Jukendo is simple, but…

by Adam Bieniak

In May 2017 Polish budoka had an opportunity to attend first Polish jukendo seminar in Białystok. Event was led by Terada sensei (8 dan hanshi) from Nagoya and it was perfect introduction to art of bayonet. Sensei was supported by number of jukendo students from around the world: Steve Kelsey (GB), Simon Larsen (NZ), Ewa Mienkowska (PL) and Julka Fin (GER).

Information about jukendo available in the Internet are quite limited, there are few videos from tournaments and couple of websites but amount of data is still small comparing to kendo. I first learned about existence of jukendo and tankendo few years back after watching videos available on YouTube and I was immediately astonished by the speed and accuracy of the attacks and movements. Distance was much smaller than kendo and therefore tempo was much higher. All I said after first contact was: “Wow, I have to give it a try one day!”.

And there we are, March 2017. Just two months after I’ve picked up kendo classes. There was an announcement in the dojo I practice at: jukendo seminar, May, Białystok. Who wanna go? My hand was up in the air just before my brain started calculating if I can manage to get there.

But I did. Together with 5 of my senpai from Warsaw Kendo Club I took an opportunity to travel to Białystok and see with my own eyes what jukendo really is. Terada sensei turned out to be extremely well organized teacher with great skill in both passing his knowledge and being an exemplary exponent of jukendo. Not to mention his pleasant personality and vigour, hope I can be half this healthy once I will turn 80!

Group consisted of practitioners from few cities in Poland: Warsaw, Poznań, Białystok and Lublin, as well as Lithuania and Germany. All together more than 20 people turned out for the seminar. We mostly practiced in one big group, trying to catch up with continuous flow of information coming our way, and we applied what we were taught in smaller groups with supervision from senior jukendo students. Tons of fun!

Except of new movements, postures and things to remember there was one thing that kept grinding my gears: bogu. Brand new set was sitting in my luggage as I got it on Friday before seminar. I literally couldn’t wear it because I didn’t know how to do it. It was great relief to accept help from my senpai who showed me quickly how to prepare. Phew! Wearing tare and do for the first time was quite pleasant, you feel little bit like real deal. Kote are also fine, little bit stiff at first but they are suppose to get more flexible over time. But men? This is quite different story!

As the practice was heading to an end Sensei asked who would like to make a jigeiko practice. My hand again betrayed my brain (I’m clearly a candidate for Darwin Awards) and before I knew what happened I was wearing men (yes, senpai helped me out again). Well, now I know how it feels to be locked in a very small cage. Personally I think this is where all the vigour in martials arts practiced in bogu comes from: wearing a tight helmet. You get really angry and try to release the pressure on nearest object.

Nevertheless: it turned out to be fun! Stabbing other people (or trying) and getting stabbed (that’s for sure) within fractions of seconds. It was whole different experience from sword forms I practiced earlier. Openings were extremely small and even when showed by seniors it was still hard to aim them and attack within short time available. I finished 3 rounds of jigeiko completely wet.

Jukendo in its principles turned out to be really simple, but as in all martial arts simple doesn’t equal easy. One technique – tsuki, trained over and over to perfection leaves not too much space (not to say: none) for any mistakes. Art of bayonet is simple, but far from being easy. If you will have an opportunity to try it: please do!

Adam started his adventure with budo (iaido) while he was 18 years old. After 12 years of training he holds 4 dan in both iaido and jodo and just started his kendo practice. In his free time he mostly does budo and budo related stuff.

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