A quick 411 on kendo as a reference for Bamboo Blade.
Introduction: Kendo, or “way of the sword”, is the Japanese martial art of fencing. Kendo is developed from traditional techniques of Japanese swordsmanship known as kenjutsu.
Kendo is a physically and mentally challenging activity that combines strong martial arts values with sporting-like physical elements.
Practitioners of kendo are called kendōka (meaning “one who practices kendo”) or kenshi (meaning “swordsman”).
Kendo is practised wearing traditionally styled clothing and protective armour (bōgu), using one or two bamboo swords (shinai) as weapons. Kendo may be seen as a Japanese style of fencing. The movements in kendo are different from European fencing because the design of the sword is different, as is the way it is used. Kendo training is quite noisy in comparison to other martial arts or sports. This is because kendōka use a shout (kiai) to express their spirit, and when a strike or cut is performed, the front foot contacts the floor in a motion similar to stamping.
Kendo is a way to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the Katana (sword).
- Shinai (bamboo sword).
- Bokken or bokuto (wooden sword)
- Bogu (armor) – worn over target areas on the head, arms and body. It mainly consists of 4 pieces: Men which protects the head, kote protects the forearms and hand, do protects the body, and tare protects the hips and groin.
- Dogi (uniform) – Clothing worn under the bogu. It consists of keikogi which is the woven cotton top and hakama is the pleated skirt-like trousers.
Competition: In shiai (competition), a point is only awarded when the attack is made firmly and properly to a target point with ki-ken-tai-ichi (spirit, sword and body as one). This means that for an attack to be successful, the shinai must strike the specified target, the contact by the shinai must happen simultaneously with the attacker’s front foot contacting with floor and the kendoka must vocalise an expression of kiai that displays good spirit. Additionally, the top third of the shinai must make contact with the target and direction of movement (hasuji) by the shinai must also be correct. Finally, zanshin, or continuation of awareness, must be present and shown before, during and after the strike, then the player must be ready to attack again.
In a tournament, there are usually three referees (shinpan). Each holds a red flag and a white flag in opposite hands. To signal a point, the shinpan raise the flag corresponding to the color of the ribbon worn by the scoring competitor. Generally, at least two shinpan must agree, for a point to be awarded. The match continues until a pronouncement of the point that has been scored.
The first competitor to score two points wins the match. If the time limit is reached and only one competitor has a point, that competitor wins.
In the case of a tie, there are several options:
- The match may be declared a draw.
- The match may be extended (encho), and the first competitor to score a point wins.
- The winner may be chosen by a decision made by the shinpan, or hantei, in which the three referees vote for their choice. This is done simultaneously, by show of flags.
Grading: Technical achievement in kendo is measured by advancement in grade, rank or level. The kyu and dan grading system is used to assess the level of one’s skill in kendo. The dan levels are from sho-dan (1) to ju-dan (10). There are usually 6 grades below sho-dan known as kyu. The kyu numbering is in reverse order with ikkyu (1) being the grade immediately below sho-dan.