Monday, August 16, 2010

Kendo Tournament – ASEAN 2010

Special Interview with Malaysia’s Kendo Team Manager

Brief introduction from the Author:

It is quite fortunate for me to get a chance to interview Christopher Sensei (5th Dan), I met sensei about a year ago and Chris Sensei is a very serious when it comes to training, a very humble person and at the same time someone who loves to share his experiences.

Although time is limited for this interview, but Chris sensei made full use of the time we had for the interview.

The Interview

MAA (Martial Arts Asia): Sensei, How many years has Malaysia been competing in Kendo Tournaments?

Christopher Sensei: If I remember correctly, Malaysia started competing internationally back in late 1970’s, and Prof. Baginda who is the President of Malaysia Kendo Association was one of the Pioneers back then.

As for Asean, it started around 1980s and back then it was known as a goodwill championship between Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.

MAA: Sensei, can you share with us a few memorable from your experience in a tournament

Christopher Sensei: 11th World Kendo Championship in Santa Clara, US. It was the first time for few of us being exposed to international championship, to be there is already something memorable, but the best moment is when we score the first point, that is something that no one can ever forget.

MAA: Sensei, out of curiosity, normally how many players does Malaysia team send out for tournaments?

Christopher Sensei: It really depends, there is not much of a guide in the number of players that we send out, normally it falls back into the budget and the subsidiary we have. Normally, for tournaments in neighboring countries we would be able to send more players. Everything depends on the budget, and of course we would love to send out as much players possible for them to gain experience.

MAA: Sensei, ASEAN Tournament is around the corner, what results are you expecting?

Christopher Sensei: I do hope the team can do well, but this year we don’t have enough time for training and the chances we have to get everyone to train together is quite minimal due to most players are working and some studying.

Plus other team has been training really hard and they have some really youthful players with experiences which is a big threat to us.

MAA: Sensei, how long have the team been in serious training?

Christopher Sensei: Not too long ago, only since early July

MAA: Sensei, which country do you think for this coming ASEAN is the toughest competition? And who will win?

Christopher Sensei: I would say Thailand, they have some promising young and experience players which started training since their teens or early twenties which they are around 30s now. Plus in Kendo Shiai, One Key factor is Stamina.

MAA: Sensei, how do you choose your players? Is Dan is prerequisite?

Christopher Sensei: Haha.. nope, Grades are never a prerequisite to us, we look at the Kendo spirit and the skills that the players have, everyone who have a fair chance. We normally will observe everyone during the classes, and if we think that the player is good enough, we will approach the player.

MAA: Sensei, how long have you been managing the Malaysian Team? And are there any tough moments managing a group of martial artist?

Christopher Sensei: Started around year 2000, and as a team manager, I have to think of ways to build up the team’s spirit. Normally I would coax the players to practice more, and do more. There was never a tough moment because everyone in the team does it for the love in kendo.

We learn from each other, and we respect each other, everyone share and everyone learn that is how we build our relationship. Even as a sensei, I learn from the players a lot and of course I share with the team what I know and that is how we improve.

MAA: Sensei, I am curious, why do you pick up kendo in the first place? There are so many martial arts like judo, karate, but why Kendo?

Christopher Sensei: Haha… I never have any experience from other martial arts, and kendo came into my like when I was in my 30s. Somehow I felt that kendo is easy for myself to pick up and I did my best to train since then. Until now, kendo has been my way of life.

Sometimes I have a rough day at work, tired, lazy, but because of kendo I have become more discipline, no matter what happen, when the time for kendo calls, I will be ready in the Dojo, no matter what. And for myself, In Kendo, I prefer to lose a point during sparing in the class and embrace the failure, because with the failure I know how to progress and become a better Kendoka.

MAA: Thank you sensei for the lovely interview, just a last question, if anyone reading this blog in Malaysia would like to join the Kendo class that you and other sensei’s are teaching, who can they contact?

Christopher Sensei: you can call 60-3-7728 7577 or email to our Yap Sensei who is also our Secretary General for Malaysia Kendo Association (MKA)

MAA: Thank you very much Sensei for the precious interview

Christopher Sensei: It’s my pleasure to be able to share

Friday, April 30, 2010

From The Pros - Kendo

Special Interview with my Sensei, Miho Iwamoto

Name: Miho Iwamoto

Country: Japan

Type of Martial Arts: Kendo

Rank / Belt: 5th DanAward /

-Hong Kong Asia open kendo championship '09 champion '10 second place
-'05 Tokyo public offices kendo tournament individual champion
-'05 All Japan public offices Kendo tournament individual Best 8
-'02 Tokyo junior college kendo tournament individual champion

Years of Training: 20years

How / Why you start Kendo?: My grandfather (7dan) has dojo

When was the first time you won a kendo competation?: 11years old

How do you feel at that time?: I was Very happy and I can't stop crying

Why do you think Kendo is a good?: We can become strong not only body but also mind.

What would you advice to Beginners?: Don't think seriously. Please ENJOY first.

Notes from the Chief Editor:

I still remember when I was only 14 when I first got to learn about Martial Arts, I was always beaten up by some school bullies, learning Martial Arts was just to defend myself. I was very active in other sports too, such as Basketball, Swimming, Skating, but my favorite day fell on Sunday, because I get to go to my favorite class, which is Martial Arts.

It all ended when I reach 17, after a serious injury during sparing. And I am not able to pick up any more sports after that.

Back in 2009, while I was reading the weekend papers, something caught my eye. It was an interview on about Kendokas in Malaysia. I was thinking, it would be great if I can still do martial arts (some of you might understand) I decided to call up the club which is JCKL (Japan Club Kuala Lumpur) and join.

The first 2 class was tough, I can’t even barely run, and now I need to slide and raise my heel while standing? I taught of giving up upon the 3rd or 4th class. It was when I first saw Iwamoto Sensei in her Bogu sparing.

She has the person the lit up the fire in me to continue training, I was stunned with her move. She is so graceful in her moves, Especially when she block a “Men” cut and immediately charge at the opponent with a “Do” cut. It looked as if she is dancing.

I really hope Iwamoto Sensei is reading this because I really wanted to thank her very much as I didn’t get to thank her when she left back to Japan, I enjoyed and loved every single class that I go to and I felt as if I’m young again. After enduring a year of pain while doing Suriyashi, the pain is now gone, sometime I do feel the pain coming back, but it doesn’t matter anymore, cause I enjoyed my class.

Ishii Sensei, Chua Sensei, Masuo Sensei, Yap Sensei, Lim Sensei, Wong Sensei and sorry if I missed any names, has been really kind to me and made me realize how fun can Kendo be, I slowly realized that I have changed a lot in the past 1 year, and now Kendo is not what I do for fun anymore, it has been a part of me.

I really wanted to thank all Sensei/Teacher/Master/Senpai like Kongnapa (Muay Thai) , Mark Small (Tai Chi), Graham Clunan (Taijutsu), Michael S. Fuchs (Tai Chi), Ric Hurst (Ninjutsu), Ebony Washington (Taekwondo), Antonio Graceffo (Bokarto) for accepting the interviews and being an inspiration to the students like myself

Please do enjoy the short interview with my favorite and the MOST Graceful Kendoka I have met, I hope that those who wanted to take up Kendo, can really get some advice from her.



Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Introduction to Japanese Martial Arts

Japanese Martial Arts also commonly interchanged with “Budo” or “Bujutsu” literally means the art of war and/or the application of the Japanese Martial Art techniques in actual combat scenario.

It all started back in the Samurai eras where all the warriors are expected to master various combat weapons as well as unarmed combat, and that is around the time where the purpose of mastering and perfecting the skills of Martial Arts became a Philosophy of Achieving Spiritual Goals began.

Weapons for Armed Combat You might be interested in the type of Japanese Martial Arts especially with the wide range of weapon that the warriors has used, which the COMMON ones consists of:

Bo (Long Wood Staff)







Shuriken (Flying Star)




Yumi (Bow and Arrow)

And yes, these are not the only weapons that the Japanese Warriors used, there are actually more, as the tools keep on changing due to the development of the combat techniques, and all these weapons are studied with great depth as the techniques evolved into perfecting the martial art itself.

Koryu and Gendai Budo

In Japanese Martial Arts, there is a slight difference with the rest of the Martial Arts in Asia. The difference is due to Meiji Restoration era where Martial Arts are generally divided into 2, which are Koryu and Gendai Budo.

Koryu is basically known as the “Old School/Traditional” way where the arts are founded before the Meiji Restoration back in 1866-1867. And Gendai Budo is the Martial Arts after the Meiji Restoration.

The Main difference between Koryu and Gendai Budo is Koryu martial arts are used for war and the tradition is preserved since then. And Gendai Budo is the martial arts that have been modified due to modernization where the focus is more to self improvement or self defense.

Images taken from:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Introduction to Tat Kun Tao

Tat Kun Tou or Tat Kun Tao is commonly mistaken as a martial arts that originated from China, but in fact Tat Kun Tao is actually a martial arts that was founded from the Philippines. Captain Jose Millan Go (Ju Go) from the Barangay community was one of the first few students of the Balintawak master Anciong Bacon.

Grandmaster Jose “Jo” put together practices from schools like Tai chi and other Kun Taos such as Five Ancestors and later created a mimic version of unarmed Balintawak now known as Tat Kun Tao. Grand Master Jo fused the simplicity, and straightforwardness of Balintawak with Tai Chi and other Kun Tao that he has learned over the years.

Not much info can be retrieved by research, the only thing that we have besides the above is that Master Jo was still teaching the art of Tat Kun Tao until he passed away in year 1991 and also his Dojo is still running in Cebu by his students.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Introduction to Yabusame

Yabusame is one of the hidden treasures of martial arts, not much of us have heard of it before and for some NON-Japanese like myself, it sounds more like noodles more than martial arts.

Yabusame is actually an armed martial art, or should I say archery, originated from Japan, it is performed while riding a horse. It all begins from the Kamakura Period. Where it begins from the military is alarmed that their army or Samurais is not good for a long distance battle, therefore the Samurai were grouped and Yabusame started from there. Although the use of bow in the Japan started from 300BC, but it is officially made as a type of martial/battle art only during the Kamakura Period.

During the Kamakura Period Yabusame was used as a military training exercise to keep samurai prepared for war. Those archers who did poorly might find themselves commanded to commit seppuku.

Yabusame is not the only type of Horseback Archery, but Yabusame is only 1 out of the 3 type of Horseback Archery and I have outlined some details for your easy reference.

-Yabusame is the most well-known form of Horseback Archery, and it is held at shrines as ceremony which shoots on 3 different targets.

-Kasagake has different sizes of targets each of which is set at different height, and the archer shoots both ways.

-Inuoumono is not in practice anymore. In the practice dogs were used as targets, so it was practical and effective practice to sharpen horseback riding skill as well as shooting skill but I think that most of us will agree that this act is a bit brutal therefore we are happy that it was banned!

A Yabusame performance starts with the archer dressed as a traditional warrior gallops down a 255 meter long track at full speed and controlling the horses with his knees and shooting 3 targets on the way down. The arrow that is used are mainly blunt and round but experience archer are allowed to use a v shaped arrow.

Image taken from

Monday, August 3, 2009

Introduction to Pehlwani

Pehlwani also known as kushti is a form of wrestling that is practiced by people in both India and Pakistan. It was inspired and a mixture between Malla-yuddha which is the Ancient form for wrestling in South Asia together with Shastar Vidiya and Mongolian wrestling traced back all the way to the 5th century BC which form the modern Pehlwani.

No pehlwan (Phelwani Practitioner) have not heard of the name of Great Gama, won the World Wrestling Championship in year 1910 and was remain undefeated with only a draw in his whole entire career as a wrestler and even featured in Shadow Hearts: Covenant.

Not much know about this but during the 1960’s, India was ranked among the top 10 wrestling nations of the world and they even hosted the world wrestling championships in New Delhi in 1967. Pehlwans who compete in wrestling nowadays do train in the grappling aspects of other martial arts such as judo and jujutsu. Legendary wrestlers like Karl Gotch went to India to learn the art of pehlwani and to polish their skills.

Milk and ghee are regarded as the most common diet to the wrestlers, other diet includes almonds, chickpeas, apples, wood-apples, bananas, figs, pomegranates, gooseberries, lemons, and watermelons. Orange juice and green vegetables are also recommended for also not all but some pahalwan do consume a lot of meat for it’s protein to help with muscle building. Other diet discipline includes no sour or spiced foods and no alcohol and tobacco.

Allrite, I’m not going to wrestle! Happy reading

Image Taken from: