I'd almost forgotten that I was once a samurai in training. When I was in my early 20's and desperate to get in touch with my Japanese side, I took kendo lessons at a dojo in Monterey Park. Back then, an adult sword-fighting woman was a rarity.
Here are a few of my favorite kendo memories:
Tora! Tora! Tora! My sensei and classmates called me Tiger because my birth surname (I hate "maiden name") was Strother, pronounced Su-to-ra-da in Japanese. The middle part of the name, tora, means tiger.
There's something about a girl in uniform: Sometimes Kumie (my little-sister-like friend), her family and I would stop for food while wearing our kendo uniforms. It never failed: men would chat me up and then ask for my phone number. I felt like a Samurai seductress.
Lessons Learned: Fight through the pain and clean up after yourself: Once while I was practicing with an opponent, a sliver of glass became embedded in my bare foot. When I saw the trail of blood on the wooden floor, I asked the old-school Japanese sensei if I could stop. He nodded at my opponent and I knew I had no choice. I continued to wield my sword while smearing streaks of red on the floor. Of course, I was responsible for mopping up my own blood when the match was over.
If you go back and read old Cancer Banter posts, you'll find that I've never used the popular lexicon of battling or going to war with cancer or eosinophils. (I don't have a problem with other people using this language; it just never felt natural to me.) So why do I suddenly want to embrace my inner Samurai? To paraphrase Lance Armstrong, it's not about the sword.
According to this site that lists the top ten characteristics of a Samurai professional, the ultimate warrior maintains integrity, displays loyalty, is resolute, plans relentlessly, seeks advantage, continuously improves, flows with (not against), has personal discipline and self control, displays personal courage and acts industriously.
I especially like the idea of going with the flow:
Life is continuously in balance. Accept gracefully both victories and setbacks. Contending against instead of working with is a losing strategy. Go with flows. Yield what cannot be won. Adjust. Agility and flexibility are far stronger than direct opposition. Learn to change and progress endlessly.So, which Samurai should I channel?