Beginner courses begin 3 times per year, typically at the beginning of January, June, and September.
Practice is open to persons 12 years and older (for kendo) or 16 years and older (for iaido). Beginners receive a course of individual/small-group instruction for approximately one month before joining the main class. Anyone interested in beginning kendo or iaido is strongly encouraged to visit a class to watch. This can be done at any time but is particularly encouraged in the months immediately preceding new beginning courses (for example, if you'd like to enroll in the September beginner course, it's a good idea to come watch a class during July or August). Students enrolling in the beginner course are asked to commit to a two-month exploration of kendo, which includes one month of individual or small-group instruction and one month practicing together with the full group. New students are asked to pre-pay membership dues for their first 2 months (see current dues on the About Us page). After that, club members may pay on a monthly basis unless they wish to pre-pay for their own convenience.
For your first kendo or iaido class, please arrive before class and introduce yourself to the lead instructor. Kendo and iaido are practiced barefoot, and beginners should wear loose-fitting athletic clothing. Beginners may borrow necessary equipment (a shinai and/or bokutō) for the initial class. Please contact us if you are interested or have questions. All are welcome to come by the dojo to watch a class at any time.
Beginners may wear any loose-fitting athletic clothing, and may borrow a shinai and/or bokutō for their initial practice. We can recommend vendors for the purchase of a shinai and bokuto, or order one for you (we recieve a modest club discount from certain online vendors). Both types typically cost $25-30 for a beginner-grade sword. Bokutō (hardwood swords, also called bokken) last indefinitely, while shinai (bamboo swords) typically need replacement after 6 months to a year of use. We will teach you to properly maintain your shinai for best performance and lifespan.
A student who has been practicing kendo or iaido for a few months is typically ready to purchase a uniform, consisting of a keikogi (top) and hakama (baggy, pleated trousers).
Only after several months of kendo practice are students ready to purchase armor (bōgu) and begin recieving strikes from other students. A beginner-grade set of bōgu is an investment of a few hundred dollars, but will last for many years with proper care. Baltimore-Annapolis Kendo has a limited number of bōgu sets that may be borrowed temporarily by "advanced beginner" students who are ready to transition to wearing bōgu during practice and are considering purchase of their own set. We permit longer-term loans of our club sets to teen students who are still growing and are thus not ready to make an investment in a set they might rapidly outgrow.
Iaido practioners due not wear bōgu, but advanced iaido students typically use a blunt-edged metal sword (iaitō) instead of a wooden sword (bokutō), a transition which also requires a significant investment.