kendo world

By Paul Martin, a Tokyo-based Japanese sword specialist. Originally published in KW Issue 4.2, 2008. Surrounded by 200-year-old cherry blossom trees behind the main Kōdansha building in Otowa, Bunkyō-ku, the old Noma Dōjō was a place of pilgrimage for the world’s kendo fencers. Founded in 1925 by the first president of Kōdansha Publishing Company, Noma Seiji, it had the spirit of generations of Japan’s finest kendo practitioners permeated into its vast pine wood floor. After the war, Noma Dōjō was referred to as one of the four great dōjō of the eastern capital (Tokyo), and until its recent destruction it was the only remaining one.Read More →

Officially called the All Japan Demonstration Kendo Taikai, the Kyoto Taikai is a demonstration competition held at the beginning of May every year in Kyoto, Japan. It is the largest competition by number of participants, with over 2,000 competitors this year (the 106th time), and is restricted to Renshi and above. Competitors are paired up and have one match, win or lose, that’s it. At the lower grades 3 referees call the points, but at the higher levels (that we have in all our videos so far) they have one referee to call the start and the finish. The lower grades only have about 90Read More →


Originally published in Kendo World Issue 3.1, 2004 The Meiji Restoration and Kendo The modern art of kendo, now practiced by millions of people in Japan and around the world evolved from tried and tested battlefield techniques. With the advancement of tenka taihei, or “peace throughout the realm” during the Tokugawa period (1600-1868), the martial arts took on new a role for the ruling samurai class. With no more wars to demonstrate martial valour, the military arts were studied as vehicles for self-development, with increasing emphasis placed on aesthetic and spiritual values rather than just as a means to kill. The Tokugawa period saw theRead More →

Introduction Bushidō (literally ‘the Way of the warrior’. ‘bushi’ is the common Japanese word denoting warrior, although ‘samurai’ is more well-known in the West. Nowadays both terms are used interchangeably, however, in this article I refer to the Japanese warriors mainly using the word ‘bushi’) and the warrior culture of Japan are viewed with fascination, not only by modern Japanese, but by non-Japanese as well. The most visible vestige of Japanese warrior culture is the overwhelming international popularity of the martial arts (budō), which are undoubtedly Japan’s most successful cultural export. People around the world practise these arts, not only for self-defence or as sports, butRead More →