What is Kendo?

What is Kendo/Kumdo?

Kendo (Japanese) or Kumdo (Korean) is a form of Traditional East Asian fencing that typically uses body armour and bamboo swords. Widely practiced in Japan and Korea it is a highly popular martial art that is enjoyed by school children, University students, professional athletes, and amateur adults. Similar in concept to western fencing practitioners compete in 3-5 minute matches where the first person to score 2 points is awarded the winner (in a best of three points system). Kendo/Kumdo is a sport that is open to any age, gender and culture as Kendo is not a violent martial art but one that encourages control, technique, grace, and respect for ones opponent.

Applications in the Modern World

There are many applications in the modern world, these include: preserving traditions and cultural diversity, being a major competitive sport, teaching martial arts principles to members of society (kindness, restraint, courtesy), maintaining fitness and mental abilities (perception, hand eye co-ordination, breathing, stamina and fitness, anger management), and spreading goodwill and understanding through different cultures. Kendo/Kumdo is not Karate-Do or Tae Kwon Do, it cannot teach the principles of self defence in a street situation. The central practical applications are as a competitive martial art that teaches you team work and social skills as well as helping to develop your confidence and self esteem. Kendo is widely used in the Higher Education syllabus in both Japan and Korea for these reasons.

Target Areas

There are four main target areas in Kendo that constitute a valid cut or strike, (where there are two words the first is the Japanese term and the second in brackets the Korean i.e. Kendo(Kumdo). Where one word is used it is the Japanese term) targets are as follows:
1) Men(Mori), the head. This can be cut in either the centre of the forehead - Shomen or the left and right sides of the head - Yokomen.

2) Kote(Sum Mok), the wrist. This can be cut on the right hand only if the player is in the standard stance Chudan no kamae or on both wrists if the player is in the rarer Jodan no kamae, arms raised above the head.

3) Do(Hori), the body. This can be cut on either right or left sides of the body Migi Do or Hidari Do.

4) Tsuk(Chirum), the throat. This is the only stabbing technique in Kendo. It is a small sharp thrust to the Tsuki pad (throat protector). It can be done one handed katate or two handed morote.

Kendo(Kumdo) equipment is divided into clothing, armour, and weapons. The clothing consists of a heavy duty wrap over jacket Keiko-gi(Dobok) similar to that used in Judo, and a pair of traditional pleated trousers Hakama similar to those used in Aikido. The armour bogu(hogu), as you can see in the various pictures below, is made up of four components:
A Men(Mori) (protective helmet with a metal face grill and a throat pad)


A pair of Kote(Sum Mok) (thick padded gloves)

A Do(Hori) (bamboo breastplate)


And a Tare (a thick layered hip protector)

As well as this uniform a head towel, Tenegui, is worn under the helmet to add padding and absorb sweat.

There are two main types of weapon in Kendo, they are:

Shinai(jukdo) Bamboo practice swords, these come in various sizes and styles, with different physical features and weight balances These include Do-bari and Tonbo styles.

Bokutou or Bokken (Solid wood training swords) these are not used for hitting or actual combat but are used for Kendo no Kata (set forms) and suburi (swinging practice).

Kendo Equipment is available from various Martial arts Suppliers, and specialist shops and sensei can help you buy this equipment when you are ready.

We hope that this article has helped to answer some of your questions about this dynamic and exciting martial art, and look forward to welcoming you to one of our practice sessions in the near future.
Jon Fitzgerald (2007)