What is Kendo?


Kendo is a Japanese martial art that focuses on the use of bamboo swords, known as “shinai,” and protective armour, called “bogu.”

The word “Kendo” translates to “The Way of the Sword” in Japanese. Kendo practitioners, known as “Kendoka,” engage in sparring sessions or “Keiko” with the goal of striking designated target areas on their opponent’s body while maintaining proper form and technique.

Kendo has its roots in traditional samurai swordsmanship, and it evolved into a modern martial art during the Meiji era (late 19th to early 20th century). The practice places a strong emphasis on discipline, respect, and the development of one’s character. The ultimate aim of kendo is not only to improve physical abilities but also to cultivate mental strength, focus, and a sense of fairness.

The history of Kendo

The history of Kendo is deeply rooted in the samurai tradition and the evolution of Japanese swordsmanship. Here’s an overview of the historical development of Kendo:

  1. Origins in Samurai Swordsmanship (Kenjutsu): The roots of Kendo can be traced back to the martial art of kenjutsu, which was the traditional Japanese swordsmanship practiced by the samurai class. Various schools and styles of kenjutsu emerged over centuries, each with its techniques, strategies, and philosophies.
  2. Feudal Japan (Pre-17th Century): During the feudal era in Japan, swordsmanship played a crucial role in the training of samurai warriors. Techniques were passed down through oral traditions and were often closely guarded within specific schools or ryu.
  3. Introduction of Bamboo Swords (Shinai): In the 18th century, there was a shift towards safer training methods. Bamboo swords, known as shinai, were introduced to reduce injuries during practice. This allowed practitioners to engage in more dynamic and realistic training without the risk of serious harm.
  4. Formation of Kendo as a Discipline (Late 19th Century): The Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century led to the decline of the samurai class and a restructuring of Japanese society. The government aimed to preserve traditional martial arts, including swordsmanship, and also recognized the need to adapt them to the changing times.
  5. Development of Modern Kendo (Early 20th Century): The term “Kendo” emerged in the early 20th century to describe the modern and standardized form of Japanese swordsmanship. Kendo was officially established as a martial art in 1912 when the All Japan Kendo Federation (AJKF) was founded.
  6. Introduction of Uniforms and Protective Gear: To enhance safety during sparring, protective armour called “bogu” was developed, and the use of a standardized uniform became widespread. This allowed practitioners to engage in more realistic and intense training sessions.
  7. Post-World War II and Internationalization: After World War II, Kendo underwent further changes, and efforts were made to promote it internationally. Kendo has since gained popularity worldwide, with practitioners participating in global competitions and exchanges.
  8. Philosophy and Spiritual Development: Kendo places a strong emphasis on the development of one’s character, discipline, and mental fortitude. The principles of “kendo no kata” and “ki-ken-tai-ichi” (unity of spirit, sword, and body) are central to the philosophy of Kendo.

Today, Kendo is practiced not only in Japan but also in many countries around the world. It continues to be a martial art that emphasizes both physical and mental development, preserving the cultural and historical significance of Japanese swordsmanship.

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.