Kendo, Japanese fencing

Kendo is one of the oldest martial arts in Japan and is currently learned and lived in the same way that the samurai did hundreds of years ago. In addition, its practitioners consider it much more than a sport, since it is a way to morally strengthen the human being.

If you are wondering what kendo is, it refers to the path that Japanese samurai must take when learning the so-called law of the sword. During this process, it is necessary to acquire the spirit of the samurai through rigorous training. For this reason, it is often said that the real purpose of kendo is the path to human development.

Origin of kendo as a discipline

Once iron was discovered, they began to make swords that were used to fight in wars. However, the design of the sword and its respective way of use has changed over time and the different battles. Therefore, the Japan Kendo Federation does not consider it reasonable to point to a single culture as the creator of this type of martial art, since the technology and control of the sword occurred simultaneously in various parts of the world. However, the discipline that is currently practiced is kendo that emerged in Japan.

In the middle of the Heian period, which occurred between the years 794 and 1185, the Japanese sword was created as the main weapon in battle. Gradually, it has positioned itself as the spiritual symbol of all samurai and is referred to by practitioners as the heart of a samurai. In this way, it became an instrument that represents strength and beauty.

During the Edo period, which runs from 1603 to 1868, many schools were born based on the art of handling swords. In this way, the control practice of the bamboo sword was established, which was less dangerous than the original iron swords. It is important to mention that in practicing schools, kendo was taught as a Japanese martial art based on the samurai tradition and its respective philosophy.

After the defeat in World War II, kendo as a practice was suppressed in Japan by order of the Allied Forces but, when independence was restored in 1952, the Japan Kendo Federation was born, which today is a fundamental part of school physical education. In this sense, 18 World Kendo Championships have been held, bringing together players from more than 56 countries, which indicates a great achievement for this sport.

The 4 diseases and the immovable mind

One of the long-term goals for kendo practitioners is to achieve Fudōshin, which translates to immovable mind and is defined as the ability to keep one’s mind calm under pressure. In this sense, Fudōshin is the protection against shikai, which are the 4 diseases of kendo and of the human being: anger, doubt, fear and surprise.

basic kendo strokes

Kendo has become a strict sport in which speed and technique are put into practice. In a duel, the fighters must score two points in two minutes, but each point is obtained by touching some parts of the body with the kendo sword. Among the most basic hitting zones are the kote for the wrists, the men for the head, and the do for the stomach. However, there is a fourth blow called tsuki, in which the blade of the sword is aimed at the throat, but among connoisseurs of kendo and its movements, tsuki is a blow only for experienced.

What weapon is used in kendo?

The favorite weapon of the samurai is known as the katana, but due to the high danger it represents, the bokuto was created, which is a wooden sword that does not cause amputations. However, the bokuto can break limbs and kill at worst, so the so-called shinai, a bamboo-bladed sword that is less aggressive when in contact with the body, is used in basic training.

clothing in kendo

To use any type of sword, it is necessary to wear regulation armor, composed mainly of men, which is the helmet for the head and throat, kote, which are the gloves to protect the hands and wrists, do, which serves to cover the torso and Tare to avoid strong blows to the hip and stomach. Also, it is possible to find schools that protect their students with knee pads for added safety.

What does kendo training consist of?

At the beginning of the training, a general warm-up should be carried out and some basic techniques taught in the Suburi stage, which emphasizes posture, sword control and coordination. Afterwards, Kirikaeshi begins, which are the exercises in pairs where punches and counter-attacks are applied.

The next step in training is Ji-Geiko, a type of wrestling based on mental clarity, determination and intuition, as well as physical agility and perseverance, so many think that this is the step where true discipline is taught. japanese kendo

As for the weapon, it is used to perform katas, which are sequences of choreographed movements with the sword, where Japanese fencing techniques are applied. Attacking and counterattacking are also taught at this stage, so it is a fundamental part of learning kendo.

Finally, we can say that kendo is an art for personal development, since it seeks to unify the mind with the body and spirit. In fact, it is believed that the so-called samurai sword is aimed not only at the opponent, but also at oneself.

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