Meet Peter Chin, our fellow A-Lister who is also known for being the brains behind the cameras with Shiroku Productions – but today we’d like to uncover a different side of him—and that is his love for Kendo.
In light of the Olympics, undeniably one of the most popular sporting events in the world, taking place in Tokyo, Japan scheduled to launch in July this year it is unfortunate that not all sports make the cut—even some of our favourites. In the spirit of celebrating some of these sports, we at Augustman Malaysia would like to uncover some uncommon and under-appreciated sports around the world.
While a lot of boys grow up thinking about wielding a sword and participating in ridiculously gorgeous slow-mo fight scenes, Peter Chin has gotten somewhat close to that dream with kendo. A man that pushes the limits to what he can do — from being an executive producer/director to being a kendōka (someone who practices kendo). With an undying love for the Japanese art of sword fighting, he soon picked up Iaido — the Japanese art of drawing, cutting, and resheathing the katana.
We spoke to Peter to ask him a few questions about his passion for kendo:
What inspired you to take up kendo?
As funny as it sounds, my inspiration stemmed from being a huge comic nerd. I grew up reading all sorts of fictional characters with superpowers and unbelievable fighting skills. One particular set of comic series that fascinated me was the ‘Lone Wolf & Club’ series created by Kazuo Koike and illustrated by Goseki Kojima. The graphic cinematic visuals and the world of feudal Japan was truly astounding, especially the samurai class. Around 2004, a friend told me there was a kendo class available for beginners at the Japan Club in Kuala Lumpur and I immediately jumped at the opportunity to learn.
As a kendōka, how would you describe kendo to someone who has never heard of it?
Kendo is a modern Japanese martial art, which translates to ‘The Way of the Sword’, descended from medieval Japanese swordsmanship. Using bamboo swords (shinai) as well as protective armor (bōgu), it is an activity that combines martial arts practices and values with strenuous, sport-like physical activity. Most of what Kendo is today, its principles, techniques and practices that were rooted from the traditional practice of kenjutsu (an umbrella term for all schools of Japanese swordsmanship)—where it was practiced as a form of samurai training.
What have you learned through kendo?
Although the sport itself has lots of competitive aspects, the budo (modern Japanese martial arts) is very much focused on the mind, body and self-character discipline. Kendo is a lifelong personal journey, where the lessons learnt are aplenty. It continuously helps me strengthen my mentality, building a fit physique, and obtaining a balance spiritually. In kendo, there is always a philosophy behind everything we do and practice in life. For example, in front of our kendo hakama (uniform trousers), there are five pleats, not just for design but each pleat represents a virtue; jin 仁 (benevolence), gi 義 (righteousness), chi 智 (wisdom), shin 信 (honesty), and rei 礼 (etiquette).
Looking back at all your videos, you’ve actively participated in kendo tournaments/ exams. What is the process you took to prepare yourself before that? Do you have a strict diet or training you have to keep to in order to fight better?
It was definitely tough, especially when I am working full time. The intensity of the training has gone up—we usually train three times a week, where we split between sparring and stamina training. As for the exams, there are two parts—theory and practical. So both the study and research are equally as important to understand the finer points in kendo. If I’m partaking in a competition, I will be detoxing regularly, making sure I’m getting proper sleep, and increasing my carb intake, basically just making sure I’m at my best.
There are a lot of easier ways to defend yourself, but why kendo, and the way of the sword?
Kendo is not particularly a martial art intended for self-defence and one of the many things we learn in kendo is about improving your character through the principles of the sword. It’s all about self-reflection — applying what you’ve learnt in training, the culture you’re exposed to and philosophies to your way of life. One of the main lessons I was taught was that to be successful in overcoming your opponent, you first have to overcome the hardest enemy — yourself. Hence, learning kendo is a very personal journey that will eventually help me achieve a lifelong development.