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Special Features of Kendo in our Dojo

It is a rare pleasure for us to have Kendo visitors who want to experience something other than the more well-known Sport Kendo. Sport Kendo is an attractive modern sport that came into being in the early 1950's, retaining certain elements of Japanese swordfighting and Budo that were not offensive to the Occupation authorities. But the founders of Sport Kendo decided to eliminate many features of ancient Kendo to create an aesthetically pleasing, beautiful sport with rules and customs that fit into modern, postwar Japanese society. Even most Japanese born after 1940 know of nothing else but this as Kendo.
It is not our intention to present our Kendo as " better" or "superior". We simply have other objectives. Visitors who desire to practice with us should accept and understand that, despite our using similar equipment, we purposely practice a Kendo that is in many aspects quite different from modern Sport Kendo. We do this not because we are uninformed or mean-spirited. Rather, our Kendo derives from our teachers 17 years of intensive experience in over 100 different Japanese Dojos, extensive research concerning Japanese feudal Kendo, and daily advice in the Japanese language from leading Japanese Kendo masters who learned Kendo prior to World War II, many of whom actually fought for their lives with the sword in wartime.
Thus, important to us is not Federation Dan Grade, but actual competence in realistic sword and staff combat. We gladly welcome guests who, without prejudice, wish to experience our feudal Kendo-but not guests who insistently and rudely force upon us as Holy Grail and Absolute Truth their own 21st Century Sport Kendo rules, hierarchies, and philosophies. Please do not forget: it is you who have come without special invitation to us. As such, we would ask you to accept, for the short time you are here, our customs, as we would do and have always done in Sport Kendo Dojos. If you find our ancient Kendo not to your liking, you are of course free to practice elsewhere. But please refrain from preaching, moralizing, and arguing during your visit. We do wish to improve our fighting skills-but we cannot learn from supercilious, hostile words, sullen arrogance, or patronizing condescension. Instead, strike us hard without being struck yourself; throw us to the floor without being thrown yourself; drive us mercilessly from one side of the Dojo to the other with excellent technique that allows no counterattack; prove to us with friendly competence that we are helplessly exposed to your hard strikes. In this way we can learn from your exemplary fighting ability, and experience with respect and great pleasure an opponent with real heart, a comrade we can enjoy.


PLEASE OBSERVE THE FOLLOWING RULES DURING YOUR VISIT:


1. All participants without exception must use the traditional "Fukurojinai" which can be purchased here. The leather sheath protects from splinters, and the increased weight approaches the weight of the Katana, making training more realistic. To further protect the expensive Shinais and avoid potentially dangerous splinters, each Men helmet should be equipped with a soft leather cushion. You may desire to use elbow protection.


2. We do not practice "Sonkyo", squatting while crossing the swords, as orthopedic medicine has learned that such deep kneebends are unhealthy for the knee. Please refrain from this custom while visiting us.


3. All participants without exception should always try to use realistically large techniques that would be effective in an actual armored swordfight. Such modern competition techniques as "Nobimen" (fast Men touches that can hardly be felt) and other "Tesakiwaza"(mild strikes from the wrist) receive no recognition in our Dojo, as they are ineffective with sword or staff.


4. As we are interested in real fighting ability with real weapons, many techniques no longer allowed in Sport Kendo are in normal use in our Dojo: Nagewaza throws, Debanatsuki (when possible to the chest rather than to the throat), Yokomen (as much as possible to the temple, not the ear). On the other hand, techniques that would be useless against an armored opponent (such as punching or kicking) are not allowed. No technique used should cause a real injury to the partner, though slight bruises are of course unavoidable.


5. We do not interrupt our combat to emphasize winning points (Shucho), as this practice is unrealistic and a deadly habit in real fighting. Instead, each participant should do his best to dominate and defeat his opponent: from outside the opponent's distance (toma) with such techniques as HaraiMen; in close combat (Tsubazeriai) with throws and powerful Taiatari; in withdrawing with effective Sagari strikes-then, safely outside the striking zone, we can recognize winning points (in Sanbon, for example). Do not allow counterattacks through stylized emphasis on your strikes, as you will simply invite the use by your opponent of strikes and throws if you fail to fight your way out to a safe distance. Strikes that are barely felt will not be recognized. Your opponent will request that you strike harder.


6. We award one point in Shiai for effective throws, and delete one point if you step out of bounds (Jogai), cannot continue for whatever reason (Fushogachi), or infringe on the rules (Hansoku). Our Shiai is usually Ippon rather than Sanbon in order to emphasize that in an actual swordfight there may be no second chance. An opponent who loses his sword should be struck immediately so he learns the consequences of such a loss.


7. It is not allowed during practice to argue, demonstrate loss of emotional control or bad temper, scold or insult any participant. It is not allowed to respond verbally to instructions by the teacher or advanced students, particularly during Shiai. Guests are requested to keep their criticisms to themselves, and to honor our custom of not talking during practice. Infractions will result in expulsion from the Dojo without refund.

Special Features