Kendo (剣道, the way of the sword) is a modern martial art based derived from kenjutsu (剣術, the technique of the sword). Kendo combines strenuous physical activity, mental discipline, competition and traditional martial arts values. Practitioners of kendo are commonly referred to as kendoka and the place of training is usually referred to as a dojo, training sessions themselves are referred to as keiko.
In place of a sword, kendoka use a bamboo sword called a shinai and wear protective armour known as bogu in order to protect themselves and others. Despite its ferocious nature, injuries in kendo are relatively rare. Bogu covers the four target areas to be cut in kendo:
- Men (面, helmet): The top of the head.
- Kote (小手, guantlets): The forearms.
- Do (胴, torso): The side of the torso.
- Tsuki (突き, thrust): A thrust to the throat (generally reserved for more experienced kendoka).
More information about kendo and the history surrounding it can be found by clicking here for the Wikipedia entry on kendo.
As a martial art with a major sporting component, there are various tournaments (also known as taikai) held throughout the UK. The Aberdeen Kendo Club host the Thistle Cup held every year, and in the rest of the UK Shiraoka have entered the Northern Open, the Bowden Taikai and the Mumeishi 3’s hosted by Mumeishi Kendo Club in London.
In Scotland and the rest of the UK, grading up to 2nd Kyu is done on a local level. Grading for 1st Kyu and the Dan grades is overseen by the British Kendo Association. More details can be found by clicking here for BKA Grading Requirements.
Kendo no Kata
Similar to other Japanese martial arts, kendo has a range of froms known as kata that are studied alongside its more energetic aspects. Kata is performed without the use of bogu and instead of a shinai a solid wooden sword is used, known as a bokken. Each kata is performed in pairs – one kendoka will assume the role of shidachi (student) and the other will act as uchidachi (teacher). There are ten kata altogether, seven for the tachi (long sword) and three for the kodachi (short sword).