The Real Sword Fighting Class

A lot of the people coming to the home page are still looking for the other day’s article ‘Perfect Parenting’. The link is to the right under RECENT ENTRIES. Thank you to all the people who forwarded this to friends and family. To all those who posted on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and the like. It’s nice to know that something I feel so passionate about gets recognized by others.

I went to my first kendo class last night. Kendo is a martial art. So it’s like karate class, except you learn sword fighting.

And this class…was awesome. The energy. The armor they were wearing. The heeeeiiiiii yelling. The smashing each other over the head with bamboo swords. All incredible. When I first thought about doing the Urban Samurai, this was what I envisioned. And it’s here. 5 blocks from my house…I love New York City.  

When I walked into the dojo, everyone in the class had just body-armor on and the Japanese big pants. The sensei sent me upstairs to view from a small room, with low ceilings and small windows to look through, that didn’t open.

The first hour or so was focused on technique. It seemed like a decent physical work-out, and they did drills. Not too different from any high school sports practice I’ve ever been in. They had a coach. They were instructed. They were stopped if they weren’t doing it right.

The best part about this class was the sensei. Call this racist if you want, but I don’t want to take Japanese sword fighting from a white person. It doesn’t make any sense. I order Italian food from Italians, get acupuncture from the Chinese, learn how to farm potatoes from people in Idaho…and I take Japanese sword fighting from a Japanese guy. And if he is white, his first name better be Chuck and last name better be Norris.

This sensei, might as well have been Mr. Miyagi. He’s older, irritable, demanded perfection and seemed to get angry when he didn’t get it. He finished different instructions with the words ‘this is very important’ all throughout the lesson. He said things with conviction. He cut his sword with power as if he was slicing through a man. He’s wildly skilled and he knows it.

After an hour, the students put on their helmets and the rest of their gear. And the next half hour was spent banging each other in the head with their bamboo swords. Still training. Still technique. Still drills. But they were actually striking people. I can only imagine the emotional release of striking someone with that sword, letting the heeeeiiiiiiiii yell focus your power.

The last half hour…that was sparring. That was real sword fighting. With moves and hits…and screaming. Seriously something that should be seen by people. I couldn’t help but get the sense that with all these students sparring at the same time, that this was like a samurai war of old. A lot of yelling, a lot of commotion. If I focused on the right swordsmen, I could see the moves were incredible. They were planned. Thought out ahead of time. And they were really, really quick. But taken in altogether, all the swordsmen at one time, it was mayhem. And badass.

I knew in the first 15 minutes that this was the class and the place for me. I travel next week. The week after that I take my first lesson. I don’t want to be the jerk who shows up in sweat pants and has no helmet. So I’m going to have to get the big pants and the gear ahead of time.

Walked home in a torrential rain storm with no umbrella. Got pretty wet. Didn’t care.