Two swords score Chch man new ti­tle


A Christchurch Ja­panese fencer has scored a unique coup for the lo­cal kendo club.

Christchurch man Eynon Phillips is the first New Zealand kendo player to be awarded his fourth dan grad­ing in Nitto-ryu (two-sword fight­ing) in kendo.

Kendo is a Ja­panese form of fenc­ing in which prac­ti­tion­ers wear eight kilo­grams of ar­mour while fight­ing with bam­boo swords.

Phillips coaches kendo and has trained for around 12 years at Sei Tou Ken Yu Kai Can­ter­bury Kendo Club on Blen­heim Rd.

‘‘I started kendo back in 1995,’’ he said.

‘‘I re­ally liked the swords and I was quite at­tracted to the Ja­panese aes­thetic, like the ar­chi­tec­ture, and sushi.’’

Self-taught in two-sword fight­ing through watch­ing YouTube videos and read­ing mag­a­zine ar­ti­cles, Phillips be­gan us­ing two swords af­ter get­ting his third dan, three years ago.

He said most kendo is done with a sin­gle sword.

‘‘I wanted to try some­thing dif­fer­ent, I thought I’d give two swords a go... As if kendo wasn’t a chal­lenge to start with,’’ he said.

He sat his fourth dan grad­ing in late Fe­bru­ary in Auckland.

‘‘The sig­nif­i­cance of Eynon’s achieve­ment is that he did that with two swords which is a lit­tle bit unique, it’s usu­ally done with one sword,’’ said Can­ter­bury Kendo Club pres­i­dent Blake Ben- nett.

‘‘He is one of the very few peo­ple in New Zealand to get that rank.

‘‘It’s quite a cool wee thing for the club,’’ said Ben­nett.

Phillips said there were sev­eral other peo­ple around the coun­try prac­tis­ing with two swords.

‘‘I’m the only one do­ing it full­time.’’

Phillips said kendo was a unique sport, dif­fer­ent to team sports like rugby or foot­ball.

‘‘It’s a men­tal chal­lenge as well as a phys­i­cal chal­lenge, so that’s where the real ap­peal is. You’re go­ing as hard out as you can and you’re still hav­ing to think, ‘how can I beat this per­son?’’’

The 39-year-old said in kendo, un­like other ma­jor sports, age was not an is­sue.

‘‘I’m al­most 40. [In rugby] we’d be hang­ing up the boots and re­lax­ing. This is a life­time pur­suit. All the top sen­seis are in their 80s.

‘‘You can pick it up at any age and keep do­ing it for the rest of your life.’’

Phillips plans to ‘‘keep go­ing and im­prov­ing’’ with kendo, tack­ling his fifth dan grad­ing with two swords next.

Eynon Phillips of the Can­ter­bury Kendo Club.

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