The Friday Night Shinai is a group of people that meet up every Friday night at Twila Reid Park in Anaheim and practices various martial arts.
The skill they primarily focus on is sword fighting. Every person on the field is at a different level of expertise, but they use this time to help improve skills and train new members of the group.
The weapon used is a shinai, which is a practice sword made from four planks of bamboo that are fastened together. The group uses a shinai because it disperses the energy behind the hit so that anyone fighting is not seriously hurt.
The shinai group began close to 30 years ago and originally began meeting up in retail store parking lots. They were a group of friends that just wanted to get together and have some fun.
After hopping around for a couple of months, they found their home at the docks at Fullerton train station. This location had a more confined field to fight and even a platform where others could observe the fighting.
Approximately 10 years ago, the group stopped its regular practice as some members moved away or their personal schedule got increasingly busier. After only a three year hiatus, the group began to meet again at the train station to resume their Friday night fun.
After construction began at the train station in 2016, the group was forced to move elsewhere and find a new field for fighting. The leaders found Twila Reid Park to be their best option but hope to return to Fullerton after the construction is completed.
One of three current leaders of Friday Night Shinai, Daniel Sanders, is a Fullerton College Alumni and has been with the group for six years. Initially, he found out about the group while at a coffee shop in Downtown Fullerton. After two years of fighting with the group, he started to take a more proactive role with two other members to be the leaders.
Today, there are only a few fighters that regularly show up every week to hang out and keep their fighting skills sharp as well as continuing to improve their fighting technique.