If patience is a virtue, then these two elderly kendo enthusiasts are extremely virtuous.
Kendo, Japan’s version of fencing, has its roots in samurai sword battles, and it shows. In contrast to the spinning slashes and leaping thrusts of make-believe action movies, proper kendo technique is all about precision strikes and keeping wasted movement to an absolute minimum.
A true kendo master bides his time, keeping his guard up while waiting patiently for his opponent to present the slightest opening in his defense. Japanese YouTube user 1st ch recently saw a dedicated display of this philosophy when he attended a kendo competition in the city of Irima, in Saitama Prefecture, and witnessed a match between two elderly kendo practitioners.
As the video starts, the match is already underway. The rivals have their bamboo swords held in front of them, with the tips roughly chest-height and an arm’s extension away from each other.
Cagey veterans that they are, both competitors stoically stand their ground. At one point, the man on the left lowers the point of his sword, but this fails to throw his opponent off his game, as the man on the right remains in the same fighting pose as he’s been in up to that point.
The tension in the room continues to grow. Kendo matches have a time limit, so the crowd just knows the fateful instant is coming when one man will deliver the winning blow. In spite of this, the competitors display nerves of steel, remaining almost entirely still, until the moment when…
…time expires, and the judge declares the match a draw without either man making a single attack.
This is an extremely unusual outcome in the sport, and online reactions have included:
“Both of them must have such intense fighting auras that they’ve paralyzed each other.”
“I thought the video had frozen on me.”
“Are they doing that ‘Mannequin Challenge’ that everyone’s been talking about?”
“I don’t think I’d be able to keep myself from laughing if my opponent did this.”
“What the heck is everyone clapping for at the end?”
Now, before jumping to the conclusion that the contest was as pointless as the blunt weapons the two men were wielding, it’s worth pointing out that this appears to be part of a team competition, so the match ending in a draw means that neither competitor damaged his team’s chances of winning. And also before we deem this the least athletic kendo match in history, maybe we should consider the possibility put forth by one online commenter that maybe, just maybe, the two elderly kendo combatants are just moving too quickly for the camera to record their epic strikes and parries.