Baylor Club Finds A Way To Stay Connected To Japanese Culture


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Members of the Baylor Kendo Club practice sparring, footwork and movement drills in this adaptation of Japanese fencing. Photo of the Baylor Lariat

By Blake Gray | Journalist

The Baylor Kendo Club connects students to Japanese culture through the practice of Kendo, an adaptation of traditional Japanese fencing practiced in the tradition of the samurai.

In Kendo, or the “way of the sword,” students use bamboo swords (shinai) to practice various movements, footwork, and techniques. During training, training armor (bogu) is worn to simulate the armor worn by the samurai, consisting of a face / shoulder guard (men), gloves (kote), a protective vest -balls (do) and a protective belt (tare), according to Britannica. Martial art teaches the discipline to strengthen the mind, body and spirit of the student.

The club is run by Baylor Associate Physics Professor Dr. Kenichi Hatakeyama, who is a two-time National Kendo Champion. He serves as the Sensei, or teacher, for the club and provides his wisdom and instruction to his students.

Arlington senior William Aaron Tomes is the president of the Kendo Club and has approximately three years of experience in the sport.

“Kendo requires faster movements,” Tomes said. “At the end of the day, it turns out to be more of a cardio workout than a muscle building practice.”

The club train twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays, currently at the Russell Gymnasium, according to the Kendo Club Facebook page. During practice, students perform fundamental exercises and movements to improve their footwork and learn various strokes and techniques.

For experienced members, they will practice their training through sparring matches, allowing them to apply techniques against opponents.

Lexington, Ky., Sophomore Sebastian Enz, a new member of the Kendo Club, has said he aspires to improve his fencing and himself through the club regiment.

“I can’t wait to be the best that I can be,” said Enz. “I want to get really good at it because I can. “

Tomes said he places a lot of emphasis on the importance of Kendo traditions and teachings. Kendo is more than a marriage art, it’s an art form, Tomes said.

“Whenever you get a strike, it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about making the perfect, beautiful Ippon,” Tomes said. “They focus more on illustration, the discipline of getting the perfect shot rather than beating your opponent.”

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