It was quiet a relief when I entered the gym that also functioned as the dojo of Iga Kendo Club during its practices at the Arena Fitness Club. It was cooler than the outside, less humid. But I got more excited of seeing for the first time kendÅka (Kendo practitioners), that I have just seen in movies or TV. It was kind of scary to see them in full regalia but at the same time, mesmerizing. After a brief introduction to Sensei Koji Igarashi, a 5th dan kendoka from Tokyo and founder of Iga Kendo Club, me and Darwin, a friend and a manager from my former company who invited me here took our positions to photograph the kendokas while practicing.
Kendo is fascinating to look at. Kind of mysterious because of all that outfit but its the grace, discipline and the seeming calculated tenacity that makes one in awe at the movements. In the Philippines, there are only a few groups and as far as I know, there are three in Metro Manila: Manila Kendo Club, UP Ken and Iga Kendo Club, there’s one in Cebu, Cebu Kendo Club and another one in Davao, Davao Kendo Club.
Peng, a kendoka in his 40s and is a marketing executive at a construction company in Quezon City has been with Iga Kendo Club for the past 10 months. Initially, he was looking for an avenue to improve himself and having known about kendo before, got curious and wanted to know if there’s one in the Philippines. After a quick search, Iga Kendo Club was first in the results.
Kendo is basically an art. But for me, I wanted to improve myself, especially, as I get older, I want to be more patient and I think it can help me. It’s a physically demanding sport but also, mentally: how will you pace yourself, proper motion, how will you push yourself to the limit, how will you challenge yourself… Then you have to see how far you can go physically. In the office, I’m the boss but here, sometimes you are shouted at if you make a mistake by people younger than you (laughs). But in terms of improvement, its great. It also means a new set of friends, network… But the learnings here you can apply in daily life: discipline, respect, patience, better physical condition, team spirit.
And its quite fulfilling.
A beginners class usually start with demonstrations by Sensei Koji like proper stance, proper hold of the shinai (bamboo sword), pacing and others. No need to be in kendo outfit at this level. But once the advanced members come in, its when you can appreciate more Kendo.
Iga Kendo Club has members from different ages, from children, teens to adults and have dojos in Quezon City, Makati and UP Diliman in Metro Manila practicing at specific days of the week. Check their website for more info.
Iga Kendo Club