Kendo is literally the "Way of the [Japanese] Sword." It is derived from kenjutsu, the sword techniques developed by Samurai warriors throughout Japan's history of feudal warfare. Like karate-do, judo, aikido and other modern -do forms, kendo places emphasis on spiritual development and technical discipline rather than the practical application of using a sword on the medieval battlefield. Therefore, kendo is always practiced with two dueling opponents and on a smooth, pliable wooden floor. To prevent injuries, shinai (bamboo swords) and bogu (fencing armor) are used in place of the sharpened katana and yoroi (samurai armor).
Like most Japanese -do forms today, kendo has both a traditional martial art component and a sport/tournament component. Most kenshi will inevitably participate in tournaments for the exhilaration and potential for glory. However, kendo is first and foremost a martial art. Kendo is more than just a sport and one should never say that they "play kendo." It is easy to get wrapped up in only practicing "tournament kendo" but a kenshi will never truly develop without studying the traditions of the art.
For a detailed history of kendo and its philosophy, go to http://www.auskf.info
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