Kendo (Japanese swordsmanship) is a martial art based on swordsmanship. This direction traces its history from the traditional techniques of samurai swordsmanship. Surprisingly, for a long time the sword was not used as the main weapon of the samurai. It was used solely for the purpose of self-defense, when the main weapon of the samurai warrior was absent.

Stages of development and formation of kendo

If you follow historical references, then for the first time they started talking about such a martial art in the 10-11th century. At that time, Emperor Kammu created and personally led the training camp, which was located in the capital Kyoto. In this camp, future samurai learned to wield a sword, invent secret techniques and honed their psychological stamina. Mass competitions were held in the camp every year.

For several centuries, the martial art of kendo developed at an active pace, but a turning point occurred in the 15th century. During this period, the legend of kendo, Miyamoto Musashiya, was born. He was the best swordsman: on his account not a single defeat. His main principle in combat is to make the opponent believe in his weakness. At the same time, samurai could only officially carry swords, which means fencing was raised to a new level.

In 1895, the official name "kendo" appeared. The first part of the word means "sword", and the second - "art". Thus, at the end of the 19th century, a special system of education for young people was created in Japan in the spirit of the best traditions of the samurai.

The main goals of the martial art of kendo

This martial art is based on three key principles:

strong character and fortitude;

respect for people;

strengthening the physical body of a warrior.

These were the main goals and objectives at the same time. All this was achieved through regular training and personal desire to improve. During training, the student had to fully concentrate on his body. He demanded the utmost care and dedication.

In the practice of kendo, a technique such as "kata" was often used. This is a fight between student and teacher. At the same time, both warriors in this duel are without a protective suit.

Warrior equipment

The equipment of a warrior consists of the following key elements:

men: special protection for the head;

tare: body protection;

kote: protection for arms and shoulders.


Regarding the main weapon of battle, for many centuries wooden swords were used, which often inflicted severe injuries on fighters. From the beginning of the 18th century, bamboo swords - shinai - began to be used in fencing. They were less traumatic and consisted of 4 bamboo strips, which were fastened together with pieces of leather and rope. But the length of the sword is different. It all depends on the age of the warrior. If a warrior is 10-14 years old, then the shinai is 109 cm long, and at the age of 14-16 years, the sword is 112 cm long. After reaching the age of 18, the length of the sword increased to 118cm.

The sword in the hands of a samurai was considered not only as a combat weapon, but also as a means of internal education.

Attacks in kendo: types

How did the warriors compete with each other, having a sword in their hands? There are two types of attacks in kendo:

chopping: sword strikes in areas such as the crown, arms, head, torso;

stabbing: blows exclusively to the throat.

The warrior had no right to make a mistake. The mistake could have cost him his life.


Kendo today

Nowadays kendo is also very popular. In the context of modernity, it is no longer seen as a unique technique of fencing with a sword, but as an art of special spiritual education and development in students of a strong spirit of a warrior, fortitude of his character.

In training, a classic bamboo shinai sword and special equipment in black or white are used.

See also

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  • Tsuyama Castle


    Tsuyama Castle, located in Tsuyama City, Okayama Prefecture, is celebrated as one of Japan's top three major hilltop (Hirayama) castles, alongside Himeji and Matsuyama Castles. Originally, Tsuyama Castle comprised 77 structures, including the main keep, various yagura (watchtowers), gates, palaces, and living quarters. For comparison, Hiroshima Castle had 76 structures, and Himeji had 61. The first castle on this site was built in 1441 but was soon abandoned. The large-scale construction that we recognize today began in 1603 under the orders of Mori Tadamasa. The castle served as the administrative base for the Tsuyama Han daimyo, the Mori clan from 1603 to 1697, and the Matsudaira clan from 1698 to 1871.

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  • Tsu Castle


    Tsu Castle, located in Tsu City, Mie Prefecture, was originally built by Hosono Fujiatsu in 1558 and was known as Anotsu Castle, named after the old region. The site was strategically chosen at the confluence of the Ano and Iwata Rivers, which naturally formed a moat around the castle, while the nearby port served as a vital trade route.

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  • Sasayama Castle


    Tamba Sasayama Castle, also known as Sasayama or Kirigajo (Mist Castle), is a flatland castle (hira-jiro) situated on a gentle rise in the Tamba region of Hyogo Prefecture. It was constructed in 1608 as part of Tokugawa Ieyasu's strategy to prepare for an attack on Osaka, aiming to bring an end to the Toyotomi clan. Ieyasu ordered the castle's construction using the Tenka Bushin system, engaging 20 former enemy daimyo and their forces to complete the complex within six months. This system kept the former enemies close and preoccupied, financially straining them and limiting their capacity for further conflict. The stones used in Sasayama Castle feature engravings called kokumon, indicating who made each part of the walls and preventing theft by other lords' men.

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  • Sadowara Castle


    Sadowara Castle in Miyazaki Prefecture was a mountaintop yamajiro castle, initially built by the Tajima clan during the Nanboku-Cho period (1334-1394). As was typical of castles from that era, Mt. Kakusho, the chosen mountain, was terraced to create various baileys, or kuruwa. While defensive structures were constructed at the top and around the mountain, the lord's main living quarters and administrative offices were situated at the mountain's base.

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  • Osaka Castle


    Osaka Castle is a prominent symbol of Osaka City, originally constructed in 1583 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi on the site of the Ishiyama Hongan-ji temple-fortress, which had been the scene of a violent uprising by warrior monks and peasants in the late 16th century. Modeled on Oda Nobunaga’s Azuchi Castle, the original Osaka Castle tenshu (tower keep) featured five visible floors, six interior floors, and two underground basements. The exterior was lacquered black and adorned with gold decorations, including large peony flowers, tigers, birds, and various crests.

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  • Okazaki Castle


    The Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, was born in Okazaki Castle in 1542 during a period of significant civil unrest. At that time, the Tokugawa, then known as the Matsudaira, controlled the rice-rich Mikawa plains of what is now eastern Aichi Prefecture. This fertile region was highly coveted by surrounding warlords. Ieyasu, a shrewd leader and brilliant tactician, managed to maintain and expand his territories. Following in the footsteps of other national unifiers, Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Ieyasu emerged victorious at the decisive Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. In 1603, he was invested as Shogun, a title he made hereditary, enabling the Tokugawa family to rule Japan for the next 250 years.

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  • Ogaki Castle


    Ogaki Castle, located in Ogaki City, Gifu Prefecture, was originally built around 1500 by Miyakawa Yasusada and named Ushiya Castle due to the Ushiya River serving as a natural moat. The castle was also known as Bi Castle and Kyoroku Castle. The Ogaki region held strategic importance as a transit point between Mino and Omi Provinces, a fact recognized by Saito Dosan, the Viper of Mino. When Oda Nobunaga captured Gifu Castle in 1567, Ogaki Castle came under Oda rule. Both Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi understood the strategic significance of the castle. In 1595, Hideyoshi ordered Ito Sukemori to expand the castle and construct the Tenshu keep.

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