A simple and easy-to-understand explanation of the rules of Kendo

Kendo is not just a sport, but a martial art steeped in Japanese history and culture.

Certain rules and etiquette are strictly observed during Kendo matches.


In this article, we will explain the general rules of Kendo matches in detail in a way that is easy to understand for everyone from beginners to experienced players.

We comprehensively provide all the information you need for a Kendo match, including the flow of the match, the scoring system, the types of fouls and their effects, and the criteria for determining victory or defeat.

In order to enjoy Kendo safely, it is important to accurately understand the rules of Kendo and practice them appropriately.

Now, let’s step into the deep world of Kendo together.



What is Kendo – History and Basics

Kendo is widely recognized as a traditional Japanese martial art for its spiritual and technical aspects.

This section delves into Kendo’s origins, its historical development, and modern day basic equipment and dojo rules.


Origin of Kendo: History and development of Japanese martial arts

The history of kendo dates back to ancient Japan, but the form we know today was not established until the peaceful Edo period.

During this period, the martial art of swordsmanship was practiced among samurai, but unlike during wartime, the main purpose was to practice techniques.

In the mid-Edo period, bamboo swords and armor were developed to enable safe practice, and these were the direct origins of Kendo All Japan Kendo Federation (AJKF )) .


By the end of the Edo period, kendo was positioned as part of the samurai’s daily training and as a means of cultivating morality and spirit.

The reason behind the formation of Kendo during this period was that fighting became less common and swordsmanship changed from a practical technique to a training that valued spirituality HALF TIME Magazine ) .


Kendo basics: equipment and dojo rules

Kendo training uses a mock sword called a shinai (shinai) and protective equipment such as masks, torsos, kote, and tare.

These pieces of equipment are specifically designed to help athletes practice their skills safely. Shinai are generally made from Japanese Madake, ensuring durability and safety.

Also, armor was originally made of iron, but in modern times it has been made lighter and made of lacquered leather.


In a Kendo dojo, etiquette is very important. Before and after the start of practice, greetings are held to show mutual respect, and the spirit of Kendo must be observed.

The basic rules within the dojo are to maintain cleanliness and order, and this ethos forms the core of Kendo’s teachings.


In this way, Kendo functions not only as a place to learn technique, but also as a place to learn spirituality and morality based on Japanese Bushido.



Kendo match rules details

Kendo matches are conducted strictly according to specific rules.

This section details the flow of the match, duration of the match, scoring methods, and fouls and penalties.


Game flow: steps from start to finish

A Kendo match begins with entrance, bowing, and the opening signal. Players put on their masks and take their positions for the start of the match.

The match begins with the referee’s signal and continues until the signal is given again.

The match will end at the referee’s signal when time has elapsed or when a valid strike is recognized as a point.

After the match, players will bow again before removing their equipment and leave the venue. This series of events is an important element of respecting the etiquette of Kendo and expressing its spirituality.


Kendo match time: length of a match and time management

A typical Kendo match is 5 minutes long for adults. If the game is not decided in time, overtime may be played.

In overtime, a “first to win” system is generally used, in which the first player to score a point wins.

Match time management is very strict and plays an important role in keeping matches fair.


Scoring method: Effective striking conditions and evaluation

In order to score points in a Kendo match, you must perform an “effective strike.”

An effective strike is when the tip of the sword touches a designated part of the opponent’s armor (men, body, gauntlet, drape) with precision and force.

Furthermore, proper posture and vocalization are required when striking. Points will be awarded if this strike is unanimously recognized by the referee.

Scoring decisions are largely based on the referee’s subjectivity, so it is important to be clear and avoid any misunderstandings.


Fouls and penalties: actions to avoid and their consequences

In a Kendo match, any incorrect or dangerous behavior is considered a foul and will result in a penalty.

Typical foul acts include inappropriate behavior toward opponents, intentionally wasting time, and using dangerous techniques.

A player who commits a foul may be given a warning and, in severe cases, may be disqualified.

Fouls are actions that should be avoided because they disrupt the flow of the game and have a negative impact not only on you, but also on your opponent and the game as a whole.


Adhering to these rules not only promotes kendo technique, but also respects the spiritual growth and etiquette of kendo.

In a Kendo match, you not only aim for victory, but also respect your opponent and develop a spirit of self-discipline.

As a result, Kendo continues to be respected around the world, not just as a sport, but as a martial art with deep cultural significance.




Kendo referee and match management

In a Kendo match, the role of the referee is very important.

In this section, we will explain in detail how referees ensure that matches are conducted fairly and the criteria for their decisions.


Referee’s role and standards: To maintain a fair game

Kendo referees are responsible for keeping the matches fair.

Mainly responsible for determining valid strikes, identifying fouls, and managing the progress of the match.

The refereeing team is usually made up of three people, each watching the game from a different position on the playing field.

The referee determines the score based on the position at that moment, the strength and accuracy of the strike. The unanimous decision of the referees will lead to points.

The referee is also important in ensuring the safety of the match, and will intervene immediately if there is inappropriate use of the shinai or dangerous movements.


Game progress and referee judgment criteria

The progress of the match is strictly controlled by the referee.

The match progresses in the order of an opening bow, a battle, and a closing bow.


The referee monitors the actions of the players during the match and gives instructions as necessary to keep the match flowing smoothly.

The judges’ criteria is based on the cleanliness, accuracy, and strength of the technique, as well as whether the technique hits the correct area.

The judges also evaluate the athletes’ posture and spirit, placing emphasis not only on Kendo technique but also on their mental aspects.


Kendo referees are required to act with high ethical standards as well as technical knowledge.

The role is to maintain the quality of the match by making fair decisions, and to is playing.


The referee’s fair judgment has educational value not only for Kendo matches, but also for the participants and spectators, so their role is more important than simply scoring points.

To this end, referees must undergo ongoing education and training to stay up-to-date with the latest rules and technology.

In this way, Kendo matches serve as a place for moral and spiritual education as well as technical improvement.



Determining the winner or loser in a Kendo match

In a Kendo match, determining the winner or loser is a very important element.

In this section, we will explain in detail the criteria for winning and losing and the meaning of “Ippon-sho” in Kendo.


Win/Loss Criteria: How to decide the winner

In a Kendo match, points are basically awarded by getting “effective strikes,” and the player with the most points is the winner.

An effective strike refers to a technique that is struck with appropriate posture, power, and accuracy against a designated part of the kendo armor (men, torso, kote, and drape).

Matches are generally played on a best-of-two basis, with the first player to score two effective hits being the winner.


The referee evaluates the player’s movement and technique during the strike, the accuracy of the technique, and the spirit at the moment of the strike, and based on that, decides whether or not it is a valid strike.

Additionally, if there are no effective strikes within the scheduled time, the match may go into overtime.

In overtime, the first player to make a valid strike wins. This is called “Ippon-kori”.


What is an ippon win? The meaning of victory in Kendo

“Ippon-sho” is a very important concept in Kendo.

This means that the player wins the match by demonstrating overwhelming skills against his opponent and scoring a clear ippon.

In order to win an ippon, the quality of the techniques, the accuracy and strength of the strikes, and the athlete’s spirit must be highly evaluated by the referee.


In Kendo, it is not just the skill that is executed, but also the spirituality and beauty of the skill that is evaluated.

Winning an ippon is considered the most honorable form of victory in Kendo, and it shows not only the athlete’s skill, but also their mental maturity.

Therefore, in a Kendo match, aiming for an ippon victory has more meaning than just victory.



Safety management and Kendo

Ensuring safety is extremely important in Kendo.

This section provides a detailed explanation of Kendo safety management, focusing on ensuring a safe practice environment and equipment inspection and maintenance.


Ensuring a safe practice environment: measures to prevent injuries

In order to maintain a safe Kendo practice environment, start by maintaining the dojo.

The floor of the dojo must be non-slip and have sufficient cushioning.

In addition, the space for practicing must be large enough and there must be no dangerous objects in the surrounding area.

Additionally, it is important that there is adequate heating and ventilation. By ensuring these conditions are in place, the risk of injury to athletes can be minimized.


Ups and stretching before practice are also important to prevent injuries.

Failure to properly prepare your body puts strain on your muscles and joints, increasing the likelihood of injury.

Therefore, it is recommended that you thoroughly warm up your entire body before practicing Kendo.


Equipment inspection and maintenance: For a safe and comfortable Kendo life

It is important to regularly inspect the equipment used in kendo (bogu and shinai) and perform maintenance as necessary.

Check your armor to make sure it provides adequate protection, especially on the face and torso, and check for tears and fraying.

When it comes to bamboo swords, you should check them for cracks or damage, and inspect them especially carefully to make sure the bamboo isn’t cracked or sharp.


Keeping your protective gear clean is also essential to living a safe and comfortable Kendo life.

Wipe off sweat thoroughly after use and dry in a well-ventilated place to extend the life of your armor and avoid skin problems.

In addition, you can maintain the performance of your armor at its maximum by regularly maintaining it at a specialty store.


By taking these measures, Kendo will become a safe and enjoyable sport, creating an environment where athletes can focus on improving their technique.

Safety management is the basis for continuing Kendo for a long time and is an important responsibility for all Kendo practitioners.



Education and spread of Kendo

Education in Kendo focuses not only on its technical aspects, but also on its spiritual aspects.

This section provides a detailed explanation of Kendo’s educational programs and international promotion activities, including their impact.


Kendo education program: from beginner to advanced

The Kendo educational program begins with beginners and progresses step by step to advanced level.

Beginners learn basic stances, how to hit, and how to move, and gradually progress to more complex techniques.

In Kendo, the spirit of Bushido, which includes etiquette and respect, is an important educational element as well as learning techniques.


The educational curriculum is typically provided at Kendo dojos and clubs, with classes tailored to age and ability.

Many dojos offer classes for everyone from children to adults, and from beginners to those with advanced degrees, and instruction is tailored to each individual’s skill level and progress.

This allows participants to deepen their understanding of Kendo while honing their skills at their own pace.


The international spread of Kendo and its influence

Kendo’s appeal is recognized not only in Japan but all over the world, and there are many Kendo enthusiasts internationally.

With the establishment of the International Kendo Federation (FIK), activities to popularize Kendo are being carried out around the world.

FIK helps spread the art and spirit of Kendo around the world through international competitions and instructor training programs.


The international spread of Kendo is helping to deepen understanding between different cultures.

Many people around the world come into contact with Japanese culture through Kendo, and it also functions as a place for international exchange.

Additionally, learning etiquette and respect through Kendo has had a beneficial impact on many cultures.


In this way, the education and dissemination of Kendo plays an important role not only in terms of technical aspects, but also in promoting cultural exchange and spiritual growth.

As a result, Kendo is not just a sport, but also serves as a tool to bring people together and educate.



Frequently asked questions and answers about Kendo rules


1. What are the victory conditions in Kendo?

The condition for winning in Kendo is to perform a valid strike and have it recognized by the judge.

Effective striking refers to striking your opponent with correct posture and technique.

The judges evaluate the power, speed, accuracy, and spirit of the techniques.


2. How do the judges determine victory?

Judges will consider the following factors when determining the effectiveness of a technique:

  • Correct posture and stance: Do you have the correct posture and stance?
  • Power of technique: The extent to which the power of the attack affects the opponent.
  • Speed ​​of technique: Is the technique executed quickly?
  • Technique Accuracy: Is the technique performed accurately on the target?
  • How to get motivated: Spirit and concentration when performing a technique.


3. What kind of clothes should I wear for a Kendo match?

In a kendo match, a white kendo gi (jacket) and a white kendo hakama (underwear) are worn.

You will also need equipment to protect your face, torso, hands, and legs.


4. What are the types of foul acts in Kendo?

To ensure safety, certain actions are prohibited in Kendo.

Typical foul acts include striking with force that intentionally injures the opponent, dangerous movements, and attempts to steal the opponent’s sword tools.

These actions will be considered foul and may be sanctioned by the referee.


5. What are the points that beginners should keep in mind when starting Kendo?

When starting Kendo, it is important to note the following points:

  • Learning basic postures: Learning the correct postures and stances is the basis of technique.
  • Breathing Control: Learning how to breathe correctly when performing techniques improves force control and concentration.
  • Practicing basic techniques: Students will carefully practice basic techniques such as striking and receiving techniques to establish their own techniques.
  • Mental training: Kendo requires not only physical strength but also mental strength. Mental training is also important to develop concentration and patience.

By focusing on these points and training, beginners can firmly acquire the basics of Kendo.

Also, regular practice and receiving advice from seniors are important for growth.

Kendo is a sport that requires continuous effort and a desire to improve, but it also provides a great sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.



Kendo glossary

Return to sportsmanTOP