Path to excellence

I would like to thank Curtis of Kendo USA for allowing us to quote his article (original).


In kendo there is an old maxim that states 1,000 practices to temper and 10,000 practices to polish. Research has shown that to become an expert requires 10,000 hours of practice. So let’s look at the numbers to get there.

In general we practice 45 weeks per year. So if by some miracle you attend all these practices we have a baseline to go by.

In order to temper our kendo (we will forego the “expert” 7-dan/8-dan calculations):

Times per week # of practices
per year
1,000 practices
1 45 22.2 years
1.5 67.5 14.8 years
2 90 11.1 years
2.5 112.5 8.9 years
3 135 7.4 years
4 180 5.6 years
5 225 4.4 years
6 270 3.7 years


Whether the “10.000 hours rule is true or not, it does provide at least an interesting take on what it takes to master something. Curtis’ quick calculations show something that most of us already know: if you want to become anywhere near decent at kendo, you will need lots of practice! Our dojo holds three classes each week, but many of our members only visit one of those. This would suggest that you would need at least twenty-two years to gain any basic proficiency!

At the beginning of this season, Bert Heeren-sensei wrote a letter to all students. In this letter he calls upon all students to take kendo seriously, as budō instead of a sport or hobby. If you want to make any noticeable progress you will need at least two classes each week, preferably three. And the great thing is: your membership contribution has already paid for three sessions each week! All you have to do is show up and to give it your best! And don’t discount those suburi which can be done at home.

So! Almere, take a dare and get ready for some heavy training in Amstelveen on tuesday or saturday! And Amstelveen, won’t you make the trek to Almere for extra kata training and to meet some fresh faces?

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