I like martial arts and I’ve practiced a couple during my life, and tried a few as well. Recently I became interested in them once again when a mail informed me of the existence of a dōjō near my house in Zürich.
I’ve arrived there and eventually I’ve found the room and the sensei. I asked them if I could watch the class and they’ve said “Sure, do you have gym clothes?”. Used to the Kumazawa policy: Absolutely no test drives. I was surprised. “Yes, I actually do”. “Get yourself comfortable and come” and so I did.
In Kumazawa, in Buenos Aires, I had to ask specifically to pay for a lesson, because they don’t only forbid test drives, they also don’t tell you that you can pay a lesson to try something. So this change of policy here at Budokan surprised me.
After the usual Japanese greeting, the most experience teacher came to our aid, that is, there was another beginner. We were provided with some shinai and he started to teach us. Now, I don’t speak German, so he did most of his teachings in English. I am impressed. Just like that, he switched to another language and the other beginner just went with that.
Kendo is indeed interesting. There’s something very appealing about wearing the armor and sparring. I definitely want to practice it sometime, but not sure now.
I also wanted to try Iaidō, a martial art I’ve never heard of before, so I did. It is very interesting. It is much less active than Kendo, but it is practiced with a bokken and eventually a iaitō. As I am interested in katana, Iaidō is very appealing. This one is much less active martial art, it is very slow, it is not a physical exercise. Some people even call it “Applied Zen”. And indeed there’s a lot of philosophy in the lessons. I like that.
Sandra came to the lesson with me, so even though the sensei speaks perfect English, Sandra doesn’t. He was able to spoke some Spanish and then he reverted to English with me translating and Italian which we more or less manage to understand. It was an interesting experience (although I am more and more convinced of the importance of a common language).
One think I like about these two is that they are arts; there’s no way someone would come asking me whether it is effective or not (as generally happens with Taekwon-do, Karate-do, Judo, Aikido, etc); of course it is not, you don’t generally go by with a katana or shinai in your belt. And even then, they are not effective weapons nowadays, like a gun is. Although I always thought that nobody would dare attack you if you carry a katana.