What are some forms of sword fighting

Kendo - Japanese sword fighting [guide]

In this post I am writing about that japanese sport and Martial artsKendo. Kendo is a modern type of original Japanese sword fighting or sword art (Kenjutsu), as the samurai learned and lived it. Kendo (translated: "The way of the sword") is not only a pure sword fight, but it is also about gaining strength of character, determination and moral strength.

My experience with kendo

I came into contact with kendo for the first time in 2012 during my first stay in Japan. As diligent readers of my blog know, in 2012 I took part in a month-long sports exchange between a sports club from Hamburg and a sports club from Japan, while living with a Japanese host family. As part of this exchange, we tried various Japanese sports. We also visited the local middle school and took part in kendo training. The Japanese students and even the teachers were very excited to show us their sport. We were also allowed to borrow armor and a bamboo sword and take part in the training. I noted this experience as positive, but I never got the idea to practice kendo in Germany as well.

In 2018, during my studies in Munich, I finally found out by chance that there was also a kendo club in Munich, and I signed up for the beginners' course straight away. There we learned how to move properly, how to perform the basic strokes and how to walk the first forms of Kihon-Kata. I had a lot of fun and stayed with kendo afterwards. Now I have the 5th kyu, but due to my semester abroad in Japan and now due to Corona, I couldn't practice kendo for almost 1 year. But after the Corona period I will definitely continue with Kendo. In this post I would like to briefly explain what Kendo is, where Kendo comes from, what the rules are, how Kendo is organized in Germany and which clubs exist, as well as some basics and equipment. At the end there are also a few interesting videos.

I would be happy if this article arouses someone's interest, maybe even sniffing out some kendo for yourself.

Kendo in general

What is kendo

Kendo means "way of the sword" and is a sport-oriented variant of the Japanese sword fight (Kenjutsu), as practiced by the samurai in ancient Japan. Today, of course, there is no longer a life and death struggle. Instead, Kendoka (that's how the athletes who practice Kendo are called) are well protected by armor and fight with a harmless one Shinai (Bamboo swords).

The All-Japan Kendo Federation (Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei (ZNKR)) formulated the "deeper" meaning of kendo in 1975 as follows:

“The idea of ​​Kendo is to train the human character by applying the principles of the sword. The practice of kendo has the purpose of shaping the mind and body, developing a strong soul, striving for progress in the art of kendo through correct and rigorous practice, respecting the courtesy and honor of people, treating others sincerely and incessantly personal development to pursue. In this way one becomes able to love one's country and society, to contribute to the development of culture and to promote peace and well-being among all peoples. "

Zen Nippon Kendō Renmei (ZNKR), 1975

The rules in kendo

In a tournament match (Shiai) are two opponents (Aite) on a square area of ​​10 × 10 meters opposite. The fight will be carried out by three referees (Shimpan) supervised. The fight ends as soon as one of the fighters scores two points or is one point in the lead at the end of the fight (after 3 or 5 minutes). In the event of a tie there is a tie (Hikiwake). Points can be achieved by a correctly executed blow to the head (Men), the fuselage (do), forearms (Kote) or a stitch to the throat (Tsuki) be achieved. In the event of a rule violation, half a point can be credited to the disadvantaged fighter. In the event of an extension (Encho) In a final fight, the first point scored is decisive. As in other Japanese martial arts, respect for the opponent plays a central role, so that every fight begins with a bow and ends with a bow.

You can find the exact rules on the DkenB website.

For example, a tournament fight in kendo can look like this (final of the European men's singles championship). The Kendoka each have a piece of white or red cloth attached to their backs. If the referees hold up the white flag, it means that the "white" Kendoka has scored a point.


Historically, the martial arts (Bujutsu) Kendo (Way of the sword), Judo (Way of giving in), Kyudo (Path of the arch), Iaido (Way of drawing the sword), Naginatado (Path of Naginata) and Ninja Techniques (Ninjutsu) practiced by the samurai, the members of the warrior class in pre-industrial Japan, to prepare for combat.

But from the Edo period (1603-1868) there was little real fighting for the warriors. So they started to practice their martial arts in non-lethal ways and disciplines developed from the originally practical techniques that are now practiced as sports. One of these disciplines was swordsmanship (Kenjutsu). The Meiji Restoration (1868) was accompanied by the practical abolition of the warrior class and other people from other classes also began to practice these martial arts. Gradually the martial art (Bujutsu) through the path of struggle (Budo) replaced. Under the influence of Buddhism and Confucianism, kendo is not only about learning techniques, but also about spiritual development. Japanese swordsmanship has been practiced in Germany since the mid-1960s. Since 1970 there has been a world championship that is held every 3 years and since 1974 European championships have been held regularly in years in which no world championships take place.

Kendo in Germany


German Kendo Association

The German Kendo Federation (DKenB) emerged from the Kendo section of the German Judo Federation, which was founded in 1970. The section organized national tournaments as well as world and European championships. In 1981 the European Championship, organized by the DJB section, was held in Berlin. In 1994 the section was dissolved and the German Kendobund emerged as the successor organization. The German Kendobund is part of the European Kendo Federation.

Regional associations

The kendo clubs in Germany are organized in 12 regional associations. The individual associations and their website, if available, are listed here.

Kendo clubs in Germany

With the map that I created for you on Google Maps, you can find the nearest kendo club in your area. Most kendo clubs also offer taster courses and it is no problem to start as an adult, just dare! According to my research, there are currently 121 kendo clubs in Germany that are organized in 12 regional associations. If I have forgotten a kendo club, you are welcome to leave me a comment and I will add it.

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There are six student grades (Kyu grades) in the German Kendobund. The 6th Kyu grade is the lowest student grade and the 1st Kyu grade is the highest student grade. I myself have the 5th kyu degree. In addition, there are theoretically 10 Dan grades, of which nowadays only the 8th Dan grade can be achieved through an examination. But in Germany Kendoka already belong to the top from the 6th Dan. The student grades are mainly used for children in Japan, where there are 10 kyu grades, as kendo is usually started very early there. In contrast to other Japanese martial arts such as karate or judo, there are no "identifying marks" in kendo, such as belts of different colors, for the individual grades.

You can find out which techniques and skills you have to master for the individual Kyu degrees and Dan degrees in the following overviews from the German Kendo Association.
Examination regulations Kyu degrees
Examination regulations for Dan degrees

Basic concepts

As with other Japanese martial arts, you have to count out loud during the exercises. It always counts to 10 and then starts again with 1.




Hit areas

Training (keiko)


As with other Japanese martial arts, e.g. karate, kendo also has so-called kata, i.e. a precisely defined sequence of movements - such as attacks, defenses and counter-attacks. Together with a partner (Aite) without armor and with a wooden sword (Bokuto) carried out. The kata are divided into "Kihon Kata" and "Nihon Kendo Kata". The "Kihon Kata"Consists of 9 forms and the"Nihon Kendo Kata“Consists of 10 shapes (7 long sword and 3 short sword shapes). For the individual exams, you have to demonstrate some of the forms, depending on the exam.

Kihon Kata

This video shows very well the individual forms of "Kihon Kata". I used this video myself to prepare for the 5th Kyu exam.

Nihon Kendo Kata

This video shows the 10 forms of the Nihon Kendo Kata.

Kendo techniques

Punching exercises (suburi)