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Kendo Team Wins At West Point Match

By Patrick Lam


Last Sunday, the MIT Kendo A Team won all of its five matches to take first place out of nine teams at the First Annual West Point Kendo Tournament, defeating the West Point A Team in the final round. MIT’s B Team finished third in its five-team bracket, missing the semifinals by one point, an impressive finish for an inexperienced team.

Kendo, or “the way of the sword,” has been practiced at MIT since 1999. Kendo is a martial art developed by the Japanese samurai. It has remained virtually unchanged over the last 400 years and promotes discipline, spirit, and respect. A kendo team has five members; in a team match, each member fights an individual match against the corresponding member of the opposing team. The team with the most individual victories wins the match. In an individual match, a kendo player must use a bamboo sword to strike his opponent’s head, wrists, torso, or throat to score points. These targets are protected by traditional armor (the “bogu”). An individual match continues until one side wins two points or until time runs out.

The final matches were thrilling. West Point A played flawless kendo against Rutgers, relegating them to third place and setting up a West Point vs. MIT final. Hyungbin Son ’04 won his match with two points, even after taking two half-point penalties for stepping out of the court. Luis Tovar CM tied an exhausting, scoreless five minute match, while Holly B. Laird ’07 won her match with two clean head strikes. MIT was now one match away from first place. Kendo club captain Oskar Bruening G won his match, and the tournament, by completing the allotted match time with a single head strike to his credit; finally, A team captain Joon Sik Yoon G closed the tournament by tying against the West Point captain. The MIT B team members were Sada Inoue CM, Patrick Lam G, Joonah Yoon G, Ulf Knoblich G, and B team captain Chang She ’05.

Team members Holly B. Laird and Oskar Bruening contributed to the reporting of this story.