Queen Mary Kendo Club

Session #1: Be louder!

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Great to see so many new, and old, faces at our first session even though it’s still Freshers’ Week. For most of our beginners, it was their first ever experience of kendo, but everyone who came today showed most importantly a willingness to learn and progress. Also, it was good to have a long, hearty chat and meal at the pub afterwards with those of you that we haven’t met yet.

In the coming year, I’ll try to post the key take-home messages from each session here for those who couldn’t make it, or those who’d appreciate a reminder.

Today, we had an introduction to the basic men cut (a cut to the top of the head). Our coach highlighted two common problems during the suburi practice (cutting practice without hitting an opponent):

  1. The cut must stop at the head; you don’t need to cut down into the torso.
    Make sure you stop the shinai when your left hand reaches your sternum (breastbone) and the tip of the shinai is covering the top of the head of an imaginary opponent who is the same height as you are.
  2. Relax your shoulders and arms; the more tense you are, the more quickly you’ll tire out.
    The speed of the cut comes from being relaxed so just let gravity bring the shinai down for the cut.

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It’ll take another few sessions to cover all the main points of a good cut, but in the meanwhile, remember that you can always improve merely by being louder with your kiai (the shout you make when the cut lands on the target). So don’t be afraid to make more noise!

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Author: Sybil Wong

PhD student in Molecular Oncology at Barts Cancer Institute, QMUL

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