Kendo fencing

The next session of Kendo fencing is scheduled to start July 11 at Redmond Area Park and Recreation District. Call 541-548-7275 or visit raprd.org for more information.

A taste of Japan recently came to Redmond — and it’s not a new restaurant.

A small group learned Kendo fencing from Ryan Atagi, a fifth-degree black belt in Kendo, with 25 years in the sport, the last 15 as a teacher. The first session of the Redmond Area Park and Recreation District class started June 6 and ended June 27, with classes each Thursday. A second session is scheduled to start July 11.

The sport is similar to European fencing, except a Japanese bamboo sword is used instead of a foil.

“We take any age, as long as you’re at least 12 years old and physically able,” Atagi said at the start of the last class of the first session.

Kendo is an older martial art, one that Atagi said focuses on manners so that participants interact in a respectful manner. Its primary goal is to help develop a strong mind, body and spirit.

Atagi came to the area in September 2018. He said the classes he’s taught previously always started out small, but grow in size. He hopes to have 20 to 30 people taking the class by the end of the year.

He would like to add more advanced Kendo classes.

The first session of the beginner class cost $50, which includes a bamboo sword. Students with their own sword who sign up for multiple sessions get a $15 discount.

The most rewarding part of the class is seeing kids evolve from the start of training, Atagi said.

“I’ve seen kids come in very timid and become more self-reliant, more outgoing,” he said. “I’ve seen them improve and become stronger.”

Sophie Nelson, of Madras, and Trinity Princehorn, of Redmond, both 12, have enjoyed the class.

“I like that we get to be active but still learn a martial art,” Sophie said.

They also like learning to defend themselves.

“It just makes me feel safe that I know how to fight,” Trinity said.

Two of the people enrolled in the Kendo class were under 12. But they’ve been around the sport because they are the instructor’s son. Kason Atagi, 11, said he enjoys learning the sport from his dad.

“I would tell my friends about it, where we used to be,” Kason said. “It’s really fun.”

— Reporter: 541-548-2186, gfolsom@redmondspokesman.com

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