Quest For Japan Logo-Ver7

Kendo, The Way of the Sword – History

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/25 Traditional Culture , ,

Kendo, or the “way of the sword,” is similar to forms of fencing seen in other lands. Two contestants wearing armor to protect the face, chest, and arms confront each other with bamboo swords called shinai. Today, it is widely practiced within Japan and many other nations across the world.

kendoka

Practitioners of kendo are called kendōka. (Photo by John Magas on Flickr)

Kendo Origins

There are two theories about the origins of present-day kendo. One has it that the roots of kendo lie in the traditional art of fencing, in which combatants faced off with actual swords. This art, it is said, was brought to Japan from China more than 1,000 years ago.

The other theory says that kendo developed from Japan’s own brand of fencing. The Japanese sword that emerged in the middle of the 11th Century (middle of the Heian Era〔794-1185〕 ) had a slightly arched blade with raised ridges (called Shinogi). Its original model was presumably handled by a tribe that specialized in cavalry battles in northern Japan during the 9th century. Since then, this sword was used by the Samurai and production technology advanced rapidly during the period of early Samurai-government reign (end of the Kamakura Era in the 13th Century). In this manner, it is not an exaggeration to say that both its wielding techniques using Shinogi which produced the expression of Shinogi-wo-kezuru, engaging in fierce competition and the Japanese sword were Japanese born products.

The introduction of bamboo practice swords (shinai) and armour (bōgu) to sword training is attributed to Naganuma Shirōzaemon Kunisato during the Shotoku Era (1711–1715). Naganuma developed the use of bōgu and established a training method using the shinai.

Banning of Kendo and Other Martial Arts

Kendo (along with other martial arts) was banned in Japan in 1946 by the occupying powers. This was part of “the removal and exclusion from public life of militaristic and ultra nationalistic persons” in response to the wartime militarisation of martial arts instruction in Japan. The All Japan Kendo Federation (AJKF or ZNKR) was founded in 1952, immediately after Japan’s independence was restored and the ban on martial arts in Japan was lifted. It was formed on the principle of kendo not as a martial art but as educational sport, and it has continued to be practiced as such to this day.

Samurai warriors practiced the art of fencing for a long time, and eventually practicing with swords became a part of the study of morals and Buddhism, especially Zen. Samurai eventually had to practice not only fencing but also spiritual training. Then at the end of the eighteenth century protective equipment and safe bamboo practice swords were introduced, and the present form of kendo took shape. Nowadays kendo is very popular in schools as a sport that provides both physical and mental training.

References:

1. Kendo. Web-Japan.

2. History of Kendo. All Japan Kendo Federation.

The following two tabs change content below.

Sponsored Links

  • Pocket
  • 1 follow us in feedly

Related Article/s:

089508

Keirou no Hi or Respect for the Aged Day

Today is a special day for the elderly in Japan. Special in the sense that the government really made a holiday to celebrate and pay homage to them. People across the country travel to their hometown to visit their parents and relatives. But what exactly is “Respect for the Aged Day”? The following two tabs […]

Read Article

4881450065_fe7f37024d_z

Playing with Flowers in Cards: Hanafuda 2

As we learned in our first post about Hanafuda (花札), they are Japanese playing cards that are used to play a number of games. The name comes from two Japanese words hana (花) which means flowers and fuda (札) which can mean cards. Some call it “flower cards” in English. In this post, we will […]

Read Article

Hakutou

Momo (peach) as a divine fruit

Peach Peach is one of the major local productions of Okayama. Although it had been consumed by people from a long time ago, it is said it was rather an ornament than a food because its taste wasn’t so good. In Meiji era (1868–1912), when a new, sweeter and bigger breed came from China, many […]

Read Article

Sakura - hanami -

Hanami

Imagine yourself standing underneath a canopy of Cherry Blossom trees (Sakura) in full bloom, its delicate petals slowly dancing in the gentle spring breeze blowing. Its sounds like a scene from a movie right? But for the Japanese people these is no movie, it happens every spring. The annual Hanami – the Japanese tradition of […]

Read Article

Konbini (7-eleven)

I Love Konbini: Awesome Konbini (Convenience Store) In Japan!

I love konbini (convenience store) in Japan and I often use it in different situations, for lunch, after work, family trips, and so on. What’s so awesome about it? Well, it’s amazingly convenient, food is delicious, and so much more! This time, I’ll be introducing some of them.   1. It’s Everywhere! As of August […]

Read Article

Osechi juubako - laid out

Osechi: Traditional Japanese New Year’s Food

“Shin-nen akemashite omedetou gozaimasu”, Happy New Year to everyone! How did you spend your year end vacation? I guess, everyone is still in their vacation mode. Did you eat osechi during “sanganichi” (三が日)? How was it? Did you know that each dish has its own meaning and significance? For people who are not familiar with osechi, let me […]

Read Article

kendo target areas

Kendo, The Way of The Sword – Kendo Practices

In our previous posts, we learned about the history and equipment used in kendo. In this post, we will learned about kendo practices. It’s estimated that somewhere around 14 million people world-wide are Kendokas, or active practitioners and students of Kendo. Unlike almost every other martial art, Kendo has one global federation, and every country […]

Read Article

japan flag

Kenkoku Kinen no Hi or National Foundation Day

The National Foundation Day (建国記念の日, Kenkoku Kinen no Hi) is a public holiday in Japan and is celebrated every year on 11th February. The day is celebrated to commemorate the formation of the nation and also for the establishment of the imperial line by the first Japanese ruler, Jimmu. Holiday History The day originally coincided […]

Read Article

Jotaro Kujo and hist Stand Star Platinum! Ora!Ora!Ora!

I Love Konbini: No Coffee in Japanese Konbini, No Life

As I wrote in my previous post, I love konbini (convenience store) in Japan. I often use it, especially after work. And, I usually drink canned coffee when taking breaks.   This time, I’ll be introducing about coffee of konbini that every Japanese businessman cannot live without.   About product labels If you take a […]

Read Article

Oboromuramasa

Mystery tour : Muramasa , a cursed blade – Part 1 –

Muramasa (1) Masamune and Muramasa “Masamune” and “Muramasa” are probably the two well-known Japanese sword brands to common Japanese people. You may have seen those names in Japanese manga, video games, novels, etc. For example, “Masamune” is used by Sephiroth in a Playstation game, Final Fantasy 7. Also, there is a game entitled as “Oboro-muramasa” […]

Read Article

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links

  • Google+
    InstagramInstagram
PAGE TOP ↑