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  • I want to practice Kendo.....

    Hi, nice to meet you all.

    I am set on practicing Kendo. My reasons for wanting to practice Kendo are mainly because I really like the idea of what the sport teaches mentally aswell as phisically.

    A little about my self first.
    My name is Dean
    I am 24 yrs old
    I am about 5.6ft
    I am longsighted in 1 eye but this isnt a problem
    I am of medium build
    I have acute ADHD
    I currently live in waltham cross in hertfordshire (UK).

    I have already achieved brown Belt in shokotan Karate at my local fitness centre at Grundy Park in Chesthunt. I did this when I was younger but dropped out just short of Black Belt becasue I was worried about my exams at the time and becasue I was becoming frustrated with the complexity of some of the things we were learning. I know this decision dissapointed my teacher at the time. I had talent according to my teacher but now that I am older I feel alot of regret for letting that opputunity to do well at a martial art slip through my fingers. I did try and rejoin recently after 4 or 5 years but chose the worst time to start again and my teacher would not allow me to start over from the beggining and wanted me to continue from brown belt. I was clearly unable to remember most of what I had learnt. More than anything, I had alot of repsect for my teacher and rather than make his life difficult and dissapoint him even more I decided to not follow shokotan any more. Aswell as the problem of my university being in Liecester I felt that it would be impossible without taking time away from other people that were learning for me to reach the point I was at before.

    I wish to genuinely take up Kendo in the near future that will help me get fit again and more importantly restore some of my pride/self confidence in my self; something that I have been lacking recently for various reasons.

    As things stand I have just in the last 2 or three weeks quit smoking after 5 years and thought that taking up a sport would help me recover quickly and get fit again. I am worried however that my poor cardio as a result of smoking will be detrimental to me being able to practice Kendo as I am at the moment. In your opion would it be a good idea to begin straight away ?

    My apologies for the life story but I thought it would help you understand my determination to practice Kendo.

    Anyhow I have a few small questions first and foremost.

    Do you have competitions in Kendo? How do these usually work?


    What should I be looking to buy as a begginer to Kendo. Should I buy everything I need all at once? I feel that I will probably loose weight when I first start so I am worried about buying armour and finding that it will later not fit.

    Can anyone tell me of anywhere to train and learn Kendo based on where I am living now which is near chesthunt. The nearest dojo that I can find is in London (WAKABA) but i wish to find something closer if possible as I do not always know my situation with work and may need to try and attend classes with little time to spare in the evenings.

    Now that I am in one place more, I will also be planning on taking up my Karate again soon once I am fitter and have researched and practiced the things I have forgotton at home. Is this a good idea in terms of phisical stress to practice ttwo quite phisical sports?

    I have a number of ''concerns' which might affect my ability to practice Kendo but I would like your opinions on this.

    I have a very slight hearing problem due to a couple of close calls with Blank firering grenades in the past. It's not terrible but I am slightly worried about spending time in a loud enviroment for too long. I doubt a few hours a week will be a problem but is Kendo usually quite noisy?

    I broke my left ankle last september. It is healed fine now but it plays up every now and then with extreme stress placed on it. My doctors say it will be fine the more I use it but you guys/girls would know best how much stress will be placed on it at first.

    Thankyou in advance for taking the time to read this.

    Dean

  • #2
    Hi. Welcome.

    You've got a lot here. I'll address a couple issues:

    Yes, Kendo is loud, especially at first. It's less so once you get in armor because the armor (bogu) shields your ears from noise, but it's not a quiet activity.

    Your ankle is not likely to be more difficult to deal with in Kendo than in any other sport -- maybe lesso. I tore three ligaments in my ankle and was out of Kendo for about three months, went back, and now when it "plays up" every now and then I just wear a brace.

    Good luck. Enjoy the journey. Give yourself at least a couple months to stick with it before quitting.

    Comment


    • #3
      Welcome to KWF and hopefully to kendo. First of all, thanks for your story however, you should live in the present and not worry about your past experience with karate. Kendo probably is not going to be anything like you imagined so go in with a blank slate. In fact, if you go back to karate, I'd still say go back without thinking about your past. Just do what is required for the present.

      Competition:
      Yes there are competitions in kendo, usually based on sparring (kata competitions are based on making the best impression). These can be individual or in teams of 3 or 5 (usually). Most competitions are sanbon shobu or three point matches (e.g. first to score two wins unless time runs out with either the score being 1-0 or a draw which may then bring about overtime depending on tournament conditions). Rarely there may be an official ippon-shobu (first to score) format. While kendo is geared towards competitive fencing (e.g. how to use a bamboo shinai effectively as opposed to how to use a real sword), most kendo teachers I've come across emphasize the budo (martial arts) side of kendo rather than competition side.

      Equipment:
      Start with gym clothes. Don't worry about the rest for the first couple of months. After that, you might want to get your own shinai (some clubs might require this to start with but that would be about it), then keikogi and hakama. Perhaps 6 months to 1 year down the line you might get armor though I'd recommend borrowing for a couple of months if possible as drop out rate is very high once moved into armor. Search on this forum and you'll find plenty of discussion about this.

      Clubs:
      I've practiced at Wakaba and it is a great club. Not far away is also Hizen, where I was a member prior to moving to Tokyo. Both clubs actually have a big overlap of the same people. Wakaba's free practice is also attended by members of many other London clubs though you wouldn't be participating in this at first. Other clubs can be found at the BKA club directory:

      http://kendo.org.uk/club-directory/

      Health issues and practicing two (ehem) martial arts:
      I'm no medical expert so how you manage your health is between you, your doctor and the dojo leader(s). But I doubt any of the issues you've raised will prevent you from taking up kendo. I'd say go visit a club to watch a practice, ask these questions to the dojo leader and (assuming none of these conditions are show stoppers) give kendo a go but keep an eye on how these concerns are doing.

      Assuming you can physically handle two high intensity martial arts, the main issue with practicing more than one art is how much time and mental dedication you can put in. Karate and kendo are different enough that you probably won't mix up their movements. With arts within the same family you will be told seemingly contradictory things about the same thing. For example, if you start kendo and iaido at the same time you will be taught how to cut differently, which can be a hindrance to learning either so usually one is advised to be shodan in one before starting the other. But it sounds like your question is more along the lines of whether your body can take it.

      So:
      - Put your past experience with karate aside
      - If the doctor doesn't give you a red light go visit a kendo club.
      - Watch a practice, ask questions, raise your health concerns.
      - If you start, just go with gym clothes. If you have to buy a shinai it shouldn't be expensive. Don't worry about the rest anyway.
      - See how it goes
      - If you restart karate, also put your past experience behind you and do what's required there and then. In budo you're relearning everything all the time.
      Last edited by dillon; 16th January 2012, 03:36 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thank you so far for the replies. They have been informative and encouraging
        I think on the whole I will have to just go and exsperience Kendo my self, perhaps at a sit in for now to work out what Im letting myself in for. I'll have a chat with the teacher aswell to clear up my doubts about equipment and the such.

        As for the armour, I feel that the armour is something you earn after staying the course and being good enough to wear it now that i have read up a little more on it. I like the look of the armour and I look forward to wearing it. Im not worried about the armour at all. Being honest I'm used to wearing plate carriers and Soft Ballistic type armour anyway so I will probably get used to Bogu alot quicker than normal.

        That's a result finding someone with exsperience with the Dojo I'm considering attending aswell! I'm quite nervous about going along for the first time being honest. Theres nothing that quite singles you out from everyone else like a pair of joggers and T-shirt in a Dojo after all.

        Anyhow, thank you for the replies so far.

        Dean

        Comment


        • #5
          I wouldn't sweat too much about weight. You won't be buying armour for quite some time. Even when you do, only the helmet and gloves (men/kote) need be closely fitted and that shouldn't change with fluctuating weight.

          As for the rest, like many beginners you are overthinking it. Attend a class, see if you like it, take it from there. You are likely to find your local dojo very accomodating.

          Comment


          • #6
            Again thanks alot. I'll go along and see what happens. Thank you very much for taking the time to give me advice.

            Dean

            Comment


            • #7
              Unless there has been an unusually low number of new starters at Wakaba lately (or any other club), it's unlikely you'll be the only one not wearing funny Japanese clothes. Even if you are, you'll be sufficiently distracted by all the new information that will be thrown at you.

              Comment


              • #8
                Good luck! Lots of good advice has been given so I won't muddle that pool of info. But be sure to let us know what you think after you check out the dojo for yourself, I'm always interested in what drives new people to Kendo and their first impressions.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Don't worry about looking, or feeling, awkward when you first start Kendo. Beginners are the lifeblood of what we do and all good kendoka recognize that. Go do it.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As for a conflict between Kendo and Shotokan Karate, I don't foresee any (though as mentioned, take it a step at a time, without thinking too much about when Karate can be resumed). The higher stance in Kendo should be a relief from the knee-stressing low one of Shotokan; and in Kendo one can step slightly aside when counter-attacking someone, much as one may turn the body diagonally a bit to deflect a punch to the face or kick to the belly.
                    Personally, I quite liked returning to Karate (wanted to try out a different style) though my first love will, it seems, always be Kendo. Just to punch was so simple compared to controlling my Kendo shinai (bamboo sword); and it was fun to pick up the feet higher than knee level, too. Returning to it after a much longer time than you, the main challenge has been fitness (like sit-ups and press-ups).
                    But I feel the mental element in Kendo is stronger somehow. Be patient, look carefully at Kendo, and ask questions. Enjoy!
                    Last edited by Tort-Speed; 22nd January 2012, 01:58 PM.

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