CAMBRIDGE – How outdated is Gabriel Weitzner? Do not ask.
In kendo, the Japanese artwork of swordplay, age is irrelevant.
So the wise-beyond-years Weitzner, who just lately returned from Tokyo after efficiently passing an examination to make him the twenty fourth seventh-level kendo dan in Canada, dismisses the calendar-based question with the slicing verbal wave of a philosophical bamboo stick.
“You possibly can practise with a man who’s 80, 85, 90, 100,” the Cambridge resident says with a wrinkle-scarce grin beneath a Groucho Marx moustache.
“And he can nonetheless kick the butt of somebody who’s 20. You surprise, how on earth do they do this?”
That is the timeless magic of contemporary kendo, culled from an historical sword-wielding Samurai previous. Age disappears the deeper your psychological shinai slashes into the demanding, empty-your-mind self-discipline.
“Age is only a quantity,” Weitzner says. “It has nothing to do together with your capabilities.”
You need a quantity? Take 4,000. That is what number of kendo practitioners lined up earlier than judges at Tokyo Budokan late final month in search of seventh-dan standing.
Solely 144 made the grade, with a two-minute demonstration towards an unknown masked opponent on the martial arts enviornment. Weitzner was one of many 144. The remainder have been Japanese.
He does not need to brag. Kendo etiquette hinges on humility and respect in your foe.
So what if Weitzner represented Argentina at world championships in Brazil, France and Korea within the Nineteen Eighties. He did not win titles. However with kendo, successful is not the purpose.
“Failing is an excellent instructor,” stated Weitzner, who failed thrice to achieve the seventh-dan stage – two tries in Canada and 6 months in the past in Kyoto.
“The distinction between the final time I failed and now? I devoted the final six months to extend the psychological energy. . To attempt to perceive extra the philosophy half, the arduous half.”
He was drawn to kendo by likelihood a long time in the past.
The Argentinian-born Weitzner, who spent 17 years in Montreal as a McGill College researcher, was learning Japanese. He served as translator for the Japanese fencing staff on the world French fencing championships in Buenos Aires. The captain of the Japanese fencing staff advised kendo would swimsuit Weitzner nicely.
So Weitzner gave it a strive.
“Once I went the very first time, in some way I fell in love with it,” he stated.
Numerous years later, a lot about his life has modified.
He left Quebec for Ontario and has been a Canadian citizen for a quarter-century. His spouse died of most cancers at a younger age. He has lived in Waterloo Area for 11 years and now works for a expertise firm. However kendo stays a consoling fixed. He practices frequently, generally on the College of Waterloo and infrequently in Etobicoke.
However the enduring worth of kendo, with its empty-your-mind focus and psychological coaching, has turn out to be clearer to him, because the passing of time and his personal age have grown murky.
“It helps you in your job. It helps you once you lose your mother and father, once you lose your spouse,” he stated. “Coping with the information of life, it helps you tremendously.”
It permits your persona to emerge, too. That is the artwork a part of the martial artwork.
“You attempt to go as deep as you’ll be able to go to know it. Then, you make it your personal. You turn out to be your personal Picasso, your personal Salvador Dali,” he defined.
“You might be portray your personal masterpiece.”
And that is what the judges are on the lookout for on the promotional exams. Weitzner should wait 10 years to make a bid to turn out to be an eighth-level dan.
By that point, he’ll be age . oh, by no means thoughts. It will not matter. In kendo, it by no means does.
“That is the rationale you have got people who find themselves 103 and they’re nonetheless training,” he stated.
“That is the trail that by no means ends.”