The Kendo

The Kendo | What is Kendo | History of Kendo | Origin of Kendo | Kendo Practice | Competition and Grades | Way of the Warrior | Words and Terms | Kendo Equipment

Simply put, it is fencing, Japanese style. It is based on the legacy of classical Japanese swordsmanship, that is as old as Japan herself. “Bushi” or “samurai” used the sword to establish and maintain order from the 9th to the 19th centuries. These men and women followed a unwritten code called “Bushido”. Bravery, honesty, and integrity was at its core.

Kendo (剣道), or “way of the sword”, is the martial art of Japanese fencing. Kendo developed from traditional techniques of Japanese swordsmanship known as kenjutsu. Kendo is a physically and mentally challenging activity that combines strong martial arts values with sporting-like physical elements.Practitioners of kendo are called kendoka (one who practices kendo) or kenshi (swordsman).

Kendo is practised by kendoka, wearing traditionally styled clothing and protective armour (bogu), using a shinai (weapon) or two as weapons. Kendo may be seen as a Japanese style of fencing. The movements in kendo are different from European fencing because the design of the sword is different, as is the way it is used.

The Purpose of practicing Kendo:

  • To mold the mind and body.
  • To cultivate a vigorous spirit,
  • And through correct and rigid training,
  • To strive for improvement in the art of Kendo.
  • To hold in esteem human courtesy and honor.
  • To associate with others with sincerity.
  • And to forever pursue the cultivation of oneself.

This will make one be able:

  • To love his/her country and society.
  • To contribute to the development of culture,
  • To love his/her country and society.
  • And to promote peace and prosperity among all peoples.

Kendo training is quite noisy in comparison to other martial arts or sports. This is because kendoka use a shout, or kiai, to express their spirit and when a strike or cut is performed, the front foot contacts the floor in a motion similar to stamping. Around eight million people world-wide practice kendo with approximately seven million in Japan. Kendo is one of the Japanese budo and embodies the essence of Japanese fighting arts.

Today, the kendo student has the unique opportunity to study an art that has been handed down through the centuries, its theory and methods slowly evolving through generations of great swordsman. Although modern kendo only faintly resembles its feudal origins, it still retains its bushido concepts of dedication, hard work, calm-mindedness, patience, and seizing the moment.

Over the years, like most other martial arts of Japan, the emphasis has changed from killing ones enemy to training for self-discipline, and mental / physical fitness. Kendo can help develop posture, poise, grace under pressure, agility, quickness, clarity of thought, and the power of concentration.

Kendoists use a lightweight split bamboo sword, and a set of protective armor that consists of a helmet, gloves, chest protector, and a waist flap-groin protector. The armor is not needed for the beginners, for they will practice the basic swings of the attacking motions with their “shinai” (bamboo sword). They learn the correct footwork and then combine it with their swinging strike, together with the “ki-ai” (shout). Then time is spent attacking and practicing on their seniors. A

fter weeks or months they are finally allowed to wear “bogu” (armor), and freely practice with others. Finally they can now freely practice the full delivery of their attacks without injury to certain target areas on their opponents body. Later one can enter tournaments and participate in matches, with judges.

Ranking in kendo is similar to other martial ways, with six levels below black belt and ten levels above. In contrast though, there is no colored belts, or outward sign of rank. Certification is under the All U.S. Kendo Federation, and registered in the International Kendo Federation.

Also in contrast, the art doesn’t have to compete with many schools and traditions for the “self-defense dollar” the average person is looking to spend. Instructors in this country rarely profit from their activity, usually giving up their own time, merely for the love of kendo. Kendo is not recommended for those who are looking for a flashy or even a practical style of self-defense.

Kendo, the Way of the Sword is the art of Japanese Samurai Swordsmanship. It is rooted in the traditions of Budo, the Martial Way. It is both exhilarating and demanding to learn.  Kendo, like its ancient ancestor, benefits the practitioner forever with the ideals of the formidable warriors of the past. It builds character, adds strength, tones bodies, relieves stress, and teaches one to shoulder responsibility for ones actions.

It is for those who desire to become strong in spirit, quick in action, gentle in preserving life, but above all, kendo is from the heart. While Kendo has now become a popular sport form, the warrior principles are still very much in evidence. It is suitable for both men and women, who compete and train together.