The Way of the Sword

Kendo literally translated means “the way of the sword.” Kendo is the sword art of the samurai or bushi. Kendo has been a part of Japanese culture for a large part of its history and continues today as a sport in Japan and throughout the world. The story of kendo is the story of the Japanese sword, its technical development and its cultural meaning in a sport that continues to use it as a means for character development.

Kendo today is practiced using bamboo swords called “shinai.” To practice kendo “bogu” or protective armor must be worn to prevent injury. To score a point in kendo is to strike your opponent with a perfectly timed strike using your entire mind and body unified at the moment of contact finishing by following through to a ready position. On the surface we see that kendo involves striking an opponent with a bamboo sword to score a point, but it takes a lifetime to master everything you need to master in kendo both physically and mentally. Kendo practice begins and ends with courtesy, manners and strict Japanese etiquette. The entire practice session is intense and physically demanding, a hallmark of traditional samurai training that is still used in kendo today. Kendo requires complete awareness, concentration and split second reflexes. Much of kendo training is about doing repetitive strikes hundreds of times during each training session.