Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Japanese Martial Arts - Kendo & Karate

The main part of the Japanese cultural workshop this year was to try out two types of Japanese traditional arts - kendo and karate. The location remained the same as the previous year, which was Crosspal Niigata. It is an international exchange center built specially for the people of Niigata city, and also acts as a lifelong learning center. This center is equipped with various facilities like conference hall, library, gymnasium and cafeteria.
Crosspal Niigata.
The activities we has last year concentrate more on our artistic skills. This time, it took a slight change.
The pamphlet given, detailing about the history of kendo.
First up was a short speech by the representative of the center, who welcomed us there and hoped that we would learn something from the workshop.
I guess chances like this don't come often, especially when you want to experience the culture of other countries. Besides, what's better than experiencing it on the country where the culture originated. Fortunately for the international students in my college, this kind of trips are organised frequently for us; I can say there are at least one trip every month on average. We were joined by another group of foreigners, whom mainly were Chinese as well during this martial arts workshop this time.
The opening speech from the representative.
Who would have guessed that Maruyama sensei is a Professor in my college, looking by how he pulled up his pants and rolling a towel over his neck like a farmer.
Soon enough, we were shown the demonstration of kendo by several of the team members. Basically, the goal is to attack the opponents in specific targets soundly, the contact by the shinai (the bamboo slats) must happen simultaneously with the attacker's front foot connecting with floor. The first competitor to score two points wins the match. If the time limit is reached and only one competitor has a point, that competitor wins.
Nah, take that!
Initially, we were so excited and looking forward to this workshop because we thought we would be getting to dress like those people who are taking part in kendo and karate. Last year, each of us were given a pair of yukata to take back home. To our disappointment, we were told that we would be taking part in those two martial arts with what we wore there. For example, I had to perform it in my long-sleeves T-shirt and black jeans.
However, they allowed us to wear the armour set called 防護 (Bōgu) set.
The armour looked cool, no? It seems like we were going for a war.
The weapon, called shinai which is made of four bamboo slats, held together by leather fittings.
I bet each of us there have never tried kendo before and we had them to wear the armour for us. First was the breastplate called 胴 (dō) which looks like a tortoise shell; it almost turned me into Ninja Turtles lol. After that, I put on the stylised helmet called 面 (men), with a metal grill to protect the face and a hard leather flap to protect the throat. The forearm, wrist, and hand are protected by long, thickly padded fabric gauntlets called 小手 (kote).
It sounds the same, but definitely not the same meaning as the Malay version lol.
Only times like this I have to have someone to dress-up for me.
It would look a lot much better if I get to wear the full attire.
We were divided into four groups of five to seven people each group and got to try on a few moves in kendo. First was to hit the head, followed by the next move which was the chest. The lady who was in my group told us not to be afraid to hit her because she had wore the protector already. Nevertheless, I still had doubts to use all my force on her as if I was going to kill her. But she keep on telling us to hit harder, and we did as instructed. By the way, she remained alive at the end of the day.
After those simple move, we were given the chance to have a fight with an opponent. Too bad I got my Mongolian junior as my opponent and that ridiculous guy hit me as if I had done any sin to him in my previous live. It was only a workshop, but he kept on hitting me so hard and worse, there were a few times that he hit me at other places where I didn't have any protectors on. Really brainless camel I tell you.
Gomen ne... Hiakkkk!!
No matter how many times he was told, Jonathan (from America) still hit her softly; each time, his movement looked like he was going to hit her properly, but just before he make contact with the lady, he will slow down.
Finally, a group picture of us with our shinai.
The camel is at the far right.
Subsequently, the workshop continued with karate.
Just like the previous kendo session, we had a short warm-up session before being shown the demonstration of some basic moves in karate. It later continued with the instructor teaching us a few basic moves and techniques and we get to try it ourselves with our partner.
A demonstration by one of the karate team members.
This is how you react to a kick.
How to down your attacker in two simple moves.
Joann and Atiqah thought there were in a kickboxing workshop, perhaps?
Unlike kendo, the moves in karate are more complicated and most of the time, we only watched them performed. Anyway, there was one funny but embarrassing moment happened to me when I was attempting a high kick. I lost my balance completely and fall onto the floor backwards. My senior saw that immediately and he came and put his body on me, while another ran over and made a knockout count à la wrestling match.
A sequel picture showing one of the technique to down your opponent.
Before we went back, there was a short discussion session with the kendo team, in which we talked about our opinion from the session. Honestly, I would not say that we have mastered the martial arts already; how can that be when we only had less than three hours session for two kinds of martial arts. Nevertheless, it was a new exposure for us to another Japanese culture that we have only heard of prior to this.
At the end of the session, one of them asked us which one we find it more interesting, and everyone agreed that kendo was far nicer.
Heart-to-heart session.
"So, which one you like more? Kendo or karate?"

That is partly because the karate team had left the hall that time.


Anonymous said...

It sounds the same, but definitely not the same meaning as the Malay version lol.

mg said...

falling for that girl?? T_______T

Crabbed!! said...

What about guns?

I'm a martial artist as well but I'd run away anytime a guy flash out a gun...

Anonymous said...

Wah.. not easy this...

calvin said...

@ anonymous:
why are you quoting me again lol...

calvin said...

@ michelleg:
ohhh, that was just a typo xD
i still love you, baby :)

calvin said...

@ crabbed!!:
well, martial arts is definitely not relevant anymore in this modern age. but it would be cool to get to hold on a gun some day =)

calvin said...

@ keeyit:
but it was fun :)