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Kendo Martial Art  
In literal definition Kendo means “way of the sword”. It is the art of fencing in Japanese culture. Kendo was founded and developed by the samurai in the Kamakura period (1180-1230). They developed Kendo so they would be able to hone their skills without having to severely injure or kill each other. Kendo was originally grounded in Zen Buddhism. Disregarding one’s life in the heat of the battle was what the samurais have learned from the teachings of Kendo. This, amongst all the other reasons, was one of the main purposes why it is considered the way of the sword.

Kenjetsu was the original name of Kendo, the latter name was a result of the world war, and Japan had to change its name. In some cultures, like in Korea mainly, Kendo is known as Kumdo. Kumdo is basically kendo stripped off the ettiquite and with the terminology being different.

The aim or goal of Kendo is for kendoka to be able to react intuitively with elegance and enough fluency. The speed and movement of the body are with utmost significance in the delivery of a skillful and effective technique. However, the aim is not being the first one to score or to gain a point and neither is it to win the Kendo practice or exercise, but rather to be able to work together and to strive towards a good or better technique, being able to give and take along the way. This philosophical aim will only be different when in a competition.

In Kendo, there are essentially four targets that are vital, the goal of course being to disarm, injure, or even kill your opponent with only one hit. The basic targets are: head (men), stomach (do), hand (kote), and lastly, the throat (tsuki). These hits are combined in many different ways. An example of a hit would be the “kote-men”, wherein you “cut off” the hand of your opponent and cut their head open instantly after the hand. The hit points are in essence similar in Kumdo. In Kenjetsu however, it is more of a “no rule”, “kill your enemy” way and is basically not a sport.

Etiquette and proper decorum play a big role in Kendo. Kendoka must bow as he enters and as he leaves the dojo and must pay respect to their sempai (the sensei and also older students as well).

Kendo is not like any other martial arts for it does not posses external signs of ranking. To be able to know the rank of another kendoka in Kendo, you must keiko (spar/battle) against them and be able to judge their skills for yourself. There are basically two sets of rank: the Kyu (lower ranks) and the Dan (black belt). The kendoka begins at 1 Kyu and journeys up to the Kendo ladder, up to the 8 Dan mark.

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