Kendo


 


"Way of the sword"

Kendo is a traditional Japanese style of fencing with a two-handed wooden sword, derived from the fighting methods of the ancient samurai (warrior class). It is practiced with shinai (bamboo swords), and fighters wear protective equipment covering the target areas: the head, wrists, and abdomen. The bogu (protective gear) consists of a men (face mask), a do (breastplate), kote (fencing gloves), and the tare, a kind of apron to protect the stomach and hips. Under the protective gear, kendoka (students of kendo) wear a hakama, or wide split skirt, reaching the ankles. The shinai is approximately four feet in length and is made of four carefully formed bamboo slats bound together to form hollow cylinder. A cord runs along the length of the shinai. To make a valid cut a player must strike his opponent with the side opposite the cord.

History

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.

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