Updated: May 17
A list if frequently asked Kendo-related questions. Last updated 17 May 2023.
A list of FAQ's:
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.
At the RKC, our youngest member was 5 when he first joined, and our oldest dojo member is 79 years of age. Kendo is the ideal martial arts for ALL-AGES!
Our specific Kendo Kids program is aimed at children aged 5 to 11 years old. Thereafter, we encourage the 11+ year old's to join in the regular "adult" training session as the intensity of the training will increase.
For more information on the RKC Kendo Kids program, please click on this link below:
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, Many who have done other martial arts before, will have some non-Kendo related habits to break first. This can be a source of frustration for some.
Do you have classes for "Beginner"?
It has always been a practise at the RKC that both beginners and “non-beginners” train together at any given time (i.e. We don’t do formal beginners courses anymore). We find that it works better as the beginner’s will get to see the other “beginners” (with a bit more experience) train, so as to provide a benchmark for them and their progress. It also adds to the lively and dynamic atmosphere that we have in our dojo.
Do I need to be fit for Kendo?
Yes. Kendo is a dynamic and explosive 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, www.defence-unlimited.com
Can I try a class out before joining?
Yes. We encourage people to come and try out a session (or two) before committing to 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. A towel, water and warm sweather is also recommended.
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 the RKC Dojo?
The RKC Dojo is a professional martial arts institution that combines quality training with your martial arts goals. Furthermore, our dojo has created a culture based on 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 at the dojo, as well as train online via Zoom for another two times a week! You will also have access to an ever-expanding library of online training and resources! [NB: Please always check the latest training schedule as this may change without notice]
Lastly, you are invited to an (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 etiquette 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 depends on what membership status you choose to be on, as well as the other martial arts disciplines you may want to practise at the RKC.
Furthermore, we offer a variety of discounts that makes it cost effective for family members to train at the RKC. T&C's will 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, optional Kendo events such as gradings, seminars, social-gatherings might incur some additional costs. These will be communicated to members prior to the events.
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 (kihon) be learned properly and consistently executed well before a kendoka is granted the privilege of wearing armour.
When 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 within a three to 12 month period after training. 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 will be able to advise you on the best course of action. All required equipment, uniform and armour can be purchased from the dojo.
What will I need for Kendo?
The equipment you will initially require is a shinai (bamboo sword) and a bokken/bokto (wooded sword).
You can wear the RKC-Branded T-shirts and long gym pants to training. Within 3-12 months, you could then decide to invest in a proper kendo uniform that comprise of a kendo-gi (kendo jacket) and hakama (traditional Japanese split pants).
Bogu, or body armour, would be the last piece of mandatory equipment that you will required to acquire.
Do you wear belts like karate or judo, or some other martial arts?
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 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 South Africa. The SAKF is affiliated to 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 internationally-recognised dan grade (or any other valid dan grade's) credentials via this link: http://www.ekf-eu.com/index.php?page=person-grades
What can I expect when I get into bogu (kendo armour)?
There is an indepth article written about this, as well as some testimonials from past RKC Dojo students who offer some insight on their first experiences. Read all about it here: https://www.rkcdojo.com/post/enter-the-bogu