CULTURE

Japanese Martial Arts, Kendo

2013.05.11 [CULTURE,WHAT'S NEW]

Japanese Martial Arts, Kendo

Kendo, the way of the Sword, is an exciting, high-paced, mentally and physically challenging
modern Japanese martial art, based on the traditional sword fighting techniques of the samurai.
The main martial pursuits of the samurai were archery, spear, naginata (a type of glaive) and
what was said to be the soul of the samurai, the sword. Schools teaching swordsmanship were
established as early as the late 1100’s.

 

 

The word Kendo was officially adopted in 1920 when the various martial disciplines came under
the authority of the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai (Greater Japan Martial Virtue Society) sanctioned
by the Ministry of Education. Kendo and other martial arts were banned by the Occupational Forces
following World War Two, and allowed to resume in 1950. Today kendo is governed by the All Japan
Kendo Federation.

 

 

Modern kendo techniques involve cuts and thrusts to specified
target areas. Strike points include Men the centre of the head,
Sayu-men (upper left) and Yoko-men (upper right side of the
head) The forward kote (wrist), and the right side of the torso,
or Do. A thrust to the throat area or Tsuki, although an accepted
move, is considered dangerous and is often restricted to ranked kendoka.

 

The art is studied wearing protective armour (bogu) over a
traditional outfit of a keikogi, a short, thick kimono like shirt,
and a hakama, being a pair of wide, divided skirt like trousers
of pleated fabric.

 

Over the hips and upper legs is fitted the Tare, an apron like
piece consisting of five plates of thickly padded material.
The torso is protected by the Do, a breastplate made from
fiberglass resin or in the more traditional and expensive
versions,  of lacquered bamboo. The helmet features a metal
grill face protector, and thickly padded head and shoulder.
Tenugui cotton towels are wrapped around the head prior to
donning the Men for added padding and to absorb perspiration.
Practice and matches are fought barefoot in wooden floored dojo training halls.

 

Within kendo competition, a point is defined as an accurate strike or thrust made with
the top third of the shinai onto any of the specified target areas, with the correct footwork
and posture, and vocal expression of fighting spirit.

 

Kendo Weapons

The sword used in Kendo is called a shinai, and consists of four strips of dried or smoked bamboo held
together by a leather handle, and at the business end, a leather cap with a strap called a Naka-Yui
designating the ideal cutting section some 15 cm from the tip. The Tsuru, a tight string, runs along
the upper edge of the shinai. A 9 cm wide hand guard of raw leather, or more often plastic is also fitted.
Shinai range from 114 to 120 cm in length. The use of bamboo as a training weapon dates back to the 1500’s
when basic shinai were adopted to avoid injury to practitioners, being less dangerous than wooden bokuto
training swords.  As with bokuto, real swords and martial arts weapons, stepping over a shinai placed on the
ground is considered very poor etiquette.

 

 

 

Kendo is noticeably noisier than other martial arts, with strikes parries and hits, the timed fumikomi-ashi
stamping of the forward foot when hitting and the expressions of fighting spirit loudly executed.
Practitioners of this popular martial art are known as Kendoka, and the most common form of kendo is
the Itto style, being practice with a single sword, however there are kendo schools and kendoka who use
two swords, the Daito (long sword) and the companion Shoto, or short sword in what is known as the
Nito style.

 

Kendo is seen as an ideal art to undertake for cultivating physical and mental strength, discipline, courtesy
and honor. It is practiced world wide by many millions of people of all ages.

 


Related Article of this Post

2013.05.14 CULTURE Japanese Martial Arts, Kyudo
2013.05.12 CULTURE Japanese Martial Arts, Karate

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