Kendo

Short History

     The roots of Kendo are to be found in Kenjutsu, the art of real fight with real swords. The first accounts of the art of sword fighting is recorded about 400 CE by using a Bokken (solid wooden sword), that at this time was a straight blade, attack and drawing were practised. In the 8th century the art of Kendo started to develop slowly. This was a period of peace and ease, meaning there was no longer the opportunity for samurai warriors to hone their skills on the battlefield, so samurai that wanted to keep their skills or perfect their sword techniques searched for skillful kendo instructors. Martial arts schools began opening all over Japan and during this period there were more than 300 Kendo schools.
     The foundation of modern kendo began during the late 18th century. Yamada Heizaemon Mitsunori and his son Naganuma Sirozaemon Kunisato developed the light weight armour known as bogu and the wooden practice sword known as the shinai. This was deemed necessary to allow realistic fencing training while minimising the risk of injury, which were commonplace when using real swords or the wooden training sword known as the bokken. Chiba Shusaku was particularly influential on modern kendo as in the 1820s, he introduced gekiken, full contact fights with shinai and bogu using. When the Samurai class officially ended in 1876, the Samurai were banned to wear swords and practise martial arts.
     In 1895, the Dai-Nippon Butoku-Kai was established to help promote and preserve the martial arts of the samurai. By 1912, the name kendo began to be used with the Dai-Nippon Butoku Kai officially changing the name from gekiken to kendo in 1920. The All Japan Kendo Federation was established in 1952 and from this point kendo was being taught much more as an educational sport than a martial art. The first All Japan Kendo Championship, the most prestigious kendo championship, was held in 1953. The International Kendo Federation (FIK) was founded in 1970 to accommodate the growing number of kendo practicing outside of Japan, and the first World Kendo Championships have been held in the same years.

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