Cougar Kendo at the University of Houston
Southeast Houston Kendo - UH Rec Sports Club
The Really Short Beginner's Guide
This is a sort of crash course guide to Kendo. It should be read before you start practice and used as a quick reference to the very basics of kendo. Basically, if you try hard and stick to it, you will progress.
During practice, we ask you to follow three things:
1 Kiai: Kiai is a basic shout that shows your spirit. Yell very loud throughout the entire practice.
2 Swing Big: Swinging big means that you move both hands over your head first, every time you swing. Even when you get tired.
3 Respect others: Learn the rules and manners of Kendo quickly. Be nice to your sensei (instructor) and sempai (those with more experience) and in return they will endeavor to help improve your kendo.
Ritsu Rei is a 30 degree standing bow with your eyes cast down. You use this when as you enter and exit the dojo. Also, use this when you go up to sensei before and after Keiko, Kendo practice and say "Keiko Onegaishimasu" (Practice please) or "Domo Arigato Gozaimashita" (Thank you very much [for practice]).
Moku Rei is a 15 degree standing bow with your eyes looking at your opponent/partner during practice.
Seiza is a formal kneeling position. At the beginning and end of practice, everyone will line up (by rank and then by age), the leading Sempai will say 'Chakuza!' (sit) and everyone will sit in Seiza in a straight line.
Mokuso is your time to regulate your breathing and clear away everything other than Kendo within your mind. At the beginning and end of Keiko, the leading Sempai will say 'Mokuso' for you to start and then 'Yame' to stop.
After Mokuso, we will bow twice in Seiza. Currently we bow twice at the beginning and of practice 'Sensei Ni Rei' (students bow to Sensei) and 'Otagai Ni Rei' (bow to each other).
Sonkyo is a squatting posture taken to show respect.
. Don't lean against the wall.
. Don't sit in Anza (with legs crossed) unless Sensei tells you to.
. Don't lean on your Shinai, your bamboo sword.
. Do not walk in front of someone with a sword without permission. Walk behind or ask be opening your right hand.
Your Shinai is made out of bamboo. It is not a stick. It is a sword. Treat your sword with respect and do not step over others.
A Bokuto is a wooden sword that we use during Kata, the forms of Kendo. It is not necessary to purchase one immediately.
What to Wear as a Beginner
Wear comfortable work out clothing. It is recommended that you wear shorts instead of long pants. This is because we cannot observe your footwork well if you are wearing pants. If you want us to be able to correct you, then wear shorts.
Hakama and Keikogi/Kendogi
Sensei will tell you when you may wear a kendo uniform. Before that you should ask sempai to show you how to fold them. This is so that you will know how to fold your own when you get yours and will be able to fold a sensei's when given the opportunity.
Sensei will tell you when you may wear armor.
Learn the basic Japanese words used in Kendo. This includes all of the words mentioned within the guides and the words mentioned during Keiko. If you do not know a word, ask!
1-10 in Japanese
Chudan No Kamae
The basic stance used in Kendo is called Chudan No Kamae.
1 For a good stance you first ensure that your hips straight and feet straight. Practice your footwork! Turn your left hip in! Stay on the balls of your feet. Your right heel high enough for a piece of paper to slip under it, your left heel should be high enough to put a thumb tack under it.
2 Please use your left hand to cut. The left hand is from where your power comes from. Your right hand navigates. In addition you grip the shinai with your wrists turned in, thumbs facing the floor, and middle to pinky fingers griping the shinai. not the thumb and index.
3 The tip of your shinai is pointed at your opponent's throat.
4 The left hand is a fist away from your body. The top of your left hand should align with the bottom of your navel.
5 The string of your shinai is facing the ceiling. The other side represents the edge of a blade.
Holding Your Shinai At Rest
1 side left hand, string down
2 on hip