Kendo Frequently ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
demystifying the ART OF THE SAMURAI
Who can practice Kendo?
Kendo is open to all people regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, age, creed or belief. Kendo requires skilful execution of techniques, rather than brute force, hence is suitable for both male and female, young and old. At the RKC, our youngest member was 11 when she first joined, and our oldest members within the greater community is over 75 years of age.
Our specific Kendo Cubs & Lions program is aimed a children and teenagers aged 5-11 years old (Cubs), and 12-18 years old (Lions). Please see the page on Kendo Cubs & Lions specifically for more information (Click here to go to that page).
Do I need any previous martial arts experience?
No previous martial arts experience is required. In fact, little to no martial arts experience is better in the beginning as the practitioner will be able to pick up the Kendo techniques quicker than someone who has been indoctrinated into a previous martial arts style, and hence, may have some non-Kendo related habits to break first.
Do I need to be fit for Kendo?
Yes. Kendo is a dynamic martial art that stresses rigorous training. Although there are specific exercises in kendo that could improve one's overall fitness, it is encouraged that the more serious Kendo practitioners supplement their Kendo by doing more fitness training OUTSIDE the usual Kendo training sessions.
Can I use Kendo for self-defence?
Not directly. Kendo may be derived from the sword methodologies of the ancient samurai, however, modern Kendo has evolved into a more spiritual practise that combines some elements of sports into it (i.e. competition). However, there are many other attributes and skills that are developed through Kendo practise that can be used INDIRECTLY for self-defence. These attributes relate to body (becoming physically stronger, fitter and faster); mind (increased focus, concentration and alertness); and emotions (being able to deal with fear, doubt, anxiety and hesitation). For specific self-defence training, please refer to the self-defence classes offered by Defence Unlimited. Click here to link to them now.
Can I try a class out before joining?
Yes. We encourage people to come and try out a session (or two) before committing to embark on their Kendo journey. Please contact us to find out when the next complimentary session will be.
What will I need for my first lesson?
Long tracksuit pants and t-shirt. No shoes in the dojo as we train barefooted.
RKC will provide you with a loan bamboo swords (shinai) or a wooden sword (bokto) when you arrive. Should you decide to join the RKC, you would be required to purchase your own shinai and bokto. The dojo will have stock of both for sale.
Why join Rivonia Kendo Club?
The RKC is a professional martial arts institution that combines quality training with your martial arts goals. Furthermore, our dojo has created a culture based on these three foundation principles:
1) FOCUS on helping ALL our members develop good Kendo, Iaido, and/or Jodo..
2) ...Whilst still having FUN during our time of training and socializing together...
3) ...Resulting in lifelong relationships that make us ALL feel a part of the RKC-FAMILY.
You'll be able to train (at least) twice a week as well as be invited to a (almost) monthly social which will give you an opportunity to get to know your fellow dojo members OUTSIDE the dojo.
As an affiliated dojo of the South African Kendo Federation (SAKF), all RKC members are also able to do additional training at all other SAKF-Affiliated dojos at no additional costs. It would be good ettiquett to first inform the other dojo of your intent before attending. This can be done on your behalf via the RKC Representative. T&C's apply, namely that there is no outstanding debt to either the the dojo or the SAKF.
What does it cost?
Monthly training cost will be dependent on what membership status you choose to be on, as well as the other martial arts that you may want to practise at the RKC.
There is a "20% Family Discount" for any direct family member that may decide to train with you. T&C's apply.
There is an annual membership fee that is paid upon joining that include both a club membership fee, as well as a membership-affiliation fee to the SAKF that allows you additional insurance and training benefits.
Lastly, additional Kendo events such as gradings, seminars, social-gatherings might incur some additional costs.
Kindly contact the RKC directly to discuss what the best options would be for you.
How long will it take to get into armour?
It is almost entirely up to you how long it will take you to transition into the armour kendoka wear (known as bogu). If you train hard and develop proper technique, you may likely be wearing bogu within six months to a year. Your sensei will make the final decision. It is important that basic techniques be learned properly and consistently executed well before a kendoka is granted the privilege of wearing armour.
Do I need to buy the uniform and armour?
Initially you can just wear comfortable clothes (such as gym clothing), but once you have decided you would like to commit to Kendo, it is strongly recommended to purchase a uniform. As for armour, there are often second-hand sets available for purchase or you can order your own set. When the time comes to get into armour, the dojo members will be able to advise you on the best course.
What will I need for Kendo?
Initially, as a training uniform, you can wear the RKC-Branded T-shirts and long gym pants to training. Within 3-6 months, you could then decide to invest in a proper kendo uniform that consist of a kendo-gi (kendo jacket) and hakama (traditional Japanese split pants). The dojo can advise you on options when you are ready, and will have stock available for you to purchase.
The equipment you will initially require is a shinai (bamboo sword) and a boken/bokto (wooded sword). The dojo will have stock of both for sale.
Bogu, or body armour, can be purchased within 6-12 months of starting Kendo, depening on your training progression and under
advisement from the sensei. The dojo can advise you on options when you are ready.
Do you wear belts like karate?
No. However, Kendo does have its own set of grades, starting with Kyu and advancing to Dan. Kyu grades (beginner grades) start at 8th Kyu and work their way up to 1st Kyu. From there they are eligible to attempt 1st Dan (of 1st degree black belt). The highest Dan grade you can reach is 8th Dan. In order to grade you must be a member of the SAKF.
Do you compete in competitions?
Yes. There are regular Kendo competitions both locally and abroad where one can put the sporting side of Kendo into practise. Competing involves full-contact sparring with the shinai and in full armour, and is governed by very specific Kendo-rules.
Would my Dan grade (black belt) be recognised internationally?
Yes. The Rivonia Kendo Club (RKC) is a member of the South African Kendo Federation (SAKF), which is the only recognised Kendo association in Africa. The SAKF is affiliated to the Martial Arts South Africa (MASA), the International Kendo Federation (FIK) and the European Kendo Federation (EKF). Once you obtain your Dan grade, the SAKF will register you with your appropriate grade with the EKF, who will inturn, register you with the FIK. This will then be recognised internationally by all who are affiliated to the FIK.
Your may check your dan grade (or any other valid dan grade's) credentials on this link: http://www.ekf-eu.com/index.php?page=person-grades