History of Kendo.
Kendo is a Traditional form of Japanese Budo (martial arts) along with Kendo, Budo (way of the Warrior) comprises of various other arts, for example Judo and Kyudo. Kendo has been practiced for many centuries in Japan and derives from the Kenjutsu schools of old (Yagyu Shinkage Ryu, Niten Ichi Ryu etc.)
Shinai Kendo was born out of necessity, during a time in Japan when live blades were restricted only to Samurai not permitted to be used and worn by the commoner, people needed a non lethal and legal way to continue their martial art. For a more comprehensive History of Budo and Kendo please visit the British Kendo Association Website.
Applications in the modern World.
Kendo due to its non lethal nature is perfect way to practice a sword art in the modern world. Apart from the physical aspects the practice of Kendo, there are many benefits such as preserving the History and cultural diversity of Japan, also being a major competitive sport, teaching the principles of Budo to members of society (kindness, restraint, courtesy), maintaining fitness and mental abilities (perception, hand eye co-ordination, breathing, cognitive abilities, anger management), developing oneself through the spirituality of the Sport, and spreading goodwill and understanding throughout the peoples of the world.
The Purpose of Kendo.
The purpose of Kendo as defined by the All Japan Kendo Federation is:
“To discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the Katana.”
There are four main target areas in Kendo that constitute a valid cut or strike, they are as follows.
1) Men, the head. This can be cut in either the centre of the forehead (Shomen) or the left and right sides of the head (Yokomen).
2) Kote, the wrist. This can be cut on the right hand only if the player is in the standard stance (Chudan no kamae) or on both wrists if the player is in the rarer Jodan no kamae (arms raised above the head).
3) Do, the body. This can be cut on either right or left sides of the body (migi Do or Hidari Do).
4) Tsuki, the throat. This is the only stabbing technique in Kendo. It is a small sharp thrust to the Tsuki pad (throat protector). It can be done one handed (katate) or two handed (morote).
Kendo equipment is divided into clothing, armour, and weapons. Kendo clothing consists of a heavy duty wrap over jacket known as a Keiko-gi and a pair of traditional pleated trousers known as Hakama.
The armour is made up of four components. A Men (protective helmet with a metal face grill and a throat pad), a pair of Kote (thick padded gloves), a Do (bamboo breastplate), and a Tare (a thick layered hip protector). As well as this uniform a head towel known as a Tenugui is worn under the helmet to add padding and absorb sweat.
There are two main types of weapon in Kendo, they are: Shinai a Bamboo practice sword, these come in various sizes and styles, with different physical features and weight balances (much like tennis rackets). Bokuto or Bokken a solid wood training sword, these are not used for hitting or actual combat but are use for Kendo no Kata ( pre-set forms) and suburi (swinging practice) Kendo Equipment is available from various Martial arts Suppliers, and specialist shops.