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Welcome to Cleveland Kendo | クリーブランド剣道へようこそ

We are building a new dojo! Learn more

The Cleveland Kendo Association provides expert instruction in the Japanese Martial Art of Kendo since 1986.

Cleveland Kendo was established as a not-for-profit organization and has maintained a philosophy of assisting students to obtain Kendo training with minimal financial impact. All of our instructors volunteer their time and do not profit from their Kendo activity. This non-commercial and community service philosophy have been instrumental in reaching an array of students from diverse backgrounds to develop a samurai spirituality that can be a powerful source of strength and focus to manage their daily lives.

Cleveland Kendo is a proud member of The Greater North Eastern U.S. Kendo Federation - a regional federation of The All United States Kendo Federation, and The International Kendo Federation.

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The Concept of Kendo

The concept of Kendo is to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the Katana (sword). The Concept of Kendo was established by All Japan Kendo Federation in 1975.

The Purpose of Practicing Kendo


To mold the mind and body,
To cultivate a vigorous spirit,
And through correct and rigid training,
To strive for improvement in the art of Kendo,
To hold in esteem human courtesy and honor,
To associate with others with sincerity,
And to forever pursue the cultivation of oneself.

This will make one be able:

To love his/her country and society,
To contribute to the development of culture
And to promote peace and prosperity among all peoples.

We are building a new dojo!

After 30 years of renting space inside of other organization's gyms and facilities, and having our practices disrupted or cancelled with little to no notice, we have decided that the best way to give back to the community can be achieved by building our own dojo and creating a permanent home for our students to grow and flourish in a safe environment.

In order to achieve this we need help! As a non-commercial organization, we rely on the good will of our students and the community.

Update September 24th, 2016: We have exciting news! Please follow this link for the latest news about our progress!

The Dojo Sho

CKA Logo

Cleveland Kendo Association - Akitsu Dojo



What is a Dojo Sho?
In Japanese culture, a school (dojo or juku) logo is called a "Dojo Sho(道場章)". A Dojo Sho is an important symbolic reflection of the values of the school.

The Meaning of Akitsu あきつ
In ancient Japanese “Akitsu あきつ” was a word used to describe the "Dragonfly", and was word also used to symbolically describe "Japan". The Nihon Shoki (The Chronicles of Japan, compiled in 720 AD), the second oldest book of classical Japanese history mentions Dragonflies as "Akitsu あきつ". The chronicle says that when the first emperor Jimmu Tenno climbed a mountain in Nara Prefecture he said “The shape of my country is like two Akitsu mating.”

The Dragonfly
The Dragonfly is said to only fly straight ahead. Unable to fly backwards, it thus became a symbol of the spirit to “never give up” and “never retreat”. Additionally, the Dragonfly’s wings resemble the blades of a sword (Katana). During the Sengoku era, this quality was especially admired by warriors, and it received the name of “Kachi-mushi” (勝虫)as a symbol of sure victory. 勝虫 can be also pronounced as Katsu-Chu. Coincidentally, “Katsu-Chu” is the same pronunciation as the word for armor (甲冑).

These characteristics made the Dragonfly a symbol that was used by the samurai for centuries. The image of the Dragonfly has been used in the design of clothes, decoration of armor and related items to bring success to the owner of these items.

The Dojo Sho of Akitsu symbolizes our deep connection to traditional Japanese martial values (Budo), and the Samurai concept of moving straight forward courageously, without retreat, and never giving up.

The Shape of our Dojo Sho
The shape of our Dojo Sho is round, like the tsuba (hand guard) of the sword carried by the Samurai (Katana). In Japanese culture the sword is a powerful symbol that represents, among other things, a person’s soul and inner strength. Just as the sword passes through the hole in the center of the tsuba, we also pass through our own personal challenges and elevate ourselves through the practice of Kendo (the way of the sword).

Instructors and Senior Students

Kendo Instructors

The Cleveland Kendo Association operates under the guidance of Dr. Tsuyoshi Inoshita MD, Kyoshi 7dan Kendo, President of the GNEUSKF, and CKA Head Instructor Dr. Shigemi Matsuyama PhD, 5dan Kendo 2dan Iaido.

Instructors: John Beaty 4dan Kendo, Mieko Matsuyama 4dan kendo, Neil Adelman 4dan Kendo, and Dr. Miwa Morita PhD, 3dan kendo (Sempai)

An Introduction to Kendo

Kendo, is the art of Japanese fencing. "Ken" or tsurugi is from the character meaning sword. The character for "Do" or michi includes the meaning way or path which translates as "The way of the sword". A path in life which is followed through the training of kendo.

Intro to Kendo


Origin of Kendo

Modern Kendo bears but faint resemblance to Kenjutsu and to its feudal origins of sword wielding samurai warriors which are today depicted in movies and television. Kendo, literally translated, the way of the sword, cannot be traced to a single founder or given an exact founding date. The story of the rise of modern Kendo begins with the samurai and extends over the culture of several centuries.

By the end of the 12th century, the authority of the Japanese central government had declined. Bands of warriors grouped together for protection forming local aristocracies. Feudalism had come of age, and was to dominate Japan for several centuries. With the establishment of the Shogun in Kamakura and military rule controlling Japan, a new military class and their lifestyle called Bushido, ìthe way of the warrior,î gained prominence. Bushido stressed the virtues of bravery, loyalty, honor, self discipline and stoical acceptance of death. Certainly, the influence of Bushido extended to modern Japanese society and Kendo was also to be greatly influenced by this thinking.

The Japanese warrior had no contempt for learning or the arts. Although Kenjutsu, "the art of swordsmanship" had been recorded since the 8th century, it gained new prominence and took on religious and cultural aspects as well. Sword making became a revered art. Zen and other sects of Buddhism developed and the samurai often devoted time to fine calligraphy or poetry.

The next great advance in the martial arts occurred during the late Muromachi period (1336-1568) often call the ìage of Warring Provincesî because of the many internal conflicts. This period brought an increased demand and respect for men trained in the martial arts. Consequently, many schools of Kenjutsu arose, eventually numbering about 200. Each was taught by a famous swordsman whose techniques earned him honor in battle. Real blades or hardwood swords without protective equipment were used in training resulting in many injuries. These schools continued to flourish through the Tokugawa period (1600-1868), with the Ittoryu or ìone sword school,î having the greatest influence on modern Kendo.

Kendo began to take its modern appearance during the late 18th century with the introduction of protective equipment: the men, kote and do and the use of the bamboo sword, the shinai. The use of the shinai and protective armor made possible the full delivery of blows without injury. This forced the establishment of new regulations and practice formats which set the foundation of modern Kendo.

With the Meiji Restoration (1868) and Japanís entry into the modern world, Kendo suffered a great decline. The Samurai class was abolished and the wearing of swords in public outlawed. This decline was only temporary, however, interest in Kendo was revived first in 1887 when uprisings against the government showed the need for the training of police officers. Later the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) again encouraged an awareness of the martial spirit.

Consequently in 1895, the Butokukai, an organization devoted to the martial arts was established. In 1911, Kendo was officially introduced into the physical education curriculum of middle schools and in 1912, the Nihon Kendo Kata, a set of regulations for Kendo, was published. In 1939 as Japan prepared for war, Kendo became a required course for all boys.

After the war, because of its nationalistic and militaristic associations, Kendo was outlawed and the Butokukai was disbanded. However by 1952, supporters of Kendo successfully reintroduced a ìpure sportî form of Kendo, called Shinai Kyogi which excluded the militaristic attitudes and some of the rougher aspects of practice characteristic of prewar Kendo, into the public schools. Today, Kendo continues to grow under the auspices of the All Japan Kendo Federation, the International Kendo Federation, and federations all over the world.

Although the outward appearance and some of the ideals have changed with the changing needs of the people, Kendo continues to build character, self-discipline and respect. Despite a sportlike atmosphere, Kendo remains steeped in tradition which must never be forgotten. For here lies the strength of Kendo which has carried it throughout history and will carry it far into the future.

Etiquette 礼儀

"Kendo begins and ends with Rei". The word ‘REI’ in Japanese refers to the physical act of bowing as well as ‘good manners’ in general. Good etiquette in kendo is essential. It is the manifestation of respect, consideration, and gratitude for your partner, your instructors, and yourself. This is the essence of "REI".

Intro to Kendo


In Kendo, like many other martial arts, etiquette is an important aspect that needs to be constantly practiced and continually observed. To be clear on terminology, "Reigi" is the concept of etiquette and "Reiho" is its physical manifestation. Etiquette in the dojo is not designed to give airs and graces to senior members. Nor it is designed to contribute to the mystique of the martial arts. Etiquette is common sense, discipline and manners on the whole, and is an integral requirement for self-awareness and development. It is the means of conveying respect towards the dojo, sensei, sempai, peers, and towards the art of Kendo itself. It is perhaps the easiest facet of Kendo to transfer from the dojo to everyday life as concepts of respect, courtesy, and restraint become embedded in everyday actions and considerations.

Almost all of kendo has been regulated and systematized, which make it almost impossible to list and memorize all the possible points; this is at best an incomplete list. We are all learning and all make the occasional mistake but if you find yourself in an awkward position, correct yourself as quickly and quietly as possible, apologize ("gomenesai"), and return your attention to practice. Much of it is really just common sense and good manners in the dojo.

Basic Dojo Rules and Etiquette

  • It is impolite to be late to practice.
  • Whenever a Kendoist enters or leaves a dojo. He/She bows in respect of the dojo and those present.
  • A Kendoist takes off shoes and hat upon entering the dojo.
  • Upon entering or leaving the dojo, a kendoist greets the instructors in acknowledgement of their rank.
  • A Kendoist bows in respect to his opponent before and after each practice.
  • A Kendoist never walks in front of a seated kendo player wearing his bogu. If necessary, extend your right hand and bow slightly as you pass.
  • A Kendoist never touches the bogu of another.
  • Never step over a shinai, bokuto (wooden sword), or Iaito, lean on it, or treat it with disrespect.
  • Handle your shinai or bokuto respectfully. Do not lean on it, rest it on the floor, twirl it, or drag it. It is to be considered as a real sword and is to be afforded the necessary level of respect.
  • The novice will sit opposite the Yudansha (higher rank), or to their right.
  • If repair or adjustment is necessary, practice must be stopped and the other kendo player must remain in place (Sonkyo position in a match). When practice is ready to be resumed, players will stand and bow before continuing.
  • The "Men" should not be taken off until the command is given at the conclusion of practice.
  • Never lean against the wall: Instead stand, kneel or sit cross-legged when resting.
  • Strive for good form, demonstrate proper fighting spirit, and carry yourself with a sense of dignity.
  • Always demonstrate humility and respect for yourself, fellow kendoists, and seniors.
  • All Kendoists should formally close practice together (even if you have stopped practicing before others).
  • Gratitude is expressed at the end of practice instructors and fellow kendoists. “Thank you very much… Domo Arigato Gozaimashita”.

All Japan Kendo Federation: Nihon Kendo Kata

Kata were originally used to preserve the techniques and history of kenjutsu for future generations. In the past, many ryu or schools of Kendo had their own set of Kata that students used to learn. Nihon Kendo Kata were first unified in the Keishicho Gekken Kata or Police Department Attacking Motion Kendo Kata, when exemplary kenshi were hired to standardize kata instruction in 1880. Nihon Kendo Kata were finalized in 1912 by integrating many kata (forms) from different kenjutsu schools. Modern usage of kata is as a teaching tool to learn strike techniques, attack intervals, body movement, sincerity and kigurai (pride).



Kendo kata are practiced with a solid wooden sword called a bokken. More formal demonstrations are conducted with Katana, usually of a form that is similiar to that used in Iaido, but heavier since contact is made with another sword.

There are ten kendo kata specified by the All Japan Kendo Federation, 7 kata with tachi (long sword) and 3 kata with kodachi (short sword).

Each kata studies a single set of concepts in a very pure setting allowing the practitioner to delve deeply into these concepts.

Kendo kata are practiced between two people, the Uchitachi and the Shidachi. In kendo kata, the Uchitachi attacks the Shidachi who in turn demonstrates a proper response to the attack. Seven of these kata are illustrations of the technique of the long sword against the long sword. The last three kata illustrate the short sword defending against attacks by the long sword.

Prior to the invention of the shinai and bogu, kata were the only way that kendoists could safely practice. Originally, the role of Uchitachi was taken by the teacher and the role of Shidachi by the student. This tradition carries over into modern Kendo kata in that the Uchitachi always sets the pace and distance at which the actions are performed.

Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho
Bokuto Application for Kendo Fundamental Technique Practice

Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho (Bokuto Application for Kendo Fundamental Technique Practice) is a new form of bokken training that is directly translatable to bogu Kendo.

The fundamental concept of Kendo is to cut with a sword: the Shinai representing the sword. However, this concept has become obscured as Kendo has become more sports oriented. The Kendo Kata was established in 1912 to teach to and preserve the concept that the shinai and the katana are one in the same; however, the Kendo Kata, in addition to being difficult for most beginners, is infrequently practiced and is often exercised only in hurried preparation for examinations. Therefore, the Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho was developed to bridge the gap between modern kendo practice and traditional training concepts and values [1].

Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho also facilitates learning the Nihon Kendo Kata, and because of this was adopted by the All Japan Kendo Federation for use in primary and secondary school. While Nihon Kendo Kata uses all five kamae, Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho uses only Chūdan-no-kamae, the most common stance. Instead of student and teacher roles, there are the equal roles of Motodachi and Kakarite. The Motodachi receives the waza of the Kakarite. The first four waza are focused on attack initiaion techniques, while the final five are focused on techniques for responding to an attack [1].

[1] Uchida, Mark (2003). "Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho (Bokuto Application for Kendo Fundamental Technique Practice)". Mushinkan Dojo.

Kendo Equipment

Kendo equipment consists of the swords, uniform and armor.

There are two types of wooden swords used. First, the bokken or bokuto, a solid wood sword made of oak or another suitable hardwood. The bokken is used for basics and forms practice (kata). Second, the shinai, is made up of four bamboo staves and leather. The shinai is used for full contact sparring practice.

The uniform or dogi consists of woven cotton top called a keikogi and pleated skirt-like trousers called a hakama.

The armor or bogu consists of four pieces: the helmet (men), the body protector (do), the gloves (kote), and the hip and groin protector (tare). Modern Kendo armor design is fashioned after the Oyoroi of the Samurai.


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Mokuso (Meditation)

Mokuso is part of the training of the mind called “Mushin”, which comes from Zen Buddhism. One must attempt to return to the mental state of a new-born-child that is without a sense of fear, not conscious of distress, pain, cold etc. A baby cannot anticipate these things and therefore has no fear and does not hesitate before moving. An adult knows fear and is afraid. When attacked they feel tense and are often useless against the assailant because movement is restricted.

Intro to Kendo

If one sees a beautiful flower, normally the mind concentrates on it, but with an empty mind (Mokuso) the mind is aware of everything else as well as the flower. So when one fights an enemy, attacking and defending, if only concentrating on blocking techniques, the mind is restricted to that movement, but if the mind is empty the body is able to do the next movement automatically and movements will always be natural. If the body is tense it is wasting energy and restricting speed, it is essential to move without being conscious of it. That feeling is called Mushin.

The word Mokuso is formed by several ideograms that all together, are translated as “watching in silence toward our heart. To think or to reflect profoundly”. Meditation is to the soul and the spirit, what the physical workout is to the body and mind. “As a crystalline water's lake reflects without distortion all that exists around it, giving to it a shade of tranquility and perfection to the nature; thus it must be the mind of the kendo student toward the teachings of the master”. Mokuso is one of the paths leading to this state of mind.

The development of a strong commitment toward attaining peace and serenity puts us in harmony with the universe. The meditation is the vehicle to this union with the world and its inhabitants. Releasing the mind of any thought, we can see another dimension of the world. In this state of complete relaxation and sublime concentration, we release any mental disturbance (hatred, fears, pains, excessive desires, etc.) and simultaneously we unconsciously generate a psychic force. It is virtually impossible to create this force consciously. Just as we train hard to perfect techniques until they become part of our “body memory”, the practice of meditation teaches us to release this psychic force in a conditioned reflex for spiritual growth. While we advance toward this goal, the practice of meditation has beneficial effects.

Daily meditation reduces stress, oxygen consumption decreases, which (cellular oxidation). The blood pressure and the pulse tend to slow. The lower respiratory rate stabilizes the nervous system.

Meditation is defined by some experts as the perfect passive activity for the health of human beings. To practice standing, sitting or lying down, we should meditate in complete stillness.

Keep in mind that the practice of kata is by and large, an active form of very advanced meditation, and only those which have devoted many years to the practice of passive meditation, along with kendo training, can discover this active meditation. To reach this level one must learn and practice certain specific relaxation techniques. These techniques must be executed with an iron will.

In Kendo, Mokuso is a very important ceremony and should be practiced immediately before "Men Tsuke" (putting on the Men, or head gear) to garner the proper resolve for a hard practice session, as well as after each Kendo practice.

Additionally, practice Mokuso for at least sixty minutes daily, preferably at sunrise and before bed. Little by little, as a result of perseverance, Kendoka can learn to live in a constant moving meditation.

How to Join Cleveland Kendo

The Cleveland Kendo Association is a "non-commercial" group and does not profit from Kendo. We only seek to cover our minimum expenses and keep Kendo affordable and accessible. Our instructors are all volunteers.

Intro to Kendo

Before you decide to start learning Kendo, we recommend that you visit and watch at least one of our Saturday practices, from the beginning until the very end. While everyone can learn Kendo, regardless of age or gender (and we will dedicate the time necessary to train anyone willing to make the commitment), we are not going to kid you, it is hard. Developing skill and stamina in Kendo requires a commitment of time and hard work. With regular practice, it will take at least one year for your body to acclimate to the movements and develop the minimum skill required to "begin learning Kendo". With that said, here is how to get signed up:

To practice with the Cleveland Kendo Association you will need to: 1. pay first month membership and federation dues , and 2. complete a waiver and registration forms. Of course, there are rules of conduct that apply as well.

Fees

1. First lesson is FREE
2. Month-to-month Membership*: $65.00 per month (includes unlimited classes and practices)
3. Federation Membership**: $55.00 (due at signup and collected once per year)
4. Two or more family members want to join? Ask us about family discounts.

Note:

*No serious student will be turned away due to financial hardship. Sliding scale is available at the discretion of the head instructor.
**Includes membership in the Greater Northeastern United States Kendo Federation and the All United States Kendo Federation. This provides access to testing, regional, national and international instructors, seminars, and competitions.


Download and Sign The Membership and Waiver Form

Waiver Form: If you are new to the club and wish to join, you must fill out a waiver form before you will be allowed to join the practice. Children under the age of 18 will require a parent to be present and sign the waiver form before your first class (Click image on left to download).


Uniforms, Equipment, What To Expect The First Year

Here is what you can expect during your first year (this may vary depending on the student):

1. At the beginning, loose clothing such as gym shorts and a t-shirt is recommended. You will be practicing in bare feet. A bamboo sword ("shinai") and a wooden sword ("boken" or "bokuto") will need to be purchased. We usually buy them in bulk and can sell them to you at a discount. If you plan on purchasing directly from an online retailer, please ask us first so that you do not purchase a substandard item that cannot be used in kendo practice (for safety reasons).
2. Within a few months of regular attendance and after you have developed sufficient basics, you will be allowed to purchase and wear the top ("keiko gi") and pleated pants ("hakama") that are the traditional uniform of the Samurai.
3. Within six to nine months of practice you will be approved to purchase a set of armor ("bogu" or "dogu"), and will begin to acclimate to the extra weight by adding additional pieces of the armor, one at a time, over a period of several weeks.
4. At nine months to one year, you will be allowed to begin sparring with an instructor only, and after a period of time as approved by the head instructor, you will be allowed to spar (have free practice) with other members of the dojo.

To read more about uniforms and equipment, follow this link.

Attendance

New student attendance: If possible, new students are asked to attend the Saturday sessions first for orientation, before attending the weekday practices. The Saturday classes start promptly at 3:00pm every Saturday. Please arrive 30 minutes early on your first day to allow for registration.

Visitors are always welcome to watch our practice. We are happy to answer any of your questions before and after the scheduled practice. We only ask that you e-mail us at contact@clevelandkendo.com to let us know you are coming.

29th Annual Cleveland Taikai - Coming Spring 2017

Since 1988, The Annual Cleveland Kendo Tournament has become one of the longest running continuous Kendo tournaments in North America, attracting competitors from across the United States, Canada, Japan, and other countries.

Intro to Kendo

The Cleveland Kendo Tournament is hosted by the Cleveland Kendo Association, and serves as the Annual Championship Tournament for the Greater Northeastern U.S. Kendo Federation (GNEUSKF), which is a regional federation of the All United States Kendo Federation (AUSKF).

The Cleveland Tournament is an "event" that usually includes several opportunities to practice with visiting instructors from across the U.S. and Japan, an AUSKF sanctioned promotion "shinsa", and an Iaido seminar taught by one the highest ranking instructors in North America.

7th Annual CWRU Student CUP Kendo Tournament 2016

Since 2010, the Case Western Reserve Kendo Club has been hosting a kendo tournament in September for middle school, high school, and college students (and recent graduates). The weekend encompasses special practices and seminars with visiting instructors, an AUSKF sanctioned promotion examination, and of course the competition itself.

Intro to Kendo

When: September 16 – September 18 2016

Where: Case Western Reserve University
10900 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, Ohio 44106

**UPDATE AUGUST 8, 2016**

Dear Senseis and Kendoka,

On behalf of the Case Western Reserve University Kendo Club, it is my pleasure to invite you to the 7th annual CWRU Student Cup Tournament, promotion exam, and seminar, from September the 16th to the 18th.

Follow the links below for our tournament and promotion exam registration and information. Please take care to read the information, and send us your forms postmarked by the 5th of September.

Thank you everyone, and I hope to see you all there!

Tournament Information, Tournament Registration, Promotion Exam Registration, Promotition Exam Questions.

Sincerely,
Sean Wong
President CWRU Kendo Club

Media and News

Selections of photos, videos, and other media from Cleveland Kendo

Flickr Photostream

CKA Flickr

Way of the Sword

Warriors of Budo

What is Kendo?

Demo Kato Sensei

63rd All Japan Final

In the News

April 19, 2016: Cleveland State assists CWRU kendo tournament

Cleveland Kendo Practice Schedule

While we are in the process of preparing for our new dojo we will be adhering to the following practice schedule:

September 2016

No Practice on Saturday September 17th due to the CWRU Student Cup

When: Saturdays: 3:00pm -5:00pm
Where: CWRU Veale Center
(entrance cost $5)
2138 Adelbert Rd, Cleveland, OH 44106
See Map
*Free parking is available on Saturdays at Lot 44 at 2310 W Murray Hill Rd Cleveland, OH 44106
See Map
When: Wednesdays: 7:00pm - 8:15pm
Where: Lake Shore Aikido
Room 215
291 E 222nd Street, Euclid, OH 44123
See Map

Contact and Location Information



Practice Schedule

September 2016
When: Saturdays: 3:00pm -5:00pm
Where: CWRU Veale Center
(entrance cost $5)
2138 Adelbert Rd, Cleveland, OH 44106
See Map
When: Wednesdays: 7:00pm - 8:15pm
Where: Lake Shore Aikido
Room 215
291 E 222nd Street, Euclid, OH 44123
See Map
P: 216-400-9923
E: contact@clevelandkendo.com

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