What is the Kyoto Taikai?

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 90 seconds per match, but that extends to 3 minutes at the Hanshi level.It has always been held in the Butokuden in Kyoto, home of the Budo Semmon Gakkou, or Busen, until the end of the war, when it was disbanded.

Gradings for kendo, iaido and jodo are also held just before the Kyoto taikai, and apart from the recently started 8-dan tournament, is maybe the only time you can see (and have your kendo be seen by) so many Hanshi together in one place at the same time. It is the most prestigious tournament after the All Japan’s, and a lot of people’s goals is to get their Renshi so that they can take part in this event.

If you get a chance to see this event, you should take it if possible, and the morning trainings each day before the event are not to be missed, as they are open to anyone, irrespective of whether you are participating or not, and no matter what grade you hold.

However, if you didn’t make it this year, we did, and you can get a feel for what it is like by watching our videos on youtube, which we will continue to upload over the next week or so.