WHAT IS KENDO?
Kendo can be translated as the way of the sword. It is a Japanese martial art/martial sport that is based on the principles of Samurai swordsmanship. Kendo developed out of the traditional techniques of Japanese swordsmanship known as kenjutsu. The underlying philosophy of the martial art is derived from the tenets of Bushido. That being said after it was included in the Japanese public school curriculum and revised to have a sport aspect some of the more negative philosophy was discarded. Today it is still very traditional but meets a wider cross section of the population around the world by combining strong martial arts values with sporting-like physical elements.
“The Concept of Kendo” from the All Japan Kendo Federation-“Kendo is a way to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the Katana.” It is through this study that the goal is to improve yourself to be both an asset to your family, your community and your country.
Kendo is both physically and mentally challenging along with requiring a great deal of technical skill. People who practice kendo are called kendoka or kenshi.
Kendo is practiced wearing kendogi and hakama which are traditional clothing and protective armor (bogu). The kenshi use one or two bamboo swords (shinai) as weapons. The movements are different from European fencing because of the equipment is different and the goal is to make a point with one offensive strike of the shinai. Kendo training is noisy because the kenshi use a shout, or kiai, to express their spirit, and when a strike or cut is performed, the footwork is very dynamic.
There are around 70 countries in the world all affiliated through the Federation Kendo International which accounts for several million practitioners. A world championship is held every three years and several people from the PNKF have participated on the USA team.
THE HISTORY OF KENDO
During Japan’s feudal period, the teaching of the sword was called Kenjutsu, or the art of the sword. Training in Kenjutsu was done with a real sword and/or a bokken. It was dangerous way to learn leaving many students wounded, maimed, or accidentally killed.
The great masters of the Edo period (1603-1867) have been credited with the initial designs to protect students. These designs included protective practice armor (Bogu), and the bamboo sword (Shinai). Aided by the protection, students began to make considerable progress in their training. They could concentrate on their striking without fear of wounding someone or being wounded. The new advances required new methods for teaching and the art of the sword would later become the Way of the sword or Kendo.
The next major historical event came around 1870 with the end of feudalism in Japan and the legal protections of the samurai class. Unemployed, samurai began traveling the country putting on sword fighting demonstrations for the general public. So aroused by the demonstrations, Japan passed a law in 1871 requiring Kendo to be taught in the public schools. In 1909, the first college Kendo federation was founded and in 1928, a national Kendo federation was formed.
Today, Kendo continues to draw millions of participants in Japan. It is played competitively on the national, collegiate, junior and high school level. Corporations, government organizations, and local communities sponsor Kendo teams and practices. Throughout the world, Kendo is becoming a popular martial sport with Kendo federations existing in most countries.
The Pacific Northwest Kendo Federation (PNKF) was formed to promote and provide training opportunities in Kendo. There are member clubs located in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. We sponsor monthly interclub practices, special training clinics, international exchange programs, rank promotion boards, and the PNKF annual tournament. Through our association with the IKF and AUSKF, we offer an opportunity to become a member of the United States National Team and participate in the World Kendo Championships.
The strength of the PNKF lies with its members. Our members come from diverse backgrounds and have exciting outlooks on life. These members have committed themselves to their training and this commitment includes assisting you in the development of your Kendo. While each club is an independent organization, your membership in the PNKF will allow you to practice at any PNKF affiliated club.