My very first time in a Kendo dojo will occur in less than 1 week.
I’ve known about Kendo for a while. Being a fan of Japanese culture it’s hard to avoid and my fascination with swords and sword fighting goes back a long time. It most likely started when I was 3 or 4 and my favorite film at the time was Disney’s Sword and the Stone, which, if we’re being honest, I was more interested in the magic of Merlin than Arthur or his ability to pull a sword out of a hunk a rock.
The biggest push into swordplay came when I fist saw the original Star Wars trilogy when I was in middle school. Magic and swords but just any regular swords, laser swords?? Count me in! The style of their fighting also intrigued me. It didn’t resemble anything I’ve seen in other films like Robin Hood or other European/English knight style fencing. No hacking and slashing, no brute strength broadsword bashing. There was poise, precision, calculation and seemingly mutual respect between fighter and foe. Much later I would discover that Kendo served as an inspiration for the fighting style of the Jedi.
Kendo is not my first foray in the martial arts. About 8 years ago I started learning Taijiquan also known as Tai Chi Chuan or simply Tai Chi. Taijiquan is a Chinese martial art of the internal style, meaning the energy comes not from your muscles but from the alignment of your body and the ability to redirect your attacker’s energy and use it against him. Most people think of it today as something old people do in the park, but when trained properly and with the right teacher it can be one of the most effective martial arts there is. I had to stop direct training in Taijiquan because I moved from Washington, DC to Chicago for graduate school. I recently moved back to Maryland, but much too far from DC to return to Taiji training. I looked for an alternative and in my investigation of various martial arts dojo’s in the area I turned up a dojo dedicated to Kendo – the Japanese way of the sword.
And so after contacting the dojo for more information I shall begin my journey in 2 days time. This blog will serve as my travel diary and lesson log for this quest of Kendo. I hope it will serve to inspire others and give them a reasonable picture of what to expect along their journey should they chose to pursue one. And if any more experienced kendoka read this, I look forward to their guidance. Let us begin…