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  • Is Kendo Realistic?

    ***Sorry, accidently placed this in the History forum***

    Hello everyone,

    I am looking into learning how to properly use a japanese sword and have been looking into Kendo. The reason for learning to use a sword is because I love asian culture and for the love of the weapon. Back when man first came into being, the biggest ran things because he had such a overwhelming advantage. Nowadays it doesn't matter how good of a warrior you are. A 4 year old with a gun can kill the "best" fighter the world has ever known. I find the sword to be the balance. Size does not matter because if you are cut by a sword you are dead. A 4 year old with a sword would lose going up against another guy with a sword because it requires skill to use. I find it to be a warrior's weapon.

    Sorry about the babble, but here is my question. How realistic is Kendo in terms of how one would actually use the weapon in war or single combat? Yes, I know I will never use a sword to defend myself, but for me if I am going to learn, I want to learn to use it realistically. How realistic is the "sparring"?

    As a martial artist (Tae Kwon Do) I realise there is a slight (not much) difference between how you perform techinques in terms of forms, board breaking, sparring, and self-defense. Even in watching the Pride fights (supposedly "real" fighting) they hold back. I watch them and see on so many occasions techinques that one who studys a tradional martial art practices that could be used, but cannot because it would seriously injure/kill your opponent. (That is part of the reason I think "traditional martial arts do not do as well in those type of competitions. If they truly had "no holds barred" and they had a desire to seriously injure the other person, they would do SO much better.) So what I am asking I guess is if Kendo "changes" techinques or teachs a different way of sword fighting that is not as combat effective because it is safer.

    Thank you all for your time.

  • #2
    I don't know if I'm the best person to answer this question, but I'll give you my take.

    I've studied a lot of different weapon arts, and kendo has to be one of the most realistic out there. Fencing is a joke, the sensors are electric and have nothing to do with the strength behind the blow, but in kendo you can hit your "target" 1,000 times, but if you don't do it properly (right technique, side/section of the shinai, strength, spirit, and focus) you don't get a point for it.

    The armor (bogu) kendoka wear allow for strokes with what would be lethal strength if they were holding a sharp katana instead of a blunt shinai. Also, the angles used in Kendo are based on how a katana would have to be swung to penetrate "traditional" samurai armor.

    So I guess my answer can be summed up by saying Kendo is definitely up near the top of "most realistic" martial arts.

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    • #3
      .

      No, kendo isn't especially realistic. Over the years it has been stylized into a restricted martial art (In terms of targets), but still with it's roots firmly embedded in 'sword fighting'.
      You could easily say the same about Taekwondo, with it's restrictions of where you can punch and kick.
      Kendo is, though, one of few martial arts where you have 'full contact', due to the design of the armor and weapons.
      European fencing is actually relativly realistic. It's roots is from duel-fencing and by far the most duels were fought to first blood, not death. (otherwise you'd run out of aristocrats fairly quickly). Allegedly, the pressure required to activate the switch on the foil (500 grams), is the same as it took to puncture the skin with a live weapon.

      Jakob

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      • #4
        "Fencing is a joke, the sensors are electric and have nothing to do with the strength behind the blow"

        I don't know much about kendo but I know a heck of a lot about fencing. A dueling epee would go right through your chest with the power of rather weak hit. After a hard "sport" bout you can expect a few welts the size of quarters on your body. There is nothing more realistic than an epee bout if you want a "combat" experience. The whole body is a target and a hit to the wrist counts the same as one to the head. If a live blade went through your wrist the encounter would be over just as quickly as if it went through your chest.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Old Warrior
          "Fencing is a joke, the sensors are electric and have nothing to do with the strength behind the blow"

          I don't know much about kendo but I know a heck of a lot about fencing. A dueling epee would go right through your chest with the power of rather weak hit. After a hard "sport" bout you can expect a few welts the size of quarters on your body. There is nothing more realistic than an epee bout if you want a "combat" experience. The whole body is a target and a hit to the wrist counts the same as one to the head. If a live blade went through your wrist the encounter would be over just as quickly as if it went through your chest.
          Sorry about that, I know more about foil than I do epee and saber. I was not fond of the experience, and wasn't able to study either of the other two forms. Perhaps I just had a poor venue

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          • #6
            JSchmidt,

            You mentioned that Kendo has been restricted in terms of targets. Though Tae Kwon Do sparring may also be restricted, when training for street fighting and doing free style "one step" we are allowed to use pretty much any attack and use any technique (joint locks, pressure points, regular striking, grappleing) to take our partner down as long as we are in control of ourselfs. The strikes in our _point sparring_ are limited, but all of our strikes and techiques are done and taught as one would use them in a fight. A buddy of mine that I used to train with regularly attended the same dojo I did for 5 years, then he went into the army and is undefeated in hand to hand combat. We limit ourselfs in sparring, but in terms of "real" fighting all of our stuff is realistic. So, is it the same in Kendo? Are the strikes, stances, movements, sword positions realistic and you just tone it down when you spar like in TKD (at least the one I train at...quite a few bad schools out there) or is everything "dumbed down"?

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            • #7
              I vote for kendo being non-realistic. It's stylised fighting, like Jakob said.

              If you want to learn how to properly use a sword you might want to check out iaido or the various kenjutsu schools. Of course, there's no sparring in those and the emphasis is placed on set forms I'm told.

              Not that there's much use in learning to swing a sword. And yes, modern fencing is still closer to its original roots than kendo is.

              Kendo's only "practical application" is self-improvement.

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              • #8
                kendo IS sword fighting, but is still completely different from real japanese sword fighting, it at first originated from kenjutsu, which was this sort of safe training/practice for warriors. nowadays kendo has evolved into wat it is now because it has been adapted to a sport. it's all about scoring points etc. also, the shinai (sword used in kendo) is straight and not curved, if u hacked with a japanese sword, it would not work as well compared to if you sliced with it, with a shinai you never slice, you ALWAYS hack or sometimes poke.

                so kendo isnt really the sport for you if you want to learn to use a sword, you should better look for iaido, which uses the bokuto with is more like a real sword than kendo, but i dont like iaido because you hardly ever hit you opponent, whereas in kendo you do. so if you want to have fun, do kendo, if you want to learn the ways of the sword, do iaido

                Comment


                • #9
                  What is Real?

                  In real combat a cruise missile is launched 200 miles off shore and the enemy is eliminated. In real combat, you hide until the enemy is in range and you shoot him in the back. In real combat, when all you have is an edged weapon, you would never confront the enemy absent the element of surprise and an advantageous attack.

                  No sword fighting resembles military conflict. The closest that history has ever recorded to Kendo is various societies version of dueling. Even then, I doubt that the action resembled what occurs in any hall where sword use is practiced.

                  But Kendo is absolutely real. You stand opposite an opponent and you theoretically attempt to kill/main. The rules are designed to enable you to practice regularly without injury. There are hundreds of years of wisdom packed into the techniques that are learned. I don't know about you, but I couldn't fight any harder if I had a live blade in my hand. Real is a relative term. Something is "not real" just because it doesn't fit into some predesigned notion of what sword conflict really is. It's plenty real for me.

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                  • #10
                    Sorry about the babble, but here is my question. How realistic is Kendo in terms of how one would actually use the weapon in war or single combat?
                    Not to be picky or anything, but nowadays people don't actually use swords in war or single combat, Kill Bill notwithstanding.

                    Like people have said, though, Kendo certainly isn't fake. It's way beyond kids trying to hit each other with sticks, and the fact that it takes years upon years to get good is certainly testament to that. While Kenjutsu and Iaido might be considered "more realistic" in terms of adherence to historical methods, I've heard that you shouldn't do either without some grounding in Kendo.

                    As far as the target areas, they might be limited, but they represent what you would generally aim for if you had a katana in your hands. A properly executed hit that will pass a kyu exam also resembles the way you'd actually kill with the weapon - a full swing, somewhat squeezed off at the end, as in a Do hit.

                    If you want to learn to fight with swords the way people REALLY faught with swords back in the day, hop in a time machine. You'll find that it's not too much of a stretch to learn today's standard, though.

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                    • #11
                      Back then, when the japanese sword was more of a straigth sword with

                      little curve and one handed. It wasn't utill (I think) around 1600 or maybe less

                      that the sword was improve in to a more curve sword and two

                      handed(kanata). So, could it be that the shinai represent the old fashions

                      japanese sword and the kanata represent the more modern japanses sword?

                      From my point of opinion, I believe that kendo is a realistic sword fight. If

                      you are in an actual fighting stituation that have no rule.

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                      • #12
                        In a word, no. The Japanese sword has been curved since around 800 AD. The shinai is not even 300 years old. It absolutely is meant to represent a katana.

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                        • #13
                          oh yeah

                          Kendo is definitely realistic
                          Kendo teaches some aspects of a real sword fight
                          More of a mental and strategetic aspect of a sword fight than cutting or blocking or etc
                          Kendo is definitely a basic element of a swordsman(does not only apply to Japanese).

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                          • #14
                            Kendo is exactly that, a do, or way, rather than a jitsu. It's not meant to teach you how to kill people. It's an artform designed to cultivate a healthy spirit.

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                            • #15
                              Couldnt resist a posting :-)

                              Kendo is one of a number of cloesley interelated arts (related by the sword of course)

                              You could study cutting by getting a Tameshigiri to, makiwara and bales - thats one form of 'real' sword art and that would enable you to learn how to cut for real - cutting a static target though

                              You could study Iaido - basically get the sword out and use it quickly in an emergency situation - typiclly when trouble is not expected. Thats not really 'real' any more in a social context but was real when the sword was commonly carried - its based on solo kata

                              You could study Kenjutsu - battlefield form - where you would learn how to move and fight over rough ground in battle situation - thats another 'real' form - based on partner kata with bokken


                              These are the traditional ways of learning how to use the sword itself - note that none of them allow for sparring practise - its just impractical to fence with a live blade or bokken - injuries would diminish the squad fairly quickly

                              If you want to learn about the dynamics of a sword fight then Kendo is as real as youre are going to find. To think of kendo of a sport that is not relevant to real fencing is OK i suppose but I think it misses a lot of whats really special about this art. I think its only a sport of thats what you carry in your heart - for many of us its much more elemental than that.

                              A good example is when i was introducing a friend who just wanted to understand what we were doing - and a fellow kenshi put it very simply - " when the hat is on we are trying to kill each other - its serious but when the hat is off we go and drink beer"

                              dont know if that helps - but who cares :-)

                              cheers

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