Interview with Alex Bennett

Alex Bennett Explaining SemeAlex Bennett Explaining What Seme Is

Do you know who Alex Bennett is? He is a non-Japanese who passed a 7-dan exam at his first attempt. 

 Do you know how difficult it is to pass 7-dan? 

7-Dan Passing Rate 2015 Japan Image from All Japan Kendo Federation Website7-Dan Passing Rate 2015 Japan Image from All Japan Kendo Federation Website (

Not sure what happened in June. There are only 7 examinees. It may be a special occasion. But basically it is 17.5% (average) of passing rate this year (2015). 

And he passed at his first attempt. What an amazing job! 

I know many people have been struggling to pass their 7-dan exams. It is not easy at all. And people I know are Japanese! Alex Bennett is non-Japanese, even though he sounds like a native Japanese speaker.

So I decided to interview him. He can tell you things you can only hear through translation first. But this time, you can hear that straight from the speakers' mouth! Isn't it great?

So what did he do to pass 7-dan?

Know the Right Way to Do Kendo

Inside this interview you'll find the whole picture of how you should be training kendo... Absolutely what any kendoists would need to know.

The video is divided up into approximately 6 comprehensive sections:

Section I: What Happened During The 7-Dan Exam?

  • What Is “In Control”?
  • Beaten First?
  • Empty Seme?
  • What Do I Do In My Training and more…

Section II: What is Empty Seme?

  • Understanding Of Seme
  • Seme Is…
  • A Point Of No Return?
  • Billiard Ball Analogy and more…

Section III: The Older, The Better

  • Age is an important factor
  • Secrets in Age
  • Deal with Natural Physical Deterioration
  • Different World of Seme and more…

Section IV: Advice For Late Starters

  • Different Kendō for different age groups
  • Strongest Kind of Kendo
  • Strong Image, Strong Kendō and more…

Section V: What Makes 6-dan or 7-dan?

  • What Should You Be Able To Perform?
  • What Is Nice Kendo?
  • Ma-ai and seme
  • What Kendo Are We Supposed To Do? and more…

Section VI: Strategies for Passing 7 dan?

  • Should I have one?
  • How do you know you are on the right track?
  • A New Journey and more...

What "Interview with Alex Bennett" Told You?

It depends on what level you are. Some parts of this interview and what he said are probably difficult for some people and very understandable to others. 

One thing that what I want you to remember from his interview is 

He did what he does in his daily training in his 7-dan exam.

He did nothing special for his 7-dan exam. He just wanted to know where he was in his kendo journey.

But he passed. Does it mean he didn't prepare for it? No. He had been preparing his 7-dan exam. What does it mean? You might wonder.

Do the Right Things in Kendo

If you do the right things in kendo, you don't have to worry about passing or failing your exams. 

How do you know you are on the right path?

You should listen to your instructor. He/she will tell you if you are on the right path or not. 

Do what you do for whatever the purpose; exam or match. And when what you do is right, everyone (examiners/referees) will be convinced by what you do. 

Watch the video over and over. That is why the video is there! Good luck!

* No ads version is available for Kendo For Life Club Patrons (Level 2 and 3 patrons). There are ads free video and audio, and you can download them as well as script of this interview.

Alex Bennett's Books

Alex Bennett sensei has a lot of books published. I should mention that he is 

  • Vice President of the International Naginata Federation,
  • International Committee member at the All Japan Kendo Federation, 
  • Director of the Japanese Academy of Budo, and 
  • co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of "Kendo World", the world's only English language journal dedicated to Kendo

And he is a professor at Kansai University's Division of International Affairs where he teaches Japanese history and society.

So he is a real deal guy when it comes down to Japanese budo (martial way). Check out his books below.

I owned most of his publications. If you want to know about kendo, his books are the ones you should get. 

There're more books written by him at his page at Amazon. These are the books you should check before you buy anything else.