Frequently Asked Questions
Who can practice kendo?
Kendo is an open, inclusive martial art that welcomes everyone. Men, women and children of all ages are welcome to come train. No previous martial arts experience is required.
I'm worried I'm too unfit/too old to take up a martial art
Many kenshi begin their journey later in life. Unlike many martial arts, kendo practitioners can continue training and competing well into their eighties. Likewise we have a number of very young members just starting their journey.
As for fitness, to begin with all you need is a willingness to learn. Everything else will come in time.
What will I need for my first lesson?
A good pair of tracksuit pants and a t-shirt is all you'll need for your first lesson.
You’ll start with a bamboo sword (shinai) provided by the dojo and learn the basics of Kendo footwork, sword motion and body mechanics. You will also learn basic vocabulary and etiquette at this stage. Find out more about our Introduction to Kendo Beginners Course here.
Who teaches the classes?
Classes are taught by Brendan Dateling (4th dan) with the help of our senior instructors.
What are the benefits of membership to San Kawa Dojo?
You'll be able to train twice a week (and most Saturdays). Not to mention you'll become part of a close, supportive kendo community.
Should you continue with kendo beyond the Introduction to Kendo Beginners Course, you will also gain membership to the South African Kendo Federation, which brings with it a number of benefits including:
- You can train at any other dojo in the country (there are currently 7 dojos in Gauteng and 1 in the Western Cape).
- You will be able to grade (this is recognised internationally).
- You can attend special kendo seminars, often taught by high-ranking international kendo senseis.
How long will it take to get into armour?
It is almost entirely up to you how long it will take you to transition into the armour kendoka wear (known as bogu). If you train hard and develop proper technique, you may likely be wearing bogu within six months to a year. Your sensei will make the final decision. It is important that basic techniques be learned properly and consistently executed well before a kendoka is granted the privilege of wearing armour.
Do I need to buy the uniform and armour?
Initially you can just wear comfortable clothes, but once you have decided for yourself to commit to Kendo, it is strongly advised to purchase a uniform. As for armour, there are often second-hand sets available for purchase or you can order your own set. When the time comes to get into armour, our senior members will advise you on the best course.
Do you wear belts?
No. However, Kendo does have its own set of grades, starting with Kyu and advancing to Dan. Kyu grades (beginner grades) start at 7th Kyu and work their way up to 1st Kyu. From there they are eligible to attempt 1st Dan (of 1st degree black belt). The highest Dan grade you can reach is 8th Dan. In order to grade you must be a member of the SAKF.
Do you compete?
Yes. San Kawa members are regularly chosen for the South African National Team, which competes in both the European Kendo Championships and World Kendo Championships. There are also smaller inter-dojo competitions that take place through the year as well as the Sefor Cup (National Kendo Championship).
Kendo in South Africa
San Kawa Kendo Dojo is a member of the South African Kendo Federation (SAKF), which is the only recognised Kendo association in Africa. The SAKF is affiliated to the Martial Arts South Africa (MASA), the International Kendo Federation (FIK) and the European Kendo Federation (EKF). There are eight SAKF affiliated dojos in South Africa where you can learn the martial art of kendo. In order to become a member of the SAKF and qualify for these benefits, a yearly membership fee is charged per member as well as a monthly levy fee. Visit our Training Fees section to find out more.
Important membership information
Suspension of Accounts
Should you need to suspend your account for whatever reason (sickness/leaving the country), the following steps must be taken:
A written letter requesting the account be suspended must be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org before the suspension period takes effect.
A monthly 'holding' fee of R100 will be charged to cover SAKF dues & SKKD membership for the duration of the suspension.
Other suspended accounts
Should you not submit a written request to suspend/cancel your account and have not trained or paid your monthly fees, a 'rejoining' fee will need to be paid in addition to the holding fee amount.
Rejoining fee: R200
A monthly 'holding' fee of R100 will be charged to cover SAKF dues & SKKD membership for the missed training period.