Immortalized in the action movies of Akira Kurosawa and in the bestselling novel Musashi, Kendo is one of the oldest of Japan’s martial arts and is most closely associated with the samurai.
In recent years, it has developed into a popular and highly competitive sport enjoyed by thousands of men and women around the world.
Kendo is the art of Japanese fencing. "Ken" or tsurugi is from the character meaning sword. The character for "Do" or michi includes the meaning way or path which translates as "The way of the sword".
Kendo cannot be traced to a single founder or given an exact founding date. Though the rise of modern Kendo begins with the samurai and extends over the culture of several centuries.
Kendo equipment consists of the swords, uniform and armor. A solid wood sword called the shinai, is made up of four bamboo staves and leather and is used for full contact sparring practice. The uniform or dogi consists of woven cotton top called a keikogi and pleated skirt-like trousers called a hakama.
The armor or bogu consists of four pieces: the helmet (men), the body protector (do), the gloves (kote), and the hip and groin protector (tare).
One of the oldest Kendo schools can be found inside Meiji Jingu (shrine) in Harajuku, where my son attended regular lessons while we were living in Japan.