Q: The University website states I must be 16 years or older to register.  I am younger.  Can I join the Kendo club?

A: If you are younger than 16 years old the University requires that your parents give special permission when you register.  Our preference is for students 16 and older, 18+ ideally, however the Kendo club welcomes students of all ages with the following caveats:

  1. We do not offer a children’s program. All attendees are taught as adults beside other adult members and so they must be able to display patience, respect and maturity.  Adults, this means you too.  ;)
  2. Be aware that the Kendo sessions are held in the evening on week nights, please consider your travel time, bedtime and impact on school work.  The multiple Kendo classes a week combined with the late hours have proved too difficult over the years for adults and children alike when they have joined, encountered time challenges and quit.  Family, school and career should come first.  Kendo will always be there for you.  Wait for the right moment.
  3. Some Kendo club social events and travel to Kendo competitions might not be available for participation by club members who are younger than 18 years old due to provincial/federal laws, legal guardianship, lack of chaperons etc..
Q: I am buying my first shinai.  What kind should I get?

A: If you are under 16 years old buy a size 37.  If you are a female and over 16 years old buy a size 38.  If you are a male and over 16 years old buy a size 39.

Buy whatever you can afford but know that your shinai (bamboo) will only last a few months before it will need to be replaced.  During those months you will learn a bit about the various properties of shinai and might have handled the shinai of other students and have developed some preferences about the properties of weight and balance.  Don't sweat your choice for a first shinai.

Q: I am a kendoka travelling to Calgary and would like to practice Kendo while I am in town. Does your club have sets of bogu to borrow?

A: The club does not have sets of bogu to loan. Depending on the length of your stay our members might be willing to lend one of their spare sets but this is their own decision to make. Whether a loaner set is available for your visit or not you should bring your own keikogi, hakama, tenugui and shinai (or buy a shinai through our club on arrival). Please contact us far in advance of your visit and discuss these arrangements.

Q: Does it hurt when you are hit with a shinai?

A: The short answer is yes.  The longer answer is that everything is relative.  Kendo practitioners have great control over their strikes and make every effort to strike the armoured areas of their opponent with only enough force to register a valid hit.  Can the opponent feel the strike?  Yes.  Does it "hurt"?  That is a matter of opinion.  If you are struck on an unarmoured part of the body most people will agree that it does hurt.

Q: Does my Kendo instructor dislike me?

A: You might think this is an odd question, it isn't.  The approach to instruction in Kendo is framed in old Japanese tradition.  This is very different from the North American approach many people are used to.  Feedback is given sparingly at times and very little encouragement is given.  Students are in the dojo to learn, train and become more skilled; they are not there to be congratulated at making the attempt.  The student must work to find their own path and to recognize when they have reached a new level of skill on their own.  In the best examples of this tradition students will find that during a practice session it is only their Kendo that is judged.  After practice is the time to get to know your fellow students and instructors.  And no, your Kendo instructor doesn't dislike you.

Q: I keep getting blisters (or tearing skin) on my feet/toes.  What am I doing wrong?

A: Your problems are likely caused by one of three things.

  1. Your feet may not have toughened up yet.  Blisters are natural and unfortunately you might need to go through a couple cycles of blisters and tender feet before your feet toughen up.  Walk bare-foot as often as possible and use tape on your feet to get you through this phase.
  2. Your footwork needs improvement.  Get feedback from your instructor on proper technique.
  3. Your feet are tender and so you are trying to avoid discomfort by using less tender parts of your feet which you shouldn't be using.  Get feedback from your instructor on proper technique.  Use tape on your feet to get you through this phase.
Q: I break shinai way more often than other students.  Why?

A: The simple answer might be that you are striking too hard.  Get feedback from your instructor on proper technique.  You might not be using enough tenuchi to stop the blade.  You might be 'clubbing' with your right arm.  You might be striking the metal grill of your opponents men due to height difference or poor hand position.  Slow down for a while.  Try a whole practice of hitting only the air just above the surface of your targets.  As always, get feedback from your instructor on proper technique.

Q: I study a variety of martial arts and weapons.  Can I practice some of my sword techniques during Kendo practice?

A: No.  A Kendo practice is for practicing Kendo using only the techniques sanctioned by the International Kendo Federation.

Q:  I am left-handed.  Do I reverse my hand or feet positions?

A: No.  Everyone uses the same hand and feet positions regardless of 'handedness'.