Kendo is practiced with a bamboo sword (shinai) and an armour (bogu). Through the rigorous training both, a perfect coordination of the movements and the control of the sword are searched; and also to increase the concentration capacity and one’s control.
There is contact in the combats, which develops the techniques improvement, because hitting the air one is not always sure of having hit correctly, but considering the protections used, the injury risk is negligible.
THE CONCEPT OF KENDO
Actually, the purpose of practicing these combat techniques is to discipline the human character through the application of the Budo principles: to achieve human and personal development with training.
The aim of the Kendo practice is:
· model body and mind,
· develop a vigorous spirit,
· fight to get an improvement of the Kendo art with a strict and correct training,
· respect courtesy and honour,
· to mix honestly with the rest,
· pursue always one’s perfecting.
This way one could:
· love its country and society,
· contribute to the culture development,
· promote the peace and prosperity of the people.
Japan Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei's definition.
KENDO HISTORY: "The saber path"
Kendo is one of the oriental martial arts that form part of this group of fight methods which constitute Budo. However, Budo is not just the knowledge of a combat technique more or less effective, is much more than this: is the search for peace and harmony self-realization by means of and by the path of this knowledge.
· Ken: means saber.
· Do: is the path or way to achieve peace by means of harmony.
It is difficult to give, in a so short space, a complete idea of this martial art that nowadays is the second in Japan as regards in importance and popularity.
Present Kendo comes from the ancient Ken Jutsu or "saber path". A series of movements and blows from this art's group of techniques have been preserved and codifyed so they have culminated in the birth of present Kendo.
The practice of this sport, due to the use of the
bogu, (modern equipment inspired in the yoroi, the ancient warriors' armor) is not dangerous, at least not more than any other sport, and it is accesible to anyone normally constituted that would like to progress fisically, mentally and spiritually.
Besides, since Kendo has a polite etiquette and a great discipline, it is suitable to mold the character and to encourage the habit of the discipline, in this time of youth's freedom and lack of discipline.
ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT
Since the primitive time of human prehistory, the use of weapons to hunt wild animals and later to attack and defense, have experienced a great evolution. From the primitive objects made of silex (a quartz variety), to the actual forged steel swords, there have been many different kinds, made with different materials. Likewise, the use techniques of this weapons have evolved according to the kind of weapon, as well as the country that has used them and physical and cultural features of their users. While in the West sword use techniques, after the collapse of the Roman Empire, evolved to the one-hand thrust
(fencing); in the East, and more specifically in Japan, the sword use techniques evolved to the use of swords (katana) made to be used with both hands with cutting movements.
Kendo (Ken, sword and Do, path) or Ken Jutsu (sword combat), was born as a summary of sword use techniques that, although it dates back a long way, since the VIII century, in Japan and due to the large number of civil conflicts that took place until the turn of the XVII century, it was systematized, its techiniques were organized, and the relationship master - disciple was introduced.
During this period, it was necessary to distinguish between two fundamental guidelines:
· first, the Kendo or Ken Jutsu battles, in which professional soldiers fought fisically to defeat their opponents,
· second, the stablishment of schools (RYUHA), in which combat was analyzed with the aim of refine the martial and philosophical techniques.
These schools were more characteristic of unemployed samurais (warriors) and soldiers of fortune, that of professional military men. From the primitive schools appeared other until, in the late days, there were over 200 schools.
This men enphasized both, in technique perfection as in spiritual aspects, so it even included innumerable moral elements, extremely influenced by Confucianism, Buddhism and, specially, by Zen. The development of the samurai path, as a practical morality guide, represented a great increase of the spiritual and theoretical contents in fencing, becoming of great value in personal development.
The end of the XVII century contemplated the creation and evolution of the protection elements for the fencing practice. The
men, kotes, do and tare use, and the use of the bamboo sword called shinai instead of the katana or the bokken meant a significant change. Before the use of these protections and the shinai, the risk in the use of the bokken or the katana, made impossible the cuts or thrusts. The use of protections and non-lethal weapons allowed to create a practice method in which there can be executed the aforementioned techniques. Such innovation, with the Meiji restoration, the sabre bearing and, of course, the duelling banning, contributed to turn fencing in a sport which was the predecessor of present Kendo.
Kendo is a
clearly Japanese martial art, that's why etiquette or courtesy is
fundamental. Courtesy and etiquette rules are severely strict in
Japan; an offence to these rules could even be considered a serious
insult or a lack of education, which always will fall on the master
of the student that makes the offence.
The respect to the Dojo (training place) or
school, to the Sensei (master), to the most advanced students, to
the equipment and to oneself should be top priority.
Take great care of your material. Before a
training check the good condition of the shinai, watching that it
hasn't splinters or that the tsuru-himo or the nakayui are loose or
Dress your clothes correctly. Avoid that the
keikogi has bulges or malformations. When you take off your clothes,
fold them carefully, specially the hakama. Always take care of their
good condition; it doesn't matter if they are old as long as they
are clean and well preserved.
When you go in or out the Dojo, salute bowing
yourselves respectfully in the direction of the Kamiza.
Never talk to your instructors familiarly. Don't
call them by their names but calling them Sensei or Senpai, as
Pay attention to the instructor's explanations or
to the people they select to help you. Thank them for this (in
Japanese, dómo arigato gozaimashita).
when going in and out the Dojo
When forming up to start training, don't be slow
occupying your place. Take your corresponding place at the left side
of the older students. When the seiza command is given, rest first
the left knee and removing lightly the hakama with the right hand,
rest the right knee keeping the body straight, sitting on the heels,
with the back and the shoulders straight and looking ahead. Check
that you are in line with your companions and your kotes and your
men are also in the same line. When you get up, lift first the right
When saluting in seiza (za-rei), bow the top of
the body resting first the left hand, then right and form a triangle
with the thumb and index fingers of both hands. Descend the body
until the nose almost touches that triangle and the elbows rest on
the floor. To get up, move back first the right hand, then the left
and rest the palm of the hands on the thighs, keeping straight.
If you have to move around the Dojo, avoid
getting in the Sensei or the kenshi's way. If you can't avoid it,
the right way is carrying the men, the kotes and the shinai on the
left arm, bow the body lightly and extend the right hand's palm to
mean that you are not a threat.
Always show correctness. After the training
everybody is tired: don't express it or make strange gestures. Don't
take irregular positions when sitting or rest yourselves in the
shinai. Don't take off your equipment as long as the Sensei doesn’t
allow you to do it. If you need to go out of the Dojo, ask
permission to leave and salute when going out and coming back.
Especially be patient with the beginners, attend
and help them as much as possible, remember that you also were
The Dojo and its components.
Kamiza: honour place where in Japanese
Dojos is usually a small sanctuary and in front of which places the
Dojo's Sensei or Senseis.
Shimoza: zone opposite to the Kamiza where
pupils place, from right to left, from higher to lower degree.
Entrance - Exit.
Shisyou: Sensei or main master. If it is
the owner of the Dojo, it will be called Kanchó Sensei.
Jyosyu: secondary Sensei, Shisyou's
helper. Pupils will address him as Sempai.
Senpai: pupil with more degree and
experience who acts as Sensei assistant. Between masters it is also
the one with more degree.
Kouhai: students with less experience and
degree that the Senpai.
Mukkyu: students without degree or
This disposition in the Dojo has an explanation:
during Japanese feudalism, confrontations between rival schools were
common. When a school was invaded, kouhai were the first to face the
invaders, sacrifying themselves if necessary, and giving time to the
kenshi with more experience to arrange the defence and shield the
Sensei, who was the last one to fight.
In the Dojo the Senpai leads the etiquette giving
At the start:
Encho: everybody aligns diligently.
Seiza: with this command everybody kneels
to seiza placing its equipments in line with the Senpai's.
Kyosuke mukusho: everybody closes the
eyes, interlacing both hands and leaving the mind blank.
Yame: the eyes are opened and the hands
rested on the thighs.
Shomen ni rei: descent the body to the
floor, saluting quietly to the Kamiza.
Sensei ni rei o Sensei kata ni rei:
descending to the floor, everybody salutes the master or masters
saying: douzo, onegai shimazu (please, train with me).
Otagai ni rei: like the previous, but
pupils salute between them.
At the end the order of salutations inverts:
Otagai ni rei.
Sensei ni rei o Sensei kata ni rei.
Shomen ni rei.
ATTACK ZONES IN KENDO