Japanese martial arts school opens in Cleveland Heights
After 30 years of renting space from local universities and gyms, The Cleveland Kendo Association decided it was time to establish a permanent location for its dojo. On Dec. 1, it opened a school in Cleveland Heights, at 2110 South Taylor Road.
The Cleveland Kendo Association provides expert instruction in the Japanese martial art of Kendo, which descended from traditional swordsmanship (kenjutsu) and uses bamboo swords (shinai) and protective armor (bōgu). "Ken" is from the character meaning sword; the character for "Do" includes the meaning of way or path—which translates as "the way of the sword." Kendo is widely practiced in Japan, where it has approximately 2 million practioners, and has more than 6 million practitioners worldwide. In the United States, there are approximately 6,000 practitioners.
In addition to Kendo, the dojo also offers expert instruction in Aikido, a modern Japanese martial art, founded by Morihei Uyeshiba Sensei in the 20th century. Aikido is rooted in the Japanese martial art of Jujitsu, which emphasizes grappling, joint locks (immobilization) and projections (throws). Unlike Jujitsu, though, Aikido focuses on nonviolent resolution of conflict, not on the destruction of the opponent. Betsy O’Donnell (4th Dan Aikido) of Lake Shore Aikido provides Aikido instruction.
Tsuyoshi Inoshita, (Kyoshi 7th Dan Kendo), a physician from New York City who wanted to continue his Kendo training while living in Cleveland, established Cleveland Kendo in 1986 as a nonprofit organization. When Inoshita moved to Portsmouth, Ohio, a few years later, the mantle passed to Salvador Gonzalez (5th Dan Kendo) and Cleveland Police Officer John Akagi (5th Dan Kendo). In 2006, the group relocated from Cleveland State University to Case Western Reserve University. In 2008, its current head instructors, Shigemi Matsuyama (5th Dan Kendo, 2nd Dan Iaido), and Mieko Matsuyama (4th Dan Kendo), assumed leadership. Cleveland Kendo is affiliated with the All United States Kendo Federation, the International Kendo Federation, and the All Japan Kendo Federation.
“All of the instructors volunteer their time and do not profit from their activity. This non-commercial and community service philosophy have been instrumental in reaching an array of students from diverse backgrounds to develop a samurai spirituality that can be a powerful source of strength and focus to manage their daily lives,” said Matsuyama.
Classes in Kendo are offered on Monday and Wednesday evenings, and Saturday afternoons. Aikido instruction is offered Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and Saturday mornings. For one monthly fee, students can learn both Kendo and Aikido. For more information, visit www.clevelandkendo.com or call 216-400-9923.
Neil Adelman is an instructor with the Cleveland Kendo Association.