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Kendo history only started in the early 1900s?

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  • Kendo history only started in the early 1900s?

    I enjoy history my self but haven't really studied about kendo history.

    I was reading the article on the history of kendo in kendo world:
    http://www.kendo-world.com/articles/...endo/index.php
    To me it seems like kendo only started after the Meiji period as a cross sports and training methord to get people active and a way to train the police.

    What doesn't fit is that I always believed that Yamaoka Tesshu practiced some form of kendo with or with out a form of armor before kendo existed in the kendo world article..

    Tesshu practiced kendo from the age of nine 1840, starting in the Shinkage Ryu Tradition. Later his family were to move to Takayama where he began the Ono Ha Itto-Ryu style of fencing.

    Tesshu’s pursuit of Kendo and enlightenment knew no bounds. He would practice daily in his loincloth, any visitors to his house, regardless of the reason were immediately invited to practice with him, postmen, deliverymen or friends.

    When he was twenty-eight, he met Asari Gimei (Yoshiaki) a superior swordsman of the Nakanishi-ha Itto-Ryu, who defeated him in a contest. Tesshu became Asari’s student, as it was the custom to do so. Tesshu was unusual for a Japanese, he was well built and around six feet tall, Asari on the other hand was almost half his size. Asari was also twelve years his senior. When Tesshu, a determined young man, met Asari in his dojo, he repeatedly could not defeat him. Asari ‘s spirit was much stronger, he forced Tesshu all the way to the back of the dojo, continued out into the street, knocked him to the ground and then slammed the door in his face.

    On the morning of March 30th 1880 whilst sitting in zazen, Tesshu attained enlightenment. Later that morning he went to practice Kendo with Asari. Asari realising that Tesshu had reached the level of ‘no-enemy’, declined a match telling Tesshu that “You have arrived.”

    Shortly after this time Tesshu started his Muto-Ryu (No-sword) School of fencing. Later he became the tenth headmaster of the Ono ha Itto-Ryu, from this time on he called his school the Itto Shoden Muto-Ryu “The No-Sword System of the Correct Transmission of Ito Ittosai”. (Ito Ittosai Kagehisa 1560-1653 founder of The Itto-Ryu School of Fencing) He named his dojo ‘Shumpukan’.

  • #2
    Hey! Good book, 'The Sword of No-Sword'. I thought the same thing. I think it was training in Kendo-gu more or less. Although, I did see a picture of the current Soke of Itto Shoden Muto ryu and he was wearing the older Kotes that many Koryu use. Maybe it is a incorrect use of terminology? Or it could have been that Kendo was starting to be thought of around that time period? I'm not entirely sure.

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    • #3
      Well, let me end your confusion :P I think this article you read is a bit of an "intermediate" level and not intended for "beginners" in this topic, what I mean is that it's especially about Kendo as a modern day martial art,and quite a specific one. It's in the first line of the article: "modern art of kendo now practised by millions of people in Japan and around the world"
      If you need a brief explanation about how and when kendo evolved from kenjutsu and since when is it practiced in similar forms like now, let me tell you about the beginning:
      During the Edo-period bushis used shinken(real sword) or bokuto for practice, but these weapons were too dangerous of course, so in the early 18th century Naganuma Shiro from the Jiki Shinkage Ryu started to use Kendo equipment (bogu and shinai) and later in the midst of the 18th century fencing with shinai was further refined and promoted nationwide by Nakanishi Chuzo.
      Which means a very much 'kendo-like' activity was already well known in 1840, when you say Tesshu started to practice Kendo, since it was 'invented'
      like a 100 years before. Obviously it wasn't like as it is these days(for example there were no specific hitting areas like kote and men), but you know kendo is always changing with time. My sensei (Abe Tetsushi 7th dan) who is only 40 even said that kendo has altered a bit since he began studying it.
      All in all, both of your statements are right. Kendo was really established as a competitive sport during the 20th century, and Tesshu was really practicing Kendo, it's just that he wasn't doing it as a competitive sport.

      I hope I could help you with this.

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      • #4
        On a purely semantic note, Tesshu did in fact use the word "kendo", which only came into popular use in the rest of Japan after 1913.

        Abe sensei always writes interesting articles. It must be great to have him as a teacher.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Kingofmyrrh
          It must be great to have him as a teacher.
          It's great indeed You can imagine how was he the reason for many people to start practicing kendo at our dojo.

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          • #6
            Read the history of bogu article, that will fill in the background a bit more for you. http://www.kendo-world.com/articles/...bogu/index.php

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            • #7
              So Tesshu did actualy practice some form of kendo with armour? I'm interested in what Itto-ryu is, I saw it once in a dojo I practiced at before this one now. I know they use large kote and bokuto and many techniques which have come into kendo.
              It is also my belef that only Mochida-sensei practiced kendo at the time of the saints of kendo. Nakayama Hakudo studied Shindo Munen ryu but can be seen in kendo armor on his web site with one of his students? When I visited his dojo in Tokyo there was bogu and shinai to be used for some type of practice.

              Maybe kendo is the same as western fencing which has its links in French and Europian sword schools.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Musha
                Maybe kendo is the same as western fencing which has its links in French and Europian sword schools.
                Erhh..how long have you been practicing kendo?.

                Jakob

                P.S. I thought France was in Europe??

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Musha
                  I'm interested in what Itto-ryu is, I saw it once in a dojo I practiced at before this one now. I know they use large kote and bokuto and many techniques which have come into kendo.
                  There's more than one Itto-Ryu....

                  Buy this book, it has a good Itto-Ryu overview by Meik Skoss.
                  http://koryu.com/store/ks3.html

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by JSchmidt
                    Erhh..how long have you been practicing kendo?.

                    Jakob

                    P.S. I thought France was in Europe??
                    Kendo wasn't invented with no link to any thing before it so I am trying to understand if the kendo fencing practiced today was carried out in a different way in another art and which art that was.

                    And every one knows France is part of Mexico .

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                    • #11
                      Musha, kendo has developed over the centuries into what we know today, but it did not develop independently of kenjutsu, it came from kenjutsu. The bogu article lays out a lot of the changes in techniques, and the symbiotic relationship with the developments in bogu at the same time.

                      You may have seen a couple of big kote in the Sampokai dojo? They are Itto-ryu kote, which one of the sensei does some evenings before kendo starts.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Musha
                        It is also my belef that only Mochida-sensei practiced kendo at the time of the saints of kendo.
                        This belief is definitely mistaken I'm afraid.

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