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TMA UnderGround >> Any thoughts on Kendo


10/22/09 10:26 PM
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allthat
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I had an interesting discussion regarding the benefits of kendo with a friend. Specifically, the attacking mindset, footwork and angles which can be translated to standup fighting while in a low impact setting. I am looking to take a break from clanging shins in muay thai and try something new. Obviously not as practical for self defense but I have the opportunity for some free classes and wondering if its worth the drive. Any feedback appreciated. thanks!
10/23/09 4:36 PM
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Shaper108
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I did it for a few months when I was younger. It was quite fun. If there was a club nearby I might still go on occasion.
11/4/09 11:28 AM
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Ogami Itto
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I coach kendo.

I think you may find the experience frustrating. You spend a lot of time molding your body to best suit the use of the weapon and, yes, the fighting spirit it builds is great but, really, it is hard to reap any benefit from it for other arts because it is so different. Lemme know if I can expand or answer other questions.
11/5/09 4:48 AM
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shen
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Ogami,

What is the deal with Korean Kumdo -is it the same thing, a la Judo/Yudo, or is it different?

thanks!
11/5/09 11:18 AM
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Ogami Itto
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Shen:

Mostly yes, it is the same thing. HOWEVER there are several versions of kumdo that could also involve more kata and gymnastics and two person drills with bokken or steel.

Kendo has one governing body in Japan. In Korea, kumdo has something like 30 or 40 federations and they don't always agree.

Korean kumdo fighters compete with kendo fighters in international competition.
11/5/09 3:31 PM
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shen
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OK --thanks!
11/6/09 9:02 PM
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WaltJ
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Edited: 11/06/09 11:00 PM
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My JJJ sensei does kendo, and he trains under a high ranking Kendo practicioner and watching that guy (Shuji Matsushita) is amazing, because it's the Kendo version of watching someone like Rickson Gracie or Floyd Mayweather....everything is just so goddamned easy.  There's no excess movement or wasted motion....just him being five steps ahead of you no matter what you try.

It looks cool, but from all accounts I've heard, WAY harder (physically) than it looks. 
 
11/6/09 11:03 PM
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WaltJ
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Do you know anything about Iaido, Ogami?

This is Matsushita performing two demos.  I guess he's "modified" the style he learned or something, but everything seems to regard him very highly.

What do you think?

(I know NOTHING about Iaido)



11/8/09 1:31 AM
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shen
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Yeah, how hard is Kendo (physically) compared to other sports? (Obviously to do it at the highest levels, it is extremely hard, like any other "elite-level" sport, but you know what I mean).

Also, what are the common injuries in Kendo?

Just curious.
11/8/09 8:28 PM
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Ogami Itto
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Walt, for some reason the name sounds familiar. Where is this sensei located? Iaido is like the other side of the kendo coin - where kendo is collaborative and rough, iaido is isolated and graceful - still strenuous, though. Your arms will be killing after two hours of that.

Fighting a high level kendo opponent is insane. They just read your mind. Best way I can describe it - they read your mind (or everything in your body language) and are just tooling you.

Shen, I'd compare kendo to boxing or kickboxing in that it's done in anaerobic bursts like that. So it's quite grueling. Obviously, the challenge at first is getting your body to move the way it has to for this (stance feels absolutely wrong when you start) but they beyond that it is like boxing. Can be as hard as your opponents and teachers make it. You definitely end every practice with your keikogi sopping wet and your bogu (armor) smelling like hockey equipment. I have done, in my experience, kickboxing, judo, mma (strictly amateur) and this, and I'd say it's as difficult as a hard, spirited session of kickboxing or judo. You can end up breathless. Look at this insane shit, this is endurance and fighting spirit training, kakarigeiko:

http://easternkendo.blogspot.com/2009/11/terrific-kakarigeiko-vid.html

Another challenge for people in kendo is the art is still dominated by Japanese and Japanese-Americans, even in the U.S., and Koreans. It's pretty cool to be white and be in the minority at an event! But a lot of your kendo peeps started when they were in middle school in Japan, Korea or U.S., so you often feel you're playing catch up. But, kendo spirit is, "So what! Do your best." On the international scene, strongest kendo is Japan, Korea - and the U.S., especially Southern California with all its Japanese-Americans!

Common injuries: luckily, few! Can be hard on knees, but besides that the only ones I hear about are twisted ankles, sometimes tennis elbow or tinnitis (ringing in the ears) and the occasional concussion from falling backwards and landing on the head. Bruises from when someone misses your armor (accident) and you come home with a purple-black splotch or two (the jacket is thick to prevent this but it's still a whomper). Seriously, very low on injuries.
11/8/09 9:18 PM
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shen
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Cool, thank you.
11/9/09 5:49 AM
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WaltJ
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Also, Kendo equipment is expensive as fuck.
11/9/09 5:10 PM
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m.g
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Excellent thread with great information!

Some of my Japanese friends were Kendo competitors while in their youth. I guess Kendo is a very popular sport among young people in Japan. It is in the same league as Judo in terms of participation.
11/11/09 10:55 AM
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Ogami Itto
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Right, MG! I always say kendo is to the Japanese what wrestling is to people from Iowa - even if you don't practice it, you revere it.

Walt, I know what you mean. We find deals, though. We got one guy I call "the Quartermaster" because he is always finding affordable equipment on ebay and such.

I go through several shinai a year at $30 a pop.

Jacket and pants is $100 or so. That lasts for a few years.

Armor I got from a Korean friend whose dad worked at an export firm for a little less than $500 and I have had it for 20 years, replacing the gloves every year or two.
11/13/09 9:48 AM
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Ogami Itto
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Ogami Itto -
Armor I got from a Korean friend whose dad worked at an export firm for a little less than $500 and I have had it for TEN years, replacing the gloves every year or two.


oops! Ten years, not 20.
11/23/09 2:17 PM
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WidespreadPanic
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I've only seen one other Iaido demo, back in the 70s, by a Korean 7th degree (Karate). He did Kendo and Iaido on the side. This guy was clearly 2-3x faster than he was. Great vid - Thx!

He's not that old, born in 1950. Matushita
11/23/09 3:45 PM
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Ogami Itto
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Iaido can be performed slowly, BTW! Different schools of thought on it.
11/24/09 5:05 PM
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yusul
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shen, kum=sword in korean, ken=sword in japanese. same chinese characters. do= the way, or some other things.

there is a style of korean sword art called haedong kumdo, which has different rules and length stick from 'kumdo'. based on my limited exposure talking to an exponent and reading articles, they do a lot of cutting tests and forms work, that are more circular in nature than most of the kumdo strikes.
11/26/09 3:00 PM
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WidespreadPanic
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Ogami Itto - Iaido can be performed slowly, BTW! Different schools of thought on it.
I wonder if you might be confusing the stages of Iaido? There is a slow, medium and fast stage within the performance, and overall there is a segue in which the movement is practiced slowly (Keiko), and deliberately for several years. Finally, there's a final stage (Renshu) where the movements may appear slow to the audience and they may be, "except for the actual cutting".

Here's a good site describing this: Iaido

I must say I've watched Kendo matches and demos and talked in email to some practitioners and they all talk about the 60 y.o. Kendoists who can beat the younger guys handily through a combination of reading their moves and correct application of timing, force and distance.

But, it's like anything else - you have a limited amount of time to get 'good' at anything, and there's only so much practice you can do in a day. One must choose carefully - not all methods are worth the time needed to develop them, perhaps.

$0.02

11/30/09 11:52 AM
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Ogami Itto
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Oh I know what you mean, jo-ha-kyu, the rhythm of the draw, Definitely get another opinion on iai besides mine because I am a kendo guy that has only dabbled in Muso Shinden Ryu iaido and setei gata iaido. What I was referring to, though, is I have heard different sensei talk about the speed of iai and some are in favor of its being quite slow and some prefer a bit faster and "live."

Widespread, you hit on something that always occurs to me when this comes up and even came up in this thread - when you commit to kendo you give up time to train in other MA and, I think, what you develop in kendo isn't very translatable. Explosive power, endurance, energy, sure, but the footwork and handwork is really specific to this art/sport. I wouldn't say it even translates into good stick fighting habits, myself.
11/30/09 3:28 PM
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Willybone
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Yeah, how hard is Kendo (physically) compared to other sports?

My two bits...
I've done TKD, kendo, HKD, judo, and arnis.
To me, Kendo was harder than all of them.
Mostly, you use such a special set of muscles (forearms and calves) so intensely, I was literally crippled most of the time. When I did start to get accustomed to the routine, my limbs looked just like Popeye's.
All the skin on my palms and the soles of my feet blistered and peeled off, SEVERAL TIMES.

Also, the discrepancy in skill level between me and the instructors was unbeliveable. In judo, I could occassionally surprise a BB with some cool move and gain a tiny bit of ground. In HKD, every once in a while, I could muster up an un-telegraphed kick and get my one lucky hit in.
In kendo, NOTHING. I was beaten before I even picked up the shinai. My teachers could tool me over and over without moving more than a foot, never breaking a sweat, and never getting hit. It was an unbelievable excercise in frustration.
12/25/09 9:55 PM
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allthat
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Ogami Itto and WidespreadPanic

I wanted to thank you guys for the insight. Sorry I dont make it on here that often so i just now read your posts. I started about a month ago and am blown away. Ive been doing BJJ for about 12 years now and muay thai/judo on and off for about three and this is much more difficult to learn.

Im already realizing i will never be able to devote the time needed to improve a significant degree because of BJJ but the two days a week has contributed many benefits to where i will stick with it.


The focus required has already transalted to my BJJ game without me even realizing it. ive been told by some of my BJJ friends that my game is much more aggressive and i atribute it to the mental focus ive been cultivating over the last month. the mental part of competition in BJJ has always been my achilles heel and this is just what i needed. plus my body has become accustomed to the rigors of BJJ so this has been a shock to my system. Im more sore now than ive been in a while. Im officially hooked!

thanks again everybody for the feedback.
12/28/09 11:00 PM
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Ogami Itto
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That's kick ass, man! Keep us posted. Where you at?
12/29/09 5:04 PM
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MobutuHari
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My friends who were born into an eskrima family take kendo to supplement. Though they've beaten some kendoka themselves, there's a reason why they stick with kendo in addition to what they already have.
12/30/09 11:55 AM
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Ogami Itto
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"Though they've beaten some kendoka themselves..."

Psh. As if!

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