HomeGood InspirationFilipino-Canadians Discover Fighting Spirit in Kendo

Filipino-Canadians Discover Fighting Spirit in Kendo

Cypher Learning
Cypher Learning
Compilation of York University Kendo Club Members during the 2024 InterU Tournament. Photo Credits to the respective owners, edited by Qjiel Mariano.

While most Filipinos are hyped by the 3 B’s namely Beauty pageants, Boxing, and Basketball, Filipino-Canadians at York University are defining a fourth B by learning the ways of Bushido through Kendo.

The York University Kendo Club has been training students on the way of the sword since its inception in 1997. Out of numerous sports available in the university, a handful of Filipinos have made their mark not only as competing members but also as executives.

Spotlighting an unseen sport

Kendo traces its roots back to the Heian period in which samurai trained themselves the skill set for protection in battle. These skills were called Kenjutsu and Kenpo. Eventually, the goal of this swordsmanship evolved into protecting the lives of others while building strong character. The principle of Katsukinjen (the sword that lets people live) became a way of life for Kendokas (a practitioner of kendo).

Kirk Escriba, incoming president of the York University Kendo Club, shares that he got into Kendo after seeing it in action at the club fair. “Growing up with a lot of anime shows, it looked pretty cool!” he said. Similar to most Filipinos, Kirk was exposed to the usual sports like basketball and football while growing up in Quebec. “Kendo was different as you had a senpai and a sensei who are your role models,” he shared. “Other sports did not have this attention to detail” he continued.

Experiencing the same positive environment, Bianca Santos credits her commitment to Kendo to the senseis or Kendo educators. “When trying out sports like volleyball, there’s just an expectation that you should already know the sport,” the screenwriting student explained. “In Kendo, you start from a beginner’s perspective and work your way up alongside your teammates and senseis,” she continued.

Both Kirk and Bianca agree that getting into Kendo is a good opportunity to teach other Filipinos about the martial art. “In the Philippines, every street has a basketball court which means it is kind of expected for people to know how to play the basics” Bianca shared. “Not a lot of people will know Kendo and this is a good way to help people understand what it stands for” she continued. Kirk added that he still is rooted in his Filipino culture. “It is great to stay connected while trying new things and exploring different cultures,” he said proudly.

Kendo, a stepping stone for a brighter future

When investing time in a sport, one may question how this benefits their career choices. York University Kendo Club executives Ella Anarna and Miguel Quiban share how Kendo is gearing them toward a successful future in the education sector.

Miguel is a Visual Arts and Arts History major in a concurrent program with Education. “I plan on becoming a teacher for high school students, and Kendo has taught me discipline that can also be applied to my methods in teaching,” said Miguel. “Whenever we get new beginners, it’s like a new student in class. I’m not qualified as a sensei to teach but helping and teaching as much as I can about kendo etiquette is apart of the experience. I take a lot from it, and it’s a valuable learning experience for myself as much as it may well be for them as well.” he continued proudly.

Ella Anarna is on her road to graduation and she’s held her executive position in the club with high regard to her work ethic. “There is a great amount of responsibility that is both rewarding and challenging” she shared. Ella believes that her role is also likened to being the face of the club. “I was once timid and reluctant to give my full effort in kendo. But my anxiousness became my strength.” she reflected. Ella now sets an example for future Kendoka to keep on trying regardless of doubts or setbacks.

Involving Yourself in the Way of the Sword

There are many ways to get involved in Kendo in the Philippines. The United Kendo Federation of the Philippines is a coalition of the Kendo Dojos in the Philippines such as the Manila Kendo Club, Davao Kendo Club, Cebu Kendo Club, and many more. Filipinos may message their social media to learn about training hours and memberships.

Apart from being executives and kendokas, the York University Kendo Club had the honor of organizing this year’s Interuniversity 2024  Kendo Tournament which saw over 230 participants from 7 universities in Canada showcase their love for the martial art. Keyara Arca-Stewart, the club’s past president, shared it was a fulfilling experience. “There may be some internal shortcomings, but people were having so much fun and this made all the planning worth it.” she shared proudly.

The Kendo community is tight-knit and supporting them through various fundraisers to help the sport gain more recognition is essential to keep the spirit alive for Filipinos both locally and internationally. Some members of Filipino descent at the York University Kendo Club show their support back home by purchasing shirts as part of the fundraising campaign for the Philippine Kendo Team’s bid for the 19th World Kendo Championship in Milan, Italy.

READ MORE from Qjiel Mariano here:

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Qjiel Mariano
Qjiel Mariano
Qjiel Mariano is a Youth Council Member of the Joint SDG Fund and a Global Public Health advocate from the Philippines. He is passionate about amplifying the voices of young people and bridging opportunities for them to contribute to the greater good. Like every other youth, he enjoys anime, pop culture, food, and sitcoms. His favorite quote is by sir Allen Saraza “Sa bawat padayon, huwag kalimutan mag-pahuway” which translates to "Whenever you keep going, do not forget to rest.”

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