Never Too Late (or Too Small) for Kendo

by Elvi Inoue

I was never into sports or martial arts when I was young. Not because I didn’t like it, but because of my insecurity of being too short for any sport that was willing to take me in. I would have been more of a liability than an asset if I insisted to join. I thought that I was brisk and agile, but that was still not good enough for sports that require height rather than speed. The adage “height is might” shaped my opinion at that time.

Elvi Inoue (2nd from the left) during the National Kendo Tournament in Davao
Elvi Inoue (2nd from the left) during the first Philippine National Kendo Tournament in 2016 where she won 3rd place in the Individuals for the Manila Kendo Club.

But with the Manila Kendo Club, I discovered that height and age don’t matter in kendo. As long as you have discipline and fortitude, you will go a long way. So here I am—someone who started kendo at 45 years old, and now 56 years old and counting. I’m a 2nd Dan holder who have joined competitions both locally and internationally.

It’s no mean feat for a soon-to-be senior citizen and a height challenged individual at that. I thank God for giving me this opportunity to become a kendo practitioner and hope to continue in my advanced age.

Elvi with husband, Shu, who is also a member of the Manila Kendo Club.
Elvi with husband, Shu, who is also a member of the Manila Kendo Club.

Kendo helped me in many areas of my life. First and foremost, it keeps me physically fit to do hayashi suburi 50 times to last me to put on a 5-kilo armor and fight with players half my age (good enough to be my sons or daughters or even grandchildren) 😊. My mind is sharpened (which makes me less of a candidate for Alzheimer’s disease) by strategizing, formulating and anticipating an opponent’s strike, especially when confronted with an advance player in terms of skills and techniques.

Manila Kendo Club Philippines
Elvi practicing the kata.

I believed that my indomitable spirit is in the right direction to not bucked down even in trying times and circumstances. The one thing also that kept me going is the healthy respect from the place of practice, to fellow players and during competition. With this mindset, comes naturally the culture of discipline which we do in and out of the Manila Kendo Club dojo. Truly, kendo is a way of life.

I would like to pose a challenge to people especially the young ones to learn kendo. By it, you will go a long way in your life as a person and in extension, love your country.

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