I began training with Brighton Kendo Club in April 2017, I started with my Son, and my second son also now trains with BKC.
Kendo is a Martial Art I had wanted to do for many years, so I threw myself into it 100%, simply put, I love it. Pascal is an inspirational Dojo leader, his own passion for the art comes through in his teaching and it fuels enthusiasm. The senior members of the Dojo are also fantastic players, with decades of experience, as a beginner you could not wish for a better dojo.
As a Martial Art there many aspects to it that I like, however to highlight a few of the aspects; it’s standardised globally, if you go to any dojo in the world, the art remains true to it’s origins, you know what to do and how to behave, wherever you go. It means that what you learn here in Brighton is what you would do anywhere else. It’s based on a set of few simple moves.
There is an aspect of competition, some enjoy competition some don’t, but it is a very useful component to have to be able to gauge, in a live environment how your skill is developing, and what needs to be worked on. The training pulls no punches, you must be prepared to work hard.
We are fortunate in BKC to have a Suisse National Team Competitor, who is now the Suisse National Team Manager as our Dojo Leader (Pascal), further to this we have individual gold and silver medal winners, and typically come away from team competitions with at least Bronze, Silver or Gold, we are a small club that does, to everyone’s surprise, punch above it’s weight.
I have been fortunate to achieve the rank of Shodan, in other Japanese martial arts this is denoted by a black belt. In Kendo it simply means that you have shown sufficient evidence to be considered a seriously committed beginner- from experience I can confirm this (that said you don’t have to grade ever, if you don’t want to). The insight I take from this is that in Kendo it is understood to be a life-long commitment to improvement. The higher your rank the more onus there is on you to be a good representative of the art, both in your etiquette and your kendo.
As a beginner, you are given much guidance, but it is like walking in a dark room, looking for the door. Things don’t make sense at first, but as you progress the reason for things start to become revealed, and then they are logical, it’s a good process, it means that it is never dull.
There are times when the constant repetition of basics seems like overkill, but the fact is it is a very simple art, that depends wholly and completely on getting the basics right, that is, ironically, the paradox, we may want it to become more complex, more “fancy”, but the best Kendo, is only ever performed by staying true to the basics. To be at a seminar with a Hachidan (highest level) is not what you would expect, they bring you back to basic footwork, back the most basic strike, and rarely, if ever go into more complexity… always always keep it simple. The reasoning is that the most effective strike is the most perfectly timed simple movement, and that is what can take a lifetime to understand.
If you’re willing to put the work in this world has a lot to give back, the reward is a stronger body, a stronger mind, respect, and being part of a community that values and maintains the old ways…and a lot of fun will be had along the way.
Adam Antoszewski 29.01.2019