Until recently, the Japanese martial-arts sport of kendo or stick-fighting was restricted to men. Now,?
GV Akemi (white suit) fighting with Tsukuba Club; GV girl kendoka take off their masks; GV EXTERIOR Tsukuba University ZOOM TO girl kenkoda on bikes (Akemi in red sweater); GV kendo practice; MV club coach instructing Akemi; CU Akemi; CU intvu with coach; GV's Akemi practising with male kendoka SLOW MOTION; girls' dormitory at Tsukuba, kendoka prepare equipment; CU mascot; CU INTVU Akemi; GV NIGHT EXTERIOR Akemi practising; GV INTERIOR University Club training session; GV's Akemi fights with male kendoka; more practice shots.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Until recently, the Japanese martial-arts sport of kendo or stick-fighting was restricted to men. Now, however, Japanese girls, who are almost as keen on all forms of sport as their fathers and brothers, have taken up the sport. On the 2nd November this year the All-Japan Women's Group Kendo Championship will take place, and one of the stars will undoubtedly be Akemi Horibe, a student at Tsukuba University about 50km north-east of Tokyo. Akemi, who is a black belt, fourth dan, and who won second prize at the All-Japan individual Tournament earlier this year, comes from a kendo family. Her father, himself a former champion, started to teach her fourteen years ago. And her younger sister and brother are both also black belts. She is one of seven women kendoka (practitioners of kendo) at the Tsukuba University Kendo Club; and altogether in the Kanto area around Tokyo there are more than seven hundreds student women kendoka.
Kendo, which has been practised in Japan for at least a thousand years, was originally a form of training for swordsmanship. The sons of samurai were not allowed to handle a real battle-sword until they had proved their skill at kendo. The kendo stick, which is between 3 feet six inches and 3 feet eight inches long, is made of several bamboo sticks tightly bound together with a leather handle something like the handle of a sword. It is a formidable weapon, easily capable of killing, and heavy protective clothing is always worn in practice and competition. A kendo match is held on a bare wooden floor about 33 feet square; and points are scored by the competitor who strikes his opponent's head, wrist or waist or who strikes his neck with a forward thrust. The sport is an excellent one for training all the muscles of the body and for improving the natural speed and co-ordination of hand and eye.