The Budokan in Japan Part 2 | The Sword Masters Themselves

As I am led toward the building I begin to hear screams and shouts accompanied by the cadence beat of a drum and the crack of shinai (bamboo swords) striking together. I continue to walk up the stairs on my way to Abe sensei’s office, which is on the third floor. Screams and pounding of feet grow louder as I pass the main door. My eyes reveal a vast room with a wooden floor that could easily accommodate a few hundred people. I continue to follow the aide up the second flight of stairs to a smaller room, which appeared to be a glass encased viewing room. From this room the instructors had a panoramic view of all the student's action happening on the second floor.

The aide motioned me to sit as he begins to serve me tea. Through these glass arena windows I could see nothing but a sea of blue clad kendoists with bamboo swords thrusting and parrying. I was absolutely awed observing the diligence and demeanor of all those blue clad practitioners. The strike of a drum stopped the training and what looked like chaos immediately became disciplined order. That’s when I recognized Abe Sensei bowing to the class and moments later in the viewing room/teachers lounge sitting next to me with a cup of tea in his hand.

Soon another person came into the room approached me and said, "Hello my name is Shizawa Kunio and I hear you want to learn kendo?” It appears that Shizawa sensei spent a few months in Australia the year before and he was happy to have an opportunity to use his English, as he was quite proud of his conversational accomplishments.

In a seiza (kneeling position) he leans forward, picks up the dainty tea cup and with massive forearms takes a sip, sighs and begins to ask me many questions. Questions like:  Why do you want to practice kendo?   Do I like sushi?   What did you study at Arizona State University?   How long did I plan to stay?   What did your father do?  As I look back now, I guess that was my interview to be admitted into Nihon Taiiku Daigaku where I began my real sword training.

About the Author:

Dana Gregory Abbott Is an internationally recognized expert of Japanese Sword Arts who has been influential in advancing and spreading the martial arts. 

He holds a 7th Degree Black Belt, is an inductee to the Black Belt Hall of Fame. In addition to teaching and advancing the arts, he is published, and is the inventor of the ActionFlex product line that allows students to make rapid progress in training without injury.

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