After taking some time to reflect, I realized that kendo has taught me many core values that I carry into my everyday life, it has taught me to never give up, to have discipline and to never make excuses. I realized that kendo is important to me because it has shaped the character that I am today. My coaches who saw potential in me I am forever grateful. I want to inspire others in a positive way as the idols I have looked up to have inspired and changed me in the past. During my training I don’t want to be selfish, I want to give back!

What I have done differently this time 

This time around my drive to practice kendo has changed. I am no longer as focused on pride, prestige and winning for the sake of winning. Competing and training is my personal platform to be able to reach out to as many people as possible.

CN Tower Climb for United Way, October 19, 2013

This fall I did the CN Tower climb. Stairs is a great way to build strength and agility in kendo and it was great to be able to do that while supporting the United Way! The United Way helps build stronger communities, you can find our more about what they do by visiting their site: http://www.unitedwaytoronto.com/whatWeDo/main.php

Sporting Life 10k run, May 11, 2014

The Sporting Life 10k run helps send kids affected by childhood cancer to camp. The best part of the race was when kids near the finish line stretched out their hands to high five the runners. Watch the video below to find out more about the cause!

Here’s a picture of me and my classmate Megan Kirkland before the race. We raised money together as “Team BMC”.

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Photo credit: Karyn Ho (she also gave me the awesome socks I’m sporting which received shouts of compliments from encouraging volunteers while I ran)

Megan Kirkland trained really hard for this race, so proud of her for meeting her goal and finishing the 10k under an hour!

Community kendo practices for women

As the assistant captain of the team this time, I am organizing community practices for women on the East coast of Canada. My hope is that it will give a chance for the Team Canada prospects to lead drills that our coach from Vancouver have taught us. If we can lead the drill than we will understand it better ourselves. The girls communicate work together to make a good practice. While this is great for the team, female kendo partitioners who are not on the national team can also learn new techniques. These practices allow a stronger female community within the Canadian Kendo Federation. It also gives the opportunity for the Team Canada prospects to thank the community for supporting our training.


Warm up

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A nice meal after a hard practice with the girls!

Whatever it is that you do, try to be the best person that you can be. Don’t be selfish, be giving, be humble, be grateful. Always remember that you have everyone to thank for you successes and no one to blame for your failures. Leave positive footprints on people’s lives with whatever it is that you do. These are new goals I am striving towards as I train for my third WKC. I want to win at tournaments to inspire others as my idols have inspired me. I want to train hard, but I don’t want to be selfish when I do so. Team Canada does NOT mean I am more important than others. The method I train is my choice, I would like to start giving back more, even if it is in a small way like running 10k for a good cause.