High school Kendo in Japan: To-o-gijuku High School


The Japanese experience of Kendo in school and university has always fascinated me. These four videos from Let'sKendo are really interesting. Probably only for the die-hard Kendo otaku amongst you all!

The first three videos shows the regular training at To-O-Gijuku High School (東奧義塾高等学校) in Aomori Prefecture. It's fascinating to me to see their training space: the huge banners, trophies, soft arm chairs and heaters (probably for visiting old 8-dans in the colder months!), photos and calligraphy. From the amount of framed photos and certificates, I'm guessing this stadium doesn't get used for basketball all that much!



What else is interesting to watch is their unique training routines. I've mentioned this in training recently, how many dojos have their own versions of kiri-kaeshi and so on. Their warm-ups are as much to do with fostering a unique identity as a club and as a team, as they are a physical preparation. 


Note also how quickly and in unison the whole clubs replies "hai!" whenever sensei says something, how fast they run over when he says "Shugo!", or how fast they put on their men. These are all standard features of bukatsu Kendo (club Kendo at HS or uni level in Japan). 

By the way, those huge banners all commemorate wins or top three results in national competition by individuals or teams of the school. The physical decorations in the dojo are all focused on reminding the young women training there that this is what they have to live up to.

The video at the bottom is of the actual final of the 2019 All Japan High School Taikai, where Togi High (as it's know for short) met Shimabara High from Nagasaki. It's great to be able to watch all the matches right through and from multiple angles. Let'sKendo is really doing a great job for the AJKF by helping to promote HS kendo like this, and especially young women's kendo.

See if you can pick out all the things these girls do and wear to distinguish themselves as part of their team. 

Let's see if all this training has paid off and what they do with it under pressure!


STOP PRESS!

Just came across this interesting video about Togi High's opponents in the final above, Shimabara High, from Nagasaki local TV. Interestingly it has footage of the match and talks to the team members about the result. You also see some of their training in their school dojo. One of their unique practice points is that they do mokuso holding their shinai in chudan no kamae!




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