EAST LANSING, Mich. -- More than 50,000 Michigan State students call East Lansing home, and for each one of them, there is probably something on campus get involved in.
There are over 30 club sports for MSU students, and one of the oldest, but least attention-seeking, is the Martial Arts discipline of Kendo.
MSU's Kendo team is competitive, having started this semester by winning the championship at the Case Western Reserve Kendo tournament in Ohio.
While the Kendo club at Michigan State University does not have enough funds available to travel to tournaments in California where the sport has a large following, Michigan State is considered a top five-club team in the Midwest.
“If people really knew how good we are, I feel like the club would get more interest,” DeLongchamp said. “People see us practice and laugh at us because all they hear is screaming after someone is hit with a sword, but if the average person knew what that really meant, I think there would be more of an interest to learn”.
Kendo, which means “sword way” in Japanese, is a semi-contact Japanese Martial Art that dates back to the Shotoku Era (early 1700s.) Kendo is usually practiced with one or more participants in a dojo or an area with clean, slick, wooden floors so that participants can move freely and swiftly while being barefoot.
“I really enjoy practicing Kendo because it lets me escape from the real world for a time where I can be someone else,” said club member Alec Pharius. “Whether it is putting all the gear on, or just striking people with the sword to let out steam, I just really enjoy the whole process and have learned a lot about the martial art and also myself as a whole.”
Kendo is considered to be one of the more competitive Martial Arts, with many articles of equipment required for safety purposes. A shinai, a Japanese sword made of bamboo, is used for teaching beginners and is the most common piece of equipment.
MSU senior Michael Suszan had never heard of Kendo, but was intrigued after passing through IM Circle one night while the club was in session.
“After watching people do the motions and techniques I was really curious to learn more about kendo,” said Suszan. “One thing that I was told about Kendo is that it promotes growth from within”.
The goal of Kendo is to teach and be taught that everything in life has purpose and comes from with-in. Once a participant is comfortable and at ease with them selves on the inside, life on the outside comes naturally. It is designed to associate other with sincerity while molding the mind and body.
Suszan said people shouldn’t jump to conclusions about Kendo, despite how it may appear to someone watching.
“While it looks like a sword fight on the outside, it’s all about becoming a better you on the inside.”
The Kendo club is held at IM Circle on Monday and Wednesday from 8-9:30 P.M and on Sunday’s from 3-4:30 in the afternoon for anyone interested in attending a practice.