What is Kendo?
For some it is a martial art, for others it is a martial way.
Quoted from the All Japan Kendo Federation is an explanation of the concept and purpose of Kendo:
“The concept of Kendo is to discipline the human character through the application and principles of the Katana (sword).
The purpose of practicing Kendo is to mold the mind and body, to cultivate a vigorous spirit, and through correct and rigid training, to strive for improvement in the art of Kendo, to hold in esteem human courtesy and honor...(AJKF).”
At first glance, it looks like a lot of yelling and whacking each other with sticks. Yet Kendo has its roots in Japan’s Middle Ages for samurai to practice sword techniques at full speed without killing or crippling each other. At a closer look you will see that just as the samurai of old, we practice with boken (wooden swords) while doing Kata, pre-arranged combat movements done without contact. When we put on bogu, or armor, we substitute boken for a shinai (a bamboo sword) to engage at full speed. You will also notice a lot of bowing. We bow before, during, and after practice—this is one of the most of important aspects of kendo, and this is Respect.