Kendo is a fascinating martial art, especially for people who are into Samurai and Japanese swordsmanship. It is descended from the ancient art of kenjutsu and is practiced in many countries around the world. While it may not be well-known as other Japanese martial arts like judo or karate-do, kendo continues to mould students from around the world into the way of the sword. Here are some of the things you learn as a beginner from a novice’s perspective.
Respect is everything. One of the first things you learn about kendo is the concept of rei which refers to the manners and etiquette that encompasses this Japanese martial art. Respect is deeply-embedded in kendo and applies to everyone every single time.
Prepare to suffer. This is not something meant to scare you. But rather, it is more like a realistic take on what you can expect as you begin the journey. Suffering can take on many forms — it could be physical, mental, or emotional depending on how you approach the training. It is challenging, tiring, and takes a lot of focus if you want to get better.
Simple is never easy. As a beginner, you practice what seem like fairly simple techniques. But it becomes a whole different story once you try to hold the shinai or bamboo sword as properly as you can and start performing the drills on your own. It may look simple, but it would be far from easy especially during your first weeks as a practitioner.
The right mindset is important. Most kendo practices last for almost 2 hours. And break times, if any, may vary depending on the dojo. It can get tiring over time that you may be tempted to stop and take a rest even when others are keeping at it. This is where your mindset kicks in. You either push yourself to carry on regardless of how tired you already feel or you can stop for a rest and not find out how far you can still go.