Do you know the segment of James Cordon’s Late Late Show called ‘Flinch‘? Well, if you haven’t seen it, you need to check it out. While asking celebrities thought-provoking questions, Cordon randomly shoots large pieces of fruit directly at their faces. The only thing between them and becoming a human fruit salad is a thin piece of plexiglass. If they flinch, they fail, and that’s about it. Every time I watch it I begin to imagine how horrible I would be, since I am arguably the worst flincher on the planet. I probably have the worst ‘fight or flight’ response ever. Whenever startled, I flinch and then freeze in fear waiting for whatever is coming next. There is no fight and there is no flight. Living in New York City, I need a little more self-defense up my sleeve. So, in an attempt to increase my fighting credibility and let go of my fear of things swinging at my face, I signed up for a sword fighting class.

SCNY_logo_SCNYC_TEST3

With my gym buddy Ani in tow, I headed up to Spanish Harlem’s Sword Class NYC, a studio that’s been around since 2009. The second we walked in I knew I was in for an experience. While I was wearing some pretty adorable printed leggings and a cute top, most people were wearing authentic outfits. Ani and I looked like total amateurs, which was precise. As we checked in, we watched the class before ours. It was a European take on sword fighting, but we were there for the main attraction, Kendo. Kendo is a Japanese form of fencing with two-handed bamboo swords, originally developed as a safe form of sword training for samurai.

When it was time for us to begin, our class started by teaching us how to move around while fighting. The best way I can describe it is sort of a sliding scurry. Your feet are never meant to leave the ground and you always scoot, whether forward or backward, with your left foot back and your right foot in front. We warmed up by “skipping” around the gym and pretending we were holding swords. We were encouraged to scream “MENNNNN!” (Japanese for “head,”) every time we charged, however, Ani and I found it difficult to commit with our tiny pipsqueak voices. Nonetheless, we had fun taking laps until it was time to come back to learn sword wielding techniques.kendo

After we had been taught all of the basic commands, moves, and positions, three of the more advanced students put on their official Kendo garb. We lined up across from them on the mat and bowed at our armored opponents. I’ve never felt more vulnerable in my basic workout wear. Then, the instructor took his position, raised his sword, and hit one of the masked warriors over the head. It was loud. I screamed. Everyone giggled and ensured me she was fine and that the helmet she wore offered some serious protection. Those of us without helmets were then told to hold our swords in front of our heads when it was time for our opponents to strike. I’ll admit it, the first couple of times that I was hit, I closed my eyes, scrunched my face, and prepared for the worst. After that, I realized there was nothing to fear. There was no pain, no worry of being smacked in the face, and no concern of being injured. These swords definitely had more bark than bite. Although they were loud, they did no harm when used properly.

After the hour-long class, I felt awesome. I was still not the best at sliding across the floor, I probably won’t reuse these techniques when fighting off aggressive panhandlers on the subway, and I would’ve absolutely died if I have been in a real samurai fight, however, I felt great. It was such a fun fitness alternative to a classic yoga class or spinning sesh. The next day, my muscles were definitely a little sore from skipping around and whipping the sword back and forth. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone interested in mixing up their workout routine and feeling totally empowered all at once. Bonus: you can even book a session at Sword Class NYC on ClassPass.

To get even more of the inside scoop on this awesome studio and the Kendo classes, we chatted with our instructor and Sword Class NYC owner, Raab Rashi. Check it out below and book a session at Sword Class NYC here.

sword class nyc

How long have you been practicing sword fighting? What’s your background with it?

I’ve been studying for 13 years. I’ve always been fond of swords (mostly from movies, books, and pop culture), and jumped at the chance to study when a legitimate dojo opened in my town.

What can beginner’s expect from their first class?

It depends on the form. In most forms, it’s the basics – how to hold the sword, basic footwork, basic cutting, posture, and attitude. Specifically, in kendo, students will learn the basic “men” (head) strike, suri-ashi (sliding footwork), miai (distance), suburi (“air-striking”), and kihon (basic striking).

What made you want to practice sword fighting?

It’s cool and fun!

What kinds of sword fighting do you master in?

I hold 4th dan (master’s rank) in Kendo and Siljun Dobup (iaido). I also have 1st dan in a Korean form Chosun Sebup. I am a practitioner of German Longsword, as well.

What does the beginner Kendo class entail?

Students will use both bokken (wood swords) and shinai (bamboo swords used for striking). The exercises we commonly teach are: Suri-ashi (sliding steps), Zanshin Kotei Men No Suburi (stepping back and forward air striking), Zanshin Men No Suburi (stepping forward air striking), Haya Suburi (fast air striking).

Can anyone take up sword fighting?

Yes! Kendo uses a very neutral posture and is easy for students of all ages and ability levels. The youngest student we have is 5 and the oldest is 82.

What’s your favorite thing about the sport?

I love the unity of thought and action. Seeing or creating an opening, and throwing everything you’ve got to perform a perfect strike is a moment of clarity and poetry in motion.

Do your classes often have a lot of newbies or mostly seasoned pros?

Mostly newbies. We sometimes have guests of higher levels come in, but most of our students have less than 1 year of experience.

How many regulars do you have at the gym?

We have about 65 regulars across all forms.

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about Sword Class NYC?

Sword Class NYC is the only place where you can study bother eastern and western swordsmanship side-by-side. Students of all ages and ability levels are welcome. We train hard and compete in local and national competitions. It’s challenging, but if you can learn how to control a sword, you can learn how to control yourself, and by extension, the world around you.

congratz

Would you try a sword fighting class?

Congratulations! You found one of the secret questions for our Wellness From the Inside Out giveaway! Answer in the comments section below for one entry to win this week’s prize. Then, make sure to keep searching our latest stories for more chances to win.

416 Responses

  1. Judy Brenner

    I am always open for new challenges and the chance to learn something new. This would be awesome!

    Reply
  2. Anna Vanderpoel

    Since you can use class pass, why not give it a try? I bet it’s a great arms & core workout too

    Reply
  3. vianetia jimenez

    Im not sure this is up my alley. I love taking kickboxing classes! but that’s as close as i’ll ever get to anything like this. With three boys I do enough running and yelling!

    Reply
  4. Lori R

    I’m always up for something new to keep me active! Hope a school opens in DC!

    Reply
  5. Robert Tschinkel

    I would love to take a sword fighting class, I am 65 years old and this would be perfect to keep me active and healthy

    Reply
  6. Natalie

    A sword fighting class sounds like tons of fun! I’d definitely give it a try.

    Reply
  7. CHARITY JAMES

    I would love to take a sword fighting class! Crouching Tiger, Hidden ME!

    Reply
  8. Valerie L

    Yes. I think you should always try something once, because you never know if you are going to like something. So if I had the chance I will give it a try.

    Reply
  9. Julie Hudetz Dale

    I have too many other activities that I love, I would not want to take on another new one right now.

    Reply
  10. Bobbi Jo

    Prior to my 4 back surgeries, I would have loved trying something like that. I loved the self defense classes I took.

    Reply
  11. Cynthia

    Yes, definitely! Last summer I took 2 Stage Combat courses and loved it! I would love to learn more on sword fighting!

    Reply
  12. Jen

    Yes as I have never done anything like this before and think it would be fun and a great form of exercise at the same time!

    Reply
  13. Carra D

    Yes I would take a sword fighting class. Never thought of it but could be fun and a work out ( without knowing youre working out)

    Reply
  14. Susie N.

    I would love to try a sword fighting class for the novelty, adventure and new learning. It sounds amazing!

    Reply
  15. Lorin

    It would be fun to try something new. Never know when you might find yourself in a sword fight lol.

    Reply
  16. Diana Smith Hill

    Yes I would, I always wanted to take fencing classes. Must be a leftover desire from a past life. I had lots of strange want todo’s for a female. I figure if I jumped out of a perfectly good aircraft I am up for this.

    Reply
  17. Karen Kerr

    I love period films and cable tv shows because they feature swords and combat fighting. I especially like the eastern Samari sword fighting and international fencing. So I’m definitely game to try it.

    Reply
  18. sue fink

    I would certainly try to take a fencing class…don’t know if I’d be any good at it but I’d give a stab at it! A new kind of workout…

    Reply
  19. Heather M

    I would definitely try a sword fighting class – provided it was run by very professional and patient people! I’m sure I would be a train wreck at it, but it seems like good fun and great exercise!

    Reply
  20. Randi C.

    I don’t think sword fighting is for me, but I know that many people feel it is a great way to learn discipline.

    Reply
  21. Kristi Veit

    I’ve never tried SwordFighting before,I never really thought of it much, but reading this really makes it sound different and fun, I think I would try it given the opportunity.

    Reply
  22. Jamie Geer

    I’d go ahead and give it a try. It seems interesting and it would certainly give you something to talk about when looking for something to fill gaps in conversations.

    Reply
  23. Stephanie Parker

    Doubtful, I am not a big fan of martial arts, more of a yoga/pilates person.

    Reply
  24. Patricia

    I would give it a try, I am a pirate at heart so swashbuckling requires great skills!

    Reply
  25. marie

    I don’t think swordfighting would be my cup of tea – so, no, I would not sign up for a class.

    Reply
  26. Donna West

    I would love to try one of these classes ~~~ I definitely see myself as a Kendo Ninja!!!

    Reply
  27. Jacquelyn

    I would love to take a sword fighting class. I am 62 years young and I love learning new things. Get back Jackie Chan Jacquelyn is in the room.

    Reply
  28. Joanna

    I would try anything once…but don’t think I would be into sword work as much as other types of exercise. I’m scared of long sharp sticks! lol!

    Reply
  29. Linda D

    I would try sword fighting, but it would also depend on who my partner would be 🙂

    Reply
  30. traia wensel

    Would you try a sword fighting class?

    Yes I would, it looks like it would be a blast!

    Reply
  31. Cassandra

    If they were fake swords, I would try it. Would be a fun way to get exercise and learn something new.

    Reply
  32. Mak Sandler

    Would definitely try sword fighting! Love the opportunity for any new adventure and challenge!

    Reply
  33. Pamela Gard

    I would love to try sword fighting. my mother was a fencer (State Champ). I feel as though I am compelled to carry on the tradition. after all, I am Swede, French, Canadian Indigenous and Crow Indian.

    Reply
  34. Staci Z.

    I’d try a sword fighting class, I like to try anything (except food) once.

    Reply
  35. Carol Foster

    I do not believe I would be interested in a sword fighting learning class being disabled would put me at a disadvantage right from the start, not able to stand long periods of time

    Reply
  36. Lee Mickus

    I would to try this. I was a fencer in high school and college for 7 years in foil, ranked 6th in the country. Although kendo is different sounds like fun.

    Reply
  37. Lee Mickus

    I would to try something like this. I took 7 years of fencing in high school and college and was ranked sixth in the country. Kendo is different than foil which involves lots of lunges so would be fun to try something new.

    Reply
  38. Michelle Whitwam

    Absolutely, I think it would be a blast! And probably a good workout too.

    Reply
  39. Britney

    I’d love to try a sword fighting class! Nothing better than an adrenaline rush.

    Reply
  40. paulette b. schneider

    My inner Amazon–definitely not a glamazon, says let’s do this!!!

    Reply
  41. Deb

    It sounds like fun, but I am not that coordinated, so not sure how well I would do, and it sounds pretty intense!

    Reply
  42. Jana Williams

    Absolutely! I would definitely take a sword fighting class! The old me might wince at the idea but the new me would say “Go for it” because it’s important to broaden your horizons & to push yourself out of your comfort zone to try new things! I also think that women need to know some form of Self Defense, although I don’t actually know how often an attacker would ask you to duel in a sword fight! I think it sounds like fun though, and if nothing else it sounds like a great form of Cardio & I can always use more of that! Lol! Great question by the way! Have a Great Day!

    Reply
  43. michelle

    it looks great, but i would need to seriously improve my coordination before trying 😛

    Reply
  44. Raquel Seigler

    Yes I would try it. Looks like it would be a good form of exercise and would be very exhilarating.

    Reply
  45. Evelyn

    Looks a bit intense, but can’t knock it till I tried it so I would probably try it.

    Reply
  46. JoanneS

    No. And I don’t think I could watch it either, though I can imagine it could be quite athletic and even artistic.

    Reply
  47. Jan silver

    I’m more of a dancer. Interested in aerial classes and things of that nature- but sword fighting could be fun and different! Why not try something new? Never know when I’ll be locked in a castle and my prince will be stuck in traffic or otherwise engaged and I’ll hafta save myself!

    Reply
  48. jennifer gibson

    Yes. I have trained in Tae Kwon Do, Jiu Jitsu, Grappling, Kenpo Karate and Okinawan Shorin Ryu. I’m also a fencer so this would be a natural fit.

    Reply
  49. Debra Urias

    I think I would try a sword fighting class if I felt comfortable with the knowledge of the instructor and the safety precautions being utilized.

    Reply
  50. Kiki

    Maybe. I’m also a flincher and would be afraid of getting hit in the face, which is why I never signed up for high school softball.

    Reply
  51. Amy Smeltzer

    I wouldn’t mind watching but I wouldn’t want to do it. I’m not fast or flexible.

    Reply
  52. Carolyn

    It sounds very cool, but I don’t think I would try it due to my lack of coordination (I am very clumsy) lol

    Reply
  53. Rachel Lackland

    I definitely would try a Sword Fighting Class – I love to be adventurous!

    Reply
  54. Janice

    Yes definitely. It seems similar to a fencing class I’ve taken some time ago. Where do I sign up??

    Reply
  55. Phillip McCormick

    I would love to take a sword fighting class.I think anytime you can learn something new it stimulates your mind,body,and soul.

    Reply
  56. Mary Lumsden

    I would try sword fighting but I have trouble with my hands-my daughter would be good for this-she had a huge one hanging on her wall and takes epic picks with it!

    Reply
  57. Rodney Newton

    No, I would not bother taking a class. Even Ninja fighting is obsolete.

    Reply
  58. Nicole Nigro Speyer

    I think this would be fun to try! I’ve also always wanted to try fencing.

    Reply
  59. Mary Kathryn Apholt

    I would totally try sword fighting. What a great workout for the kind and body.

    Reply
  60. Pam

    Sword fighting as a kid with fake swords was fun but I think I might not be so good at it with real swords so No, I wouldn’t take a sword fighting class.

    Reply
  61. CHRISTINA PETERS

    Yes I would love to try a Sword Fighting Class. Would be fun to try something different.

    Reply
  62. Melissa

    While I am usually up for a new challenge, sword fighting has never been in my list. I commend anyone who is willing to get into that suit!

    Reply
  63. Jackie L

    I would try it – probably not something I would be super interested in but I love to try anything once!

    Reply
  64. Nancy Klein

    I think it would be very interesting to participate in a sword fighting class–I’m up for the challenge.

    Reply
  65. Beth B

    definitely not. I’m not into anything that has to do with fighting another person.

    Reply
  66. Gina

    Seems like a great workout, but the mask may make me a bit claustrophobic, so I think I’d pass on a lesson!

    Reply
  67. Joann

    I would definitely give it a try. I think it would be a fun get together with friends.

    Reply
  68. Rebecca

    I definitely would be open to trying a sword fighting class especially with my husband being we do everything together and always have good times together!

    Reply
  69. Sharon Elliott

    I think that sword fighting is a little much for me, but I like to watch.

    Reply
  70. Kimberly C

    I would absolutely try it!! It sounds like fun and it’s definitely something different.

    Reply
  71. Kaye Newman

    I would love to try sword fighting. It looks like a lot of fun and also a great way to get a workout.

    Reply
  72. Rachel Rae

    I would love to try sword fighting! I think it sounds exhilarating and like a great phyical AND mental workout.

    Reply
  73. charlotte

    I would definitely try sword fighting as a different and unique form of fitness.

    Reply
  74. Amanda S.

    I would definitely try sword fighting classes, it’s different from anything else I’ve tried and it looks like it would be a lot of fun!

    Reply
  75. HAYDEE DELGADO

    THIS SOUNDS LIKE A LOT A FUN!!! I would definitely try a sword fighting class, at least once!:-)

    Reply
  76. Revonda

    Yes….absolutely would love to try it….even though I’m 58 yrs old, I pride myself on being fearless and willing to try most anything. Sounds like a lot of fun and great exercise. En Garde!!

    Reply
  77. Janee Denney

    I would definitely try a sword fighting class! I am willing to try just about anything once plus it would be a cool skill to have. It’s unique and daring.

    Reply
  78. Paola

    I would, but I would probably drag someone along. It’s more fun and easier to get into a new fitness form when you have a partner in crime

    Reply
  79. Tamara Zeller

    This sounds amazing! Hopefully there is a swordfighting class here in Anchorage, AK.

    Reply
  80. Karen

    I never have had the thought of taking a sword fighting class. I don’t think that it is really my thing. Knives scare me!

    Reply
  81. Nicole Evans

    I have always enjoyed watching Samurai fighting movies, with their uniforms and samurai swords, so it would be great to be able to try some of the moves. Kendo, sounds challenging, but also a lot of fun. I cannot wait to try it, I hope they have a class in California.

    Reply
  82. Joanna Dawn Smith

    Yes, I would definitely try a sword fighting class! It sounds like such a unique and different way to exercise and relieve stress, I am going to look into what is available in my area!

    Reply
  83. Megan

    Yes, I would definitely try sword fighting! it sounds like it could help improve both strength and balance.

    Reply
  84. Angela Barnes

    I would try sword fighting it would probably be a great way to exercise.

    Reply
  85. Pam Lloyd

    I enjoyed reading the article, however, I don’t think I would try the sword fighting.

    Reply
  86. Amber B.

    A sword fighting class sounds interesting. I love to try new things and maybe brag a little. I might look like a cool and tough mom. You want some of this!

    Reply
  87. Jennifer

    I would totally try it. Workout, stress relief and you walk out feeling like a bad***

    Reply
  88. Marie

    I’ve always loved play sword fights. Would be super fun to learn some insider tips on how and when to strike.

    Reply
  89. Ann Marie

    Of course! It seems like so much fun, truly a learning experience. I am fascinated by the Edo period and it’s culture, learning kendo and sword fighting arts would be phenomenal.

    Reply
  90. Ally Marchildon

    I would for sure, my brother took it and loved it, I would in a heart beat

    Reply
  91. Ann Marie

    Of course! It seems like so much fun, truly a learning experience. I am fascinating by the Edo period and it’s culture, learning kendo and sword fighting arts would be phenomenal.

    Reply
  92. Susan Bouchie

    I would definitely try this unique class. I love classes that mix it up as it gives me a totally new full body workout. I also love the mystique of Asian martial arts.

    Reply
  93. Brittany

    Sword fighting sounds like an awesome alternative to a punching bag to relieve some stress!

    Reply
  94. evans s

    No I would not try a sword fighting class, would prefer something that I used my own hands as a weapon.

    Reply
  95. Dana

    Most definitely. The physical workout and mental exercise would make it all worth it.

    Reply
  96. deborah b

    Umm, not sure, but probably yes. It would have to be on a day where I feel adventurous and strong though!!

    Reply
  97. brian brenner

    I would definitely try a sword fighting class! It sounds like it would be cool and fun!!

    Reply
  98. Brianna Beers

    Yes, I would try a sword fighting class and I would also join with my two boys. Since the classes start at 5 yo, my 6 yo and 9 yo would love this. They’re into action things such as this. They’ve been to karate class but this would definitely spark our interest. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  99. Mo

    Actually it would be great to try this:) with the quick foot and hand movements- it’ll be awesome!

    Reply
  100. Gin Gutierrez

    I haven’t even tried kick boxing yet, so the sword fighting might be after that!

    Reply
  101. Teresa

    Sure I would try it! I think exercise is more fun when you try something new and exciting!

    Reply
  102. Jessica

    I would (and have) tried sword fighting! If there was a class near me, I would definitely attend!

    Reply
  103. Lea Pickett

    I would love to try sword fighting. When I was young my uncle lived with us for awhile and he was taking fencing at the local university. I was always very intrigued.

    Reply
  104. Susan Climan

    I would definitely try a sword fighting class! It would be out of my comfort zone, but I’m sure it would be really fun. But, I wonder how heavy the swords are!

    Reply
  105. patricia

    Yes, I would take a sword class. This ole dog is willing to learn a new trick or two.

    Reply
  106. Valerie

    Of course I would take a sword fighting class!! No better way to make me feel like a girl bad a $$!!

    Reply
  107. Veronica

    Yes, I would try a sword fighting class. It sounds like a fun way to exercise and keep the mind sharp.

    Reply
  108. Jessica Berry

    I actually have taken a class many years ago which helped me learned correct stances and footing positions and also helped me with focus and concentration. Would do it again for sure!

    Reply
  109. Veronica

    Yes. I would try a sword fighting class. It sounds like a fun way to exercise and keep the mind sharp.

    Reply
  110. Crystal

    I think it would be fun to try a sword-fighting class. Something different to keep you interested!

    Reply
  111. Yumsy

    Definitely yes! It is a great exercise plus it ables me to protect and defend myself.

    Reply
  112. Christina

    I would definitely try a sword fighting class! It sounds like it would be cool and fun!!

    Reply
  113. Dominique

    I’d try sword fighting if I could get my daughter or brother to try it with me.

    Reply
  114. amy stonger

    I would definitely try sword fighting! I am always up to try anything at least once.

    Reply
  115. Irene

    I will try pretty much anything once so yes, I would try a sword fighting class

    Reply
  116. Amber Stovall

    Yes I think trying a sword fighting class would be so much fun and great exercise!

    Reply
  117. Lucy

    Honestly, I probably wouldn’t unless my boyfriend or my best friend were to do it with me! I’m more into the cooking-crafts-reading section of hobbies, but I’d definitely be open to sword fighting 🙂

    Reply

Start a Conversation

Your email address will not be published.