I try and be supportive of the school clubs and have made a few outings already to support the boys and girls handball teams. At long last, one of my free weekends lined up with a kendo tournament so I made sure to go check it out. Kendo is my middle school’s smallest club with only four members. The two boys and two girls spend their time each day after school smacking each other in the head with bamboo rods. I suppose that I can understand why people might not be so drawn to the sport, but it is our only traditional Japanese club offered to our students. I had attended practice a number of times when I was a student studying abroad, but never got anywhere near a point where I would compete, so I was curious to see what that looked like.
A rather uninteresting photo of the gymnasium. 1 on 1 matches with 3 judges per match.
Kendo is a Japanese martial art that translates to ‘the way of the sword’. The bamboo rods are treated as if a real katana, and have marked blade and backsides. To win a bout, one has to shout, stomp their lead foot and also land a blow to one of a couple vital locations, twice. These include the torso, head and hands. For the older age groups though the neck is also a valid target, but due to the risk of injury this isn’t yet permitted at this age group.
I went over there with Ryan and he managed to locate a few of his students as well. It was good to get there and I probably earned a few brownie points just for showing up; both of my students and their coach were certainly surprised to see me at least. After about a half hour we took off, my students had finished their finished their matches and had only to wait around a few hours for the end of tourny. I wouldn’t mind stopping by some time again, since I’d like to see the girls compete as well. All that is left in order for me to complete my rounds of the clubs would be an outing to the table tennis and brass band club competitions.
Here you can see their protective gear. Pretty cool, but notoriously smelly in the summer.