What is Kendo?

History of Kendo.

Kendo is a Traditional form of Japanese Budo (way of the Warrior) . Kendo has been practiced for many centuries in Japan and derives from the Kenjutsu schools of old (Yagyu Shinkage Ryu, Niten Ichi Ryu etc.). Shinai Kendo was born out of a necessity to train when during a time in Japan live blades were outlawed the Samurai Classs needed a non lethal and legal way to continue their martial art. For a better history of the practice of Kendo please refer to the British Kendo Renmei Website.

Applications in the modern World.

Due to its non lethal nature Kendo is perfect to practice in a contemporary non Feudal environment. There are many applications in the modern world, these include:

Preserving History and cultural diversity.

Teaching the principles of Budo such as kindness, restraint, courtesy).

Maintaining fitness and mental abilities (perception, hand eye co-ordination, breathing, cognitive abilities, anger management),

Developing oneself through the spirituality of the Budo.

Spreading goodwill and understanding throughout the peoples of the world.

Kendo is not Karate or Taekwondo, it cannot be used to teach the principles of self defence in a street situation. Kendo teaches you how to be aware of the danger of a situation before it develops and helps to develop your confidence and self esteem. As serious practitioner would know, it is the goal of every martial art to teach you not to use your skills in a street situation. In that respect Kendo is no different from Karate or any other fighting style.

The Purpose of Kendo.

The purpose of Kendo as defined by the All Japan Kendo Federation is:
“To discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the Katana.”

Target Areas.

There are four main target areas in Kendo that constitute a valid cut or thrust, they are as follows:-
1) Men, the head. This can be cut in either the centre of the forehead (Shomen) or the left and right sides of the head (Yokomen).
2) Kote, the wrist. This can be cut on the right hand only if the player is in the standard stance of Chudan no kamae or on both wrists if the player is in the rarer Jodan no kamae.
3) Do, the body. This can be cut on either right or left sides of the body, migi Do or Hidari Do).
4) Tsuki, the throat. This is the only stabbing technique in Kendo. It is a small sharp thrust to the Tsuki pad (throat protector). It can be done one handed known as katate-Tsuki or two handed morote-Tsuki..


Kendo equipment is divided into clothing, armour, and weapons. Kendo clothing consists of a heavy duty wrap over jacket known as a Keiko-gi and a pair of traditional pleated trousers known as Hakama.

The armour is made up of four components, the ‘Men’ is a protective helmet with a metal face grill and a throat pad, a pair of ‘Kote’ which are thick padded gloves, a ‘Do’ which is a bamboo breastplate and a ‘Tare’ which is a thick layered hip protector.

As well as this uniform a head towel known as a Tenugui is worn under the helmet to add padding and absorb sweat.

There are two main types of weapon in Kendo each used for specific purposes.

A Shinai is a Bamboo practice sword, these come in various sizes but generally a size 39 for men and a 38 for women.

A Bokken is a solid wood training sword, these are not used for hitting people but are used for the practice of Kendo no Kata.

Kendo Equipment is available from various Martial arts Suppliers, and specialist shops.