Monday, January 9, 2017

The Shocking Value of Kendo

How do you train yourself to go from zero to max speed in a conflict scenario?

This question has been on my mind since I started an eight session introduction to the Japanese art of Kendo.

I'm a sucker for "defined introductory programs." I began training at First Defense Krav Maga, one year ago last week, by enrolling in our eight week Fundamentals program. Last month I noticed Capital Area Budokai was starting an eight session introduction to Kendo for only $80, I decided to give it a try.

I already enjoy practicing Filipino Martial Arts, especially double sticks. I also use a bokken (wooden sword) for the exercise-only practice of Jungshin Fitness. I thought these Kendo sessions would be a cool way to learn a martial arts-oriented way to use a sword. (At Capital Area Budokai I practice with a bamboo shinai, not a bokken.)

Kendo training is far different from Krav Maga Global classes. Kendo is much more formal. We spend a lot of time working on a fewer number of topics. Over the course of about 5 hours of training, my intro class has mainly worked on footwork and basic strikes to the head ("men") and wrist ("kote").

The most interesting element of the training is something I've only witnessed thus far, due to my lack of experience and equipment. Sparring, shown in the video clip below, is an aspect of Kendo that triggered my Krav Maga brain.

When sparring, a Kendo practitioner faces the opponent, making minor stepping adjustments to improve fighting distance. When a party senses the time is right, he or she explodes across the floor, striking the head, throat, body, or wrists. The "thwack" of bamboo upon a helmet is unlike anything I've heard before. It seemed that if one party loses focus, for even a fraction of a second, it can give the opponent just enough time to enter and score a point through devastating contact.

This vision of watching opponents move from "zero to 60" appealed to my Krav Maga instincts. In September I was fortunate enough to participate in KMG's Combat Mindset class, taught by Master Eyal Yanilov himself. As I wrote in my blog, Mr Yanilov demonstrated using triggers to "switch on" the burst of violence needed in a violent confrontation. I believe Kendo practitioners must develop this same capability in order to deliver successful attacks.

I recognize that Kendo is not the same as Krav Maga. Kendo is a combat sport where participants score points awarded by judges. However, the focus and combat mindset appeals to me as a Krav Maga practitioner. It's more than just the tension of confrontation, though -- it's the decision to strike and the explosion of energy that resonated with me!

Have other activities had a similar effect on you? Do you cross train to achieve similar results?

See my video below for a sense of what I'm describing here!

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1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed practicing kendo. Did it for 5 years in Oakland, CA before moving to Utah.
    There isn't any kendo near here so I switched to aikido, and I was very lucky that there were a couple high-level instructors in this small valley.
    Sadly, even though the schools are quite friendly towards each other they fight bitterly for students and I quit after causing too much drama trying to study with both instructors.