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Butokukan Kendo Dojo
Kendo F.A.Q.
Official Eikoku Kendo Renmei Website


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BUTOKUKAN KENDO DOJO F.A.Q.

Please note that these answers to beginners' questions relate to Kendo as practised at The Butokukan Kendo Dojo and may not be the same for other dojos. Also these notes have been prepared by a humble sempai, and any errors are entirely my own. For more authoritative information, please visit The Official Eikoku Kendo Renmei.


1. What is Kendo?

Kendo is Japanese fencing: 'ken-do' meaning the 'way of the sword'.

2. How much does it cost to take up Kendo?

To begin costs about £220.

3. Can women practise Kendo?

Yes.

4. Can children practise Kendo?

Yes.

5. Is Kendo dangerous?

No.

6. How long does it take to reach 1st Dan?

About 2 years.

7. Are there different types of Kendo?

The emphasis varies between sports and traditional Kendo, but modern Kendo is more or less the same all over the world.

8. Does the Butokukan Dojo also teach Iai?

Yes, yudansha may be invited to study Iai.

9. When and where do you train?

Wednesday and Friday evenings in Brighton and Lewes.

10. How do I start?

Telephone Sensei Roald Knutsen on 01273 477959.

 

LONGER ANSWERS

1. What is Kendo?

Kendo (meaning 'the way of the sword' in Japanese) is the martial system which was created out of the sword techniques used by the samurai warriors of feudal Japan. Today kendoka (students of Kendo) use shinai (bamboo swords) to strike the head, wrist or body which are protected by men, kote and do (mask, gloves and body-armour) while making kiai (cries expressing spirit). Bokken (wooden swords) are also used to practise Kendo kata (formal sequence of techniques) and some students may also progress to study Iai (the art of drawing the sword) using katana.


In traditional Kendo, it is expected that at all times kendoka must observe rules of correct behaviour and it is often said that Kendo begins and ends with this observance, known as reigi.

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2. How much does it cost to start Kendo?

The training itself is inexpensive relative to some other martial ways, since in traditional Kendo, no money changes hands for the teaching.


You only pay your share of the actual running costs of the dojo, which is insurance and hall rental, and works out at approximately £60 per quarter plus an annual renmei fee of about £45. Concessionary rates and a reduction for paying annually are available.


After watching a session, if you want to start you are expected to (indeed you must) pay for your own clothing - hakama and keikogi - which comes to about £75 and your first shinai, which is about £40. It is expected that you will buy your shinai via the dojo, as we import good quality shinai from Japan, and while cheaper ones may be obtainable elsewhere they may endanger other people and so not be allowed in the dojo. A shinai may last up to a year.


After about 6-9 months, you will need to go into armour (men, do and kote - mask, body-armour and gloves). The dojo has a number of new and second-hand armours which can be bought outright, on hire/purchase or rented. (As of October 2013 the hire rate is 30 per quarter). For visiting kendoka and resident mudansha (non-dan ranked students) the armour can usually be borrowed from the dojo, subject to demand. At around first dan level, students are usually expected to buy their own. The cost of armour starts at a few hundred pounds and goes up to whatever you can afford, the cost being very variable and dependent on the exchange rate and other fluctuations in the state of the Japanese/world economy.


So, all-in-all your initial start-up costs (1st quarter's dojo and annual renmei fee, clothing and shinai) come to about £220. After your initial outlay the ongoing cost (including a replacement shinai every 12 months, hire of bogu and reduction for paying fees annually) will come to around £360 (or £290 at the concessionary rate) per year.


PLEASE NOTE: All the costs quoted here are/were more or less accurate at last time I updated this page (October 2013) and are subject to change. Please do not complain if the prices here differ from the prices you are quoted when you come to the dojo - as well as showing a lack of awareness this is bad reigi. Nonetheless, regardless of any price rises, the first sentance of this answer will remain true - that traditional Kendo is a relatively inexpensive martial way to study, since no money changes hands for the teaching.

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3. Can women practise Kendo?

Although Kendo is a full-contact activity requiring explosive physical exertion which can appear highly aggressive, it does not generally attract or retain those who wish to acquire street-fighting skills. Consequently the atmosphere in the dojo is at all times respectful towards every member and is welcoming to all. In fact some men may find it intimidating that two of the most experienced and formidable members of the dojo are women.


Unlike some other martial ways, at the higher levels Kendo is more dependent on timing and accuracy than strength, and therefore it is very suitable for women and/or anyone of a smaller build. (I, myself, am 2 inches less than an average man's height).


So the answer is, yes, of course women can and do practise - very effectively - and women are welcome in our dojo.

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4. Can children practise Kendo?

In feudal Japan, children of the samurai class would wear twin swords and learn swordsmanship from the age of five, and this is still considered the ideal age at which to begin Kendo. The Butokukan has taught Kendo at Junior level for many years, our youngest ever member being just four years old. Although it is less intense than the adult training, the methods of teaching Junior Kendo within the Butokukan are firmly rooted in traditional Japanese Kendo practise.

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5. Is Kendo dangerous?

Because Kendo is a full-contact activity with its origins in martial discipline safety is a primary concern and Kendo has developed a number of safe-guards (e.g. effective armour protection and strictly-observed rules of behaviour while in the dojo) which are often missing from other supposedly non-contact martial arts. A strike to a target on an opponent need not be 'pulled' or aimed off-target to avoid causing injury, since the armour is sufficient to cushion the impact of even the most heavy-handed blow. (And beginners need not fear, since they do not receive any 'cuts' at all during the first few months of training.) So the risk of being hurt is negligible.

 

However, as in any rigorous physical activity, injuries may result from ordinary accidents such as trips, collisions or the exacerbation of existing physical vulnerabilities (particularly in the back, legs and feet). On the other hand, the continual observance of reigi and the considerable experience of the dojo seniors ensures that such injuries are extremely rare at the Butokukan.

 

Indeed, as a strictly personal and subjective observation - in 16 years of practise, I cannot recall a single incident of anyone acquiring a new injury while training in the dojo.

 

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6. How long does it take to reach 1st dan?

For the average student it takes about two years, although this may vary with aptitude and application. However, traditional Kendo is not particularly concerned with ranking and indeed some of the most senior kendoka in Japan never undertook a grading beyond shodan.

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7. Are there different types of Kendo?

The emphasis varies from dojo to dojo. There is a fundamental difference of purpose between sports Kendo and traditional Kendo , which is reflected in practise, but otherwise the techniques of modern Kendo are more or less the same everywhere in the world. It is a question of the proper tradition as opposed to the different objectives of sport & competition. If you want to enter into competition against others then you should look for a Kendo dojo affiliated to the British Kendo Association. The Eikoku Kendo Renmei (to which the Butokukan Kendo Dojo belongs) was created by a founder Sensei of the BKA who wanted to continue practising traditional (as opposed to sports) Kendo.

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8. Does the Butokukan Dojo also teach Iai?

Yudansha may be invited to study Iai. The general rule is to have gained at least two years of Kendo experience.

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9. When and where do you train?

All ranks train together, although the first hour of the Friday practise is designated for Juniors.


Wednesday

6:45-9:00  P.M.
Wellington House (Off Elm Grove)
Wellington Street
BRIGHTON BN2 3AX

East Sussex

 


Friday

6:45-9:00  P.M.
Western Road County Primary School
Southover High Street
LEWES BN7 1JB

East Sussex

 

Iai practise is on Sunday mornings in the Lewes dojo.

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10. How do I start?

Telephone 01273 477959, and arrange to visit the dojo. After watching a training session you may be invited to begin at the next practise. Experienced visitors may be invited to practise immediately.

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The Butokukan Kendo Dojo
is a member of


the Eikoku Kendo Renmei

 
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Butokukan Kendo Dojo F.A.Q.
http://www.georgedillon.com/kendo/kendo_faq.shtml
[Updated - 17 September 2014]
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