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Club Profiles: Kendo

How to get involved in Kendo at the University of York

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Image: Mario Nakazato
Image: Mario Nakazato

About the sport:

Kendo is a modern Japanese martial art meaning 'the way of the sword'. It features two opponents wearing armour aiming to strike the other on either the head, wrists, throat or side with bamboo swords called shinai. Technique is very important, however, as referees won't score the point unless the fencer shouts out the place they have hit and demonstrate proper commitment to the cut. In practice this makes kendo very loud and explosive.

When trials are:

Kendo is a small club at York, so there are rarely formal team tryouts. As people progress and numbers increase, teams are decided in the run-up to tournaments. It also takes a little while to progress to the point where one can practice and fight wearing armour, but many tournaments, especially smaller ones, have teams for absolute beginners who are still not used to having heavy masks on as they try to hit people.

Can beginners get involved?

Most people will have come to Kendo at university, so beginners can know that they're not alone if they've never tried it before. My best advice is to come to the sessions early in the first term, when there are lots of new people, as we will be weighting training sessions more towards the absolute basics and showing newcomers the fundamentals of kendo.

Why you should give it a go:

People should choose kendo because it's something that's quite unlike any other sport (even fencing!). It is intensely physical and involves commitment and discipline, but this means that it is highly rewarding too. The community nationwide and at the university is small and close-knit, and almost everyone will have started in first or second year, so absolute beginnerhood is welcomed and accepted. Plus there's no getting away from the fact that hitting people in the face with sticks whilst screaming your guts out at them is a fantastic stress reliever come exam season.

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