By Shey Li Liew
A professional Kendo practitioner has incorporated smart technology into the sport’s bamboo sword to create an automated feedback system.
The smart sword prototype has been tested under training conditions, but isn’t yet ready for regular use.
The Japanese traditional martial art of Kendo, descended from swordsmanship, using a bamboo sword and protective armour to hone a partcipant’s physical and martial skills.
Daniel (Kwangyul) Jeong is a professional Kendoka who has trained for almost 20 years.
He invented the equipment to help inexperienced Kendo practitioners judge the effectiveness of their attacks during training.
He started this in 2016 at the Centre for Design Innovation at Melbourne’s Swinburne University.
Sensors are attached to the bamboo sword to assess the Kendoka’s grip pressure in their neutral stance and attacking motion. Then feedback from their movement is sent to them.
Jeong said the smart sword has been invented especially for Kendo practitioners who aren’t guided by instructors in order for them to train correctly and effectively.
“One thing I have noticed is that many Kendo practitioners do not have access to Kendo sensei (teacher in Japanese) or qualified umpire all the time during their training…this can limit their Kendo development,” said Jeong.
Connor Clarke is a member of Murdoch University Kendo club who has trained for more than five years and competed in the WA and Australian Kendo Championships.
He believed that the smart equipment will be helpful for training, but was unsure if it will be useful for competitions.
“The only problem with competitions is that, it’s not just based on hitting points but there are also a few factors to score,” Clarke said.
He said that the competitor’s posture, Zanshin (awareness) and Kiai (strong voice or yell) are also judged.
He said the club would try to incorporate the smart sword as part of its training if it’s affordable and readily available.
“I think we definitely would try it out and see how we’ll go with it,” he said.
“Especially when practicing for competitions, so that everyone will get a feel of where they’re at.”