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Beginner's Guide to Japanese Kendo

April 13, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Japanese Kendo

Japanese kenjitsu has paved the way for many styles of martial arts, one of which is kendo.

What is Kendo?

Kendo is a form of modern Japanese martial arts that involves the use of bamboo practice swords ( shinai) and protective armor ( bogu). It's unique in the sense that it combines martial arts with physically demanding exercise.

The word "kendo" translates into "way of the sword," emphasizing the importance of swordsmanship among practitioners of this martial arts.

Origins of Kendo

Kendo originated several centuries ago in Japan as a form of training for samurai warriors. Samurai warriors acknowledged the importance of training, many of whom spend countless hours sparring to hone their skills. Back then, however, kendo was practiced using real swords, the most common being the katana.

With samurai warriors practicing kendo with real swords, there was a greater risk of bodily injury. This led to the transition to wooden and bamboo swords, as well as armor, to protect against such injury. Today, kendo is practiced using a special type of bamboo sword that consists of four pieces. While made of natural bamboo, it's designed to look like a traditional Japanese sword.

Kendo Popularity

So, how popular is kendo? According to Kodansha Meibo, there were nearly 1.5 million registered kendo practitioners in Japan as of September 2007. A separate survey conducted by All Japan Kendo Federation, however, suggests that nearly half a million Japanese residents practice kendo. Either way, it's safe to say a lot of people practice kendo, and rightfully so: it's a fun and rewarding form of martial arts that teaches a wide range of skills.

The Basics

When practicing kendo, individuals must attempt to strike their opponent in key areas of the body. Practitioners wear several pieces of armor to protect against these strikes, however, including a face mask known as a MEN, a breast plate known as a DO, and gauntlets known as KOTE.

Kendo Organizations

There are several esteemed modern-day organizations that host and manage kendo competitions, some of which include the following:

  • All Japan Kendo Foundation (AJKF)
  • International Kendo Foundation (IKF)
  • International Martial Arts Federation (IMAF)

How Can I Learn More About Kendo?

If you're interested in kendo, you should check out the kendo for life guide here. Featuring 31 pages, it explores this popular form of Japanese martial arts, revealing helpful tips and information for beginners.

You can also learn more about kendo by checking out a local school for Japanese martial arts. Being that it's one of the most popular forms of Japanese martial arts, there are countless schools for kendo not only in Japan, but throughout other countries as well.


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