For the past few months, I have started practising Kendo.
To break down the word, “Ken” means “Sword” in Japanese, and “Do” means “Way”. So, therefore, Kendo is the Way of the Sword. Kendo’s purpose:
To mold the mind and body. To cultivate a vigorous spirit, And through correct and rigid training, To strive for improvement in the art of Kendo. To hold in esteem human courtesy and honor. To associate with others with sincerity. And to forever pursue the cultivation of oneself. And to promote peace and prosperity among all peoples.
I may not learn to love my country, but that’s a great purpose and quote to learn by, if you ask me.
It’s not a very “ladies” kind of sport, but well…
a) Which sport IS for “ladies”? (jogging? maybe.)
b) I am not very “ladies” type anyway…
I think it’s cool. 😀 I get to hold a bamboo sword! It’s called a shinai.
I do not have one of my own yet, but if I do I want a purple tsuba. It’s the usually round guard at the end of the grip.
Usually Kendo warriors (“Kendoka”) practise with bogu, the whole outfit, and I am sure it feels incredibly hot and hard to breathe in there, especially in the summer.
The purpose of each strike is to combine mind, body and spirit. To get a point in championships, all three have to be simultaneous. Mind and body alert, with the proper strike and footwork going at the same time; and the spirit, with an intense shout, showing your spirit. The “shout”, named “kiai”, is about focusing your energy (or ‘ki’) and releasing it in one concentrated blow.
I had practised Kendo in the past only for about a month in 2005? 2006?, and then from a stupid mistake I was left with swollen ankles for a whole month and I couldn’t even walk properly. The mistake? The teacher didn’t tell us to warm up before practise, and being the shy girls that we were, K. and I were too embarassed to start running on our own. Now I know better.
So this time around, I always try to run a bit before practise. Twice a week, for about an hour and a half. Quite nice, I’d say. 🙂 Many days I feel quite lazy, but I make myself go.
I was scared of letting my voice be heard … Even when I had a few privates for guitar years ago, I remember that I quit because he wanted me to sing while strumming, and I felt cornered. So, I bailed. I was seriously considering to do this with Kendo as well. (The first time I went all those years ago I was somehow able to avoid it). But here it seemed I couldn’t avoid it. One day a guy (not the sensei) made me do it. He wouldn’t let me strike unless I would also shout. He wasn’t mean about it though, he was telling me that it’s normal, and that if I think about it too much and start to think how I will sound (how did he know?! 😛 ) that it’ll be harder. And to just do it. So, I tried. M. told me also that it was “just stupid shouting”. So, having those in mind, I was able to let out my kiai! 😀 And it was pretty good for a first time! 🙂 Well, it depends also on the day. It takes a lot of energy indeed.
Here is a video to give you an idea of the martial art. There are also slow motions there, but I haven’t found many good Kendo videos out there for some reason.
It’s quite fun to watch my dojo mates practise with each other in bogu. They are more exciting than some championships, since in practise they try to land blows when they can, instead of waiting for the perfect moment.
I am still a beginner in this, so I hope I have not made any mistakes for what I have said about it. I don’t think it’s very practical for real-life defending, but then again this isn’t a self-defence martial art, it’s a cultivation of mind, body and spirit, a mental sport as well as a physical one. Not that the others aren’t, of course. I may also start some self-defense martial art one day, who knows.
Till then, Kendo is good for me. 🙂