Life in Kendogi and Hakama

by Pierce Sotelo

A couple of months back, I still remember what it felt like to step inside Gatorade Hoops Center not to play ball, but to join the Manila Kendo Club.

Pierce Sotelo (3rd from the right) in the Manila Kendo Club beginners' class.
Pierce Sotelo (3rd from the right) in the Manila Kendo Club beginners’ class.

Kendo.

In all honesty, I was a bit stunned seeing practitioners bowing their heads every time they stepped in and out of the “dojo” and more of the not-so-usual routine in sports. During our first day, I was nervous and was over-thinking how I might do in kendo because I have experience in fencing, my feet and hand coordination is far from what is done here. For the record, I had a hard time for the first few weeks.

At the end of each class, some of the senpais approached us and gave us tips on how to do better. I wasn’t expecting for it to happen, feeling like they are really preparing us to grow and prosper well in this sport – or should I say martial art.

Every time that we start our practice, everyone is doing the same exercise – and it makes you feel that you belong to a one and single group, except of course for those who are already doing the advanced classes, and those who are under the kids’ class. Still, the air of being one is there and you can tell it by how the senpais are treating you and constructively criticizing your moves.

I’ve been with MKC for almost three months, and our moving up exam is fast approaching. Together with some of my batchmates, we already bought our own kendogi, hakama and some, bogu. I can say, buying your own stuff is one kind of a journey as well. First thing is that online buying is quite tedious, especially once you have selected and ordered your item – you’ll be crazy wondering if you have gotten your measurement right.

 

Now, do you know the reason I joined MKC? Well, it goes more than just wearing that navy-dyed kendogi and hakama. I joined MKC because of my childhood dream, dressed in Japanese martial arts uniform. The reason I am staying? It’s because of the brotherhood and respect.

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