Where can foreigners experience kendo? It also explains why kendo is popular among foreigners!

外国人が剣道体験できる場所は? 剣道が外国人に人気な理由も解説!

 

Motenas Representative
Motenas Representative

Would you like to entertain your important foreign guests with a [kendo experience]?

Kendo is one of the traditional Japanese martial arts and popular among foreigners.

The experience of dressing like a samurai and swinging a bamboo sword will leave a lasting impression.

However, there are many people who wonder, “Where can I experience kendo?” I don’t know much about kendo, but I wonder if I can entertain myself.

In this article, we will introduce some of the places where foreigners can experience kendo, as well as the process of experiencing kendo and why kendo is so popular among foreigners.

Please refer to it as a reference for entertaining your important foreign guests.

Why Kendo is popular among foreigners

Why Kendo is popular among foreigners

First, let us introduce the reasons why kendo is popular among foreigners.

Kendo has never been an Olympic sport like karate or judo and is not well known, but it is a national sport.
The International Kendo Federation (FIK) has more than 50 member countries and holds a world tournament every three years.

It is a martial art with about 2.6 million competitors worldwide and a strong fan base.

Why is kendo so popular among foreigners?

By knowing the reasons for its popularity, you can be confident when offering the Budo experience to your foreign guests.

Many people are attracted to the spirituality of kendo.

The first reason why kendo is so popular among foreigners is its [spirituality].

Kendo places great importance on character development, not only in honing technique, but also in civility and respect for one’s opponent.

This is because swordsmanship is a martial art that has been formed by samurai.

Japanese warriors had an aesthetic philosophy of how to live, known as “bushido.

Therefore, in addition to swordsmanship, they also emphasized “how one should live” and “what kind of warrior one should be,” and their sense of morality and ethics are strongly reflected in kendo.

Also, in kendo, one should not strike a gut-pose when scoring a point from an opponent, which is typical of Japanese martial arts.

Gut-punching during a match is a foul act, as it lacks respect for the opponent.

This emphasis on spirituality is unique to Japan and rarely found in other countries.

This is why kendo seems so new to foreigners, especially highly educated people such as university professors and lawyers, who often become addicted to kendo practice.

It is nice to know that the good old ideas that have been handed down in Japan are attractive to people overseas.

I’m interested in Samurai and Japanese history.

Some foreigners are interested in samurai and Japanese history, and from there they are drawn to kendo.

Overseas, films about samurai, including those by Akira Kurosawa, have a strong following.

The fact that a film like The Last Samurai became a hit in Hollywood shows how popular it is.

In addition, influenced by Japanese video games and anime, some are interested in samurai and Japanese history.

Many people admire the samurai in movies and anime because they are often portrayed as cool and attractive in both appearance and lifestyle.

They seem to genuinely enjoy the experience of practicing kendo with shinai swords in the guise of the samurai they admired so much.

Can a foreigner who is a beginner do kendo?

Can a foreigner who is a beginner do kendo?

Now that we know that kendo is popular among foreigners, we are a little concerned about whether beginner foreigners will be able to experience kendo.

In fact, kendo is a Japanese martial art that even beginner foreigners can easily try.

There are two reasons for this

  1. Kendo is a martial art that can be tried by all ages
  2. Easy to remember because the striking area is defined.

Even if they have no knowledge of Japanese culture, they will enjoy the experience because the rules and movements are easy to understand.

Kendo is a martial art that can be tried by all ages

Kendo is a martial art that has competitors of all ages, so much so that the term “kendo for life” has been coined.

There are many older competitors, and some even begin practicing kendo as adults, so it is a martial art that can be experienced by foreign guests of any age.

Also, it may come as a surprise, but kendo does not involve much strenuous movement.

They wait for the moment to strike the opponent, and strike when the moment is right, so they spend a lot of time sitting still and slow.

Therefore, even foreign guests who are not so confident in their athletic ability can enjoy themselves without feeling self-conscious.

Easy to remember because the striking area is defined.

Kendo is also easy to memorize the rules because the “striking position,” or the place where the shinai strikes with the shinai, is determined.

Kendo is often thought of as having difficult rules, but in fact it is very simple.

The All Japan Kendo Federation defines the four striking positions as “Men”, “Kote”, “Do”, and “Doro”.

The striking area is marked with protective gear to protect the body from the shinai, making it easier to identify the area to be struck.

Specifically, the following areas are struck.

  • Mask…Thrust to face part of the protective gear of the face
  • Kote…Wrist portion of small hand protection
  • Body…left and right side of body armor
  • Hanging … the whole hanging armor

It is easier for foreign guests who have no knowledge of kendo to learn the rules if they can visually see where the strikes are to be made.

Of course, detailed rules exist for regular matches, but rest assured that complex rules are not used in the kendo experience.

Places where foreigners can experience kendo

Places where foreigners can experience kendo

Let’s take a look at where foreign guests can experience kendo.

Foreigners can experience kendo at the following two locations.

  1. Kendo Tours for Foreigners
  2. Local Kendo Classes

Each location has a different atmosphere for the experience, so we recommend that you choose one based on how familiar your foreign guests are with Japanese culture.

Kendo Tours for Foreigners

Some organizations offer hands-on kendo tours for foreigners.

If the tour is designed for foreigners, they are accustomed to teaching foreigners who have no knowledge of kendo.

In addition to the kendo experience, the program often includes a variety of Japanese cultural experiences, allowing foreign guests to experience a wide range of Japanese culture.

For example, the KENDO PARK’s “SAMURAI TRIP” kendo experience tour for foreigners includes, in addition to the kendo experience, a visit to a kendo equipment manufacturing workshop and a Japanese food experience at a kendo restaurant.

It is a rare opportunity, even for Japanese, to see the craftsmanship that goes into making kendo equipment, and lunch at a unique kendo-themed restaurant is a unique experience that you will not be able to experience anywhere else.

The official website of [SAMURAI TRIP]: https://www.samuraitrip07.com/

These tours are recommended for foreign visitors who are new to Japan or unfamiliar with Japanese culture, as they are likely to be fresh and enjoyable.

As for language, most tour operators speak English.

If the language of your foreign guest is not English, check with the tour company to be sure.

If your language is not supported, you should hire an interpreter.

Motenas Japan can also offer a tailor-made kendo experience, including the arrangement of an interpreter.

Please feel free to contact us to plan a special experience, such as inviting an experienced kendo instructor and arranging for photography and videography as well.

Local Kendo Classes

It is also possible to experience kendo at a local kendo school.

In some cases, the kendo experience was held next to people practicing regular kendo, but many foreigners seemed to enjoy the local atmosphere, with comments such as, “It is fun to see people actually practicing kendo.

Let’s also look at actual reviews.

Such a great experience! I didn’t know anything about Kendo prior to this.
The teaching was great.
Actual dojo students were there and it was fun to watch them & learn how they move.
The Sensei was very nice & easy to understand. Definitely recommend!

Quoted from a review in “2-Hour Genuine Samurai Experience Through Kendo in Tokyo” on Viator.com

(What a good experience! I knew nothing about kendo. The teaching was great. There were actual students in the dojo and I enjoyed watching them practice and learning how they worked. Sensei was kind and easy to understand. I highly recommend it!)

 

For foreign guests, seeing Japanese people practicing kendo is also a valuable experience.

They seemed to enjoy the time spent practicing kendo in the same space.

Kendo classes in the area may seem difficult to find, but Kendo Seido Juku/Seidokan, for example, offers a kendo experience at any time.

The kendo school is located in Nippori, Tokyo, so the experience of going to kendo practice through the downtown area will be “uniquely Japanese” and memorable for foreign guests.

The official website of Kendo Seido-juku/Seidokan: http://co57.jp/seido/

Experiencing kendo at a local kendo school is recommended when foreign guests have some familiarity with Japanese culture.

This is because kendo training has its own set of etiquette and some people are nervous about experiencing kendo in the context of Japanese people practicing kendo.

Also, when experiencing a local classroom, remember to check in advance which languages are supported.

If you do not support the language of foreign guests, please hire a separate interpreter.

Flow of Kendo Experience for Foreigners

Flow of Kendo Experience for Foreigners

Finally, here is the flow of the kendo experience.

Few Japanese have experience in kendo, and it is a good idea to have this in mind so that you will not be confused on the day of the event.

Even if you have experience, please reconfirm the flow before entertaining foreigners.

change into (one’s) uniform

First, you will put on your kendo gi, hakama, and protective gear.

Hakama and protective gear can be difficult to put on, so ask the person in charge to help you.

Some people wear T-shirts and short pants under their kimono or hakama for ease of movement, but many wear only underwear.

However, since wearing protective gear also makes you feel hot and sweaty, it is a good idea to inform your foreign guests of this and ask them to bring along change of clothes and underwear.

New Year’s Greetings from the Beginning of Training

After changing clothes, we will learn the manners of seiza and zarei as a greeting to the training.

Many foreign guests may be sitting in seiza for the first time, so it is a good idea to ask the teacher in advance if it is okay for them to break their legs.

After greeting each other, we do some preparatory exercises and then start practicing.

Be taught how to hold and swing a shinai

At the beginning of practice, you will be taught how to hold and swing a shinai.

The shinai is held with the right hand on the upper side and the left hand on the lower side, with the string of the shinai on top.

In kendo, the shinai is mainly swung with the left hand, which is gripped on this lower side.

The right hand tends to be more forceful because it is higher than the left hand, but the basic rule is to grip the left hand firmly and only use the right hand to support it.

Be careful not to raise your shoulders while swinging the shinai.

Practice hitting

At the end of the training, we finally practiced uchikomi.

The shinai is struck with the shinai at the striking area, such as the men’s face or kote.

Some people are hesitant because they are not used to the experience of hitting someone with a shinai, but gradually get used to it.

In addition, you will also experience the side where you are struck by the shinai.

Some tours and classes may conclude with a game-like mini-game.

When you actually strike, you say, “Men! Kote! Yaaaah! When actually striking, let’s also shout out “MEN!

When the practice is over, we finish with a zarei (bow).

Since you are wearing kendo uniforms, hakama, and protective gear, we recommend that you take some commemorative photos.

After the commemorative photo is taken, the students will change into their private clothes to finish the session.

Summary

Summary

When it comes to planning a kendo experience, there are many concerns such as “Will they really enjoy it?” and “Where can I experience it in the first place?

Kendo is a popular martial art among samurai fans, as many foreigners are attracted to its spirituality.

The rules are surprisingly simple and easy to learn, making it easy for even novice foreign customers to understand and experience.

Most local classes offer hands-on experience, and there are also tours available to experience Japanese culture, including kendo.

Motenas Japan can also invite experienced kendo instructors to organize special kendo experiences.

We also offer services such as arranging interpreters, as well as photography and videography, so please feel free to contact us for more information.