All Japan Kendo Federationfs Perspective of Kendo

Dear Kendo Friends,

Recently, many of you may have seen postings on various Internet websites suggesting the gorigin of Kendo is in Korea and not Japan.h  The All Japan Kendo Federation (heretofore, AJKF) has not bothered to reply to these assertions, because we think Kendo is a culture characteristic of Japan which developed from the life and spirit of the Samurai ( or Bushi, synonym of Samurai ) of Japan.  However, since the above-mentioned assertions seem to be increasing, we feel that it is necessary to make a formal statement of our opinion and position so that it may be known to you all.

What is Kendo?

     Kendo denotes the gnature (Riho) of the Kenh which was self-taught and acquired by the Japanese Samurai (warrior) through their experiences in many battles using their sword.  Therefore, the learning of Kendo means learning the nature of the Ken.  To state further, it is important to study the spirit of the Samurai which is within the nature of the Ken.  And a means of learning this spirit is learning how to use the sword through harsh training.  This is the reason why the objective of Kendo is usually referred to gthe way of developing the person.h

A Perspective of the Origin of Kendo

     Battles with the use of swords began with the discovery of iron and the development of the iron sword.  The shape of the iron swords and their handling methods have changed with the passage of time.

    To begin with, cultures of all regions influence each other from the movement and exchange of goods and people, and eventually develop over a period of time.  And, gradually it becomes a culture that is known throughout the world beyond races and the borders of countries.

     From this point of view, it is quite difficult or even ridiculous to assert that one particular culture developed from one particular era and originated from one particular country.  In the same way, Kendo is no exception.  Various types of sword skills were founded and developed in all parts of the world.  However, the Kendo that we know now, as is explained in gThe History of Kendoh, has a long historical background of development in Japan

The Brief History of Kendo

     In the middle of the 10th century (Heian Era ) of Japan, swords that had original features of Sori (a slightly arched blade) and Shinogi ( raised ridges of the blade), were made and became the main weapon used in the battlefields.  These swords symbolized the Samuraifs spirit.  From this, the Japanese sword is said to embody the gmindh of the Samurai, and it has developed and flourished as a work of art that represents the strength and beauty of the true gMind.h

     During the 15th and 16th centuries (during the era of warring states and the early Tokugawa Era), many schools of Kenjutsu were established, and in the 18th century (in the middle of the Tokugawa Era) Kendo-gu was developed.  As a result, a new Kenjutsu training method using Shinai (bamboo swords) was established, and a new type of Kenjutsu competition gained popularity in the local Dojos and spread across the country in the middle of the 19th century (around the end of the Tokugawa Era).  Early in the 20th century (after the Meiji Restoration and in the beginning of the Taisho Era), this type of training which was referred to as Gekiken or Kenjutsu was renamed Kendo.  And, Kendo was said to represent Budo which was based on the spirit of the Japanese Samurai.  In this manner, Kendo that we know now is the Kendo that developed through this long historical process.

The Promotion of Kendo

     The AJKF will engage in the promotion of Kendo or what can be considered as Budo, a culture of Japanese distinction.  Promotion of Kendo neither means merely to increase the number of Kendo practitioners, nor to hold more competitions.  The AJKF believes that promotion will involve the communication of the gspirit of the Samuraih through everyday training and competition.  Kendo should not be promoted just as a competitive sport.

     With this in mind, there is one thing that needs to be understood by those engaging in Kendo around the world.  And that is, through the harsh training of Kendo, our hope is that you learn not only the technical skills of the sword, but to understand the social and ethical aspects of the Samurai as well as the spirit (mental attitude) of the Samurai.  In other words, we hope that you will understand Kendo as Budo and to experience the training of it.  A Shinai is a Samuraifs sword. Keiko-gi and Hakama are a Samuraifs formal attire.  They should not be considered simply sports-wear.  Without understanding this gspirit,h Kendo will merely be another physical exercise.  We hope that you will try to understand and appreciate the profundity and cultural values of Kendo.

     The AJKF hopes to promote what we believe to be authentic Kendo.  We would like to ask for your full support and cooperation to our activities.

Thank you for your attention.

All Japan Kendo Federation

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