What is kendo?
Kendo is a modern martial art based on swordsmanship, similar to fencing. It has evolved from Japanese Kenjutsu over the years. Please see the about kendo section for more details.
Is kendo for me?
Yes! Kendo is a fast and athletic activity but any type of person can enjoy it and develop into a great kendoka. You don’t need strength to beat your opponent, just good training and a sensible plan. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re just starting at age 75 then you’re probably not going to make the British team. But you’ll still be able to progress and develop your kendo, and that’s what’s most important. As long as you’re better than you were a month ago, that’s enough for us.
How do I start kendo?
Just fill in our signup form for a free taster session, and we’ll take it from there.
What age can I join?
The main group is open to anyone from 11 years old. This is a “soft” age limit, and to some extent it depends on the individual child. Please contact us for further information regarding this.
We also run a children’s class for an hour a week, open to anyone from 7 to 13 years of age. This is a less serious environment where the aim is to have fun and learn a few kendo fundamentals.
We have a reduced membership fee for students and under-18s; for details see our membership page.
What should I bring to my first session?
Pretty much just a water bottle. You won’t need any specific equipment to start – we will have equipment to lend. Pretty soon you’ll be encouraged to purchase your own shinai (we can recommend suppliers) but we’ve got you covered at first. Other than that, just come along wearing relatively loose fitting clothes that you can exercise in. As a rule, if you could comfortably run in it then you’ll be able to do kendo. And don’t worry about shoes – kendo is trained barefoot.
What happens if I arrive late?
The first 15 minutes of our sessions tends to be a warmup, and if you arrive midway through then just join in as seamlessly as you can. If you arrive after that, the best thing to do is come in without making a fuss, get yourself warmed up properly and then you’ll be invited to join in the session at a convenient time. Please don’t skimp on a warmup in order to join in quicker – safety should always be the first priority.
Kendo seems quite painful!
Kendo certainly can seem that way, but it isn’t really. For the first few months you won’t be getting hit at all. Once you’re ready to spar your armour will provide ample protection, and the shinai is made to be light and flexible to avoid accidental injury.
What does kendo cost?
Full dojo membership is £30 monthly, or £25 for Students and under-18s. We also have a reduced membership if you can only attend once per week and we allow occasional attendees to pay per-session. For details see our membership page.
Once you’ve been training for a few months, you’ll be expected to start to look the part! Hakama and gi (training clothes) will tend to set you back around £60-70. Once you’re ready for bogu (armour), a decent set will cost in the region of £400. Don’t worry though, it’s built to last.
I can only attend one session per week. Will this be a problem?
No, that’s fine. Obviously it would be better if you could attend two, as that way you’d improve twice as fast, but you can still develop your kendo by showing up and working hard once a week. Our training is split up week by week, so as long as you can attend at least one session in the week you’ll see all the material. And after the course, new material will be introduced gradually so you definitely won’t miss out.
How does grading work in kendo?
There are two types of grade in kendo: Kyu grades for beginners which count down from 6th Kyu to 1st Kyu, followed by Dan grades which count forwards from 1st Dan to 8th Dan. This is similar to many other Japanese martial arts. In other arts you would see a student wearing different coloured belts at each kyu grade, and finally receive a black belt at 1st Dan. Kendo uses the same system, but we don’t wear any outward sign of our grade.
Grades from 1st kyu upwards can only be awarded by an official body (such as the BKA) at an official grading. From 6th to 2nd kyu, the grades are awarded in-house within the dojo. At Ko En Kai we hold a grading every few months. For the newer members this will allow you to rise through the kyu grades, while for the Dan grades these will be used for feedback and reflection on the way to your next BKA grading.
How does competition work?
There are competitions held across the year in various places around the UK. Competitions can be either individual or team events. Two competitors will fight until one scores a point, at which point they both reset to the starting position and fight for the next point. Usually kendo matches are fought to 2 points, or to a certain time limit. In a team event, each member of one team will fight someone on the opposing team, and the total number of points scored is used to determine the winning team. We will also hold an in-house competition once every few months, in between gradings.
I have a question not answered above.
Please don’t hesitate to get in contact. We are happy to answer questions by email or Facebook, or just come to a session and ask!