Kendo is an ancient sword fighting art practiced by Japanese samurais. It is based on its own order, rules, fighting techniques and philosophy, and although it has gone through stages of development until now, its essence has not changed. As it has become its own kind of sport in modern times, it has expanded to the range of international participants. The main goal of Kendo is based on the principle of self-defeat. Athletes who practice this sport will grow physically and mentally and learn morals, respect, and honesty. It is also important to show respect for the opponent and end the fight respectfully without expression. They are unique as they preserved its “living spirit” of kendo, which has been handed down for centuries. There are number of clubs that train kendo athletes in Mongolia. In January, an athlete of Chikira Kendo club A.Nyamjav, an internationally ranked as second best, won a bronze medal in the individual event of the UNC-2023 15 sports federation. He is a construction engineer, who currently works at Junson construction company. Throughout his kendo practicing years, he won the junior national championship three times by himself and five times in the team category. He was a part of the national team at the World Championship held in South Korea and competed in the International Martial Arts Festival held in Cheongju, China, and the Open Tournament in Beijing the following year.
Young people are mostly interested in football and wrestling. But what attracted you to kendo?
One day, my friend took me to show how sword fighters train. I really liked kendo as a martial art. Driven by my desire and interest, I have been training at the ‘Mongolian Kendo’ club for nine years now. I stepped into adult life and started working, but I still did not move away from my favorite sport. Through my time with this sport, I have learned how to behave properly in public and respect oneself and one’s competitors. Now, no matter how busy I am, I love finding time to train at my club.
I watched you train with the athletes for a while and it has given me impression that you don’t want to give up easily?
Yes, I am very competitive. This behavior sharpens me. An athlete faces many challenges to stay practicing the same sport for a long time. In my first youth national championship I had a chance to beat my opponent but lost and won a silver medal. The athletes who won the competition were awarded a 10-day trip in Japan as part of the ‘JENESYS-2016’ program implemented by the Japanese Embassy. I was disappointed that I didn’t achieve my goals and thought about quit-
ting. At that time, I had an involuntary desire to win and go to Japan next year, which made me stay in sport.
The organization of national championship of kendo attracted a lot of interest. That competition may help people think about involving their children with kendo?
At the National Championship 2023, the features of sword fighting sports and athletes were broadcasted live across the country, attracting great interest from the audience. For me, it was not easy to work hard at night with the organizing team at Steppe Arena and to participate in the competition in the morning. I received a bronze medal. I think that the test, which challenged me in many ways, made me understand again how I fell in love with this sport. When I first started learning, kendo was not considered an individual sport category like it is today. The field of sports is very competitive. There is an unwritten rule that perseveres and discourages. Therefore, I overcame many difficulties faced with optimism. In this sense, kendo taught us how to manage work and life properly and how to spend time effectively.
Does it feel good to see your family and friends become loyal fans of kendo?
My close friends are now my loyal fans. Family support and attitude greatly influence sports. When I became a university student and became independent, my parents told me, “This is your personal space, your goals, and your choices. You
will reap the consequences, so spend time and time on what you are interested in and develop yourself.” I am happy that they trusted me. I try to own my decisions. Having a reliable background is one of the foundations of success for any person, not just an athlete. It’s nice to have a family to greet you with hot tea and food when you come home from practice. As the Mongolian Kendo Association is a non-profit organization, athletes travel across the border and participate in competitions at their own expense. My family financially supported me in all these competitions.
Do you think that entering martial arts was the best decision of your life?
Yes, it helped me a lot to find myself. Kendo has a lot to read and study, a philosophy to think about and meditate on. In addition to the miracle of battle, it has the characteristic of combining the knowledge of writing. Everything I learned from sports is useful in my life. There are no winners or losers in kendo. However, they win themselves and grow to the next level. Kendo athletes still adhere to the strict discipline handed down from time immemorial. In other sports, emotions can be expressed after defeating an opponent. Then the athlete who won the kendo fight will not make any facial expressions when he gets off the stage. It is a culture that respects its competitors. In this sport, poise and composure represent humility. Kendo helps you find inner peace.
Most kendo fighters wear black clothes. What does the white garment you are wearing represent?
I like white clothes. I have been wearing it for seven years. In Japan, old teachers, high-level athletes, or beginners wear this. White clothes represent the energy, warrior, and determination of the athlete. If you wear it, you should aim to show that level of skill to others. This means that it encourages you to stand out from the inside as well.
How much did you change by becoming an athlete?
When I was young, I was a child who was proud of what I did. When learning kendo, I became humble. How the athlete feels about his sport is the same in life. The sport of kendo requires you to train until you run out of energy. After exhausting all energy and resources, a person reveals more of his inner nature. From the point of failure, a person knows himself better
than before and corrects his mistakes. Every time I trained; I thought that I would not practice later. However, I came back to become a better person and conquer myself.
I heard that you joined the national kendo team and participated in the World Championship?
I participated in the team event at the World Championship held in South Korea. I also competed in the open competition held in Beijing and held five joint training sessions in Japan. The Japanese, as the founders of kendo, have kept the order and culture as it was first developed. Mongolians are warriors and tribal. This trait is more evident in kendo and makes me more motivated to fight. Success in any sport requires patience, sensitivity, intelligence, and skill. During my nine years of practicing, I cried, but was happy many times.
Construction work is busy. I understand from your conversation that you train to relax?
Training time is the most valuable to me. Sports are great for relieving stress and frustration caused from society. Physical exercise will have a positive effect on the psychological state. When athletes come to the club, they get away from social life, at least temporarily, to relieve stress and frustration. As sport grows a person, it also requires planning too. If you don’t learn to plan, you will never succeed. Since I was a child, I dedicated three days a week to this sport. I promised myself to go to the club no matter how busy I am. Doing so makes me take responsibility for my work, life, and interests.
When you arrived, who welcomed you and trained you as an athlete?
The person who first taught me kendo was an athlete from the Mongolian Kendo club B.Damdinsuren. After that, the coach of the club, teacher E.Urtnasan, laid the right foundation for my training. I trained under his leadership for four years. I am very grateful to them for generously teaching me many useful things, starting with how to behave properly. We are still in touch. As for me, I plan to establish a ‘Shinki’ kendo club and open it next week in Khan-Uul District.