Kendo


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History And Origin

MALP

Kendo is the term used to refer to the modern martial art of Japanese sword-fighting. Kendo means "way of the sword" and must not be confused with its martial art ancestor Kenjutsu meaning "sword technique or method".

During the Kamakura period (1185-1333), military clans focused on horse riding, archery and sword-fighting. Kenjutsu schools were established such as the:

  • Itto-ryu (Single Sword School)
    The concepts of this school are born from the idea that all possible sword cuts branch out from a single essential cut.
  • Muto-ryu (Swordless School)
    It is founded by Yamaoka Tesshu who believes that "there is no sword outside the mind".
  • The Munen Musō-ryū (No intent, no preconception)
    This school is somewhat similar to the Muto-ryu in the sense that the state of the mind and thought process plays a role as great as skill and technique in kenjutsu
  • Back then, live swords were used for practicing. Although a solid wooden sword (bokken) was also used, these methods of practicing were risky and often put lives in danger. During the Shotoku Era, Naganuma Shirōzaemon Kunisato introduced the use of bamboo swords (shinai) and armor (bogu). However, because fighting with shinai is a lot different than fighting with a live sword, a training method was established in such a way that the student will undergo development to prepare him for the use of a live sword. From here, kenjutsu began to evolve into what is now known as Kendo.

    Kendo began to incorporate concepts from Zen Buddhism. The mind and attitude plays a great role in performing one's style and technique. For example, the mind of a warrior must be clear and focused so as his fighting judgement will not to be affected by "the four kendo sicknesses" namely anger, doubt, fear and surprise.

    It was in 1920 that the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai used the term "Kendo" was offically used to describe this fighting style. In 1946, due to occupying powers, kendo and other martial arts was banned from Japan. It was only in 1950 that Kendo was once again allowed to be incorporated in the curriculum. Two years later, after the restoration of Japanese independence, the All Japan Kendo Federation was formed to continue the growth and development of Kendo following the lifting of the ban on martial arts.

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