I practice kendo, the art and sport of Japanese fencing. Currently, I’m a sandan, a "third degree." In about three weeks I’ll be testing for my yondan, the fourth degree. What’s the difference between a kendo sandan and a yondan? I’ll have three minutes to demonstrate it at the annual Michigan Open get-together.
Lemme tell you a little about kendo, since it’s probably very unfamiliar to many of you. You’ve seen Western-style fencing, right
Two combatants in white, with quilted jackets and steel mesh masks, trying to skewer each other with thin metal foils? Kendo is like that, except the combatants are dressed in baggy pants called hakama and armor called bogu that includes a helmet/face cage (the men), padded gauntlets (kote) and a lacquered breastplate (doh). Instead of trying to stab each other with metal swords, we are usually trying to slash each other with long pieces of bamboo called shinai.