Kendo Q&A

What will I learn in Kendo?

As defined by the “All Japan Kendo Federation”, “The concept of Kendo is to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the sword”. Through Kendo you will learn to be a better person by developing your spirit, mind and body. In the process you will also learn to move your body more efficiently, increase your stamina, become excellent at dealing with people, become more confident in yourself and develop a keen ability to avoid conflict. It’s also very likely that you will get in better physical shape, learn to breath, sit and walk properly and increase your body flexibility.

Why learn Kendo?

Some people learn Kendo for the exercise, for the competitive aspect, for the formal atmosphere or to learn traditional Japanese etiquette. Some people learn Kendo to become better persons, businessmen, artists, Karateka,… Only you can provide the answer to that question.

What does Kendo mean?

Ken means “sword” and Do means “Way”, so Kendo literally means “The way of the Sword”. Other ancient but less popular sword martial arts from Japan are Kenjutsu (“The technique of the Sword”) and Iaido (“The way of blade-drawing”)

Where does Kendo come from?

The origins of Kendo go back to 1000 years ago in Japan. For more than 500 years, the “way of the sword” was refined and methods were codified. Kendo was formally developed in the 18th century and created to give the samurai a way to practice their skills without risks of serious injury to each other. It has remained more or less the same until about 100 years ago when it was codified to systematise the techniques and equipment.

How long does it take to master Kendo?

It takes a whole life to master Kendo. In Japan, where kendoka start learning Kendo as early as 6 years of age, nobody would pretend having mastered Kendo even at 90 years old. Kendo is a lifelong journey; as in life, the more you grow old, the more you become wise. The wiser you get, the more you realise you have a lot to learn.

Will I learn to fight like a samurai?

No. Unfortunately, the images you saw on screen or in fiction books represent scenarios dating many centuries ago. There are no samurai alive that can teach those skills nor are there any wars to be fought with swords. Also, samurais didn’t spend all their time fighting and only part of their training was Kendo. They trained to become better swordsmen as well as better humans. They were the “renaissance” men of their time.

What equipment is necessary?

All you need will be provided free of charge for the first few months. After that you will eventually need to buy a Shinai (bamboo sword) that costs about $30US. After about 4-6 months you will also need to purchase an armour. The armour is a significant investment so before you purchase one, you should know for sure if you want to do Kendo for a long time.

Who practices Kendo?

Kendo is practised around the world. In Japan, Kendo is one of the few remaining true martial arts and several million people practice it there. In the rest of the world, more than a million people practice Kendo. It is very popular in Korea, USA, Canada and Europe, even in the Caribbean, where it is taught in Aruba, Venezuela, Dominican Republic and now Trinidad.

Where else in Trinidad & Tobago can I learn Kendo?

So far this is the only place where you can learn Kendo. Hopefully there will be more Kendo dojos in the future.