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[Interview]Sabrina Kumpf(GERMANY)

[Interview]Sabrina Kumpf(GERMANY)

What is your date of birth and height?

24.04.1985, 172 cm

How old were you when you started Kendo and why did you started?

According to my father, I started when I was 3.5 years old. I do not remember the reason, but I guess I wanted to join my father.

What do you find attractive about Kendo?

This is a tough question, since the attractiveness seems to change with age and the current life situation one is in.

Currently, I find it very interesting to explore how I can interact with my partner and foresee his/her actions and react accordingly. Also, I am trying to find out when my partner is not concentrated and try to use this for an attack.

Have you participated in any world championships? Have you won any prizes in European competitions?


I was a member in the national team of Germany with one break due to a surgery from 2001 until 2015. I participated in five World Championships and eight European Championships. With my team mates I was able to win the European Championships for four times, the second place twice and once the third place. I was able to win the individual competition in 2010 and reaching the third place in 2014.

My team mates and I were also able to reach the third place in a World Championship twice. I was told that we had been the first European ladies team reaching the podium in 2006.

What did you feel after participating in WKC and EKC?

As you see above, I retired already six years ago from the national team, but I remember that participating a World or an European Championship always was a very exciting event, in which a lot of effort had been put in before the championships and a lot of effort had to be put in afterwards.

I usually analyzed my matches after the Championships in order to find out more about my weaknesses and vulnerability in order to adjust my training. Also, I tried to find out how to prepare for the matches and how to deal with the anxiety and pressure. Then, in a second step I would try to find a routine trying to implement already in bigger club tournaments throughout the year. I think that mental training is one of the best strategies to grow stronger – especially when it is not possible to train every day and mainly in the club.

What are you proud of in Kendo?

Of course I am proud of my achievements in Shiai. Moreover I am thankful for all the opportunities, which made these achievements possible. I always received a lot of support from my parents and also had many female kendoka to look up to in my club in Frankfurt and in Germany. Also, I was able to train with teachers from the police academy, who are being sent to Germany once a year to teach Kendo. One can benefit from the newest teaching methods and learn the same aspects of Kendo from many different points of view. I was also very fortunate that I was able to spend my youth in a big Kendo-Club, which gave me the possibility to concentrate on my Kendo skills and to grow self-confidence in what I do and in what I believe Kendo is all about. I am convinced that this helped me taking over responsibility as trainer and board member in our rather small club in Aarau, Switzerland. I am very proud of our club members and their development. There are three former members of the Swiss ladies national team, who I helped to prepare for their participation in European and World Championships. Currently, one member of the Swiss ladies national team is a member of our club. Our club regularly achieves good results in the Swiss Championships. The Swiss champion of the ladies division came from Aarau in the last years. A very moving moment was that my club mates were able to win the team competition for the first time since the club foundation in 2000. It was a great confirmation that our way of doing Kendo is a good one.

What do you do in your daily work?

I am a certified fiduciary (accountant) and I am leading a small team at RSM Switzerland AG. Our team mainly offers accounting and payroll services as well as consultancy to national and international clients. Currently I am studying for a Master degree as fiduciary expert beside my job. 

What are your future goals in kendo?

My future goal in Kendo personally is my present goal. I am working on my weaknesses and try to find ways to overcome them. With coming of age the ways to overcome a weakness changes and the priorities of which weaknesses need to be eliminated also changes. But this self-reflection is also an interesting and important part of Kendo.

As I am also teaching Kendo in Aarau, Switzerland, I also have future goals for the development of the club. I would like to pass on my experiences to our club members and teach correct Kendo. Since we are practicing only twice a week, we need to focus on the available time. My believe is that practicing 24/7 as exhausting and as tiring as possible will not lead automatically to better skills and a stronger Kendo. Needless to say that a certain fitness level is important. However, it is more important that every participant of the training needs to analyze their weaknesses and try to find a way to overcome these one by another within the available time. For this, I find it very important to create an atmosphere in which people like to grow bigger and reach higher goals by improving their skills but also by treating each other in a fair and friendly manner . I believe that this will influence our daily lives and will help us to develop strategies to overcome difficult situations in our daily lives as well.

Do you have any Kenshi whom you look up to as your goal target and why?

I have many Kenshi I look up to. When I was young, I was watching the all Japan Championships and was astonished by the high level and superior techniques. More influential were the female Kendo players in Europe. I was told once that one should have someone in your own club and someone outside of the club to compare and compete with. This should help to motivate oneself in your club training to better results and show the progress when meeting the person outside of the club after some time again. If I look back, I followed this principle subconsciously. In my club I had many friends from the Japanese School or Japanese, who attended the international school of Frankfurt, and my mother Kazuko, who won the German Championships many times as well as private tournaments.

Beside my father, I was not only trained by my father but also by Jolanda Dekker, who was a former national team member of the Netherlands, and by Yoshiko Oda, who is a professor in Sport (at that time teacher at the Japanese School in Frankfurt). They introduced not only technical aspects but also strategical ways to shape a shiai. When I was older, Ayako Okuura, who was working in Frankfurt at that time and is now working for the all japan Kendo federation, started practicing at my club. We became good friends and since I was working at her office as a student worker, we spent a lot of time and talked a lot about Kendo. We were training a lot with each other and went to many tournaments together. She helped me with growing my self-consciousness by encouraging me to reach the next goal.

Outside of my club I was influenced by my former national team mates, Dance Yokoo (6th Dan), Kei Udagawa (5th Dan) and Susanne Aoki (5th Dan). We competed against each other, but also thought about ways on how to train best in order to achieve the best results and get stronger. We spent a lot of time together due to national team Gasshukus but also during the national team practices, which always took place from Saturday to Sunday. In order to create a team spirit, we were not allowed to sleep elsewhere but in the gym with the rest of the group, even if I was living close by. I think, this brought us very close and we spent a lot of time analyzing our own matches, looking through Kendo magazines and discussing Kendo related topics.

Internationally, I was training to win against Barbara Kiraly from Hungary, multiple European Champions, against Daniela Kimura from Switzerland and against Pauline Stolarz from France.

Nowadays, after my active career as national team member, the focus shifted from competition to leading trainings with participants with different age and sexes as well as different goals and expectations. This means that I am not orienting myself on active competitors but on trainers, who successfully cope above mentioned challenge. I discuss and achieve many advises from my mother Kazuko, who supports me a lot, as well as from my father and my brother.

Of course there are many male Kenshi, who had an influence on me and who I was looking up to. Next to my father, Louis Vitalis and of course all Japanese trainers, who trained the national team.

編集部より

Sabrina Kumpfさんは世界大会で3位(団体)に2度も入賞しており、欧州大会でも団体・個人ともに優勝を経験している方です。日本語の記事は、剣道日本12月号に掲載しています。

A more detailed interview can be found in the December 2021 issue of Kendo Nippon!

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