Kendo: 5-dan Tai Watanabe Teaching a Children’s Class
On January 11th, Tai Watanabe (aged 27), a Kumamoto Prefecture police officer and member of a champion women’s team in the World Kendo Championship, worked as an instructor in a top-athlete kendo class held in the Echizen City Budokan, located within Fukui Prefecture. Part of the event were approximately 120 elementary and junior high school students from within the city; the children were full of energy, with powerful shouts as they swing their bamboo swords, diligently trying to learn from a first-class swordswoman.
Every year, the Echizen City Kendo Federation invites Japan’s top athletes for this event, so children can learn the basics directly from the athletes, nurturing their dreams.
Hailing from Kumamoto Prefecture, 5-dan Watanabe is part of the team representing Japan in the World Kendo Championships, with successive victories in 2015 and 2018. Dominating in last year’s All Japan Police Kendo Championship, in the Women’s Singles division, there are high expectations as a core representative of Japan for next year’s World Kendo Championship in France.
In the morning, about 50 elementary school children, coming from 8 youth sports clubs within the city, received thorough instructions on the basics, including practice-swinging and footwork.
“Create an image of your opponent, even when practice-swinging. After swinging down your sword, stay focused until you return to your starting position!”
The children received many such instruction, as could understand the importance of taking practice as seriously as an actual match.
During the afternoon, junior high school students crossed bamboo swords, learning about the practical use of various techniques.
“Actually seeing the speed when she swings her sword was really something1 The way she moved her arms and wrists were very clean,” said a sixth-year elementary school girl, who is part of the Oshio Youth Sports club, talking about her impression of the top athlete’s techniques.