Kendo, a Japanese sport, is also called “The Way of Sword.” This modern sport originated in Japan. Kendo uses a kenjutsu. A kenjutsu is a martial arts sword used to kill opponents. Kendo is derived from the word “ken”, meaning “sword” and “do”, meaning “way.” Broadly speaking, kendo is a way to discipline the human character based on the principles of swordsmanship. The art was brought from China to Japan over 1,000 years ago.
Kendo began at the end of the samurai era and the Meiji restoration, which prohibited a person to carry a sword. This was a crisis of identity for Japanese people because having a sword was tradition. But after a few years, the government allowed kendo again, as an educational sport rather than a martial arti. Kendo has three main elements; martial arts, arts and sports.
A shinai, meant to represent a Japanese sword, is used in kendo. At first, the shinai was made from iron or wood, but these materials were still causing injury, sometimes even death. Now bamboo or resin is used. Kendo teaches self-defense and builds character such as discipline, emotional control, and respect as well as eliminating stress.
Kendo is a noisy sport because every time the kendoka (kendo participants) attack, they shout “kiai” while attacking. The shouting expresses spirit scares the opponent. This sport is done in pairs of men or women. Kendo is a fairly dangerous sport. Its equipment is:
– Uniform: jacket (keikogi) and loose trousers (hakama)
– Sword: made of bamboo (Shinai)
– Bogu: consist of a helmet (men), breastplate (do), thick gloves (kote), leather armor (tsuki-dare)
A person’s training begins with the basics, beginning with how to hold a sword, then moving on to stepping techniques, attack techniques, survival techniques, attack combinations and counter attack techniques. Below are 4 types of attacks in kendo:
- Men: to attack the head, striking the left or right temple
- Kote: to attack the hand, stiking the wrist
- Do: to attack the body of the opponent, striking is the left or right side of the stomach.
- Tsuki: to attack the neck, thrusting toward the throat. Because this move is more dangerous, it is only allowed for certain types of practice and competition.
Just like other martial arts, kendo also established clubs and has national and international competitions. A person receives a point in a Kendo match if he/she hits the target with the sword, correct zanshin (the beat of feet when yelling) and correct shouting (kiai) making a perfect movement.
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