Kendo Philippines – My trial experience at IGA Kendo Club

 

I did my first Kendo trial last saturday with the IGA Kendo Club (be sure to check out their sites at http://igakendoclub.webs.com/ and http://igakendo.wordpress.com/) and it was a great experience. I’ve decided to continue taking classes and see if this is something I can do longterm. One of the reasons why I tried the class was because my Saturdays are free this semester so I was looking for a weekly class I could take to fill them. I picked Kendo because I’ve always wanted to try a weapon sport and I grew up watching Samurai X hehe. I also started reading James Clavell’s Shogun and I’m loving the Japanese Historical setting of the book and the insights into the Samurai lifestyle. I love how they infused philosophy into their training and holistically grew as they trained themselves in the martial arts. I would like to see if I can achieve something similar by training in kendo. I’m currently just testing the waters of the martial arts but I really do plan to make it a big part of my life at some point. I just haven’t found the right one/s for me yet.

So that’s why I joined the IGA Kendo Club, now on to my trial experience.

IGA Kendo Club Trial

I found the IGA kendo club on the internet. I was looking for classes in the Philippines, Manila in particular since that’s where I’m based right now, and I learned that there are only two places you can learn Kendo here. I could be wrong though and there might be more, but from my research there’s only IGA and then there’s the Manila Kendo Club. I opted for the former because it was in QC and although I live in Manila, I’m enrolled at crossfit insurrecto so I’ll be in the area a lot. I also have friends who live in Tomas and I hang out at their place a lot so IGA’s training venue is convenient for me.

Here’s a map to Arena Fitness Inc. in Quezon Ave. That’s where they hold their classes. And here’s a link to their site if you want more info about them igakendoclub.webs.com.

IGA Kendo CLub Map

The class is being taught by a Japanese business man called Igarashi Koji, he’s the head teacher although some of the senpais help out as well. Sensei Igarashi Koji is a 5th dan in kendo and seemed really nice. Sure he hits you on the head when you make mistakes but only if you’ve got a head guard on ;). There seemed to be a pretty good atmosphere in class and he was serious and jovial at the appropriate times which made me think that I’d probably enjoy learning kendo under him.

Anyway, on to the trial class.

There was actually a couple of us who just started this month. An FYI, they only accept new students on the months of March, July and November although you can come any saturday if you want to watch them train before you join. I was lucky enough to be able to attend on the last Saturday of November so thankfully I was still able to join. Like I said there were new members other than myself, from my count I think there were 9 or 10 of us beginners who joined the class just this month. There were maybe 20 or 30 senpais who were there last saturday as well so you can imagine it’s a fairly big class.

The regular training is held at arena fitness in Que Ave like I said. They have a basketball court with wooden flooring there and that’s what we use. I’ve read that they sometimes train in UP too since the club has close ties with the UP kendo club (I think).

Since we were beginners we didn’t have gear and the uniform yet so sensei loaned us some shinai (bamboo practice sword). We also wore just regular workout clothes and we were told that we could continue to do that all throughout our begginer classes. I plan to buy mine sometime in January though. We were allowed to take part in most of the exercises except for the sparring training and the ones that required a bogu (training armor).

To start, sensei and another teacher (I think) showed us a Kendo Kata. It’s like a mock sword fight that we replicated later on during training. We were also thought the basics of the kendo stance, the bowing and fighting rituals, and the proper form for the basic overhead slash. I’m not sure about the terminologies yet hehe since they’re in japanese so I can’t use all of them in this post. I’ll have to do a bit of research for next class and maybe write another post about them.

The class starts at 2 pm and ends at 6 pm, Saturdays although I think they have one weekday class as well. We did mostly drill exercises for the Kata and slashes. The senpais sparred and did hitting exercises. It was fun but wasn’t very exhausting because we weren’t allowed to participate in half the exercises yet. As I understand it one has to graduate from the beginner level to join the bogu class. It takes 4 months or more I’m told, depending on how quickly you learn. I’m hoping they’ll allow me to join in 2 or 3 months (uma-asa hehe), but for now I can always do crossfit in the morning before class or the evening after it to get a better workout.

Below are some pictures and a video of the senpais in the bogu class training.

Iga Kendo Club Practice 1

Iga Kendo Club Practice 2

Iga Kendo Club Practice 3

Bogu Class Practice Video

[youtube_video]1z-gdZxiJFw[/youtube_video]

Kendo Gear and Prices

There are a couple of things you’ll need to have if you want to give kendo a try. Some of these you’ll need immediately while others you can buy later on.

Shinai – The shinai is a bamboo sword that you’ll use to train. you’re going to need this one as soon as possible. You’ll be allowed to borrow a shinai from sensei while you’re doing the trial but you’ll have to buy your own if you decide to continue to train with IGA. Sensei brings back some of these from Japan whenever he goes back there and he sells it for 2400 pesos and his wife makes bags for 400 pesos so you can get these from him if you want. I tried checking for local sellers but I’m not really sure if you can buy a shinai in the Philippines, at least not one of decent quality. There’s really not much of a market for these here so there are no decent stores that have them. The site that I eventually plan to get my gear from is http://www.e-bogu.com. They seem to be decently priced there and the gear looks like it’s well made. I wont need the other gear till next year though so for now just the Shinai from sensai will be enough.

Shinai

 

Bokken – This is a wooden sword modeled after a Katana or one of the other traditional japanese swords. It’s useful for training to get one a bit more used to the feel of a katana. It’s main use in Kendo, as I understand it, is in Katas. It’s not really used in training since it can still cause injury despite being made of wood. Shinais are still the best for training and spars. Some Bokken are made for ornamental purposes as well.

bokken

Keikogi – Keikogi is the upper part of the kendo uniform. It’s kind of like the other gi’s that you’ll see other martial arts practitioners use. The colors I saw being used in practice were white and blue. I’m not sure if there are other colors but it’s likely that there are. I don’t know where you can get these locally but online a keikogi and hakama set costs around $68.

Hakama – The Hakama is the skirt like clothing that’s worn by kendo practitioners. If you’ve seen japanese samurai films you’ll most likely have seen them wearing those long flowing skirt like clothes whenever they’re in the dojo or aren’t in full armour.

Bogu – is the training armor that Kendo students use. It’s divided into four main parts, the Do (body armor), the kote (hand armor), the Men (head armor), and the Tare (leg and groin armor). You’ll find an illustrative picture below. I got it from Wikipedia.

In kendo training we train barefoot so no need to bring your training shoes.

So that’s it pretty much for basic info about kendo and about IGA. I still haven’t learned the names of the forms they had as practice during the trial so I’ll probably write another post about those later on once I know a bit more about them so watch out for that one.

If you want to learn Kendo and live in the Philippines, particularly in the Manila area then you might want to attend one of IGA Kendo Clubs saturday sessions. Just head on over to their website igakendoclub.webs.com or do a search on Facebook to find their group.

You can also leave comments below if there’s anything you’d like to ask about kendo or the classes. Also I’m still a beginner and might have made some incorrect statements in this post so feel free to let me know if I got something wrong in the comments section :).


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Malds Menzon is the owner and main writer for The Fit Pinoy blog. He's a law student, blogger, internet marketer and fitness enthusiast who enjoys writing about all the gyms he's been to and fitness classes he's tried. He spends most of his time either at the gym or studying/writing at one of the Starbucks places in the Metro Manila Area. He usually looks a little too serious but he's a nice guy so don't be afraid to say hi if you run into him :). You can follow or add him on Twitter and Google+ by clicking the appropriate buttons on your left (below the picture).

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20 Comments

  1. rikki 4 December, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    stumbled upon the web… had the chance to read your blog… t’was nice to see somebody to write a blog about igaken… ^___^

    hope you continue training with us.

     
    • Malds 4 December, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      I will Rikki thanks for dropping by :). Just got my new shinai last weekend and will be practicing my swings when I can at home hehe.

       
  2. Kutch 4 December, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Hi Malds, thanks for giving me permission to repost this on the pages of the Club. See you in training!

     
    • Malds 4 December, 2012 at 5:27 pm

      No prob 🙂 and thanks for the link on FB. See you on Saturday.

       
  3. Red 4 December, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Nice post. Saw ir in my FB wall, c/o Kutch. Nice to hear Iga-Ken is getting more students 🙂 Shogun is a long read but definitely worth it.

     
    • Malds 4 December, 2012 at 11:19 pm

      Thanks Red. And yeah it’s definately a loooong read haha but it’s really good. I actually got really interested in Japanese history because of the book and it’s nice to know that it is somewhat accurate. There really was an “anjin” that became a samurai lol. Clavell shoulda just split it into two books but then again that’d just increase the number of books in the series haha. I have a couple of books lined up already for the holiday break and won’t jump back into clavell’s asian saga until next year, I hear the other’s are really long too. Might go back to reading David Gemell’s Druss series since I’ve already read the first two books. That or I’ll maybe read his Troy series and try to finish the three books over the break.

       
  4. markluis soler 1 April, 2013 at 9:45 am

    please teatch me to kendo im from phillipinese

     
    • Malds 2 April, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      Try contacting IGA, youll find links to their site and fb page here. They should be able to help you

       
  5. Alex T. 13 August, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Malds, are there girls in your dojo!?!

     
    • Malds 13 August, 2013 at 8:30 pm

      Hey Alex I don’t train Kendo anymore but there are a lot of girls at IGA kendo 🙂

       
  6. Ben C 14 August, 2013 at 2:17 am

    hey how much is a kendo gear typically? thanks in advance

     
    • Malds 14 August, 2013 at 6:33 am

      Hi Ben, most of the people who train buy their stuff online so you might as well check the prices out here http://www.e-bogu.com/ or on some other online site.

       
  7. Lester 15 August, 2013 at 1:07 am

    There’s a kenjutsu dojo in Mandaluyong and its style is Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu.

     
    • Malds 15 August, 2013 at 8:42 am

      really? Where in mandaluyong? Is it a school that’s open to new members? I never knew there was one here.

       
  8. 3dward 4 November, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Hi malds,

    How come you stop your kendo training? Any particular reason?

     
    • Malds 5 November, 2013 at 1:42 am

      I was doing too many things at the time, I think it was about at the same time that I tried jui jitsu and I still continued to box on top of it. plus medyo out of the way yung training area (sa que ave sya, I had to take a cab all the time, yung boxing and BJJ isang LRT2 ride lang) and I wasn’t driving yet at the time. Since I’m still a student I had to (and still do lol) pick the ones that were the most economical for me na medyo ok yung training.

      I have no bad things to say about the training tho if that’s what you’re wondering. IGA kendo is pretty good if you’re thinking of trying it out. It just didn’t work out for me.

       
  9. Weezon 10 November, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    Nice blog po. I’m a pinoy living in barcelona. Recently i started liking kendo. Well i already like kendo when i was a child, pero wala lang pera. Pero ngaun my work na ako at konting ipon naisip ko parang its the right time to start Kendo. Ang problema lang e, un prices ng gamit sa kendo. ang mahal kasi. Tapos lalo na kapag ordered online like e-bogu. I’m not good at any sports. iniisip ko lang kpg nagkatournament dito sana e philippine flag ang dalhin ko. hehe

    tnx sa blog and infos.

     
    • Malds 11 November, 2013 at 2:44 pm

      Yeah the gear is pretty expensive. Pero initially naman you really only need the gi and the shinai. You won’t be required to own your own set of armor until you’ve improved. That’s how it was at IGA anyway.

       
  10. Tonette | The Health Junkie 31 March, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Hi Malds! Do you still do Kendo? My boyfriend still trains there and recently went with Rikki and Kutch to Hong Kong for the 14th Hong Kong Asian Open Kendo Championships. I was just psyched to find another fitness blogger who tried Kendo. 🙂

     
    • Malds 2 April, 2014 at 11:52 am

      Hi tonette, no i dont anymore. I live/study in manila now and work in makati kasi so qc training isnt gas friendly. Thats pretty much why i stopped doing crossfit din actually(nakapag foundations ako sa insurrecto but stopped after).

      Kendo was fun and different from the other stuff i tried but i think ill prolly be sticking to non weapon martial arts for now. I like their strengthening and conditioning drills better.

      ill be keeping my sword tho, i might just feel like picking up kendo again in the future, you never know.

       

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