View Full Version : Considering Kendo-japanese fencing class

January 18, 2007, 09:01 PM
to sort of round out my training experience. Now I don't plan on walking around town with a Samurai sword, but it looks like fun and could help me develop reflexes and help get me in shape. I know it's not gun related, but I think that's legal in this forum. I guess I'd like to know if anyone is familiar with kendo-japanese style fencing and if you think it would be valuable. It's an introductory class, 24 1-hour classes for $76 and purchase of a practice bamboo sword is required. They offer one for $30.
I'm overweight and 50 but feel limber and 30.

January 18, 2007, 10:17 PM
Kendo is a fun and actually quite complex sport but a more practical source of cqb hand to hand would be Knife combat utilizing a philipino grip. (doesn't matter what style you use the philipino has advantages over reverse and saber grip) Usually any martial arts school has an armed HH course. There is a Tai Kwon Do school that has a philipino knife class on sundays but I have yet to find time to resume studies.

BTW the reverse or ice pick grip is more of a defensive grip and allows for more less lethal disarms and holds (looks good in court cases)

But the biggest principle for this sort of thing is to avoid it at all costs. You probably already know this but force is only a last resort. But if it comes to violence: and I quote "Better to be tried by twelve than carried by 6"

January 18, 2007, 10:41 PM
At 50, I would recommend one of the softer martial arts. Tae Kwon Do is very rough on the joints (especially the knees). If you are pretty quick, you could go for aikido or maybe even Judo. The arts that involve a lot of strikes are going to take a toll on your body (even if you feel young).

As for knife fighting arts, I would love to learn one. I would still prefer to bring a gun to a knife fight rather than bring a knife to gun fight. Its best not to tangle knife to knife with an unknown advesary.

January 18, 2007, 10:54 PM
I don't plan on taking Tae Kwon Do, however, I have taken some Wing Chun and learned a lot from that. That's why Kendo appealed to me, as I understand it they are both a "relaxed" fighting sport. They teach calm while under great pressure. Something valuable when applying a gun to self defense. I've never had trouble with my joints, I get shin splints when I jog sometimes.

January 19, 2007, 02:03 AM
I have heard of traditional British quarterstaffing clubs. Like Robin Hood vs Little John style. Knock the other guy over or off a log or whatever.

January 19, 2007, 09:56 AM
I've been training in the art of the samurai sword for nearly a decade. What do you want to know?

I think it's great that you want to begin your training! You are absolutely correct in your assumptions. Yes, kendo is great exercise. Yes, it will strengthen your reflex-twitch muscle groups (quicken your reflexes). Yes, it is an excellent way to cross-train your combat skills. Yes, it will teach you to quiet your mind, allowing you to remain calm under the most intense of situations.

A few warnings about the samurai sword:

1. Manage your time wisely. Training with the samurai sword is more addictive than chicken-fried crack! It's incredibly fun! It's easy to lose yourself in your training.

2. Samurai sword fighting is like golf: you can spend as MUCH or as LITTLE as you WANT to on your gear. You may be tempted to run right out and buy the $200 "super-grade" outfit, the $500 bogu, and have a $7,000 sword commissioned. As a beginner, DON'T! There's no need. Collect your gear as you go, and start simply.

3. (And, this one should have been #1.) CROSS-TRAIN!!! "Kendo" is fencing. "Iaido" is form work. "Iaijutsu" is combat techniques. "Tameshigiri" is cutting practice. To be a well-rounded samurai, you need to be PROFICIENT at ALL forms of swordsmanship. If your dojo insists on devotion to only one of these, you need to find a new class.

4. Age is IRRELEVANT!!! My instructor is in his 60's. His instructor lived to his late 90's, practicing Iaido every day until about a week before he died. I've got a guy in his late 50's in my class. He joined up about 4 years ago, and he just tested for his black belt. He's one of our best students. You can do this; you don't need to be 20 to start.

Let me know how it goes! Good luck, and welcome to a wonderful art!

January 19, 2007, 10:12 AM
While not having the "Kill Bill" appeal of Kendo I can also reccomend Western Style Fencing to achieve what you are looking for. I am 36 and have fenced for 10 years now. The oldest gentleman I have fenced in competition was 78 and he was still great. It is a spot that can carry you through your life and has the dame addictive quality people here describe of Kendo.

There are far more fencing schools around than most people realize and Veterans Fencing (40+) is a rapidly growing segment of the sport with its own regional and national tournaments.

January 19, 2007, 11:21 AM
Well, Musketeer, I don't think I mentioned dames, initially. But, yes, the dames are nice, too.:D :p :D

+1 for inadvertent puns through typographical errors!!!

January 19, 2007, 03:46 PM
Them swords are addictive too, my friend has some that were brought back home after ww2, still sharp, well balanced and well made. He has one that is supposed to be very old, a sword handed down from father to son. Very nice inlay work on it.

I like Judo, teaches you how to fall down without getting hurt, a thing I need these days :)

January 19, 2007, 06:54 PM
I've thought about Judo, too... I've fallen down a lot, but never seem to get hurt. I figured it was from football and wrestling experiences from high school.

I'll certainly look around for other martial arts and defense training with and without weapons. This class, as I stated earlier, is an introductory class offered from Univ of Texas called Informal Classes. If it catches my interest and is reasonably priced, I'll sign up for more. Otherwise, I'll try something else.

January 19, 2007, 07:24 PM
A thing to think about is how most un-armed fights end up. On the ground. thats why i take jujitsu. Most people who don't know how to fight have a tendancy to end up tackling each other and are on the ground. Also I like balance. Thats why I take a good stand up, striking art Muay Thai. It is such a powerful art.

January 19, 2007, 08:08 PM
I took escrima (Philipino knife technique) lessons for a few months a few years ago. It was immense fun, and while I know I'm not ready for the Mexican Prison Nationals, I do have some idea how to use a knife as a weapon, which is more than most people know. The idea of a knife duel is utterly terrifying, but the idea is to use the equivalent of a sucker punch with a blade. He shouldn't know he has been cut or stabbed until he sees the blood from multiple wounds.

January 19, 2007, 08:40 PM
Don't take judo, at your age and condition, it is easy to get seriously injured.

How do I know? I've studied judo for over 15 years and have a 2nd degree black belt. I also competed at collegiate level. End result? -I've been dumped on my neck/head over 200,000 times and no longer have full rotation of my neck, and I have constant neck and back pains. At least my knees and joints are fine (usually).

Real judo creates the same injuries as suffered by professional football players. Lots and lots of permanent back injuries.

If you want something full contact, try Aikido, which is MUCH MUCH softer and may be more useful on the street.
Or take kendo, you will find this is a lot harder than you think, it'll also help with upper body flexibility.

January 19, 2007, 10:19 PM
I do have some idea how to use a knife as a weapon, which is more than most people know.

A very handy, very wise skill. A knife in a skilled hand is quite scary.

January 20, 2007, 08:51 AM
About Aikido: "It is an art that teaches you to fall gracefully, unless you don't know how to uki and end up with your wrist shattered" - Some random Martial Artist

January 20, 2007, 11:25 AM
cgbills +1 on the suggestion for combining jujitsu and muay thai, they are arguably the best combo for a well balanced and feirce fighter.

January 20, 2007, 02:32 PM
I think studying the sword helps developing consciousness, that's not actually reflexes, but rather an attitude of the mind. I study European swords, but I'm positive Kendo has the same, if not more, benefits.


January 20, 2007, 02:40 PM
"A knife in a skilled hand is quite scary."
The instructional video by Mike Inay will send chills down your spine. A skilled knife man can inflict several mortal wounds in a few seconds (not saying I have that level of skill). The cops say always investigate a stabbing carefully, because it may turn into a murder case. There is a police instructional video called "Surviving Edged Weapons" that after seeing it will forever keep you from taking a knife as anything less than the deadly threat it is.

January 20, 2007, 06:37 PM
I had the opportunity to study in Japan while I was in the service. Althought I could have taken the sword, I saw a demonstation by the Japanese Police using the stick.

It was quite impressive. So, took up the study of stick fighting. Using a small stick (cane) can be most destructive. I also liked the fact that I could go anywhere in the world and obtain a hiking/walking stick.

Ka Kusha Ryu (sic) was the style in Japan that I took. I am now in my 50's, but can still use a stick with great efficency.

January 20, 2007, 08:18 PM
Kendo is a great sport that holds a place of distinction in Asian martial arts.

As a means of armed combat, it suffers from numerous deficiencies, beginning with its reliance on cutting blows (http://larvatus.livejournal.com/101653.html). Historically, the far more effective thrust has been marginalized by the ceremonial aspects of the Japanese sword culture, and discouraged for reasons of safety in athletic competition. Comparative aspects of sword performance are well analyzed in this article (http://swordforum.com/summer99/kat-vs-rap.html).

January 20, 2007, 08:40 PM
06nop, my father has been a kendo instructor for a long time. He's in his 60s and beats the hell out of 20 somethings. A few things:
1) You'll be sore if you haven't done anything physical for a while. But that soreness will go away, like all physical activities
2) Your hands will get blistered up from the contiuous exercises. See point #1
3) The bamboo swords, (shinai), will only last for so long. If you stick with it, you'll go through many, sometimes a couple in one session.
4) As was wisely mentioned, it can be expensive if you want it to be. Wait for a while before buying into the gear.
5) Check out different instructors. Some are more into the ceremony and art, while others stress more of the technique. Some, are equal.

My father is still very good friends with all of his students. It is a very small community that creates everlasting comrades.

January 21, 2007, 02:27 PM
Can't say too much about kendo, insofar not a discipline which I've studied. In reference to European/Renn. fencing, obviously it would have some of the same benefits insofar as fitness and quickness as the Japanese traditions. Albeit, with a somewhat different intent due to different martial cultures and implements. The suggestion of studying multiple weapons, is a good one. Obviously, the need or opportunity to be armed with a sword, are very limited in our society.
However, these systems did interelate, so some aspects would be relevent in modern applications. For example, in Renn. fencing, many of the gaurds and thrusts for a longsword/bastard sword are also used with the staff. And obviously study of dagger (warding included) would be very relevant.
About the staff people at fairs, they can be a little misleading about the actual use of European staff. Their techniques have been modified for theatre, or necessarily so for safety. In it's original context the staff was used very differently, and was quite effective (and very lethal, it wasn't uncommon for swordsmen to lose to staff fighters).
Whatever you chose to study, initially take it slow. Too often people start flourishing a sharp or a waster about, without learning control, and bad things happen.
Interestingly enough, however, it seems there may be a practical resurgance in the study of sword, staff, and what have you. Simply because, in many places in the US (and elsewhere) the mere possession of a firearm is becoming problematic. In future, some may realize the need for home defense, and have to meet it using the implements of their distant ancestors. Ironic, our 'betters' may end up with a social recycling of older martial traditions...because of a denial of a modern on

January 21, 2007, 09:52 PM
Any time you learn something it is beneficial. Maybe not in the way you want, but I fail to see how learning Kendo would be detrimental.

Aikido is also a very good martial art to practice, it is basically a very specialized form of jiujitsu.

Good luck!


January 22, 2007, 12:41 AM
Good points all, and the study of any martial tradition, when done well...does help in keeping the hoplophobes at bay. Usually their tactic is to spotlight the irresponsible and idiotic.
Wierdly enough, there does seem to be a resurgence in fencing (be it WMA or of the East) to the level that in the east there are schools for teaching children these arts.
Mayhaps not in as pure of a manner as many would prefer, but nonetheless it's as much the fact its happening. Perhaps with that, and rising adult interest...the blade arts in this country won't be subject to what's happened elsewhere

January 22, 2007, 07:30 AM
faraway wrote: Mayhaps not in as pure of a manner as many would prefer...

If you're interested in the old way of fencing, maybe you can make a trip to the University of Burgundy for our annual event. Soon the details will be avaliable here (http://www.hemac.org/). Last year event (http://perso.orange.fr/fcognot/2006/), to which I could not partecipate (I'm doing the same lecture this year).


January 22, 2007, 08:37 AM
I've never studied Kendo so can't be of any real help there, but I will say that any form of martial arts training will help you with your conditioning and overall health and I commend you for pursuing this. I'll also suggest (along with others previously posted) that you also look into martial systems that are more practical for the realities of modern life. Also it doesn't hurt to cross train with friends who study other systems. When we get too deeply into one particular art we tend to expect that everyone we encounter will fight exactly as we do. Not true I tell you, not true. Getting a broader experience with multiple systems that combines striking, grappling, and edged and impact weapons can be helpful.

January 22, 2007, 10:24 AM
If you want something full contact, try Aikido, which is MUCH MUCH softer and may be more useful on the street.

I don't know where you take your Aikido classes, but I'd like to try it! Each and every Aikido class I've attended has KICKED MY BUTT, and I've been sore for days afterward. (Perhaps I should work on my rolls and break falls, no?) In any case, I wouldn't discredit the harshness of an Aikido class. Those guys take a beating just as much as the others.

... except Jujitsu people. Those guys are crazy. Too much some self-abuse for my taste!

January 22, 2007, 05:29 PM
It is good training. I try it myself and who knows one day you will have to face off with a guy swinging sword at you on the street. What can you do in that case? If you don't have the training before hand, you don't know for sure. And most important of all, it's fun.

January 22, 2007, 07:50 PM
I think I've decided to go with Aikido after checking out all the posts. I'll put Kendo on hold depending on how I take to Aikido.

I really appreciate everybody's feedback on this and I'll let you know how classes go.

January 22, 2007, 08:02 PM
Looks interesting. HEMAC appears to be somewhat equivalent in manner to the ARMA contingent here in the US.
Now...if I can figure out a way for my institution to pay the airfare to France.....

January 22, 2007, 08:34 PM
faraway, some hemac members are also arma members (in Polland). Hemac is more an association of reserachers and study groups, we have no common syllabus or field of study. Our individual interests range from the early middle ages German sword and buckler to smallsword fencing.
I hope to see you there.


January 24, 2007, 04:58 PM
I also competed at collegiate level.

I mentioned Judo cause I belive it is a first step into martial arts. Judo does have "kill moves" as you may know if not drop by and I can show you a few taught to me years ago. I never used it for anything other than knowing how to be knoked down and get up fast type of moves. It also helped me in wresteling in high school in the 70s.

I once saw an 80something guy break a bunch of solid oak doors, shin duk soon I think his name was a 9th degree black belt in tae kwon do. He stomped his foot in the auditorium and it could be felt in every chair, impressive to say the least.

Martial arts is all technique, learn it practise it you may be OK at it.

My martial arts instructor once told me a good street fighter is hard to beat, seeing my brother in action, I agree :)

Don Gwinn
January 24, 2007, 08:17 PM
Wow. . . . what a thread. Aikido? Full contact?

I may get into some trouble for this, but I would say that if you just want to have some fun, learn to breakfall, and basically mess around while doing something athletic (such as Kendo) then Aikido might be for you. If you want to do something "full contact," then what you're really looking for might be what's called "aliveness." Aliveness means training in such a manner that you eventually apply as many of your techniques against a fully resisting opponent as possible. Aikido dojos generally do not do this. Ironically, Kendo, while it might not hurt as much as Aikido, would probably be much more satisfying for a lot of people since, within its ruleset, it's trained "alive." You will certainly drill and practice a lot in Kendo, but sooner or later, two Kendoka will square off to use their techniques without a predetermined winner and loser who have to play their assigned roles.
Aikido almost never does this, aside from the Tomiki competitions.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai are wonderful arts, but it doesn't sound like the original poster is really very interested in either, so I won't spend much time advocating either. I will say that if Judo (a very "alive" and effective art) is too rough, then Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a good choice simply because Judo has actually gotten "rougher" in some ways since WWII. Before WWII, Judo was a fairly equal mix of throws and submissions, and some schools relied heavily on ground fighting. That's the Judo that Maeda taught to the Gracies in Brazil, and they further specialized in the ground submissions. In Japan, meanwhile, WWII happened, and afterward martial arts were forbidden. Judo passed muster because the Kodokan made the decision to sell it as a sport, which in their case meant going after the Olympics in a big way. That led directly to emphasizing spectacular takedowns more and more, while minimizing groundfighting and submissions. Today most Judo schools and most BJJ schools have similar curricula, but they emphasis is opposite. Judo teaches people to be experts in throwing and being thrown who can also grapple. BJJ generally teaches people to be expert grapplers who can perform takedowns. . . . but aren't on the level of a Judoka or a wrestler. Basically, BJJ is just old Judo, while most Judo is "new Judo." BJJ is actually pretty gentle stuff.

January 24, 2007, 11:06 PM
Wow. . . . what a thread

I agree, I never thought my post would get this much results. I've read about disciplines I've never heard of, did anyone mention Copoeira? Got some Martial Arts history lessons too! All valuable info, Thanks everyone!

What it gets down to is that there was an offering of some really reasonably priced intro classes and am looking just to have a little fun and increase my ability to defend myself, and maybe improve my conditioning. I ended up taking Aikido. I attended my first class last night and enjoyed it. looks like I'll benefit from it a lot. If I fall a little, get bruised up or sore, well, I expect that. Just looking to pick up a few techniques.

February 7, 2007, 01:54 PM
A quick note:

hemac annual event of 2007 (http://www.hemac-dijon.com/2007/engg.htm)

I hope to see some of you there :)

February 7, 2007, 02:16 PM
I'm sorry "Samurai"... I know this doesn't pertain to anything on the subject, but what in the **** is a "reflex-twitch muscle group"? If kinesiology isn't your thing, then please, for the love of all things muscle-related, stay away from it, and try not to make things up to make kendo sound more attractive.

February 7, 2007, 02:36 PM
A misnomer of the phrase "fast-twitch muscle fibers." These are the muscle fibers that help you move quickly. Kendo builds these. I was typing in a hurry, and couldn't immediately remember what they were called. Sue me.

Vince13, is this why you've resurrected this thread? To crack on my sports-physiology vocabulary? I notice you haven't posted in this thread before... Do you have anything USEFUL to say?:rolleyes:

February 7, 2007, 05:15 PM
who knows one day you will have to face off with a guy swinging sword at you on the street.

In the early 1970s at McMillion Jr High a riot broke out a lady flew out of her car with a sword and was trying to cut up some dudes that were on her kid. Only time I ever saw that. Cops got it away from her and arrested her along with the kids that were rioting. Those were bad days to walk alone at night.

Your post made me think of Indiana Jones when the crowd parted and the guy had a sword. He shot him and moved on :) I loved that scene :)

If it happened to me? I think I could out run him. I would try anyways :) if not a rock close to hand may deter him :) I throw real good.

As a boy, I carried a sling shot and steel ball bearings, it was enough to kill a large dog that tried to bite me once.

February 7, 2007, 06:38 PM
I didn't ressurect it, it was already at the top, that's how I noticed it.

And yes I do have something usefull to say. I studied kendo and iado for 2 years, I know not the longest time, but I had my share of competitions(kendo only), and it is very fun, expecially if you're into that kind of culture. It's good for the body and mind.