Kendo is a modern modified kind of the original Japanese sword fight. The Japanese word Kendo is a combination of the words Ken (= sword) and Do (= way). The goal is to strengthen besides attention, stamina, physical resilience and skill also decisiveness, self-discipline, responsibility, team spirit and especially fairness.
Japanese warriors practiced for hundreds of years the use of the sword, especially the right techniques. In the late 16th century a uniform basis of Kendo – as is today – was developed by the ethical and religious influences of various styles of countless schools.
About 2 million people in Japan engage in Kendo. From there the Martial Art spread since the 1550s over the whole world. There were tournaments on regional, national and international level up to world championship. This development is promoted and regulated by the ZNKR (the pan-Japanese Kendo umbrella organization).
One practices and fights with a fencing stick – the so called Shinai. The Shinai is about 115 cm long and has a weight of 500 g. One fights with a protective equipment consisting of a helmet (men), a chest protector (do), hip protection (tare) and fencing gloves (kote).
In a tournament fight (Shiai) two opponents (Aite) face each other on a square area of about 10 x 10 meters, in presence of three referees (Shimpan). The duel is over at that moment when one of both components gets at first a correct second point, i.e. a valid hit on one of the allowed body parts of the opponent (2:0 or 2:1). One also wins, if he/she is one the lead with only one point (1:0) at the end of the fighting time (from three to five minutes). The game can possibly end in a draw (Hikiwake) (0:0 or 1:1). At a breach of the rules the disadvantaged fighter gets credited a half point. If it is essential at a final fight to have overtime (Enchô), the one with the first hit wins immediately (Shôbu).
A hit (Ippon) only counts if all of the following conditions are met at the same time:
- One of the permitted goals (body parts) has to be hit from ideal distance (Ma-ai) with an accurate technique (Waza) with the front third of the Shinai (Mono-uchi).
- The attacker has to stay in upright posture and balance.
- At a blow or stab (Tsuki) one has to step firmly at that moment with the front foot
- Determination of the attac and the control over one’s opponent have to be expressed by a battle cry. This cry calls the goal, but must not announce it.