KENDO ("way of the sword"), traditional Japanese style of fencing with a two-handed
wooden sword, derived from the fighting methods of the ancient samurai (warrior
The unification of Japan about 1600 removed most opportunities for
actual sword combat, so the samurai turned swordsmanship into a means of cultivating
discipline, patience, and skill for building character.
In the 18th century,
practice armour and the shinai, a sword made of bamboo, were introduced to
allow realistic fencing without risk of injury. The study of what came to
be known as kendo was even compulsory in Japanese schools from time to time.An All-Japan Kendo Federation was formed following the end of the occupation
in 1952, and an International Kendo Federation was founded in 1970.
matches take place in an area 9 to 11 m (about 30 to 36 feet) square. Contestants
wear the traditional uwagi (jacket), hakama (long divided skirt), do (chest
protector), tare (waist protector), men (mask), and kote (padded gloves).
The shinai varies from 43 to 46 inches (110 to 118 cm) in length and is made
of four lengths of seasoned bamboo bound by waxed cord. All blows use the
"cutting" edge of the shinai, though this is not sharp. The shinai is usually
held with both hands.
Points are awarded for blows delivered upon the left
side, right side, or top of the head; the right or left wrist; the right or
left side of the trunk; and for a thrust to the throat. These are the only
scoring areas. The name of the point struck must be called out simultaneously
by the attacker with his blow and is verified by judges. A contest is won
by the first combatant who scores two points.
Kendo is widely practiced among
students (required in high schools), police, and military groups in Japan
and to a lesser extent in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Brazil.