Kendo 剣道 is the art of Japanese fencing, derived from Samurai swordsmanship. Most of practice involves Kiai, shouting, while hitting with a Shinai, bamboo sword, on Bogu, armor. A Bokuto, wooden sword, is used for Kata, choreographed forms.
The Houston Kenshikan is one of the few Kendo Dojos in the Houston area. It is the only Kendo Dojo in Houston to study Japanese swordsmanship beyond modern Kendo. The Houston Kenshikan is the only Dojo in Houston to offer both Kendo and Iaido classes. Iaido is the companion martial art to Kendo and is extremely helpful for improving one's Kendo. Further, The Houston Kenshikan is the only Kendo Dojo with the background to be able to supplement its Kendo and Iaido training with lessons on Kenjutsu and Iaijutsu, older forms of Kendo and Iaido, enabling its students to have a more complete understand of Kendo than the general Kendo practitioner.
Mark Kerstein, 6th Dan
Kerstein Sensei is the most senior and experienced active Kendo practitioner in the Houston Area, with over 30 years of experience. He first began studying martial arts with Karate as a youth in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After serving as a peace officer on the Milwaukee Police Department, Kerstein Sensei moved to Houston and started Kendo at the Houston Budokan under Darrell Craig Sensei.
Sensei has since been very active in the local and national Kendo community on a yearly basis. He is formerly a senior member and instructor of Kendo Dojos in Dallas and Austin. He currently serves as the President of the Southern US Kendo and Iaido Federation and is on the All US Kendo Federation Board of Directors. In addition, Kerstein Sensei has traveled abroad for Kendo and was a USA representative to the All Japan Kendo Federation's Foreign Leader's Camp in Kitamoto, Japan.
Sensei is an active student himself, striving to improve his own Kendo, as well as his teaching ability. He is a devoted teacher with many students and has contributed greatly to the development of Houston Kendo. He is not only the head instructor of The Houston Kenshikan, but is also the Head Instructor of 3 other Dojos: Cougar Kendo at the University of Houston, Magnolia, and River City Iaido and Kendo Kyokai.
Away from the Dojo, Kerstein Sensei is a civil litigation attorney and proud alumnus of the University of Houston Law Center.
KENDO STUDY AT THE HOUSTON KENSHIKAN
The goal of The Houston Kenshikan is to promote and develop Houston Kendo. Instruction at The Houston Kenshikan is curriculum based and all practices are planned and tailored toward the individuals at practice. Most of our members are Houstonians who started Kendo with no experience in Houston. All students go through the same curriculum.
In addition, our main instructors are based in Houston and are fully devoted to Houston Kendo. This is important for a student's progress because the study of Kendo is a lifetime pursuit and developing a long term relationship with a good Sensei ensures the student will progress throughout the years. The Houston Kenshikan offers consistent, effective Kendo instruction throughout every practice, every week, every month, and every year.
To start Kendo, beginners need a Shinai, a bamboo sword, and comfortable workout clothes. Over a period of 4-6 months with consistent practice, beginners are taught the basic drills needed to go through practice and are transitioned into Bogu, armor.
The progress into uniform will take a few months. Attendance of 10 practices triggers the Uniform Challenge, where beginners learn to fold a uniform after each practice for 10 times and then may wear their own uniform.
The progress into Bogu, will take another few months. Beginners learn to wear the Do (chest piece) and Tare (hip protector), then Kote (guantlets) and finally, the Men (helmet). After getting into Bogu, beginners are taught the basic techniques needed for Jigeiko (sparring) and then are allowed to participate in Jigeiko.
EQUIPMENT IN KENDO
A Shinai, bamboo sword, is the only piece of equipment needed to start Kendo. A basic one will cost about $30.
A basic uniform, which consists of a Keikogi (top) and Hakama (bottom), will cost around $75. Uniforms that are taken care of well will last forever.
A basic set of good Bogu (armor) will cost around $380. Bogu that is well maintained will last for many years.
A basic Bokuto, wooden sword, will cost around $30.