Kendo, "the way of the sword," is the art of Japanese fencing. It is a martial art derived from kenjutsu, the techniques of sword combat used by the samurai of feudal Japan. Kendo practioners (kendoka) compete in matches using bamboo swords (shinai) and protective armor (bōgu), and also practice paired forms (kata) using wooden swords (bokutō/bokken).
A typical kendo practice consistes of
warmups and stretching
practice swinging the sword (suburi) and practice footwork (ashi-sabaki)
paired drills in which parters take turns striking one another to practice proper technique, timing, and distance
sparring matches in which partners attempt to strike one another in simulated combat
paired forms (kata), consisteing of a prescribed series of techniques in a simulated exchange between two opponents, are also practiced
Practice is led by one or more instructors (sensei) who are experienced practioners. At Baltimore-Annapolis Kendo, students must be at least 12 years of age and of sufficient size to practice safely with adults. See the About Us page for a list of Baltimore-Annapolis Kendo instructors and more information about the club.
Shiai and Shinsa
Kendo practioners compete in tournaments (shiai), in which referrees (shinpan) award points to competitors who strike their opponent on allowable targets using proper techniques. Shiai typically are organized with distinct divisions for practioners with different levels of experience (beginner, intermediate, etc.). Kendo uses a rank system similar to other Japanese martial arts, in which beginning students progress downwards through a series of kyu grades and more advanced students progress upwards through a series of dan ranks (equivalent to degrees of "black belt" in other arts, although in kendo all practioners wear the same clothing and there are no visible indications of rank). Kendoka progress through ranks by participating in official examinations (shinsa) in which their level is judged by a panel of high ranking kendoka. A typical kendo exam consists of demostration of basic techniques against a partner (for beginning students), a sequence of short matches against opponents who are other students taking the exam, and demonstration of paired forms (kata).
Baltimore-Annapolis Kendo typically hosts a shiai and shinsa each summer, drawing competitors and examination candidates from throughout the region. Our students also travel occasionally to shiai and shinsa hosted by other clubs in the region (and, for our more advanced members, across the country). Kendo dojos in the region also occasionally host seminars and group practices, contributing to the growth of the kendo community.