According to wikipedia 'Giri 義理 is a Japanese value roughly corresponding to "duty", "obligation", or even "burden of obligation" in English. It is defined as "to serve one's superiors with a self-sacrificing devotion" by Namiko Abe.'
Joining a kendo club is very different to joining your local gym. We all come together to take part in an activity that is supposed to hone the mind, body and spirit, without this in mind we're just folks in a dance hall hitting each other with sticks. It's the duty of all to come with the intent to improve themselves, for those with experience to pass on that experience and help those newer to the art to advance. For those that are just beginning it's important to take on board the lessons and advice given and do your best to improve. It's often said that the most important people in a club are not necessarily the ones who are the best, it's the ones who come week in, week out regardless of their ability but in an effort to get better and support the club.
Another example of Giri 義理 exhibited by the club is how we 'subsidise' the members. Either through the additional 2 kata lessons a month, entrance fees for team competitions or more simply [but no less important] the use of club armour. We appreciate that kendo bogu is expensive and not everyone can invest in armour from day one, nor would we wish them to. Sometimes the getting into armour changes your view on kendo, some people enjoy it more, some people discover it is not what they thought it was after all. So having armour to loan to beginners is an important obligation that Liverpool Kendo Club is proud to perform.
We do not ask for payment or even a deposit, this again is our understanding that if we loan armour to you you will look after it and come to practice to make good use out of it, that is your obligation. If club armour is not being used but is in the possession of a member it stops another beginner, who is ready and willing to make the best use of it, from progressing. For all the beginners who have stuck it out since September we are extremely grateful for your continued efforts and hard work. We've seen considerable improvements and we hope you are feeling a sense of belonging within the club. For this reason we will be looking hard at who has club armour and how much commitment they have shown so we can ensure we have available kit for you once you are ready to take it up. In the mean time I suggest you speak to Sensei next week about whether he thinks you are ready to ask Santa to bring you hakama and keiko-gi.
Don't forget Joe is organising a Christmas meal at Etsu on Friday 10th December. I never usually go to these things but this year I'm making an exception so check out the details on the forum. Practice hard, play hard as they say.