The Way of the Sword
Kendo is the art of Japanese fencing.
剣 Ken (or tsurugi) is from the character meaning sword. The character 道, for Do, (or michi), includes the meaning "way" or "path," which translates to "the way of the sword."
Kendo (剣道) is a modern Japanese martial art descended from classical swordsmanship (kenjutsu) that uses bamboo swords (shinai) and protective armor (bōgu).
Kendo is an activity that combines martial arts practices and values with strenuous sport-like physical activity.
In 1975, the All Japan Kendo Federation (AJKF) developed and published The Concept and Purpose of Kendo, which states:
Kendo is a way to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the katana.
To mold the mind and body.
To cultivate a vigorous spirit,
And through correct and rigid training,
To strive for improvement in the art of Kendo.
To hold in esteem human courtesy and honor.
To associate with others with sincerity.
And to forever pursue the cultivation of oneself.
Thus, one will be able:
To love one's country and society;
To contribute to the development of culture;
And to promote peace and prosperity among all peoples.
Kendo is a way to discipline
the human character through
the application of the
principles of the katana.
The Concept and Purpose of Kendo
Kendo is immediately recognizable by the distinguished uniforms and equipment used by those who practice the sport. Although there are many pieces involved, beginners need not have all of them at their first practice. To start, most students familiarize themselves with the shinai and bokuto. Below is an overview of the equipment you can expect to need as you progress in kendo.
Shinai are practice swords that simulate the weight and feel of a katana or bokuto, yet are made of bamboo and leather fittings designed to reduce the impact of practice strikes.
Also known as bokken, bokuto are wooden swords designed in the size and shape of a katana. Like the shinai, bokuto are used as a means of safe practice in learning various cuts, swings, and kata (forms).
Bogu refers to the armor worn by kendoka (kendo practitioners), and includes the men (face mask that protects the head and shoulders); do (chest/stomach protector); kote (hand/wrist protector); and tare (belt for additional protection).
Your sensei will be able to answer any questions you have about kendo equipment and uniforms.
Kendogi & Hakama
Kendogi and hakama are the top and pants worn while practicing kendo. The kendogi is a blue or sometimes white kimono-style top made of quilted cotton, designed to protect the body. The hakama is a blue pleated piece of traditional Japanese clothing which covers from the waist to the feet. The kendo hakama is actually divided into two leg sections like pants, and is of the type traditionally worn by Japanese horsemen. The blue kendogi and hakama are typicially dyed with Japanese indigo.