WE’RE ALWAYS LOOKING for the next story. Something to explore that we don’t know anything about. For me, that would include most things.

This process is driven by curiosity and need: something local, something active that’s a surprise, something new to experience. Also, something we’ve not covered (or, at least, not recently).

Seattle Kendo Kai sounded right. It was founded in the 1920s, and I found no previous coverage by The Seattle Times.

Somehow, I envisioned Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” with participants returning to battle another day.

But the website lays out the reality: “Manners are paramount. Without etiquette and respect, we are just a bunch of people hitting each other with sticks.”

Head instructor Imanishi sensei and other higher-ranking, higher-skilled members lead an intense, disciplined, structured session two or three times a week.

It’s about the heritage, the traditions and the ability to perform the centuries-old martial art. No one arrives late — which is a good approach for most activities and appointments. That includes the photographer.

In the spare, dimly lit gym, digital cameras are essential. Not that many years ago, film would have required added light. Or a series of motion-blur photos.

Coverage of these sessions meant mainly working from three sides of the gym. One wall is for the senseis, and the floor is crowded with participants. For them, it’s a major commitment of time but with the satisfaction of increasing skills.

There’s a good fatigue that comes at the end.