Kendo (way of the sword) is a modern Japanese martial art, that uses bamboo swords (shinai) as well as protective armor (bogu). Today, it is widely practiced within Japan and has spread to many other nations across the world. Kendo combines martial arts practices and values with strenuous, sport-like physical activity.

What is Kendo?

Kendo is a modern martial art based on ancient kenjutsu (the art of swordsmanship). The word Kendo is made of the characters ken (sword) and do (way or path); a way of life following the practice of Kendo.

Kendo practice is composed of solo exercises, Kata (pre-arranged forms), and training with a partner or opponent. Like other martial arts, Kendo requires discipline and dedication to training. New students begin with learning the basics of etiquette, postures and footwork; and how to properly utilize a sword. Eventually, students begin practicing methods of attack and defense with partners using armor and shinai. As students progress they join regular training which includes competition, kata and other exercises.

Kata are pre-arranged sequences of motions that demonstrate various aspects of the art. Kendo kata are practiced between two people using solid wooden swords called bokken. Repetitive practice of kata leads to increased awareness and deeper understanding of the underlying principles of Kendo.

Concept and Purpose

In 1975, the All Japan Kendo Federation developed then published “The Concept and Purpose of Kendo” which is reproduced below.


Kendo is a way to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the katana.


  • To mold the mind and body.
  • To cultivate a vigorous spirit
  • And through correct and rigid training,
  • To strive for improvement in the art of Kendo.
  • To hold in esteem human courtesy and honor.
  • To associate with others with sincerity.
  • And to forever pursue the cultivation of oneself.

Thus will one be able:

  • To love one’s country and society;
  • To contribute to the development of culture;
  • And to promote peace and prosperity among all peoples.
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