Kicking It At Kendo

Japan is undoubtedly one of our favourite destinations on the planet, a country with an amazingly rich culture, fabulous food and a flat-out bonkers take on pretty much everything from robot restaurants to cafés where you can have an owl sit on you while having a beverage – well, of course.

It's quite short sharp and powerful. I enjoyed it.

But, in dreaming up something for our drivers to do in Tokyo this week, we resisted the temptation to make them do anything offbeat or even too classically calming (we figured that racing drivers, who generally have the attention span of a guppy, would react badly to a tea ceremony or nice origami session), and instead we made them hit people with big sticks. Kind of a no-brainer really.

So, just before we headed for Suzuka we brought Max and Daniel to the Konnou Dojo in Shibuya for a training session in the 300-year-old martial art of Kendo. That's the really cool one with the masks and body armour and the massive bamboo swords.

After getting kitted out in their uniforms, which as well as the jacket and trousers, consisted of Bōgu, or armour, part of which is a series of heavy cloth panels called Tare, which are tied around the waist. Naturally, these were Red Bull Racing branded.

With the equipment sorted, the boys first watched a demonstration by students of the dojo and afterwards began their training session with the kendo sticks, under the watchful eye of Kendo master, Eguchi.

The session involved learning how to do several key moves, including smashing balloons fixed to the mask of an opponent. Daniel, particularly, took this pretty seriously and his lightning quick series of offensive moves earned him a solid round of applause from those watching.

There's quite a bit of screaming involved.

"Kendo was cool," said Daniel afterwards. "To see some of it executed in the morning was fun and then for us to have our go was really good. The first part seems pretty vocal; before you strike or when you strike you shout and it stamps a bit of your authority and then you proceed with the physical movement. It's quite short sharp and powerful. I enjoyed it."

Max also got into the spirit of it, adding: "It's the first time I've seen it, so it's new to me. There's quite a bit of screaming involved. It looks good and I liked it. Yeah, if someone doesn't behave you can punish them!"

The session came in the middle of a three-day break in the Japanese capital, which is a particular favourite of Daniel's. "I love Tokyo. Just because it's unique and this is the only chance we get to come here, for the race," he said. "We're never here for long, so it keeps it kind of fresh and it's fun. The people are nice, the food is really good and it's got a rich history as well. The sun is shining, so it's a pretty good day."

The next stop, of course, is Suzuka, a circuit both drivers are looking forward to, especially in light of recent results.

"Malaysia gives us real hope for these high downforce circuits," said Daniel. "To keep these podiums going would be good. I've had three out of four since the break so I'm excited about that and I'll try to keep that going."

Max, meanwhile, heads to Suzuka off the back of a superb victory in Sepang and the Dutchman is keen to carry that momentum forward at a track that has special memories. "It's where I did my first Friday practice ever in an F1 car and it's just an amazing track to drive, because the first sector is very fast," he said. "It's really old school, so you can't make big mistakes because you will end up in the gravel and that's not what you want, so I'm definitely looking forward to the weekend again. Hopefully we can fight for a podium again - that would be really good."