Japan day 9 - Kendo


Today was a bit special. Since my asthma made me so bad, I had to take a little break and therefore didn't join today's temples. But I had been looking forward to the Kendo class so much, so chose to rest until it started. So when the group came back from the temples, and got ready to leave, I joined. We walked for a little while before we arrived. The kendo class was in the dojo where it all began. We were taught by a bushido instructor, a descendant of a Japanese samurai. 

What is Kendo? 

Kendo is a Japanese martial art where two opponents with bamboo swords (shinai) try to score points by striking the head, stomach, wrists or throat. It is also allowed to hit the opponent with the body to get them off balance. Hitting and kicking are not permitted. 

How does Kendo differ from fencing? 

Kendo differs from Western fencing in that the athletes chop more than they stab, and move around with large movements. It is screamed (kiai) before an attack, and when the sword hits. Using the voice in this way should help the athlete to focus, control the breathing and build up pressure in the stomach. 

Like other budo branches, kendo is not only about physical training, but also about personal growth and values such as courtesy, respect and honesty. A workout can both start and end with meditation. 

If you want to read more about Kendo, click here: https://snl.no/kendo  

We started by being given equipment we woud were, clothes, shields on the stomach and back, as well as in front of the abdomen, we were given bamboo swords, masks and gloves we were to wear later. We started by hearing the history of the samurai, and what had happened then and there was very exciting. After that we would start learning different techniques. I had to get help fixing the suit because I was a bit short so stepped on my trousers. We started by learning the basics, foot technique and three different ways we could fight. I don't remember all the words, but you had to shout loudly before you could attack in a way. We went together in twos to practice the technique and the words we had been given, but had to start by shouting Hai, it was a bit embarasing, because just two and two people at the time had to do it. But it went well. Finally we got help to put on helmets, they fit well and had an apron on top that kept sliding down so I didn't see shit. But I got help right away, so it went well. Now it was time for the duel, was about doing and hitting each other while screaming in Japanese when you hit, it could be one of the three words we had learned earlier. (unfortunately I have forgotten them now). We dueled, and I won! So fun! But I thought it was a little too short, I only had time to duel once, I wish it had lasted longer and that we had learned even more. 

All in all, a calm and educational day, a bit disappointed that my body wouldn't listen to me, because I was looking forward to those temples because it seemed so nice there, but that's how it is sometimes. But loved the kendo class. Just wish it lasted longer because most of the time was spent putting on the suits. Of course it's good to be protected, and cool to be able to use a bamboo sword. But it was worth it, exciting to be learning about new cultures, and martial arts, as well as part of Japan's history.