A few weeks ago I was invited by Bandai Namco Entertainment UK to go to London for a hands on taster of Japanese sword fighting techniques to promote Soul Calibur VI. In partnership with the Nenriki Kendo Club, attendees were invited to try the Japanese art of kendo sword-fighting in emulation of the style of fighters such as Mitsurugi in the game.
We were given a brief history of kendo and the club itself, the former dating back to at least the 1700s. In kendo two participants face off wielding bamboo swords and wearing protective gear, similar to fencing. The aim is to charge your opponent and earn points via body blows, aimed chiefly at the helmet.
With skill and practice the sport can expand to other forms of Japanese sword play. One of the instructors showcased this by channelling his inner Mitsurugi by a display of drawing a sword:
After this display had got us fired up, we were then offered the chance to practice kendo itself with students from the class. This began with basic practice of the sword swing gestures (blade raised high with a straight back, letting it fall in a natural descent) before continuing on to a full geared up session. Please note the photo of your humble reporter ready to fight, minus theĀ koteĀ gauntlets. Look at that intimidating warrior stance. Nightmare has nothing on me!
Getting to try the sport myself was quite informative. There’s a gentlemanly nature to it with aggression mostly reserved for a hot blooded yell as you charge your opponent. Although both combatants are naturally seeking to win, the style is almost akin to dancing than a bitter feud. Indeed showing proper respect to your opponent is part of the strict tradition of the sport, bowing to each other at the end. On a personal level it was interesting to learn some basics such as the correct way to hold and swing the blade (I awkwardly treated it more like a club early on). Being hands on like this is a big difference from just mastering button combinations in game but actually does help you understand the design logic that goes into the combat system of Soul Calibur VI.
As I am a proven novice, allow me to showcase what seasoned kendo trainees are capable of:
Anime Superhero would like to thank Bandai Namco Entertainment UK for inviting us to attend and the members of the Nenriki Kendo Club for their tutelage.
Soul Calibur VI is available on Playstation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC from the 19th October.