There are quite an impressive number of martial arts clubs that exist at UR and each reflects a distinctive culture and tradition. Kendo – meaning “the way of the sword” in Japanese – at first appears to be little more than people fighting with big sticks. But, as any enthusiast will tell you, kendo is, above all else, about fostering physical and mental discipline.
UR Kendo values a core of dedicated members over sheer numbers. I am not a promising candidate for kendo – my incessant joking and punning would clash resoundingly against the stern philosophy and tradition that makes up the backbone of the sport.
Though it may not be for everyone, kendo certainly has much to offer those people who are willing to put forth the effort. Practices exercise the body during the physically taxing workout sessions and the mind in the periods set aside for meditation.
“From kendo, I have gained much self-confidence and discipline,” sophomore Andrew Chin said.
A kendo match is more than just who can better wield their shinai – the wooden stick meant to represent a sword. It is a contest of one’s character. Form, appearance, technique and perfectly placed attacks are all judged during a competition. Just to give you an idea of how intense kendo can be, a bout between two masters can last for hours without a single attack made with the shinai. They will stand perfectly in place, waiting for the other to make the break of formation that ends the match.
Formal competition remains an option for the UR Kendo, but for now the team is satisfied with teaching beginners and further developing their own skills.
They practice twice a week, from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and
4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays in the Mac Room of the Goergen Athletic Center, and also try to find other times to meet up as well.
“We aim to become warrior-like,” junior Jay Min explained. “Kendo harnesses our energy.”
For this semester, the Kendo Team has had to rely on training themselves but hopes to get professional teachers to come in during the spring. They emphasize having structured practices, respecting tradition and thinking according to the kendo philosophy. But don’t get them wrong – this is not a religious cult or anything, but a way to sharpen your mental state while getting a great workout.
“You learn focus – finding your goal and going for it,” sophomore John Harrington said.
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