One of the students who comes to talk to me every day asked me if I would go to their Kendo club after school and learn how to play. I didn't know anything about Kendo before I came to Japan - only that it was a martial art. I used to practice Wing Chun Kung Fu in Chicago, so I thought maybe this would be right up my alley!!!
Oooooh... boy was I wrong!!! It was absolutely NOTHIN' like Wing Chun or Karate!
I walked in to find my students transformed into scary screaming metal faced fighting machines armed with bamboo sticks!!!
I guess the word quickly spread that I was joining the Kendo practice after schools on some days - cause when I went on Friday, the entire broadcasting club was there armed with their video cameras!!!!!! Oh boy...
The students showed me how to get into the Kendo gear (oh boy are those gloves and masks smelly!!!!!) they gave me a stick and had me practice with them... I had to learn the names of the different parts of the body because right before you strike you have to scream out like a madwoman the name of the part you are about to hit.
Practice went from about 4:15 - 7pm!!!! And they practice every single day except Sundays. Geez these kids are dedicated (or crazy.) At the end of the practice they had me sit in seiza position in the front of the students with the teacher and I had to um... give a speech in Japanese?!?!?!
Afterwards, I stayed after to chat with the students. Once they took off those scary metal Kendo masks they went from screaming fighting machines back to shy terrified Japanese students. It took me awhile to get them genkified. They presented me with a gift to say thanks for coming to their Kendo club... it was a pumpkin headed elmo hair clip!!!! hahahaha.... Geez I love how random and nice this country is!!! (if it was Kenya I would have been asked to give money or food I'm sure!)
For more on Kendo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kendo