Kendo is a sport that has been practiced in Japan for many hundreds of years.
Originally developed as a means to train students how to attack and counterattack effectively with a sword, Kendo has evolved into a highly respected combat sport in its own right and today. Kendo fighting techniques are practiced by many people of all ages all over the world.
Kendo is actually a highly demanding and very physical sport, although it may not seem so at first to the casual observer. It is easy to underestimate the skill set that is needed in Kendo, since the sport does not involve the use of any of the techniques that are such crucial components of many other martial arts disciplines.
In Kendo, there are no punches, no kicks, no throws, no holds, and no high-flying maneuvers. What there are however are sticks…two of them in fact, and they can be quite painful if you are on the receiving end of one.
These sticks are actually bamboo swords called shinai and they represent the traditional Japanese two-handed sword.
Because of the use of these bamboo swords, Kendo is often mistaken for Jodo, which is another Japanese martial art that uses wooden sticks. In that particular martial art though, the wooden implement is actually a staff and it is not meant to represent a sword at all.
Kendo is a very fast paced sport that is heavily dependent on timing. The typical Kendo fighting techniques include cutting, slicing, and thrusting, and these are usually delivered to the wrists, the head, the throat and the sides of the torso at blinding speed. Furthermore, full impact is the norm, and you can’t expect your opponent to reign in his or her blows.
In kendo, it is often down to instinct whether you are able to fend off or avoid an attack at all.
In fact, the nature of the sport requires that any move you make should either be an attack or a counter attack: there are no particular defensive Kendo fighting techniques.
In spite of this however, injuries are a rare occurrence in this sport, thanks to the leather armor and facemasks that combatants normally wear.