Frequently Asked Questions

The following are answers to many frequently asked questions about kendo, beginning kendo and, The Melbourne University Kendo Club. Just click on a question to see the answer.

If you can't find the answer you're looking for here, feel free to contact us and we'll get back to you with a reply.

Do I have to be a Melbourne University student to join the club?

No. The club is open to all people, students and non-students are welcome.

When is the next Beginners' Course?

MUKEN holds one Beginners' Course each year, at the beginning of first semester. Check the Beginners' Course page for full details.

Do I have to attend every session of the Beginners' Course?

It is strongly encouraged that you attend every session of the Beginners' Course. New techniques are learnt in every session and your progress will be hindered if you can't make most of them. Of course, work and study commitments should be prioritized and if you have to miss one or two, it is usually okay.

What if I can't make training on time or need to leave early?

It is in your interest to arrive at training by the scheduled starting times and stay for the full 2 hours. Due to work or class commitments this is sometimes not possible. In those cases just arrive as soon as you can. There is probably not a great deal of value in attending if you can only train for less than one hour.

Can I come and watch the training to see if I want to join?

You are welcome to come and watch any training sessions prior to the commencement of the Beginners' Course. Spectator seating can be accessed via the stairs near the entrance to the West Stadium.

If you can attend the Beginners' Course we recommend that you join in from the start, rather than just watching. If you have done Kendo elsewhere and would like to see what our training is like, you are welcome to watch as well as talk to our members before or after training.

Does it help if I've done other martial arts?

Certain skills, abilities and techniques may help with Kendo. However, everyone is expected to complete the course. If you have done Kendo before and would like to train at MUKEN, please visit one of our training sessions and discuss with Sensei.

Can children join the Beginners' Course?

We do accept students younger than sixteen into the Beginner Course. However, it is required that the parent or guardian be present during the whole training and, ideally be taking the same beginner course.

MUKEN is a university club with an average age of 21. If your child/children is interested in learning kendo recommend that your child attend another kendo club that specializes in teaching children and has a number of children in their group.

What equipment will I need to practise kendo?

For the Beginners' Course, just wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing. A shinai (bamboo sword) will be provided for you to use during the course.

Eventually, if you decide to continue kendo training, you may need:

  • A spare shinai.
  • A shinai bag, for carrying and storing your shinai.
  • A bokuto (wooden sword used in kendo kata).
  • A tenogui (a cotton head towel).
  • A kendo uniform (keikogi and hakama).
  • A set of kendo armour (bogu). Armour may be rented from the club for a modest fee per session.
  • A bogu bag for carring your armour.
Do I have to buy a shinai (bamboo sword)?

You will receive a shinai during the Beginners' Course. Club members are expected to have their own shinai, preferably two shinai in good condition. They may be purchased from the club when required at a cost of approximately $35.00 each.

Do I have to buy keiko-gi (practice jacket) and hakama (pleated pants)?

Members are expected to buy a keiko-gi and hakama after about 2-3 months. The appropriate clothing is compulsory at gradings and competitions.

Do I have to buy a set of bogu (armour)?

The club has a limited number of sets of bogu, which members are able to borrow during training. The number of members training will determine whether a set is available. We will try to ensure that all members get an opportunity to train in full armour, but this cannot be guaranteed at every training. Kendo Bogu has become very affordable over the past few years. A basic set can be purchased for under $500 from a supplier. We encourage members to purchase their own set after a year or two of training.

When do I get to wear bogu?

After the beginners' course is completed Sensei will decide when beginners may start wearing armour. You begin wearing Do and Tare (torso and hip armour), and then progress to Kote (gloves) and Men (helmet). If you train regularly you can expect to be wearing full armour after around 3 months.

Where and when does MUKEN train?

Please see our Training page for full details of our location and training times.

How much does training at MUKEN cost?

Please see our Training page for full details of our training costs.

I have done kendo before, can I train at MUKEN?

Members from other VKR or AKR clubs or, members of internationally affiliated kendo clubs are always welcome at MUKEN.

If you are not sure or, if you have little kendo experience, it is probably best to contact us first. Either call in to one of our training sessions and introduce yourself or send an enquiry via our Contact page.

Do you have a training camp?

Shortly after the completion of the Beginners' Course, usually in early May, MUKEN will hold a two day training camp. The camp is optional but all members are encouraged to attend. The camp is a lot of fun and, a great training and social experience.

When can I go for my first grading?

Those who complete the Beginners' Course and train regularly will be able to attempt their 6th Kyu grading in September.

How does the grading system work?

Kendo grades begin at 6th Kyu through until 1st Kyu. Dan grades can be considered similar to a 'black belt' and begin at 1st Dan until 8th Dan. A grade of 5th Dan and above is considered Sensei. You can attempt two Kyu gradings a year. For higher grades, a certain number of years must have passed since your last grading.

When and where are gradings held?

Up until 3rd Dan, gradings are usually held at the Kenshikan Dojo, in West Melbourne. Two gradings are held each year.

When can I start competing?

The first 'official' competition in which beginners can compete will be the MUKEN Club Championships, held near the end of the year.

Following the Club Championships, you will have the opportunity to compete in a variety of kendo tournaments throughout the year.

Can I train at other dojos?

Members of MUKEN are also members of the Victorian Kendo Renmei (VKR). As such members are generally welcome to train at other dojos as listed on the VKR site. However, members will first need to gain approval from Sensei. A member would usually need to have been training with MUKEN for at least six months and have their own bogu before training at other dojos.

Is MUKEN related to the Australian Kendo Dojos (AKD)?

MUKEN is affiliated with the VKR and the Australian Kendo Renmei (AKR). These organisations are affiliated with the International Kendo Federation (IKF) and recognized by the All-Japan Kendo Federation (AJKF). The Australian Kendo Dojos (AKD) is a separate organisation and is not affiliated or related to any of the above listed organisations. Former members of the AKD are welcome to join an AKR club, but must understand that their grade may not be recognized by the AKR.

Do you have many Japanese people in your club?

Throughout the year we have a number of Japanese exchange students and visitors who practice Kendo in Japan training with the club.

Do you speak Japanese in the club? Does it help if you know Japanese?

Many basic commands and terms are in Japanese. Knowledge of the language is not assumed but is certainly helpful.

The MUKEN Beginners' Manual contains a glossary of commonly used Japanese words and phrases.

Do you ever have Sensei (teacher) from Japan visiting?

The VKR has established a number of relationships with various Japanese Sensei. In the past few years, two or three Sensei (often 8th Dan) have visited Australia and conducted training seminars. The Tokyo Sports University (Nittaidai) has also visited Melbourne on a number of occassions. Joint training sessions are usually held with around 40 Kendo Students from Nittaidai.