What is kendo?

From the River City Iaido website, courtesy of Shun Do Kwan Martial Arts Club

Kendokas ca. 1866

剣道 Kendo (which literally means,the way of the sword”) is one of Japan’s youngest martial arts, developed over the years since the Meiji era towards the onset of the 2nd World War and thereafter into the kind of budo we now practice today. Although it is ideally based on the samurai way of life (or bushido), kendo is an invented modern tradition which puts emphasis on reigi (manners and etiquette) and correct form.

The concept of kendo is “to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the Katana (sword).” 

According to the All Japan Kendo Federation, the purposes of Kendo are as follows:

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

And to promote peace and prosperity among all peoples.

(The Concept of Kendo was established by All Japan Kendo Federation in 1975.)

In kendo, practitioners wear bogu (full body armor) and weild a shinai (bamboo sword). Although there are only 4 valid striking areas [(1) MEN (head), (2) KOTE (wrist), (3) DOU (side of torso) and (4) TSUKI (throat)], delivering them with KI–KEN–TAI–ICHI (unity of the mind, body and sword) is a kendoka’s paramount aim.

Kendo is not only a very dynamic and a highly–explosive physical activity, it is also a very psychological endeavor. As you advance in your training, you will learn to read opponent’s intentions and react or counterattack in a timely manner. Therefore, kendo enhances your mental state and awareness, while keeping you physically fit and agile.

Anyone can do kendo!

Whether you are a man or a woman, a child or an adult; in the prime of your youth or well advance in years, kendo can still be pursued by you no matter what your age, gender, or physical shortcomings may be.

Kendo is not just a martial art (or a ‘sport,’ if you will) but it is also a community of like–minded people from various generations bridging this generational gap by crossing (bamboo) swords in the dojo (and sharing drinks afterwards).

To get a better idea of what kendo looks like, below is a video of jigeiko (free sparring) between one of our members doing itto-ryuu (1-sword kendo) and a visitor from Korea doing nitou-ryuu (2-sword kendo) shot last August of 2015.


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