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Physical Requirements

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  • Physical Requirements

    I have a question about being physically fit to join Kendo. I live in Scottsdale, AZ and am thinking about joining a Kendo Kai in a nearby city. I am out of shape (can still do most anything, and enjoy hiking) and am worried that I may not be fit enough to start practicing kendo. I want to join to get fit and do something I would enjoy (big fan of just about anything Japanese including history). What kind of fitness is needed to actively participate? If I go, I want to make sure beforehand that I don't instantly see that I cannot participate due to physical fitness.. There are no other Kendo clubs in the area, so if I joined, to practice I would have to drive 30 mins to get there and 30 mins often does one normally practice?

    Thanks in advance for any info you might have.


  • #2

    I don't think that it should be an obstacle to be a beginner. Most beginners down here are either fat or have led idle lives before kendo. Yet it does not prevent them from joining all aspects of the introductory practices.

    Beginners usually start with suburi, which is a exercise to build the minimum strenght and stamina. This stage will last a while.

    Botton line is: don't be shy. Try it out and see if you like it. Kendo is hard but the reward is enormous.

    I personally practice three times a week, two to three hours per practice, a little like kushinkan style. But I'm 23 and I've been practicing for a little while now.

    Go for it

    Alex Polli


    • #3
      Yeah, when I think back now, at the beginning it's nothing very exhausting..... 100 times suburi with a shinai is nothing! Relax, relax and relax (the arm joints were a bit tight)....

      The best part is Kiai...... Just shout the hell out of yourself first and eventually you'll become very spirited. Afterall, the whole point of Kendo is not about building up muscles (otherwise you'll go weightlifting day and night), but some sort of mental strength, right?


      • #4
        Hey Jason,

        I agree with the above points too. But most people who begin kendo are all different shapes and sizes. Also, of course, the person(s) fitness levels differ too. We have three new beginners in our club. One is 4ft 1" and is he is 11 years old, another is approx 15 years old and she is about 5ft 5" and then we have a middle aged man approx 35 years old and he is easily 6ft 1"!!
        My advice is that you go in and give it a go! With the right attitude, see if its what you want to do- fitness will come later. Kendo is by no means a walk in the park but like Alex above said the rewards are enormous.

        Hope this helps!


        • #5
          I have to agree too. You get out of it what you put in to it! Just a little to start and you will get stronger both mentally and physicaly in leaps and bounds.

          There are many exercises you will be able to do outside the dojo if you get really keen. Anyone for Disco suburi?

          There was a one armed Kendoka that hit the news some time ago.

          Go for it! You won't be dissapointed.



          • #6
            Jason. Don't worry, just go do it! I'm glad I did.

            I would assume most kendo clubs practice two to three times per week (some more I assume), and an hour commute to the dojo and back isn't bad if you really want it. If you take up kendo, it WILL take up time. A lot of time.

            Go see and do, if it turns out that kendo is not for you, then at least you'll know. But, to quote one of my sempai: "Most people quit kendo before they realize how good it is for them".


            P.S. 'Disco suburi' eh? Doing nana me suburi to the Bee Gees, harai-kote to "Le Freak" and men-nuki dou to Disco Inferno! Sounds like fun.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Ian Russell

              Disco suburi' eh? Doing nana me suburi to the Bee Gees, harai-kote to "Le Freak" and men-nuki dou to Disco Inferno! Sounds like fun.

              I was thinking more along the lines of one hours jumping suburi to Dead or Alive.



              • #8
                Ok, you've convinced me to go check it out. I have been trying to build some stamina before hand by practicing with my boken - 150 swings or so every evening...thanks for the encouragement...



                • #9
                  try a few sets of 100

                  I found that when I started after a 17 year absence, I had lost a bit of arm strength and foot speed. By doing a hundred suburi a day I was able to make tons of progress. After a few weeks I was up to a 1000 a day (takes about 20 to 25 mins). Think how quick the swings add up 150 a day X 350 (if you miss a day or two) that's 45000 strikes a year!

                  My background is from swimming so I like to do sets of Suburi my favorite set is a pyrimid
                  three sets of the following:

                  30 (slow, big)
                  50 (slow sharp)
                  100 (fast, sharp)
                  50 (fast, sharp
                  30 (slow, big)

                  that adds up to 780


                  • #10
                    In the initial states, suburi really works wonders as long as you do it correctly.

                    usually I like to follow this routine for suburi exercises, and it works fine. Always fast and sharp, nonstop.

                    60 zenshin/kotae shomen (back and forth straight men)
                    60 zenshin/kotae sayuumen (back and forth sideways men)
                    60 zenshin/kotae/hikae/sakae (back and forth shomen, left and right sayuumen)
                    60 hiraki men (90-degree turn sayuu men)
                    60 shomen haya suburi (choyaku suburi) (jumping back and forth fast straight men)
                    60 sayuumen haya suburi (same but sideways men instead)

                    In the dojo we usually double this before starting our large helpings of uchikomi and kakari geiko.

                    Hope it helps,

                    Alex Polli


                    • #11
                      I was in the same situation. I don't know how out of shape you really are, but I was certainly out of shape when I started. I hadn't done anything for years.
                      Then I went to Japan as an exchange student. I knew I had wanted to do kendo before I had gone; why not do a budo if i'm going to Japan...
                      Anyway, after practicing every day for roughly 2 hours, I got used to it in about 3 months. Your feet - however - may take a bit longer. My feet took roughly 6 months to develop the necessary callouses.

                      It was by far worth it though. Go for it...
                      Chicks dig it too!


                      • #12
                        physical requirements

                        I just love the intimation by one of my OWN CLUB MEMBERS that being 35 makes you 'middle aged'- God help me as I am nearly 10 years older than that!

                        I started kendo whilst at Uni in the UK when I was 18 and trained for a couple of years getting to 1st kyu. I remember it being all so easy then as I was pretty fit, but gave it up to follow a 15 year fling with rock-climbing.

                        When I moved to New Zealand in 1992 I was keen to restart kendo, but for some reason it took me until 1997/98 to restart, by which time I was in my 40s.

                        Things weren't so easy this time around.....

                        Starting once again from the bottom I was pleased to get my 6th kyu at my first grading!

                        Now I am Shodan and very proud to achieve in my 40s what I didn't in my 20s. I look forward to trying for my Nidan in Aug this year in CHCH.

                        Age is no barrier and fitness is something that comes with time and effort. Don't let anyone persuade you you are too old and/or too unfit for kendo- the rewards of participating are so great!

                        Meanwhile I'm looking forward to whacking the young upstart in my club who may be half my age, but still needs a few lessons...


                        • #13
                          hey hey hey! you should go and give it a try, no question! where i live, there is nothing! id consider myself lucky to have a dojo near me! i havnt started yet, but if i knew of a place in a nearby city, i would go! give it a shot and good luck!


                          • #14
                            Well I'm rather new to kendo anyway. I've only been doing it approx 4 months. I'm in no way an athlete nor am I totally fit.

                            Both my knees suffered serious damage approx 1993 after the medial meniscus (as I was told by my doctor) decided to blow out totally, but it hasn't deterred me from participating in kendo.


                            • #15
                              hmmnn...I graduated from High Schol in 1995. Used to play 2 games of rugby back to back for the 1st's and the 2nd's, do cross country etc. And after I left high school it just went downhill. Well 6 years on I decided to pick up kendo and its hard work but you will get fit again.

                              Even if you feel like dying, the pain is good. It means you are working hard. More you try the better you get.