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Welcome to Dublin Kendo Kobukai
Learn Authentic Japanese Weapon Arts

DUBLIN KENDO KOBUKAI faq's

Hi there, on this page we hope to answer your frequently asked questions, on all the arts we teach. 

FAQ's

With several training locations throughout the city and sessions four days a week, we have endeavoured to make our arts as accessible as possible to both veterans of the sport and those looking to try them for the first time.

We are active in the local communities in which we train and regularly run demonstrations and workshops to promote Japanese Martial Arts in Ireland.

Kendo & General FAQ's

Do you run children's classes?

Yes, we accept children from eight years old in our Kendo classes. Our coaches are qualified Coaching Ireland / Irish Martial Arts Commission Martial Arts Coaches and have undergone Garda vetting and child protection training.

The club provides a fun and safe environment for younger children to be active and learn the fundamentals of kendo, with a focus on building overall non-sports-specific skills in line with the Irish Sorts Council's Long Term Athlete Development strategy.

For older children we encourage a phased introduction to competition with an emphasis on participation and rewarding effort rather than results. Older children also have the opportunity to practice Iaido and Kendo along with our senior members.

We believe that young people deserve every chance to become physically literate, and so in our club children up to fourteen years old train for free. We also subsidise event participation for juniors where possible to help them develop their skills and to promote their participation in the sport.

Am I too old to start?

Not at all! Kendo, Iaido and Jodo can be practiSed by people of all ages. In Japan, where these arts originate, it is not uncommon for people to continue to practice into their 90s.

Although Kendo is a full-contact combat sport, the protective equipment ensures that injuries are relatively rare compared to other martial arts. Iaido and Jodo, as non-full-contact sports are a gentler way to stay fit and build strength and stamina and are very popular among older practitioners.

Taking up a martial art in later life can help keep improve your fitness and self-confidence and keep you healthy in mind, body and spirit.

Do men and women practice together?

Yes, in all of our arts men and women practice and compete together. Kendo is one of the few full-contact sports where women can take on men on a level playing field. Because the emphasis is on technique and timing rather than strength or raw speed, a woman, or smaller person is not at a disadvantage when fighting a larger or stronger opponent.

What equipment do I need?

To begin your training you just need comfortable gym clothing or a tracksuit. We practice bare-foot, so you don't need any special footwear. The club provides you with your practice swords and all other equipment at the beginning.

As you progress you will also need a uniform and armour, and the club can also provide these for you too. Over time, many people choose to invest in their own equipment once they have decided to continue with their training.

Do I have to be very fit or sporty to excel in Kendo/Iaido/Jodo?

You do not have to be super-fit to start training. By practising Kendo, Iaido or Jodo, you will find that your fitness, strength, balance and coordination will naturally improve, but people of all fitness levels can enjoy these martial arts.

How much does it cost?

We aim to keep the cost of training as low as possible. Children up to fourteen years old train for free and we offer concessionary membership rates for juniors up to eighteen years old, students and those currently without a steady income. You can find information on our current rates for each art in the appropriate section.


Iaido FAQ's

What is Iaido?

At its most basic level Iaido is the traditional Japanese martial art of drawing, cutting, and re-sheathing a katana (a particular type of Japanese sword).  However, many practitioners would say that there is a deeper purpose to Iaido, one that strives to develop awareness, centredness, sincerity, a calm mind, and mental and physical harmony through the practice of traditional sword techniques. 

It is perhaps the martial art most closely associated with the samurai class and Japanese nobility. In Dublin Kendo we offer training in ZNKR (All Japan Kendo Federation) Iai. This is modern set of 12 kata taken from various koryu (old schools) and standardised to provide everyone with an excellent understanding of the basics of Japanese swordsmanship. 

This allows students to grade and participate in competition internationally. 

Our senior instructors are all deshi (students) or monkasei (apprentices/disciples) of various lines of Koryu, the old styles of Japanese martial arts used by the samurai dating back hundreds of years. Unlike many other arts it koryu has not developed a sporting element and remains true to its focus on the development of mind, body, and spirit and practical techniques. 

Training in specific koryu arts such as Shinto Muso Ryu, Suio-Ryu, Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu, Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu, and Muso Shinden Ryu etc is only offered to those who show an aptitude and dedication to general training and developed a proficiency in the kata and movements taught in the ZNKR Iai and jo classes.

Can I practise Iaido?

Certainly. With that said, the decision to study Iaido is not one to be made lightly. Practising Iaido requires a long term commitment. As one learns the fundamentals and develops an increasing technical understanding the techniques themselves increase in difficulty and as such they demand a longer period of time to learn. The subtle of even the simplest movements can take years to fully understand and appreciate it. But with that commitment comes a great sense of achievement, personal and technical development and a unique skill set and place in an unbroken martial tradition.

Where does Iaido come from?

Iaido originates from Japan. There are many different styles or “ryu” of Iaido practised and these developed as a result of different families and provinces, and of course different directions of thought. Each of these in turn has their own lineage and pedigree. For more information about the general progression of Iaido’s history check out this page - (http://www.way-of-the-samurai.com/Iaido.html).


How do you pronounce Iaido and what meaning has it?

It’s hard to write it’s pronunciation and is one of many questions best asked of an Iaido instructor in person but to write it the best approximation would be ee-eye-do. As regards the meaning of Iaido, there are a number of interpretations and translations available and it does not translate into English at all easily. The word itself is comprised of 3 Japanese characters: i-ai-do.

Roughly, “I” comes from Iru, to be; Ai (as in Aikido) means coming together, harmony, or love; and Dō means road, or Way (in the Buddhist sense).  Loosely translated then, Iaido means being in harmony with one’s surroundings, always being prepared for any eventuality.

What benefits can I expect from the study of Iaido?

Different people find different things in Iaido and that is perhaps one of the reasons for its popularity.  The theories and cultural context from which Iaido originated are long gone. No longer do we walk around with 2 swords at a time when deadly personal combat was a daily possibility. Many of the sensibilities from which these techniques were derived are alien to us in the present, however the underlying principles upon which they were based are still deeply relevant today. In fact, many find these principles are more important today given the nature of our society.

For some Iaido is an art where they get to practice a living breathing history, to be part of a continued tradition and preserve an important piece of cultural history. Others enjoy more personal benefits, in learning to develop a sense of calm while in the midst of stress. All participants regardless of their personal motivations and benefits they derive from the study of Iaido all share in the increased physical coordination and dexterity improved through training along with substantial improvement in mental awareness, concentration and 'focus' and the lifelong friendships and community - all forged through regular practice. 

Many martial artists find Iaido captivating and complex enough to serve as their sole art, others find it the perfect complement to their core system, but previous experience of martial arts is not required to benefit.

How fit do I have to be to start Iaido training?

Not that fit at all. At least not at the start. Iaido is not as aerobically challenging as many of the other Japanese martial arts such as Kendo, Karate, Judo or Aikido and so can be practised by young and old alike. With that said however, many advanced students find the activity of training gruelling both mentally and physically due to the great mental focus, deep stances and movements. It’s not uncommon to be breathing heavily, the sweat dripping off your brow and your legs shaking after a particularly good training session. Ultimately, as with many things, you get out what you put in, and as always the best way to find out is to drop in and try a class. 

The study of Iaido is certainly worthwhile both from a mental and physical point of view, as it emphasises not only physical and psychological strength but mobility and fluidity of movement and thought. Many techniques do involve kneeling, and if you have a history of joint or knee problems it would be advisable to talk this over with an instructor and to wear knee pads.

Am I too old to study Iaido?

It would be unlikely. Many practitioners of Iaido come to the art at later stages of life, and some of the most renowned experts and practitioners only started training in their 40’s! 

Currently in our Dojo members range in age from 9 to 58 and it's expected that practitioners train with an intensity that suits their own physical condition. 

At the early stages of training, a fair amount of time is spent on tanren or development drills to take you from any level of fitness and conditioning to that required for Iaido. As always this is done at an appropriate pace for the individual student. 

You don’t have to be fit at all to start, and over time you will develop the unique blend of stamina, endurance and strength that comes from Iaido and that will serve you well in your lifetime. Many of the greatest Iaidoka today are in their late 90’s and still train daily.   

Do you need equipment to start?

No. Beginners train with a wooden training sword called a bokken/bokuto. This will be provided by the dojo for you to use during class. However, if you wish to buy your own they are quite inexpensive, and it is even possible to obtain a bokuto with a saya (scabbard) – this is invaluable as it introduces the student to the use of a saya from the very beginning.


What do you wear?

As regard clothing, during Iaido special clothing is worn. Iaidoka train wearing a hakama (traditional Japanese wide pleated trousers) and kekio-gi (jacket similar to that worn in karate). An obi (belt) is also worn. The Iaido obi is about 100mm wide and approximately four meters long and wraps several times around the waist beneath the hakama. This allows the sword to be held securely. 

Because many Iaido techniques are performed from a kneeling position, knee-pads are strongly recommended.

Hakama and keiko-gi are robust versions of the formal samurai clothing of the 18th and 19th centuries. They are worn during sword practice, in preference to something like the clothes worn in karate, in part to emphasise the formality of occasion. Iaido training is meant to be more than just physical training, and the choice of clothes emphasises this. Additionally, the clothes add grace and dignity to an already graceful and dignified art. From a practical standpoint, the hakama is cool and comfortable, allows easy movement and disguises the feet from the opponent.

Colours worn are usually dark, with black being generally preferred, but it is advisable to check with one’s instructor before ordering a uniform. No outward sign of rank is worn, though kimono-type gi and striped hakama are usually the preserve of high grades (fourth Dan and above), and generally only worn on formal occasions. Training is normally done barefoot, unless there is a medical reason for not doing so, though tabi (Japanese socks with a separate big toe) may be worn outdoors or for formal displays.

In the beginning any clothing that permits a good range of movement can be used – a tracksuit, or judo or karate suit is ideal. A judo/karate belt will also suffice in the initial stages.

How to Tie Your Obi

Check out these videos from Dublin Kendo Kobukai instructor Batman O'Brien:

How to Tie Your Obi Part 1 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXcfApEZC7k

How to Tie Your Obi Part 2 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhHlatc0TsA

How to Wear a Hakama & Fold it After

Check out these videos from Dublin Kendo Kobukai instructor Batman O'Brien:

How to Wear a Hakama - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnFQob0e8Lw

How to Fold the Hakama - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uly9-wL2HfE

Do you Use Real Swords? 

For the most part, we use a type of blunt training sword called an Iaito. And iaito can made of steel however most commonly they are made of a zinc-aluminum compound. The edge is unsharpened, allowing us to train with a sword that has the appearance and feel of a real sword without the risk of injuring ourselves or someone else.  Very advanced Iaidoka would use a live sharpened blade called a Shinken. This is capable of cutting.

Beginners are fine using a wooden sword called a bokuto, meaning wooden katana.

That said, after a few months of training and if you decide Iaido is for you; your instructor may recommend you purchase an Iaito.  Training with an Iaito (sword-copy) often results in your educational level and the intensity of your learning developing a little faster.

Before you get an Iaito it is important that your instructor thinks you are ready for it and also that you get the correct type and size for you. Iaito come in different lengths to suit the person wielding them, as always, talk to your instructor before making a decision.

Can I use the sword I bought on E-Bay or local martial arts store for Iaido practice?

Generally and most probably not. There were many “samurai swords” available before the new legislation came into effect, in “martial arts” shops, eBay and so forth. Unfortunately the majority of these are totally unsuitable for Iaido practice.  Many of these swords are pressed and sharpened and also extremely brittle and can fracture unexpectedly. Additionally they lack a full “tang”, the part of the sword that extends into the handle. You should not attempt to use any sword purchased until it has been checked by your instructor.

Is Iaido expensive?

Iaido is like any other hobby or leisure pursuit, and can be as expensive as you want to make it. However that is entirely at your discretion and it certainly does not have to be expensive to enjoy the art.  While training fees vary from dojo to dojo, they aren’t generally very costly. 

Depending on where you get your gi and hakama, should you choose to dedicate yourself to the art, you could spend as little as €120. You can also get this second hand on occasion.

Bokuto are often provided by the club although you can purchase your own for as little as €30.

Training swords - called Iaito - can be expensive, but purchase of an Iaito is not necessary until you are well advanced with your studies. Even so, great quality weapons are now available from Japan at very reasonable prices.

The largest costs associated with the art are travel expenses to attend various international seminars and competitions. 

Is there sparring in Iaido?

Yes. Absolutely. 

There is no “free sparring” as in the conventional sense often seen in other martial arts, however many styles of Iaido engage in paired pre-arranged forms that safely simulate sparring. These drills, designed to teach proper distance and timing are performed using bokken, though some extremely advanced practitioners use Shinken.

Within the Musō Jikiden Eishin-ryū (無双直伝英信流) style I practice and without variations included in either set - we have 42 solo waza vs. 64 paired forms. Clearly the majority of our work involves working with a partner to learn distancing, timing, and targeting against a real, living and reacting opponent. 

Again I stress this does not include henka waza (alternative versions) if it did, that number would be well into the 100's. The first technique of the "tachi uchi no kurai" has over 17 variations on its own. And again - that's NOT including the "lost" forms, the grappling arts, hand to hand work etc. 🙂 

Many of the basic ZNKR forms are also practised with a partner to learn distance and timing and we also teach the Kendo no Kata - a set of 10 forms (7 longsword vs long sword, 3 short sword vs longsword) that are based on older koryu teachings. 

Is Iaido dangerous?

No. Iaido is a very safe martial art. However, as with any physical activity injury is a possibility. 

Are there any competitions?

Yes, they are called Taikai. Participants may compete in aesthetic displays of Iaido kata. I am proud to say Ireland has done well at an international level bringing back medals and trophies in international Taikai and even at the highest of international levels, the European Championships, with a Fighting Spirit Award. 

What About Grading's and Exams?

Smaller club level grading's are held throughout the year, and a national seminar and grading event is held annually. Fully etiquette, grading requirements, and other details are provided to the students in advance of a grading. Grades awarded in Ireland are awarded by the national body, Kendo na hEireann and registered with the EKF (European Kendo Federation), which is a member of the Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei (All Japan Kendo Federation).

Is there a Recommended Reading List?

Yep. 🙂 Study outside of the dojo is an important part of training. In the early days there were few texts in English that really helped the students of Iaido. Today however there are more and more high quality detailed manuals where you can read about the history and development of Japanese Swordsmanship and about the techniques of Iaido, starting with our free beginners guide, available to download - here.

Check out some of the Dojo Videos!


The following are some recent clips from our seminars and public demonstrations. 

Irish Kendo: 20 Years in the Making

Taking a behind the scenes look at the recent Kendo Seminar, part of the 20 year anniversary celebrations. You'll see some great Kendo, great instruction, and even greater friendships. 

Polish Team Visit and International Women's Day

Dublin Kendo were delighted to welcome old friends and new with a visit from the National Polish Kendo Team! The joined us for a wonderful training session celebrating International Women's Day!

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