Sports News

Elementary School Students Growing Through Budo

Elementary School Students Growing Through Budo

For a number of years, Elementary School students have been able to enjoy the practice of Kendo, a Japanese martial art that focuses on swordsmanship. With its emphasis on proper manners, sportsmanship, safety awareness, as well as basic swings of the bamboo sword (shinai), Kendo has proved a wonderful way to help our younger students to grow and develop as global and moral citizens.

Indeed, far from the violent depiction that is sometimes made in popular media, Japanese martial arts, which are also known as budo, are understood by the Japanese practitioners as ningen keisei no michi, meaning ways of human development.

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Kendo was established around 1920 and it makes use of modified techniques taken from old schools of swordsmanship (koryu) in order to train both the mind and the body. Our Kendo instructor is Tanaka Sensei, a Japanese teacher at Saint Maur who also holds 3rd dan qualification in Kendo and practices regularly at a local dojo. Tanaka Sensei is very successful in instilling a sense of focus, structure, and etiquette in students as young as those in Grade 2. Moreover, she actively encourages the establishment of a sempai/kohai relationship where the more advanced students take an active part in guiding their juniors.

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Starting this year, Aikido is now also being offered along with Kendo as an after school elementary club. Aikido was founded in 1942 by Ueshiba Morihei, one of the most prominent martial arts instructors of his time. It is a purely defensive art performed by blending with the motion of the opponent and redirecting the force of the attack rather than opposing it head-on.

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The technical curriculum of Aikido mostly consists of hand-to-hand techniques (jujutsu) supplemented with weapons techniques using a staff (jo), a wooden sword (bokuto), or a wooden knife (tanto). Like all other members of the budo family, Aikido is an educational system that aims to develop the intrinsic qualities of each individual and it pushes the notion of mutual growth and harmony through cooperation even further by purposefully not including any competition or match.

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The instructor is Erard Sensei, a Biology teacher at Saint Maur who holds a 5th degree black belt in Aikido that was awarded to him directly by the grandson of Ueshiba Morihei and current leader of Aikido worldwide. Erard Sensei also runs regular classes in Japan and seminars abroad.

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We are delighted that our elementary school students can enjoy the practice of budo, which is such a special aspect of Japanese culture, and we look forward to seeing them continue to develop in our school through an ever increasing range of classes and activities!