Langara Kendo Club tests the limits of students

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Langara student Rahim Hasanali participates in warm-up drills with fellow students.  Photo by Tyler Hooper
Langara student Rahim Hasanali participates in warm-up drills with fellow students. Photo by Tyler Hooper

If you’re looking to push yourself to your mental and physical limits, the Langara Kendo Club might be for you.

Kendo, which means “Way of The Sword”, is a Japanese martial art that consists of a bamboo sword, called a Shinai, and protective gear known as Bōgu (also referred to as Kendōgu). Combatants score points by calling out and hitting certain areas of the body including the torso, wrist, head and neck.

“Ever since I saw Obi-Wan [Kenobi] and Darth Vader go at the light saber [battle], I said that’s something I want to do,” said Raymond Chow, a Langara computer technologies instructor who founded the club last fall.

“It’s something that’s totally different than what Langara has offered in the past,” added Chow.

What are the benefits of Kendo?

Practicing Kendo requires a combination of both mental focus and physical stamina, which can push students to their limits.

“You want to stop, you want to drop to your knees and you want to cry like a little baby, but you don’t,” said Rahim Hasanali, a Langara accounting student. “You just get that burning desire and that addiction to stand up and move forward. There’s nothing that can beat that.”

Kendo equipment includes a bamboo sword called a Shinai and protective gear known as Bōgu.  Photo by Tyler Hooper
Kendo equipment includes a bamboo sword called a Shinai and protective gear known as Bōgu. Photo by Tyler Hooper

The sport also requires dedication, which is why the Langara club only takes new members annually.

“I used to not care about a lot of things,” said Samuel Humberto Agüero Lagos, a first-year Langara environmental studies student.Once you start this kind of stuff, you start gaining respect for what you do and [what] other people do.”

Vicky Wang, president of the club, said she’s not generally a very focused person but Kendo has helped her concentrate in her day-to-day life.

One-year-old club boasts high numbers

The club presently has roughly 35 members and has participated in one competition with plans to compete again in the future.

The club is affiliated with other local universities, such as UBC. Because the club has only been around for the past year, there is no designated instructor at Langara, meaning they have to borrow instructors from UBC and other outside institutions. However, Chow said he hopes some of the Langara students in the club will eventually be able to take over and teach.

Reported by Tyler Hooper

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