Reader Submitted

Martial art kendo taught in Brookline

Friday, November 30, 2012

Kendo, which literally translated means the way of the sword, is a martial art from Japan. The origins of kendo can be found in the sword arts of the samurai, who honed their skills into one of the fiercest fighting disciplines in history. Today, the discipline is studied and practiced as a way, or peaceful art form, to develop the individual with skills of perfection, determination and courage.

Kendo is practiced in the form of Japanese fencing with leather armor to protect the individual from injury when receiving strikes from their opponent. Kendo practitioners use a bamboo sword to strike each other. The sword and protective gear allow the individuals to make real contact. This is unlike many other martial arts where strikes need to be pulled to avoid hurting each other. In kendo, you know when you’ve been struck or when you strike your opponent because you can feel it through the armor.

The targets in kendo are limited to the wrist, head, ribs and throat. They must hit only these targets on the protective gear to count as a point. Kendo can be played as a sport, with the first individual to score two points wins. The strikes in kendo are very fast, making scoring and judging very difficult for beginners. Advanced players spend many years developing their strikes to dominate their opponent and win the duel.

For many, kendo first starts off as a sport, but they soon realize that there is something much deeper. The art of the sword teaches the individual courage, discipline, honor and a determination to strive for perfection. This deeper study is known as budo, or translated as the way of the warrior.

“This type of training is often carried into our daily lives and we learn to approach many other aspects of our lives, like work, family, society, etc. with the same level of budo as used in kendo,” said Poitras Sensei, who teaches kendo in Brookline.

Kendo is a unique martial art in the United States. Only about 5,000 people study kendo in the entire country. It is very popular in Japan, where every student is required to choose either judo or kendo in school, similar to our gym class.

“It is very fortunate to have kendo in Brookline, NH and to be part of this wonderful art form,” Poitras said.

For more information about kendo, visit www.doshikai.org.

– Submitted by
Barry Poitras

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