How Do I Join?
Contact us via email or Facebook and we'll know to expect you. We recommend watching a practice session first to see if what we do appeals to you, but if you're the type that likes to get stuck in that's ok too!
After your first session you'll be asked to join the British Kendo Association. A three month temporary membership costs £10 and covers your insurance for that period. If you decide to carry on training beyond then you'll join as a full member - price depends on what art(s) you do. Full membership allows you to attend seminars, competitions and take grading examinations.
What About Grading?
Within the BKA there are are Kyu grades and Dan grades. However the lower Kyu grades are ignored - training for around 12 to 18 months will usually take you from absolute beginner to ready for 1st Kyu examination, taken before a panel of external examiners, usually at a seminar.
How Much Does It Cost?
New members and visitors can pay a flat fee of £5 on the night. Regular members pay by monthly debit, the amount depending on how many times a week you train.
Beginners can borrow everything they need from the dojo, but after a time it's normal to purchase equipment of your own. Costs are variable, clothing and wooden/bamboo weapons are relatively cheap. Swords for Iaido and Armour (bogu) for Kendo start at around £300 but for higher quality items you get what you pay for. We strongly recommend that beginners do not spend much money until they are sure they want to continue.
The Dan grade system is similar to other Japanese Martial arts, going from 1st to 8th. In comparison to some arts the lower grades can be achieved more quickly, but as you progress the gap between grading gets longer and the requirements more difficult. The highest levels are life changing in their demands.
Do I need a Licence for a Sword?
You don't need a licence, but to buy a sword you do need to be a member of an approved organisation. There are laws around the purchase of Japanese-style swords, so please do not buy one without seeking advice from Dojo leaders. Also not all swords are suitable for Iaido, only iaito inspected by Dojo leaders can be used for training.
Many people who have enjoyed Martial Arts training in their past but have had to give up for some reason, such as age or injury, find a new avenue of training in Japanese Sword Arts. Contact in Kendo and Jodo is limited, and there is virtually none in Iaido so there are plenty of training options for those with joints that creak. You don't need to be young and fit.......but admittedly it helps! For those who have trained in Arts such as Aikido and have some knowledge of the Katana and the Jo, then Iaido and Jodo are a natural progression.
I Used To Do Karate / Judo / Kickboxing / Aikido...
All Martial Arts share similar values and all traditional Japanese Arts are based around etiquette. However some aspects of sword arts are different to other martial arts so please keep an open mind - what you already know may not transfer to Kendo or Iaido or Jodo.
Is It Safe?
Compared to many physical activities the risk of injury is low, but these are martial arts. Bruises happen in Kendo and Jodo, injuries are rare in Iaido but when sharp swords are involved there is always risk of cuts and worse, which is why lower grades are not allowed to use them.
Training once a week in an art is the bare minimum to make reasonable progress. There are other dojos in the area that BKA members can attend for additional training in Hebburn (Kendo) and Sunderland (Iaido).