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What Is Kendo?
Kendo is a martial art based on the teachings of the traditional samurai in Japan. The practitioners, also known as kendoka wear protective armour and strike one another using a bamboo sword known as a shinai. Traditionally kendo was far more full contact than what we do now including manoeuvres such as leg sweeps. The current form of kendo however focuses on four basic cuts and their correct execution. Kendo is split into two different types of practice known as kata and waza with kata focusing on the technique of the cuts whilst waza focuses on actual sparring keiko.
Kendo focuses on four basic cuts and their proper execution. The four basic cuts are:
Men - A cut straight to the head.
Kote - A cut to the wrist.
Dou (pronounced like door but without the r) - A diagonal cut to the torso.
Tsuki - A stabbing thrust to the throat. (Advanced technique)
What is Kendo?
Kata vs Keiko
Kendo practice is broadly divided into two separate parts, kata and keiko.
Kata means form in Japanese and can essentially be defined as controlled practice in which the basics of sparring are practiced. Kata makes use of wooden sword known as a Bokuto or Bokken. Students do not wear armour during kata and as such there is no physical contact.
Keiko is basically defined as practice. Students will be using the shinai and more advanced students will be practicing in armour. This is the part that involves full contact. There are four different forms of keiko and a basic lesson will usually cover several of them. As an additional note, the word keiko usually changes to geiko when describing the different types. The different types are as follows:
Kihon-geiko - training the basics of kendo.
Uchikomi-geiko - Continuous strikes as one's partner makes openings. The strikes are generally big and clean, focusing on beautiful execution.
Kakari-geiko - Similar to Uchikomi-geiko but the strikes are smaller and closer to how they would be performed in a competition. This form of training is meant to be done at 100% of one's energy and determination and thus also tends to tire you out rather quickly.
Ji-geiko - Means free training. Students who are in armour will freely spar with one another as well as apply what was just learned in the lesson.
Kata vs Keiko
Benefits Of Kendo
Kendo isn't just a physical practice. Training bestows a number of benefits upon the practitioners. Some of these include the following:
Kendo provides a great opportunity to practice your listening skills, especially as it can be a rather noisy martial art! Additionally it helps to develop self-control and discipline.
Memory and Focus
Martial arts overall sharpens the memory, helps memory retention and builds focus as it keeps students mentally engaged.
In any physically challenging martial art, hand-eye coordination is critically important. Kendo is even more so as reaction time is critical as is the ability to perform multiple actions at the same time. Kendo also provides plenty of chances to improve fine motor skills through techniques, obstacles, drills and challenges.
Students experience many partner and team-orientated situations in class that help to develop strong communication skills as well as an overall friendly environment for interacting with others.
Speed, Agility and Balance
These all form the foundation of good kendo and develops better body awareness and coordination.
Everyone needs goals and goal setting is an important skill in all walks of life, no matter how old. Martial arts teach both short-term and long-term goal setting in a positive environment.
Once you have entered into the armour stage and are ready to spar, through the international community, you can compete on many levels at various competitions. If you continue in your kendo career, you can try out for the national team and experience the best of the best from all countries as they fight it out as they compete for the gold. In both the European Championships and the World Championships, there are men, women and junior divisions.
To top it all off, kendo will build your stamina and endurance. We've done the maths and found that an intensive training session can burn off up to two whole sandwiches!
Where to next?
Do you still have some questions about kendo? Maybe we can answer them here.
If you like what you've seen and want to give it a go, why not take a look at who we are and who you'll be training with?
Otherwise, go on ahead and just drop us a message and we'll get back to you to start off your kendo journey!
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