An Interview with Alexander C. Bennett
PhD in Budo Studies & 7th Dan Kendo Kyoshi
Academic research about Budo culture and history is important, and popularizing it in different forms is at least as important as the research itself. Alex Bennett does both, and he does it well. Presentation of Alex Bennett’s interview by Jordy Delage.
My name is Jordy, I’m the founder of the Budo equipment brand Seido, and Japanese Budo formed a big part of my life since my teenage years.
I'm also passionate about Japanese history and I make a point of supporting all researchers to the best of my capacity. This is why, after reading his book, “Kendo, Culture of the Sword”, I’ve contacted Alexander C. Bennett to talk about Budo history and culture.
I’ve read many books and studies, by Ellis Amdur, Guillaume Erard, Stanley Pranin, Peter Goldsbury to only name a few, and attended classes in Japanese culture at one of the world's most renowned universities in the field of Japanese studies. I must admit though, that I haven’t made the best out of it so far.
I was impressed by Bennett’s work. Most of his books can be considered as vulgarized, especially those in Japanese but I came to realize that it’s of the greatest importance to popularize a subject (correctly, according to the true history) to spread the culture. Bennett is an amazing researcher.
He holds two PHDs, one in Human Studies from the University of Canterbury and one in Sciences from Kyoto University. He’s ranked 7th dan Kyoshi in Kendo, 5th dan in Iaido and Naginata, 3rd dan in Jukendo and Tankendo.
He’s professor at Kansai University of Japanese Culture and History, teaches Kendo, is vice president of the International Naginata Federation, member of the international committee of the All Japan Kendo Federation, director at the Japanese Academy of Budo, co-founder of the Kendo World Magazine, and author of several books in English and Japanese.
Despite such a heavy resume, he’s an extremely humble and approachable person. Far from what you’ll encounter in most Japanese (and some non-Japanese as well) high ranked teachers, Bennett is someone who makes you feel that the ethic and moral of Budo can reach one’s heart.
Before getting in contact with him, I’ve done some research and realized that he was “advisor” for one of our brand’s competitors, so I hesitated for a while… then I thought “No way I let that stop me. If my company gets in the way of my personal growth then it’s a failure”. And it was the right thing to do.
However, and although the interview is uploaded on Seido's YouTube channel, it is important to me to not make it look like a commercial approach, so I redesigned a new logo called "Budo Studies" and removed all commercial elements we usually include in our videos. I've also made sure that the video doesn't link to any commercial content. And to be fair, I've just included a "with the support of Seido Co., ltd.", as the company material was used for the shooting.
It wouldn't be a big deal in Japan, but as a Budoka, it felt important to respect all parties in that matter.
So, we first talked for an hour or two, and then agreed to meet for an interview. I must admit, I’ve never enjoyed working on a project more. He’s an amazing orator, and even after listening to the interview dozens of times while editing, it was still a pleasure.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say here is that if you’re serious about Budo practice, and no matter what art you study, you must know what Bennett has to say.
You can agree or disagree, you can like him or not, but you can’t ignore him if you consider the teachings of Budo serious. There are too few people with that level of knowledge and rigor willing to share it with the world.
This interview is divided into 11 episodes in total.
I consider it as “season one”, because I do hope that we’ll have further talks, interviews, and hence, more “seasons” in the future.
You’ll find the YouTube playlist below. Episodes are added during the next few weeks, and we should reach the end before the end of summer 2017.
Season 2 is in planning. In my opinion, the sooner we can start, the better !