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  • kendo evolution

    There are a lot of web pages out there giving a history of kendo from it's roots in feudal Japan to its re-establishment after the US occupation of Japan. These are all overviews and gives no indication of how kendo evolved. So I am left wondering how kendo go to be the way it is today from older techniques and practices.

    Specifically, (at this moment) I'm curious as to when kendo acquired competitive/shiai rules. Were these always around in some form or another or did early practitioners of modern kendo stick only to non-competitive practice?

    If anyone wants to elaborate on the evolution of other aspects of kendo, that would be great as well.

  • #2
    There was an article that was pretty in-depth on here recently (past year or so). I wish I could remember how to find it. Perhaps someone else remembers the article I'm taliking about. I don't remember if it got into shiai, but it was pretty thorough about the developement of shinai, bogu, rules, etcetera.

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    • #3
      its on the main kendo world page

      you can read

      Black ships of kendo
      http://www.kendo-world.com/articles/web/korea/index.php

      synopsis of history of kendo
      http://web.archive.org/web/200701290...endo/index.php

      history of bogu
      http://www.kendo-world.com/articles....le%5Bpage%5D=2

      you can also poke around the internet and read about "shinai kyogi" which had a pretty big influence on modern kendo.
      Last edited by hl1978; 5th August 2008, 10:19 AM.

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      • #4
        Regarding the history of kendo, why the hell were the foot sweeps, the throwdowns and the helmet removal eliminated? Is this type of kendo still practiced anywhere, cause it looks cool, hard and complicated?

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        • #5
          Long story short, the sporting faction won (possibly with out which it would have taken longer to reintroduce kendo, or it would have been a different kendo. Some interesting points to note from the articles I listed is that the pre-war idea of "do" (judo, kendo etc) was different, and compeition was considered somewhat devisive, and a german/western athletic model was utilized.

          Apparently there are dojo where foot sweeps etc are preformed (I've heard some police dojo still do it). In the AUSKF it is frowned upon, but given my MMA interests I think it would be fun to try sometime.

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          • #6
            Thanks for pointing out these articles.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by menkotedo View Post
              Regarding the history of kendo, why the hell were the foot sweeps, the throwdowns and the helmet removal eliminated?...
              Gee, maybe because they're dangerous, ya think? Those moves are in the same league as groin kicks and kidney punches - maybe necessary if your fighting for your life but that's not what modern kendo is meant to be about. Try cage fighting instead.

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              • #8
                I think KWs Alex is writing a complete history of kendo in English or something....?

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                • #9
                  Imagine practicing in a time when they used the Bokken because the Shinai wasn't invented yet.
                  Or better yet, their actual sword.... ouch.

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                  • #10
                    I read an interesting article on pre-war kendo and post-war kendo last night. Unfortunately it's in German, but here it is for those of you that used their time in school to actually study... (or don't mind using babelfish) :

                    http://www.dkenb.de/archiv/news/2004/REP_040722.html

                    The interesting thing is that it states that pre-war kendo was studied with a different mindset, a much more nationalistic one. You could say that kendo was part of Japan's propaganda for war (don't be too harsh on me, that's only my opinion). Footsweeps and other "aggressive" actions during keiko get a little different meaning putting it in this light.

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                    • #11
                      From what I can see, throws and foot sweeps are techniques that one would execute at close range where use of the sword would be restrictive. So I imagine these used to be in the repertoire because 1) it taught people what they can expect at this range 2) also taught people that this range is not appropriate for kendo. I won't speculate as to why this was taken out (but I would be interested to hear the history behind the this decision).

                      Where I practice, we have been discouraged from remaining in tsubatzeriai for too long and it has been pointed out that in such a position we're open to being punched in the face and the two aforementioned techniques (not that this would be actually permitted in practice, rather as a reason). We're encouraged to get back into sword striking distance as quickly as we can (hiki-waza being possible as we retract) as this is where kendo happens. Better still, we should be able to cut through and not wind up in tai-atari or tsubatzeriai to begin with.

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                      • #12
                        Me...if they stay in tsuba zeriai too long; I pound them in the throat with the tsuka-gashira :-D ...well not really.

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                        • #13
                          The magazine has had a few articles addressing this point, ranging from well documented academic work to hack regurgitation of the same by yours truly. Its worth checking out for the former and the latter can always be used as kindling.

                          I think the short answer to your initial question is: the sportification of kendo coincided with and was a pre-requisite of its reinstation in American occupied Japan after the war.

                          Its a really good question though, one which has fascinated me for a while. One look at old shiai footage from the late 20's or early 30's and you know that kendo has changed with time. What it is, what it was, what it was understood to be, how it is being interpreted in these recent times of global proliferation - all crucial and very interesting questions.

                          On top of that, the criteria for scoring which is at the heart of our understanding of it, and of the rules for competition, are quite profound and difficult to grasp.

                          Its like a rare species of plant that has grown for a long time in a small pot just got transplanted into a huge one. Who knows which way the roots will run?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by tyler View Post
                            The magazine has had a few articles addressing this point, ranging from well documented academic work to hack regurgitation of the same by yours truly. Its worth checking out for the former and the latter can always be used as kindling.

                            I think the short answer to your initial question is: the sportification of kendo coincided with and was a pre-requisite of its reinstation in American occupied Japan after the war.

                            Its a really good question though, one which has fascinated me for a while. One look at old shiai footage from the late 20's or early 30's and you know that kendo has changed with time. What it is, what it was, what it was understood to be, how it is being interpreted in these recent times of global proliferation - all crucial and very interesting questions.

                            On top of that, the criteria for scoring which is at the heart of our understanding of it, and of the rules for competition, are quite profound and difficult to grasp.

                            Its like a rare species of plant that has grown for a long time in a small pot just got transplanted into a huge one. Who knows which way the roots will run?
                            What doesn't "change with time"? If you go back far enough in time, legs sweeps and the ripping off of helmets was preliminary stuff. The "understanding" and "rules" were neither profound nor difficult to grasp: you either lived to fight another day or you lost your head. Honestly, I don't understand the angst some express over the absence of combat techniques. Is that what kendo is to you?

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                            • #15
                              I would think people are not just interested in why things changed but also how, when (exactly), who was involved, etc.

                              Since these changes are quite recent and not centuries ago some of our instructors would have grown up and learned these forbidden techniques. Those of very high rank and experience whom we all (should) look up to most certainly have knowledge of this first hand.

                              When one asks (as so many threads on here have shown) how can Kendo be used as a martial art today or is it just a sport like Olympic fencing or biathlon, it becomes obvious that by learning these techniques one would be more able to defend their loved ones on the streets (as most of us dont walk around with a shinken in our belts).

                              Also, I think by preliminary rules the question refers to point scoring and winning of a match with throws, foot sweeps, helmet removal, etc.

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