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LET’S KENDO web site:：https://www.letskendo.com/posts/12635/
TITLE：Doshisha University Kendo Club（Budo and Scholarship as One, A Traditional University in Kansai,）
Doshisha University Kendo Club was founded in 1892 (Meiji 25) and was officially established as a Kendo Club in 1905 (Meiji 38). With a history of more than 100 years, it has won the Kansai Student Kendo Tournament and the All Japan Student Kendo Championships, winning the West Japan Student Kendo Tournament in May 2019.
Currently, Masahiko Yanagita is the director of the Kendo Club. The men’s team is directed by Yuma Ogawa, and the women’s team is directed by Shintaro Shinohara. Doshisha’s young coaches, including Mr. Ogawa and Mr. Shinohara, strengthen more than 60 students. The students practice with autonomy and work hard. After graduation, they have found employment in prestigious companies and have been active in their company’s kendo team.
In daily practice, both men and women are organised mainly by senior students.The training menu is basically decided by the captain, vice-captain, and other officers, and is determined in consultation with the coaches. Every year, the menu is changed to suit the captain’s personality, their experience, and the new challenges to be met. Regarding major changes this fiscal year, the Kendo club established rules and regulations, and deliberated on schedules, budgets, and other operations of the club at the officer’s committee and General Assembly. They worked to strengthen the management of the club. In terms of improving technique, all members were provided with free bokuto (wooden swords) for cutting practice from the Alumni Association. They used these swords time and time again throughout the year from early spring. Early-morning keiko, training and running have been added to improve physical fitness and lower-body strength in matches. The purpose of this is to make up for the clashes between regular training opportunities and university work. There are members who cannot participate in training because of classes and days when the dojo or gymnasium cannot be used. The men’s Head Coach Mr. Ogawa comments about his training. “I can’t participate in training every day, so I leave the training programme mainly to experienced fourth graders. We are looking for keiko with independence, especially from the fourth graders this year, who are diligent and have many trusted members, and are always helping. ”
The men’s captain Mr. Yokofuji said, “The training menu is organised mainly around kihon-geiko, waza-geiko, and uchikomi-geiko. Because the time is short, the training menu is designed with efficiency in mind and can be changed flexibly. ”
The team’s policy is budo and scholarship as one. If students neglect their studies, they may not compete in competitions as a player. When I asked the fourth graders for impressions of their student life, many of them said that they had participated in projects like overseas studies, teaching kendo for high school students and volunteers in addition to club activities and competition.
When asked by Coach Mr. Ogawa, he said, “Even if there is something tough in keiko, we try to remember that it is something to be enjoyed as-well. In addition, we are not strict about the senior-junior relationships. These are the characteristics of our team. I would like the students to have a lot of experiences outside of kendo. We are planning to have the kendo club experience kendo abroad at least once every four years.” One member said with a smile, “The training at the summer camp was very tough, but the recreation was really fun.” Students and coaches were close in age, so communication was easy and the club activities were bright and cheerful.
The men’s team have practiced hard in both studies and kendo this year so far. Doshisha Kendo Club won the West Japan Kendo Tournament and came second in the Kansai Student Kendo Tournament this year. Furthermore, many students have also been employed by famous or major companies and have been active in kendo after leaving university.
Mr. Ogawa said, “Our students have been able to achieve a certain grade this year as a result of their efforts. I think that students can achieve the best because they have such inspiring seniors to look up to. In the current club environment, it is difficult to develop professionals who are specialized only in kendo, but I think their activities in the kendo club will help improve their independence and character as human beings.”
Training at the time of the interview was limited to two hours, including preparation and packing up. The main kendo dojo is located on the Kyotanabe campus (mainly science) away from Kyoto city. The dojo on the Imadegawa campus (mainly humanities) gives time to other clubs which limits Kendo practice there. It is an environment where you have to practice every day in a limited time and place. Sometimes, to make up training time, the students attend degeiko, this is a challenge overcome by the coaches and students. To that extent, the coach values players who can concentrate their focus on one lesson at a time with independence and diligence.
Just before the practice of the day begins, the students first gather in a circle and that day’s leader inspires the team by shouting the tasks and commands of the day. Then they warm up, practice suburi and then begin keiko. In teams of three, the students practice kihon-geiko for 30 minutes then they perform uchikomi and kakari-geiko afterwards. In the kakari-geiko, the coaches all line up to motodachi for all the students, they act as fierce partners to bring out everyone’s best kendo. After a break, it’s onto waza-geiko. The coaches actively call out and give advice. Then finally it’s time for jigeiko.
In jigeiko, the coaches all line up to motodachi again and do jigeiko with the students. The coaches today are all in their 30s, Mr. Iwakiri, Mr. Katsumi, and Mr. Sasamori (alumnus) who are all active as company kendoka. They also competed in competitions as prefectural representatives and know ippon backwards. In jigeiko, they search for a more practical ippon with the students. The women’s head coach Mr. Shinohara said, “I often give advice in technical training and check the conditions in practice. In addition, the coaches are of the same age, so it’s easy to get together and I’m blessed with an excellent environment for teaching.”
In recent years, Doshisha University Kendo Club has practiced jointly with Kyoto University and Ritsumeikan University. Mr. Ogawa said, “We should be aiming to strengthen not only Kanto and Kyushu, but also Kyoto. We also invite external top athletes to encourage our students to learn more about kendo; like how to practice, and how to face themselves in kendo. These special keiko aim to increase opportunities and motivate students. ”
Doshisha University Kendo Club is training fiercely every day to boost their level within Japan’s student kendo world, whilst always practicing both scholarship and kendo.
【Featured Video 1】Introducing Doshisha Kendo Club
【Featured Video 2】Special Shiai at Doshisha
Translation support：Mr. Jack David Champion
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