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Can-do Kendo champ heads to world titles

A Victoria University student will lead the Australian Women’s Kendo team to Brazil later this week to compete at the world championships.

Kate Sylvester, a third-year Bachelor of Human Movement student specialising in physical education, said Australia’s five-member women’s team is aiming to finish in the top four at the World Kendo Championships, being held in Sao Paulo from 28-30 August.

The triennial event will bring together elite Kendo athletes from more than 60 countries, competing in a sport based on traditional Japanese swordsmanship.

Kate, 32, has been involved in the highly formalised martial art since she went to Japan as a 16-year-old exchange student.

“I loved it straight away. It is dramatic and exciting because it has lots of stomping, shouting and noise,” she said.

Meaning ‘way of the sword’, Kendo – which features a bamboo sword and protective armour – does not aim to hurt the opponent, but rather to cultivate the mind by unifying mind, spirit and technique.

Only about 1500 people in Australia participate in the sport, compared to four million ‘Kendoka’ in Japan, but its popularity is increasing, said Kate, who also teaches Kendo.

This will be the fourth time the Seddon resident has competed at the world championships.

“The women’s team finished in the top eight at the two previous worlds’ in Taiwan in 2006 and Glasgow in 2003, and there is no reason not to finish higher this time,” she said.

Much like European fencing, the object of Kendo is to score points during matches by striking an opponent's head, wrist or torso, with simultaneous exact footwork, a strong yell, and follow-through.

Kate will be joined on the national women’s Kendo team by another VU representative, Claire Homsey, the University’s International Market Manager.

Photo of Kate Sylvester is available.

 VU Media Contact:

Ann Marie Angebrandt, Media Officer,

Marketing and Communications Department, Victoria University

Ph: (03) 9919 5487 or 0403 556 001

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