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  • Hello everyone

    Hello everyone,

    I'm Margali. I'm 47, female, and live in Denver Colorado, USA.
    I have a few questions about kendo:

    1 I'm not in very good shape, and given my age, is this an activity I could participate in?

    2 I'm curious about the mental/spiritual side of kendo. Would anyone care to comment on that aspect of the sport?

    3 How much should I expect to spend on equipment and training?

    4 Any advice on things to look for in an instructor? (Or any things to avoid?)

    5 Anything else you wish you'd known when you were a complete newbie?

    Thanks in advance,
    Margali

  • #2
    Hey Margali,

    Glad that you're interested in kendo! It's a great sport/martial art (whichever you prefer to call it) to get involved in. I'll try to ansewr your questions as best as I can but note, I (myself) am still a beginner.

    1. The first few lessons won't physically exhausting. It (depending on the dojo that you attend) revolves around the etiquette that you should be aware of, terminology, how to sit in 'seiza', etc. The lessons post-etiquette looks at the footwork that you'll be using and the basic Chuudan No Kamae. While these lessons are ongoing, doing some excercise at home will help in the long run in both your health and your kendo. Basic excercise such as jogging, running, eating healthy food (getting rid of all that junk food/fast food that working people seem to eat on the go) will improve your health, and you will be glad abotu it. And as for your age, my kendo club has had someone roughly around that age join and he's still going on strong! (note; he joined roughly around March 'o8 and has participated in most of the lessons that we've had since then.) So it's not all about yoru age, but also your willpower & determination.

    2. I'm not the best person to answer this, so if any of the sempai here on the forums can answer this question, don't hestitate ^^

    3. Initially, you won't spend anything besides the fee for the hall hire/whatever. Depending on whether you want to continue on with kendo (which hopefully you will if you decide to pick it up) then you'll spend ~$55USD on the Hakama & Keikogi (uniform: http://onlinekendo.com/product.php?n..._Set&proid=102) & $25USD on a standard shinai (Bamboo Sword: http://onlinekendo.com/product.php?n...Sword&proid=22). Later on, you'll get into bogu if your sensei would deem you able to wear bogu. Beginner bogu sets would cost around ~$400 for a really cheap one. Price grows as the quality you want increases, and also exponentially increases if you want it to be handstitched.

    4. Make sure the dojo that you join is AUSKF registered (All United States Kendo Federation). http://www.auskf.info/
    http://www.auskf.info/dojo/dojolist.htm <-- Dojo Listing of all the registered Kendo dojos in the US. What this does, is that it ensures that you don't join up in a backyard-ninja dojo/a dojo that wants to profit from members joining. Typically, the instructors/sensei do not get paid for teaching the students. The membership fee goes towards hiring of the hall/dojo, new equipment for the new beginners, etc.

    5. I'm still a newbie and I have lots of things I want to know, but where's the fun in letting everyone tell you about it? Experience it for yourself, as the journey is far more important than the goal/finish.

    Hope I was of some help and I hope that you try kendo out!

    Comment


    • #3
      Welcome!

      I'm a complete newbie, so I cannot provide you a lot of information on your questions, but I can relate my experiences up to now. Please keep in mind that I've only been doing this for a few months!

      1. - Yes. I was very concerned about this, also. I've gotten the impression from these forums that kendo is a lifetime practice, it is never too late to start. I'm in my early 30s, but I have decades of bad habits and an unhealthy lifestyle with no athletic experience. This has been a challenge -- my mind understands concepts and my body refuses to cooperate. However, while a bit frustrating, it hasn't discouraged me at all. I typically remind myself that I have a slighter higher barrier to learning Kendo, but that my motivation, spirit, and determination is what matters.

      2. - I'm not sure it is quantifiable. Even at my very meager experience level, I can begin to see, yet not describe, it. Perhaps a large part of it is unique to the individual. What are you looking for?

      3. - It varies depending on the dojo you attend, fees, etc, When you select a place to train, you should get a lot more information on what is expected of you, and how soon. Some places require monthly fees, and others are nonprofits with small membership fees. As such, some will want you to buy a uniform the first few weeks and others will want you to wait until you've practiced a few months. There's a broad price range in options for equipment, so much of that depends on your budget. You shouldn't have to pay too much upfront to try out the class and see if it is something you'd like to pursue.

      4. - Others are much more qualified to answer this one -- just make sure you check the official lists and find an affiliated dojo. If there is more than one near you, the best thing to do is contact them, visit a class, and see if you feel comfortable.

      5. - I did a lot of research going into it -- include a few months of purely lurking on these forums. I never tried to understand technique or prepractice (just a bad idea in general), but I definitely read up on history, culture, etc. As much as I understood it was going to be challenging and rewarding, nothing was better preparation than just actually going. You'll read it a lot here... the first battle is just going through the dojo doors. As much as I hate sounding like a nike ad, if you are interested, just sign up for a beginner's class and do it.

      I'm not sure if this helps, as I'm so green! You should get some great feedback here, so you've come to the right place.

      So what sparked your interest in Kendo?

      ~ Hexi

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Margali View Post
        Hello everyone,

        I'm Margali. I'm 47, female, and live in Denver Colorado, USA.
        I have a few questions about kendo:

        1 I'm not in very good shape, and given my age, is this an activity I could participate in?
        Yes you can participate in Kendo. Just listen to your body. Your not going to be able to keep up with the 21yr old guys, but don't worry. Not been in good shape isn't an issue, if you train regually you will soon be able to drop the "not".

        Originally posted by Margali;
        2 I'm curious about the mental/spiritual side of kendo. Would anyone care to comment on that aspect of the sport?
        Kendo requires alot of mental discipline.
        I would not say it is spiritual however if you are that way inclinded it will likely help people with mediation and such activities.
        There is a sports aspect of kendo however it is not (should not) be the be all and end all of kendo.

        Originally posted by Margali;
        3 How much should I expect to spend on equipment and training?
        Varies from club to club. Most are run not run as a business (primary income) however so training costs are usually just to cover expenses.
        Beginners are usually not expected to suppry thier own gear, however t does vary.

        Originally posted by Margali;
        4 Any advice on things to look for in an instructor? (Or any things to avoid?)
        Try and join a club that is part of the National and international kendo body.
        These guys: All United States Kendo Federation
        If you find a club who is not a member, you may want to do some more homework into them.

        Originally posted by Margali;
        5 Anything else you wish you'd known when you were a complete newbie?
        My only recommendation is if your curious try it. If you don't like it that's fine, if you do that great.
        Most people on this forum love their kendo so usually the only thing they wish they had know as a newbie was that the found out/started sooner.


        Originally posted by Margali;
        Thanks in advance,
        Margali
        NP

        Comment


        • #5
          Hows that 3 people with exactly the same answer....

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Martino View Post
            Hows that 3 people with exactly the same answer....
            Not totally exact . But yeah, it's almost the same thing. ahah

            Comment


            • #7
              Here is the direct link to the AUSKF affiliated dojos in CO. A couple of those listed have websites and they all have contact info so call/email around and see what kinda responses you get. Some dojos have specific starting periods when they take in beginners so ask about that too. You might have to wait a few weeks before you can start.

              I agree with pretty much what everyone else has said otherwise. If you're curious, please just give kendo a try. Typically, beginner classes aren't very demanding anyway so your health shouldn't really be an issue, unless it's so bad that even light exercise could be dangerous. I suppose the responsible thing to say is "ask your doctor."

              I started at 39 and I definitely wish I had started sooner.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Margali View Post
                Hello everyone,

                I'm Margali. I'm 47, female, and live in Denver Colorado, USA.
                I have a few questions about kendo:

                1 I'm not in very good shape, and given my age, is this an activity I could participate in?

                2 I'm curious about the mental/spiritual side of kendo. Would anyone care to comment on that aspect of the sport?

                3 How much should I expect to spend on equipment and training?

                4 Any advice on things to look for in an instructor? (Or any things to avoid?)

                5 Anything else you wish you'd known when you were a complete newbie?

                Thanks in advance,
                Margali
                2. Spiritual? Maybe, later in your Kendo career, you might one day have a spiritual experience. Mental? Definitely. you don't have to be training for long to realize how much Kendo depends on your mental state and attitude as well as the one's mental status you are facing. Fortunately, there are tons of articles you can read about it. Unfortunately, unless you have been in Kendo for a while, it may not make much sense. Hope this helps.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Religious!

                  Getting hit on the head for quite some time repeatedly has been known to produce religious experiences. I'm sure that all the advanced kenshi here can attest this.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Fonsz View Post
                    Getting hit on the head for quite some time repeatedly has been known to produce religious experiences. I'm sure that all the advanced kenshi here can attest this.
                    Really?

                    'Cause all I got was a lousy T-shirt.



                    Oh, and a brain tumor.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'll only take a stab at the first question by saying we just recently picked up two, brand-new 40something females in our class...

                      At this point, I would say it will take them a little longer to get to where they need to be in order to fully participate in class, but this has more to do with their age and not their gender. To me, one appears to be a pretty quiet mom-type and the other appears to be more physical/gung-ho (perhaps a marine drill instructor in a past life)... but regardless of this, they both seem to be progressing at the same rate. It's rather curious to me...

                      I'm really quite thrilled right now that we have about 12 or so brand-newbies, ranging in age from about 10 through mid-40s, with a good mix of males/females (maybe 1/3rd are female).. We just got two more girls in their early 20s into bogu, so, I think that's really great encouragement to the new women in class.

                      I'd be overjoyed if we could keep 4 or 5 over the long haul, but that might be a bit overzealous.. we'll see. I think it's easier for folks to stick with it when they've got a newbie-buddy of sorts...

                      Just go for it... try it out... if you like it, just keep showing up.. if you don't, just don't show up anymore.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Margali View Post
                        1 I'm not in very good shape, and given my age, is this an activity I could participate in?
                        Definitely, although if you haven't done anything physical in a long time it's a good idea to check with your doctor. For sure there is a fairly slow buildup to any rigorous activity.
                        2 I'm curious about the mental/spiritual side of kendo. Would anyone care to comment on that aspect of the sport?
                        Most dojo don't train that explicitly but rather you gain that benefit from overcoming your own obstacles as you train. Despite being uniform on the surface, learning kendo is an individual experience. Your journey as an older beginner will be different from that of someone with his eyes on a national team spot, but no less valid.
                        3 How much should I expect to spend on equipment and training?
                        Others have given you some ballpark prices. In your first year, expect to spend $600 minimum on equipment, but typically much less on instruction than other martial arts.
                        4 Any advice on things to look for in an instructor? (Or any things to avoid?)
                        Use the AUSKF website to locate dojos, then call/write and ask to visit. Watch an entire class, and decide for yourself if this is an atmosphere that you want to spend significant time in.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          For what it's worth, I'd say our newbies probably spend something like this their 1st year...
                          $20/mo. x 12mos. = $240 (club monthly dues)
                          shinai and bokken = roughly $55
                          hakama and keikogi (after about 3 mos. or so in class) = $100-150

                          So.. $450 to $500 first year... yeah... I guess Neil's stab at about $600 might be on target, but speaking only for our own club and what I tend to see as the average, our folks wouldn't normally spend $600 on equipment...

                          In the first year, it's also possible to be looking at bogu. For our club, that normally doesn't happen until about the second year.. in some places, you'll be able to rent club bogu (in year 1, as well), so.. that will add to year 1 costs of course, but not too terribly much I think.. if you wind up buying bogu in year 1, just tack on another $350-$450ish...

                          By and large, kendo seems to have moments where you'll spend a chunk of change all at once and then relatively much less at other times.. In the long run, I've found kendo to be incredibly less expensive than your typical karate and taekwondo schools.
                          Last edited by tango; 5th December 2008, 08:24 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Welcome to the Forum, Margali-san!

                            It's great to see another 40-something starting Kendo! I was just shy of 48 when I started back in February of this year. The first MONTH was "OMG, I ache in places I didn't know existed!!!" Afterwards it was manageable and enjoyable.

                            I'm not going to add to what the sensei and sempai have written to you ahead of my post because they have all given you great information. However, I'll add that if you like to read, I can recommend two good books: "Kendo: The Definitive Guide" and "Kendo: Elements, Rules & Philosophy". Both are available on Amazon.com. Please remember that these and any books on Kendo/martial arts are NOT to be considered a substitute for sensei and proper in-dojo instruction; but for essential background information, these books are quite unmatched in their attention to detail and amount of illustrations.

                            In the spirit of Kendo, I wish you all the best and "Ganbare!!" ("Go For It!!!")

                            Mark
                            Last edited by Maku-san; 5th December 2008, 08:42 AM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by tango View Post
                              I guess Neil's stab at about $600 might be on target
                              That includes bogu, so that's on the low end for shinai, dogi and bogu.

                              Comment

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