Winter 2020 Vote Results 2020年冬季のアンケート結果

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    Michelle Lim


    Thank you to all those who have voted and shared your thoughts on our Winter 2020/January 2021 question. The voting is now closed and here are the results. Please feel free to discuss about the Winter 2020/January 2021 vote here.


    Winter 2020 Question Result

    Winter 2020 Question Kendo Grade 1 of 2


    Winter 2020 Question Kendo Grade 2 of 2


    Votes by country

    Count of Country of residence 在住国



    Michelle Lim

    I feel like since I started Kendo, it would have been beneficial to learn from female teachers. I’ve mainly been taught by male teachers and their style of Kendo is extremely different from female teachers.


    Sonia Adel

    Hello to everyone from France!

    I hesitated to answer A (the blue one) or B (the red one) when I finally decided to vote for B. For me, both of answers are correct but I had to make a choice, hadn’t I?:’)

    Here is my point of view on that matter.

    As a practitioner of martials arts (Wudang Wushu and Iaido/Kendo) I think what is important is that we have to learn both from male and female teachers whenever it is possible. As far as I am concern, martial technics are almost the same; a kick is a kick, a punch is punch, a saber cut is a saber cut wherever you are a male or a female practitioner. As long as you have a good teacher in front of you, regardless of its gender, you will learn good technics. That is why I do think it is normal and should be normal to be taught by male and female teachers: there is no huge difference in the practice. I said not ‘huge’ but yes indeed, difference there is still. Female practitioners do have by their morphology differences with their male compeers: hips larger which may influence the positions of some stances, musculature less proficient (nonetheless still there!) which do influence the strength of a strike (but not the power since power does not only reside in strength) and that is where it is so beneficial to have female teachers to teach us how to best fight with that type of morphology we have. Some male practitioners do have some knowledge about female morphology, yet, the best will be to gain that experience from a female martial arts master. On top of that, having a female teacher is deeply important as the role model she represents for all female martials arts practitioners (and especially the youngest ones). Since some decades, the representation of female masters have increased, notably on (and thanks to) social media, books and films, but we still do not find the same ratio of male and female martials arts practitioners and of male and female martial arts masters. The reasons why there is not higher level female practitioners who are taking the path of teaching can be various:

    •  Is it because there is more pressure from society (mainly patriarchal) to establish themselves as females teachers? As if they are not legit enough to be teachers since many people still think it is not normal or natural (sic!) for a woman to practice martials arts and the art of fighting.  – Which I disapprove completely, women can be as good as men in fighting as long as they are trained to be and do have access to that education –


    • Or maybe female masters are indeed present out there but they do not get the recognition and representation as their male counterparts and hence we do not know of them?

    It is a very inspiring subject to talk about and I am glad that Fine Ladies Worldwide decided to shed indeed more lights on female teachers and practitioners in Kendo. Can’t wait to put my hand on the 1st magazine!


    Michelle Lim

    Hi Sonia,

    Thanks for your input. I think you’re right, perhaps there should have been an option with an answer on whether having both male and female teachers to your Kendo would help.

    I’ve learnt from a variety of people, male, female, mature (older), young, short and tall. What I noticed is that each sensei or senpai have different ways of approaching Kendo and it helps to see what they do to take into my practice so that I can become better. For example, in my club, I’m one of the shorter people and I am used to fighting tall people so I need to adjust my Kendo when I fight people shorter than me.


    I’m not sure if you’ve seen this congratulatory post (on the launching of the first female Kendo magazine from Sumi sensei available here), Sumi sensei says

    “Rather than trying to practise like young men using physical strength, I would like to see women kendoka practising kendo more flexibly and gracefully, based on the mind and spirit’s interaction.”

    Practicing kendo more flexibly and gracefully is something that currently eludes me so it is something to work on and it is a little harder if I don’t have a female teacher to learn from. That said, it would definitely be helpful to learn from both male and female teachers so that I can learn how best to use my assets as I’m not able to overpower a man as easily as another man.


    With regards to your point about why there is not higher level female practitioners, it could be a range of reasons through societal, the intensity of the hits (some club members are rougher and hit harder), to the lack of female representation in a club (role models as you mentioned) etc. For example at a Uni Kendo club that I started in, there was only two female senpai practitioners who eventually quit. Whilst myself and another female friend of mine persisted and we’ve slowly changed the culture of the Uni Kendo club from being a macho ‘boys club’ to a more inclusive one which  resulted in more females participating and continuing Kendo in the club.


    I do notice that there is a big void in the Kendo media about female kendo practitioners so I’m glad that the Fine Ladies Kendo Worldwide can help bring them into the spotlight.

    Sonia Adel

    Hi again Michelle,

    Thank you for your reply! This is very great that you managed to persist and fight for including more women practitioners in your Uni Club. Your determination paid off! It reminds me how one my fellow female sempai convinced me of practicing Kendo on top of Iaido. (Hi to you Laura if you are there!). Indeed, I was not particularly attracted by Kendo (mostly because of the fact that I was apprehensive to wear a fenced helmet  – I thought that was kind of stuffy and oppressive) but she was so passionate about it, so determined in her practice that she made me tried it. Since then, I am practicing Kendo and actually realized that wearing the fenced helmet is not as bad as I thought. It is even at some degree interesting to see how the wee lack of hearing and sighting made you more aware of the “present”: you really need to concentrate more and be aware of your movements, of your opponent in front of you…and the comrades who are just nearby practicing like you. What is bad however, is receiving any men on top your head because most of your comrades are taller than you; they hit the men on the middle of your head instead of the front of the head; after ninth time in a row that kinda hurt a lot even with the helmet! :’)

    Anyway, I am digressing here, I will never thank her enough for her enthusiasm and passion, I am realizing how important it is to have people pushing you and motivate you to start up and I will strive to be the same for other people too!

    Regarding the interview of Sumi Sensei and the quote you are referring too, I must say that I express some reserves on the term “gracefully”: it leaves me puzzled.

    I know from experience (here I am talking about Tai Chi and Kung Fu practice) that this term is generally used by men for women because they think women are only interesting and seeking an aesthetic aspect in their practice. For some men think that women are only just interesting in being graceful since you know; women are meant to be beautiful, graceful and gentle and soft and bla bla bla! Sarcasm aside, being graceful in itself is not something bad, and women (like men!) are allowed to just look for gracefulness in their martials arts practice; even though I do believe the purpose of martial arts lies elsewhere but everybody practice for their own reason.

    This word starts to be pejorative when it is used to reduce women to just one aspect of their practice. That is why this term irks me a bit because when you are fighting, in my opinion, you are, first of all, looking for effectiveness, rapidity and powerful strikes. I am not really looking for hitting ‘gracefully’, I am just looking to hit correctly my opponent.

    It will be interesting (in a future interview in the lady kendo mag for instance?) to see what exactly Sumi sensei meant by using that word.

    Meanwhile looking forward to read the 1st mag!:)

    Kazuyo Matsuda

    Sonia hi,

    Thank you for your comments and insight on this topic. It is much appreciated. I am quickly replying to you on the term ‘gracefully’ as it was me translating this term and decided to use this possibly a problematic word – I did expect some problem from the readers exactly the way as you observed. Therefore I understand what you are saying completely.  And understandably this term can be wrongly received by women, in the exact context that you pointed out. However although some, and possibly many men expect and wish to see this ‘graceful’ element from women practising kendo, those include Sumi sensei who are high level teachers, don’t at all speak of the word in the way you thought might contain. Like in the simplicity that we all (both men and women) seek in the techniques, ‘beauty’ often is found in its simplicity. And this type of beauty cannot be achieved without one’s determination to strive in the art, with blood and sweat, often tears etc – if this makes sense. The gracefulness that he refers to, is this kind. He himself is never soft on women in teaching or in practice. This doesn’t mean being brutal. And he has taught many female students of all ages, in many countries. Having known him for about 20 years, I have seen and experienced myself. So again, I apologise for uncomfortable feeling this term may have brought to you but please understand that we as the creator of this magazine do not tolerate such mis-concept and prejudice that women are expected to be just pretty without being serious about the arts.


    Hi all! Jumping in quickly on a couple of things:

    How to describe kendo as practiced by women– I feel there might still be a lack of vocabulary in multiple languages on how to describe certain abstract concepts. I definitely struggle how to describe my own kendo, knowing that the nuances in how I practice is very relative and may be perceived differently by different people. Perhaps this is where more of a feeling or experience with these teaches is important so we understand the essence of the concepts.

    I definitely think representation in kendo is part of a bigger issue that is in all levels of society. So knowing that many other fields and areas are still working on how to progress on this means that addressing it in kendo may take some time, but I’m so grateful to be a part of community that understands the need for this and is taking the necessary steps forward.

    Sonia Adel

    Thank you for your reply Kazuyo Matsuda!

    Indeed, translation can be tricky, sometimes it is hard to find the perfect word that match exactly the original one that was used. Glad to also hear that Sumi sensei did not used that word in that intent: thank you for your clarification, your thoughtfulness and for your commitment! Keep up with your good work 🙂

    Michelle Lim

    Thanks for the clarifications all. That was quite useful for myself. I’ve not thought of the word ‘graceful’ having these lines of thought before but I can see what is being meant. Like a smooth style of kendo as opposed to rigid stiff kendo.

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