I found out about the Kendo Club at the Omatsuri Festival when I visited Wash U over Multicultural Weekend back in high school. I’d only ever seen kendo in manga before, so I was thinking wow they have kendo? That’s so cool! As someone that did a little fencing in high school and has a love for the fantastic, sword-based sports have always held my interest. Add to that my love of East Asian philosophies and Kendo was an obvious choice for an extracurricular when I ended up coming to Wash U after all.
For those of you that aren’t small kind manga nerds like I am, Kendo is a Japanese martial art. Kendo in English is translated to “the way of the sword” is considered one of Japan’s foundational martial arts along with karate, Judo, Aikido, and a few others.
Our kendo sensei (teacher) is a student of the tea ceremony, also known as Sado, the way of the tea. The philosophy in Kendo and Sado have similar roots, so it makes sense to teach some tea knowledge to students. This year we partnered with the Japan Peer Network, a much larger student organization, to put on the tea ceremony and turnout was really great! We had pretty terrible advertising last year, so we only really had Kendo people come, but this year the first four or five rows filled with students! It was really exciting. After the demonstration, everyone got some matcha and traditional tea sweets.
The Tea Ceremony is really the only event that the Kendo Club puts on, but we have a bunch of social gatherings throughout the semester just to hang out and eat lunch. Honestly, for me though the best part of the Kendo Club isn’t the practice itself, but the community. I’ve met some of the most down to earth, nice, and funny people at the Kendo Club. Everyone has an interest in Japan, or at least in kendo. It’s a place I can go to relax, as odd as that may sound with a sport where people are literally running at each other with bamboo swords, screaming at the top of their lungs. Kendo Club reminds me to slow down, take a breath, and enjoy the moment and the people I’m surrounded with.
Related links: Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Gardens