What is Kendo? A thorough guide from basic knowledge to history, rules, and equipment that is easy to understand even for beginners.

When many people hear the word kendo, they may imagine a martial art that involves wearing bamboo swords and armor.

However, Kendo is more than just a martial art; it is a traditional Japanese culture that combines deep philosophy and rigorous training.


In this article, we will start with “What is Kendo?” and explain the appeal and depth of Kendo to beginners by covering its basic knowledge, history, equipment used, technique practice methods, and even competition rules. I will explain it easily.

Whether you are just starting to become interested in Kendo or have already attended a dojo, this article will help you deepen your understanding of Kendo and provide hints for further improving your technique.



What is Kendo: Explanation of the basic concepts

Kendo is not just a sport or martial art, but a traditional Japanese martial art.

By delving into what Kendo is and its basic concepts, we will build a foundation for understanding how this martial art contributes to training the mind and body, as well as its cultural value and educational significance. Masu.


Definition of Kendo: Positioning as a martial art

Kendo is a Japanese martial art developed based on swordsmanship. Literally meaning “way of the sword,” it emphasizes not only physical skill but also moral education and spiritual growth.

Although it has a competitive aspect, its essence lies in the pursuit of self-improvement and true humanity.

“Do” refers to this kind of spiritual pursuit, and Kendo aims to master one’s path as a person through the “sword.”


The purpose and spirit of Kendo: Training the mind, technique, and body

The purpose of Kendo is to comprehensively improve the three elements of “mind, technique, and body.”

The heart (spirit) values ​​civility and cultivates a spirit of self-control and respect. Waza (technique) is learning the form of swordsmanship and striking techniques. The body (physical strength) is about improving physical ability and maintaining health.

These three elements influence each other, and it is necessary to develop them in a well-balanced manner through Kendo.

Through this kind of training, Kendo becomes more than just a physical education class or a sport, it becomes a philosophical path for continued growth throughout one’s life.



History of Kendo: From its beginning to the present day

The history of Kendo has its roots in ancient samurai culture and has evolved over time into its modern form.

This section explores how Kendo began and how it has changed over time.

By tracing its historical changes, we can deepen our understanding of the place Kendo occupies today.


Origin of Kendo: Historical background and development

The origins of Kendo date back to the days when Japanese samurai practiced swordsmanship to hone their fighting skills.

From the beginning, these sword techniques were more than mere combat techniques, and had the aspect of spiritual training.

From the Heian period to the Muromachi period, these techniques were further refined and the philosophy of samurai was established.

During the Sengoku period, it became more practical in battle and many more schools were born.


Formation of modern Kendo: Transition and influence

In the Meiji period, Kendo became systematized as part of Japan’s modernization and began to be incorporated into educational settings.

During this period, Kendo evolved from a martial art to a martial art that included more sporting elements, and became a part of school education.

After World War II, Kendo was temporarily banned, but the All Japan Kendo Federation was established in 1952, and Kendo spread and developed both domestically and internationally.

In modern times, Kendo is recognized as an international sport, and at the same time plays an important role as a symbol of Japanese culture.



Kendo equipment: necessary tools and their characteristics

In Kendo, using the right equipment is very important.

Equipment is essential for safely practicing and competing, and each piece of equipment has its own unique role and characteristics.

This section provides a detailed explanation of the main equipment used in kendo, the bamboo sword (shinai) and protective gear.

By deepening your knowledge of the functions of each piece of equipment and how to choose the appropriate equipment, you will also improve your Kendo skills.


Introduction to Shinai: Structure and selection method

The bamboo sword (shinai) is an equipment used in Kendo to strike the opponent, and was developed as a substitute for the original sword.

Shinai are mainly made of bamboo and have a specific structure to ensure durability and safety.

How to choose the correct Shinai will depend on the user’s height, weight, and skill level, but it is generally chosen based on good balance and ease of handling.

It is also important to choose different types and sizes of Shinai depending on the purpose of your practice.


Roles and types of armor: explanation of men, torso, kote, and tare

Kendo armor is the equipment necessary to protect the body from blows, and consists of four main parts: the mask, torso, kote, and tare.

The mask is to protect the head, and the eyes have a metal grid. The torso protects the torso, especially the chest.

Kote is used to protect the hands and wrists, and tare covers the area below the waist, especially the thighs.

Each piece of armor is designed to not interfere with kendo movement and requires proper fit and protection.

When choosing armor, it is important to carefully check the size, material, and quality of construction.



    Kendo techniques and training methods

    Technical improvement in Kendo is achieved through accurate practice methods and continuous training.

    In this section, we will focus on the footwork and body movements necessary to master the basic techniques of Kendo, as well as the importance and lessons of kata practice.

    Mastering these basics is extremely important in the path of Kendo, as Kendo techniques are more than just physical movements, they require mental focus and introspection.


    Learning basic techniques (basic strikes): How to move your feet and body

    Correct footwork and body movement are essential to learning the basic techniques of Kendo, especially the basic techniques.

    Footwork is important for creating the foundation for effective striking and improving balance and speed.

    The way you move your body also allows for force transmission and efficient movement.

    In Kendo, there is a concept of “one step, one sword,” and the basic idea is to add one blow with each step.

    This allows the movement and blow to match, allowing for a more powerful and accurate strike.

    Beginners are encouraged to start by learning proper posture and foot movement, and gradually add speed and force.


    The importance of Kata: Lessons in Kata practice

    Kata is a set of prescribed movements in kendo and is important not only for kendo technique but also for understanding the flow and rhythm between you and your opponent.

    Kata practice is not only a technical practice, but also a training in sensing the distance, timing, and presence of the other person.

    Kata practice is also a means of embodying the spirituality and philosophy of Kendo, with each movement containing its own meaning and purpose.

    By repeatedly practicing Kata, a swordsman can hone his technique and encourage inner growth.

    For this reason, Kata training is very important in Kendo, and is considered basic training that all swordsmen must perform regularly.



    Kendo competition: rules and match format

    Kendo competitions are based on specific rules and match formats.

    Understanding these rules is very important when learning Kendo.

    In this section, we will explain in detail the basic rules of kendo matches, how the matches are conducted, and the criteria for determining points.

    A Kendo match is not just a competition of technique, but also a test of the swordsman’s spirituality and etiquette, and each strike requires clear intent and precision.


    Overview of Kendo match rules: Match progress and judgment

    Kendo matches usually aim for effective strikes to four areas: men (head), torso (torso), kote (wrists), and tare (lower back).

    The match progresses with the judge standing in the center and the two players facing each other at a certain distance.

    After the signal to start the match, players move around looking for opportunities to strike each other, aiming for effective strikes.

    Effective hitting is evaluated based on accurate technique, correct posture, and spirit when hitting, so simply hitting a specific part of the ball will not earn you points.

    The match is won by the player who earns the most points within a certain amount of time.


    Understanding the point system: Criteria for effective hitting

    In the Kendo point system, several criteria must be met for a valid strike to be recognized as a point.

    Firstly, the area of ​​impact must be accurate, secondly, the impact must be accompanied by appropriate force and speed, and thirdly, the person must move away from the impact in an appropriate position (“continuation stance”). You can

    In addition to these factors, “spirit” during a strike is also an important evaluation criterion, and fluid continuity is required in the movements before and after the strike.

    This means that in Kendo matches, not just technique, but strategic thinking and mental concentration are extremely important.



    Benefits of learning Kendo: Development of mind and body

    Learning Kendo offers many benefits beyond simply mastering the technique.

    This martial art promotes not only physical ability but also spiritual growth.

    In this section, we explore in detail how Kendo contributes to the development of mind and body.

    Through Kendo, individuals can develop both their inner strength and physical skills, which are important qualities that are useful in everyday life.


    Spiritual growth: courtesy, respect, patience

    Kendo practices emphasize the importance of politeness, respect for others, and patience.

    These spiritual values ​​encourage one’s maturity as a person, not only in Kendo training, but also in everyday life.

    Etiquette is the first element taught in the dojo, and it is expected to be observed in all activities, including greetings, dressing, and cleaning the dojo.

    Respect is shown not only to fellow swordsmen, but also to opponents, and this fosters a spirit of mutual understanding and respect.

    Perseverance is the ability to keep yourself under control when you are not making technical progress or when you are faced with difficult training sessions.


    Improved physical strength and reflexes

    Kendo training requires a high level of physical ability. The various movements during practice not only increase physical strength but also contribute to improving reflex ability.

    Kendo movements must be quick and precise, which requires good body control.

    Regular practice also strengthens your cardiorespiratory function and helps improve your endurance and muscle strength.

    The ability to predict your opponent’s movements and react quickly also helps train your situational judgment and reflexes in daily life.

    These physical exercises also help sharpen your mental focus, which can improve your overall health and well-being.



    Kendo dojo and how to learn

    Choosing the right dojo is extremely important when starting to learn Kendo.

    In this section, we will introduce Kendo dojos that exist all over the country and explain in detail the basic training methods that you can do at home.

    Learning under appropriate guidance is the key to improving your technique, and continuous practice in your daily life is also essential to improving your Kendo skills.


    Introduction to dojos around the country: from beginners to advanced

    There are a wide variety of kendo dojos across Japan, each offering programs for different levels of swordsman.

    Dojos for beginners focus on learning the basic rules, etiquette, and basic techniques of Kendo, while dojos for advanced players focus on improving competitive-level techniques and honing tactics. .

    When choosing a dojo, it is recommended that you consider the instructor’s experience and qualifications, the dojo’s equipment, and the level of the swordsmen affiliated with it.

    It is also important to directly check the atmosphere of the dojo and the classes through hands-on introductions and tours.


    Basic training you can do at home: Daily training method

    Kendo training is most effective under the guidance of a dojo, but basic training can also be done at home.

    Practice that can be done at home includes practicing basic footwork and posture, as well as sword swing practice called “suburi”.

    Suburi uses bamboo swords and mock swords to practice correct posture and how to convey power, and is an essential element for improving Kendo techniques.

    Performing practice swings hundreds of times as part of your daily routine will help improve muscle strength and automate your technique.

    This daily training complements your dojo practice and helps you maintain and improve your technique.



    Frequently asked questions (FAQ) and the future of Kendo

    Resolving the doubts and concerns that many people have when starting Kendo is important for the spread and continued growth of Kendo.

    This section will help you get started with Kendo by answering the most common questions beginners have.

    We will also explore the international position of Kendo and consider its future prospects.


    Q&A for beginners: How to get started, choosing a dojo, costs

    Q1: How do I start Kendo? A1: The first step to starting Kendo is to find a Kendo dojo near you. Take a trial lesson and check your compatibility with the instructor and the atmosphere of the dojo.

    Q2: What are the points to consider when choosing a dojo? A2: When choosing a dojo, it is important to check the instructor’s experience and qualifications, frequency of practice, class size, and quality of facilities. If possible, it’s a good idea to visit multiple dojos and compare them.

    Q3: How much does it cost to start Kendo? A3: The initial cost is equipment such as a dogi (clothing), a bamboo sword, and protective gear. Also, depending on the dojo, a joining fee or monthly fee may be required. You can also save money by choosing used, high-quality equipment.


    International prospects for Kendo: Kendo’s position in the world

    Kendo is very popular outside of Japan, and there are many Kendo dojos around the world.

    Many countries and regions are members of the International Kendo Federation (FIK), and international competitions are held regularly.

    Not only the technique of kendo, but also the spiritual culture behind it has been internationally acclaimed, and the number of non-Japanese people learning kendo is increasing.

    Activities to popularize Kendo will continue in the future, and efforts will be made to further deepen understanding of its spirituality and techniques around the world.

    This increase in international exchange and competition opportunities offers very meaningful prospects for the future of Kendo.



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