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Japanese martial art kendo growing in Waterloo region

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Waterloo region residents of all ages are learning a Japanese martial art to stay active and join a growing community.

Kendo translates to ‘way of the sword’, involves participants dressed head to toe in protective armour, and wielding a bamboo sword called a shinai.

Competitors score points by striking one of four areas on their opponent.

“It’s a lot of bursts and starts and big movements,” said Jan Anthony Mendoza, president of the Cambridge Kendo Club. “It’s about disciplining the human spirit and making the human spirit better, making the individual better.”

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First-timers were able to get their start in the practice on Sunday the WG Johnson Centre in Cambridge.

While kendo originated from samurai tradition, and may appear violent at first glance, participants say that’s not the case.

“It’s not about self defence, it’s about self-growth through the way of the sword through traditional practice,” said beginner Kalinka Pedersen.

The Cambridge Kendo Club opens its doors to anyone ages seven and older to try the sport for the first time, learn basic techniques in footwork, and attack.

“How to bow, how to move your feet, where to point the shinai,” said Mendoza. “It’s a lot of improved focus.”

The club is accepting new members through the end of the month. Free trials are available for beginners to join and try the sport for the first time.

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