Baylor Kendo Club wins first place in regional tournament

Despite their competition, the Baylor Kendo Club came in first place at the Houston Kendo Kyokai's 10th Anniversary Taikai tournament. Photo courtesy of Baylor Kendo Club

By Sarah Gallaher | Staff Writer

The Baylor Kendo Club took home first place at the Houston Kendo Kyokai’s 10th Anniversary Taikai on Oct. 26. After seven rounds of competition as one of the only college-based teams at the tournament, the Baylor Kendo Club defeated over 100 competitors from various clubs across Central Texas.

Kendo, also known as the Way of the Sword, is a form of Japanese martial arts. According to the Baylor Kendo Club website, Baylor formed its own kendo club in 2012, teaching students about the art form and officially gaining club sport status in 2023.

The Baylor Kendo Club competes at numerous tournaments, but according to faculty adviser Dr. Kenichi Hatakeyama, the first-place win was unexpected.

“It really takes a long time to gain the skill,” Hatakeyama said. “At the Baylor Kendo Club, essentially everybody there started kendo after coming to Baylor, while most of the people competing in the event … have practiced for like 10 years.”

The winning team consisted of Frisco junior and current club president Manas Reddy, Hatakeyama and 2022 alumnus and former club president William Tomes. Since the tournament was not aimed at college students and had both beginner and advanced groups, a wide range of members were able to compete.

“It was kind of an open tournament, so any kendo club can join,” Hatakeyama said. “Probably, we are one of the only college-based kendo teams that joined. Others are clubs in Houston, Dallas and Austin.”

The Baylor Kendo Club’s recent club sport status generally supports tournaments specifically for college students, in which more members of the club participate.

“I wouldn’t really consider this a college tai chi, which is what we use the money for,” Reddy said. “I think we are going to do that next semester, so we would use the funds for that.”

Reddy said the club sport status has led to growth for the club, motivating members like himself to prepare for college competitions in the future.

“It was definitely a good feeling to be able to see the progress that I made, that putting in practice every week has shown some improvement,” Reddy said. “It also has helped me see what I can improve for future tournaments.”

Students are not the only ones preparing for competition, though. Hatakeyama, who is a two-time national kendo champion, said he enjoyed competing again alongside current and former students — although he now focuses more on instruction.

“In recent years, particularly in our Baylor Kendo Club becoming a sport club, I thought that maybe I can still help them to do better in the tai chi, so I decided to enter,” Hatakeyama said. “It was kind of fun to compete with a student that I have been working with. I was very glad to see their progress.”

Reddy said he is excited to see where the Baylor Kendo Club will go following the first-place win, praising the dedication and consistency of fellow club members.

Sarah Gallaher
Sarah Gallaher is a sophomore from Seattle, Washington majoring in public relations with a minor in political science. During her first year on the Lariat staff, she hopes to help inform her fellow students about things happening on campus. Sarah plans to return to Seattle after graduation to pursue a career in corporate public relations.