Thursday, September 17, 2009

The last samurai

I may not be a samurai warrior just yet... but give me time and I will be. Before coming to Japan I knew I wanted to start up some new and exciting Japanese sport/tradition. I've always been interested in samurai history and on arriving in Japan I learnt of a sport called Kendo. Kendo means 'the way of the sword' and has evolved from the samurai's that strolled the streets hundreds of years ago. It took me a while to find a club that I could practice with.. thanks to the good old language barrier, but after learning that one of my students practices kendo at a local school I swiftly pounced on the opportunity to go and watch. With my cunning linguistic skills it wasn't long before I was accepted as a member. After giving a brief but grammatically correct welcome speech I was on my way to fighting for world domination samurai style. To be honest I didn't know much about kendo, apart from the fact that it was pretty much sword fighting. Kendo is an extremely fast sport and matches can be won and lost in a matter of seconds. There are four possible scoring (killing) moves: on the top of the head, throat, wrist and stomach. It might sound very dramatic and dangerous but the amount of padding and the fact that we use a bamboo sword means you can comfortably strike and get smacked with no worries. Kendo is fought between two people and like all Japanese martial arts it is full of traditions and ceremony. It is a very respectful and spiritual sport as this was the samurai philosophy. On my second night my kendo sensei greeted me with my very own, brand new kendo sword. I was completely blown away by his generosity and kindness. I go twice a week and seriously can't wait for my next practice.