Kendo Los Angeles

Since the 1930s, the Japanese Cultural Institute of Sawtelle taught kendo until the cultural animosity of World War II forced Japanese-Americans to shut down all practice of the art.

Nakabara Sensei was the president of both the Southern California Kendo Federation (SCKF) as well as the USKF. In 1985 he even received an honorable decoration from Emperor Hirohito of Japan for his devotion to the kendo community.
Nakabara Sensei passed away in March 2008. Many distinguished guest instructors have been received at the dojo over the years, including Nakamura Sensei, Ota Sensei, Ishida Sensei, Ishizuka Sensei, Haga Sensei, and Miyazaki Sensei. Currently, Koichi Suyama 7dan Kyoshi is the Master Sensei of the dojo, and the day-to-day duties of dojo classes are handled by Head Instructor, Akira Banchi sensei.Torataro Nakabara 8 dan Hanshi was the leading person of WLA kendo dojo and is remembered as one of the most prominent figures in helping Kendo thrive in America.

After nearly a decade of inactivity, the West Los Angeles Kendo Dojo was officially founded on October 19th, 1952. At its birth, the dojo had only four kenshi, but membership grew rapidly. The first tournament was held only seven months later, and West LA Dojo became a prominent host for tournaments until the mid-70s.
As a founding editor of Kendo World magazine, Alexander Bennett has helped to fill a gaping void of information about the “way of the sword” outside of Japan. The quarterly magazine is the world’s only English-language periodical about kendo – a form of physical and mental discipline that nurtures self-esteem and esteem for others through the medium of the shinai (bamboo sword). Launched in January 2002, the magazine now reaches some 10,000 readers in 72 countries.

But it was not until he returned to New Zealand that he realized how much kendo actually meant. “I was happy at first that I didn’t have to do it anymore, but after a while I started getting unsettled. It had been such an important part of my life. I was going through withdrawal symptoms.”Kendo World goes a long way toward satisfying that hunger for the growing number of kendoka (kendo practitioners) abroad by exploring all aspects of the Japanese art of swordsmanship, including the philosophical, spiritual, historical, and technical sides.”If kendo were to become an Olympic sport, these things would have to be changed, but these are the most important aspects of kendo. It’s what you train so hard to master. Mental strength is so important, and that’s why you can be so strong when you’re eighty or ninety years old.”His host mother suggested doing something traditionally Japanese. “At my school there was judo and kendo, and I took the more kakkoii [cool] version that reminded me of Star Wars.” The road may be long and hard, but Bennett journeys on toward the attainment of ri – considered in kendo to be the ultimate goal: at once being in complete union with the heart of kendo and, as with all great masters, being utterly free of all its formal conventions. He visited a martial arts shop in Christchurch, whose owner suggested creating a kendo club. “He gave me a few phone numbers. I rang these people up and created a small club.” Before long he was flooded with inquiries from people who were interested in joining.

Despite his deep passion for kendo, the attraction was not immediate. “I hated it at first,” he recalls. “I came to Japan as an exchange student for one year in Chiba, and to be honest I really wanted to play soccer. But I saw the state of the grounds and gave up.”
Appearances, though, cloaked a less enchanting reality. “It was hot. It was smelly. It was noisy. And the teacher was very frightening. But before long I became hooked. The friends I made in the club were doing the same hard training day in and day out, and I formed a strong bond with them.””Every time you go to training you’re questioning your very existence,” Bennett notes. “Sometimes you can’t stand up anymore and think you’re going to die. You’re down on the ground and the teacher is standing over you with a stick. But from somewhere you get a second wind, and you pull yourself up again. The next day you do the same thing, but you’ll be able to go a little longer. “You get to the stage where you’re completely exposed. You enter a kind of natural high and start forgetting the pain. It’s the ultimate in honesty.”

A godan (fifth degree) kendoka himself, Bennett was a member of the New Zealand team at the twelfth World Kendo Championships, held in early July in Glasgow, Scotland. “I train an average of three or four times a week, but of course it’s never enough.”
In addition to publishing Kendo World, Bennett is working on several books at the moment, including one on kata, or formalized moves, and another detailing the history of modern kendo.”I was really surprised at the interest that was there. I was just 18 at the time and wasn’t really in an instructing position, especially when these older people started asking me about the more philosophical, spiritual aspects of the martial arts. That woke me up to the need to do more study myself and prompted me to come back to Japan a second time.”

Can you get paid for kendo?
As of Jun 18, 2023, the average annual pay for a Kendo in the United States is $61,117 a year.
Another valuable lesson kendo holds is the view of one’s opponent not as an enemy but as a cooperator. “You’re always communicating with two people: your opponent and yourself. You’re able to push yourself because you have an opponent. That person is helping you. The ultimate goal is to make yourself a better person. And if you become a better person, then society becomes a better place as a result of that.”To gain a valid point it is not enough to simply strike one’s opponent. The shinai and body must be one, and the correct part of the opponent’s body must be hit with the correct part of the sword. One must also have correct posture, and the strike has to be intentional with the correct level of readiness. “Anyone who’s done kendo would understand it right away, but those without experience would be wondering why a strike wasn’t considered a point.”

Is kendo a hard sport?
Kendo is known to be one of the most challenging martial arts at the intermediate and advanced levels, so you can use kendo to take your fitness to whatever heights you choose.
The toughness acquired in the dojo (training room) naturally spills over into everyday life. “My weaknesses as a human being are also my weaknesses when I’m doing kendo.” Kendo identifies the four main weaknesses (shikai) as becoming surprised, confused, doubtful, and scared.Being students at the time without the pressure of full-time work, Bennett and his colleagues decided to share some of their good fortune with their “mates back home” by, initially, putting together four issues over a span of a year. “I contacted my teachers in the All Japan Kendo Federation, and surprisingly they were supportive of the idea. We took the initiative, and I think it’s fair to say that we’ve exceeded everyone’s expectations. We’ve had nothing but support for the magazine and its content.”

“A few years ago I was watching the All Japan Kendo Championships on television with a couple of friends,” he says, recalling his motives for starting the magazine. “We were saying, ‘Gee how lucky we are to have access to all these resources, the hachidan [eighth degree] masters and all the books. But because we were living in Japan, we took them for granted.”
“If you become confused or flustered even for a split second, that is when your opponent is going to hurt you. As I overcome the weaknesses in kendo, hopefully I’ll overcome them in other respects as well. That’s why you get hooked on it. Kendo has become a barometer of life.”

What are kendo weaknesses?
“My weaknesses as a human being are also my weaknesses when I’m doing kendo.” Kendo identifies the four main weaknesses (shikai) as becoming surprised, confused, doubtful, and scared.
Note: The practices may be canceled or rescheduled due to the temporary facility schedule. See the current practice calendar for the latest information.West LA Kendo Dojo (WLA) is a non-profit martial arts organization dedicated to perpetuating and teaching traditional kendo. Originating from the 1930s, when kendo was taught at the Japanese Cultural Institute of Sawtelle, West LA Kendo Dojo was officially founded in 1952.Kendo, is the art of Japanese fencing. “Ken” or tsurugi is from the character meaning sword. The character for “Do” or michi includes the meaning way or path which translates as “The way of the sword”. A path in life which is followed through the training of kendo.


“This place deserves 5 stars! At the time of this writing, every single review has given this dojo the highest rating. Seifu Scott, the staff, and the students were all really nice…” more

What is the age limit for kendo?
Kendo, like all martial arts, is a great way to build character, discipline, and confidence. We are always accepting new members and encourage newcomers to watch a practice and ask questions afterwards before they participate. We accept all students ages 8 and up.
“My 12 year old daughter joined Aiki Kai Aikido less than three months ago. She has really enjoyed her training experience and interaction with the instructors, The instructors are…” more“For the past 32 years, Richard Alonzo has built his professional reputation as an ambassador to martial arts for kids & adults. Whether it’s taekwondo/hapkido classes for adult &…” more

“United Studios of Self Defense – Yorba Linda is a trusted Yorba Linda, CA Martial-Arts school that offers both private and group instruction. Whether you are looking for self-defense…” more
“Best Adult Japanese Language course, engaging and entertaining! Sensei teaches with a sense of humor and purpose. She wants her students to read, write down…” more

“I enrolled my daughter over a year a go, looking to give her some structure, exercise, focus and to teach her respect for martial arts and in life. But Master Chris and his class has…” more
“I was encouraged by my friends to write this review. My disclaimer is this is a biased review. Why? Because I absolutely love Butokuden! I started kendo here 8 years ago. Kendo is the only martial art that you can participate in regardless of your age. The age range is from 4 years old to over 60. Really? Yes, really. Kendo has given me the ability to be in the best shape of my life, increased confidence, and self-respect. A bonus is the extended friendships that have developed from a shared passion of kendo. If you want to participate in something that will transform your life, come to Butokuden. Look for me and I will be happy to help you .”

Is 30 too old to start kendo?
Kendo is not a sport, but rather Budo, so that’s why respecting the etiquette in Kendo is very important.
“I was a student here for three years before I had to move, but still drop in from time to time. First, as a general note: Shinkendo is not kendo. It’s a…” more “The Instructors and Coaches at a school is the most important factor of getting quality, professional and personal training in any self defense curriculum. We found it here at…” more “At Bejanian Martial Arts our unique programs are designed to get your children in a positive emotional state and keep them there. We have carefully designed our programs to gradually…” more

“Teacher and instructors are great Kumdo masters with great personality. Dojo size and Wooden floor are great to practice Kumdo. The dojo,Yun Gum Jae has been locating in K-town more than 10 years now. Head teacher,7th Dan Mr. Kim has been doing Kumdo for whole his life which was great honor to learn skills of Kumdo and life. Come and join today to learning new martial art,Kumdo.”

Can I learn kendo in the US?
It’s basically impossible to find schools that teach authentic, historically accurate kenjutsu in the United States. You might get the odd seminar taught at an iaido or kendo camp. But generally speaking if you want to learn real kenjutsu you need to go to Japan – and be fluent in Japanese.
“Why should you enroll in an IMPACT class? IMPACT gives you LIFE skills and tools to: Believe you can take care of yourself. Identify and curtail behavior that is unsafe or…” more

Is kendo useful in street fight?
It is a martial sport, where you train to get a point, in an artificial linear environment. I have used it in tae kwon do class, with stick training, to some effect. But it is designed for fighting with swords in duels, not street fighting.
“Coach Casey is a great teacher and very good with all levels of experience. His teachings are very concise and easily repeatable no matter the skill level. You can tell right away he…” more“I’ve never seen someone so capable of handling my child’s unique needs alongside my desire for a more grounded workout routine. There’s not a traditional gym out there that could…” more

“We specialize in fitness, mindfulness and wellness for the whole family. Our center offers the only state licensed childcare program in Santa Clarita that includes drop off and pick…” more“An amazing dojo that has taught my kids great self-defense, confidence and responsibility. My family has been coming to this dojo for the past 4 years, and is one of the few after…” more

“I have been a student of Aikido off and on for over 30 years and when I decided to start studying again, I looked at the dojos in the Glendale / Eaglerock / Pasadena area. And I was immediately drawn to the Aikido Cultural Institute not only because all of the senior staff are female, but because they allow you to wear the Hakama after receiving your 5th kyu certification rather than having to wait until you become a Black Belt. Just as in Kendo or Iaido, it is considered part of the uniform. I hope to call this dojo home for a long time.”
The club participates in a variety of events each year including participating in the local federation tournaments as well as performing demonstrations at the VJCC Natsu Matsuri Summer Festival.

“This review is for the facility – old but kept very clean. My daughter takes her juku through MAC-System (Math and English) here. Has ample parking for helicopter moms like me! I’ve seen lots of moms parked with me. They have lots of activities at this location – Japanese language classes, a dojo and I’m sure lots more that I don’t know about. I have to mention that it’s in a great neighborhood – Little Osaka!”“I was starting to switch gyms a few months back so I took on the free trial week that Triunfo offered, and that ended up being the only trial I would need to have because I was sold immediately within 2 classes.…” more

Is kendo an expensive sport?
These things are expensive because of the materials used, the time, and the skill necessary to manufacture them. Kendo is expensive due to several reasons, including the following: Equipment cost: Kendo requires specialized equipment including shinai (bamboo swords), bogu (armor), and gi (uniform).
“Teacher and instructors are great Kumdo masters with great personality. Dojo size and Wooden floor are great to practice Kumdo. The dojo,Yun Gum Jae has…” more“I have a 7 year old Son and 10 year old Daughter and both have been going here for about 2 years. Master Prager is a born teacher and I couldn’t be more satisfied. He has the ability…” more“This place deserves 5 stars! At the time of this writing, every single review has given this dojo the highest rating. Seifu Scott, the staff, and the students were all really nice and really broke it down for…” moreThe philosophy of Kendo, according to the All Japan Kendo Federation, is to “mold the mind and body, cultivate vigorous spirit through correct and rigorous training… and forever pursue the cultivation of the self”