There’s a growing fitness trend in Tokyo, but it’s nothing new really, being based on age-old traditions: Katana Exercise.

Not only will you be taught to swing a sword like a samurai by a handsome teacher, but you’ll cut out stress and extra fat. Check out our hands-on experience of the class after the jump!

▼ We bring this article to you thanks to the efforts of Kon Inoue, a writer from our partner site, Pouch.

Walking down the street near Ikejiri-Ohashi Station on the Den-en-toshi line in Setagaya, Tokyo, Inoue-san heard a strange sound coming from the basement of a building: “One! Two! Three!” in a thick Japanese accent. Peaking inside, she was shocked at what she saw: a room full of women swinging Japanese swords around to the beat of heavy Japanese rock music. What in the world had she stumbled into?

▼ She found Katana Exercise.


Her reporter sense tingling, Kon was itching to know more. After conducting a little bit of research, she placed a few calls and set out to take part in one of these bizarre new classes. She did this, of course, for the benefit of you, our dear readers, and definitely not because the teacher happened to be a sword-wielding hunk.

▼ Don’t you want him teaching you how to swing a sword?


Said teacher is Ukon Takafuji, the creator and, ipso facto, grandmaster of Katana Exercise. Originally from Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, Takafuji started practicing sword dance and fencing about seven years ago. As he was also a physiotherapist, he saw the benefits of many of the moves in hitting women’s “trouble areas” of their hips, butts and upper arms.

Why not take this fun, toning and historically relevant dance and turn it into an exercise class for women, he thought? Takafuji ran with the idea and now has over 100 students attending his classes in Tokyo.

▼ One of those 100 is our writer, Inoue-san.


Takafuji maintains that, over the period of a three-month course, participants can lose up to four kilograms (8.8 pounds) and five percent of their body fat, not to mention significantly shaping up those legs and arms. For the sake of safety (lost appendages do not count as weight loss, after all), the class is all done with the use of imitation katanas made of foam and wood and mainly consists of following a series of basic moves set to music.

▼Not too bad, Inoue-san, not too bad!


The 10 basic moves include an “aiming posture,” “straight cut,” “diagonal slash,” and “third-level thrust” (the special move of Okita Soji, a famous historical swordsman). In addition, the students do some sumo-like exercises like the high-leg stomp that the wrestlers do in the ring prior to their bouts.

Each class is 70 minutes long and you’d better believe you’ll work up a good sweat; Inoue-san confesses that she had to take a quick squat break when the teacher wasn’t looking.

▼ She looks so worn out!


After class, Inoue-san asked some other students about their experiences and what brought them to the class. One explained that before joining up she was running by herself as a means of exercising, “but getting nowhere”. She now attends the Katana Exercise class three times a week and states that her pre-existing shoulder pains have all but vanished as a result.

“At my normal gym, I couldn’t do dancing,” commented another breathless sword swinger. “Plus, I have an interest in traditional culture, so I chose this.”

▼ Inoue-san’s enthusiastic classmates.


Great exercise and opening doors to new hobbies and interests, you couldn’t ask for more! Well, you could ask for a few more lessons to be included in the 8,000 yen (US$64) asking price, which currently only covers three class. But hey, can’t win ’em all.

▼ Plus, would you really want to challenge the grandmaster?


Then again, 8,000 yen isn’t that much for a class that “makes you feel as if you became a samurai!” I think there’s a small place in all our hearts that wants to be a samurai.

Ladies, if you don’t want to commit quite yet, you can try a free trial lesson (3,500 yen value), by just signing up on the website, which is conveniently also in English!

As for all you men who may be feeling left out here, worry not: while all of the classes are women-only, there is a special men’s day once a month, so you can try it out and see what all the fuss is about.

▼ Or just grab a broom and watch this video of Takafuji demonstrating different moves.

You can check out Ukon Takafuji’s Katana Exercise class here: 
Kubo Building B1F, 1-7-4 Ohashi, Meguro-ku, Tokyo.
Tel: 03-6415-8051 (11:00-18:00 Weekdays)
Classes: Lunch time: Thursday, Saturday: 1:30 PM- 2:45 PM; Evening: Monday-Thursday 7:45 PM- 9 PM; Friday 8:15 PM-9:30 PM

Source: Katana Exercise
Photos © RocketNews24

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