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Kendo: The Way of the Sword

Kendo: The Way of the Sword

Do = the way

Jo = place

Dojo is the place of the way.

Martino-do = The Way of Martino

Ken-do = The Way of the Sword

The Last Samurai - Kendo Practice Clip

After 1868 and the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the isolated island of Japan went through massive cultural change and exposure to the western world. Commodore Matthew Perry of the US Navy is given a lot of credit for opening up Japan to the western world.

When the samurai way of life began to seem unnecessary in the newfound peace after 1868, the martial (militaristic) way of life became futile. Many samurai and martial artists who trained for their entire lives saw a need to hold on to their practices. They transformed their ways into more of an artistic and spiritual practice. The best way to access these teachings is through the classical text A Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi (PDF in link).

This is what the world we are about to step into. While a lot of you are probably super excited about getting to practice sword-fighting (as am I), the true practice of kendo is about so much more. Experts say that Kendo cultivates unwavering self-discipline and the desire to continuously grow ourselves (kaizen). Practitioners often discuss that Kendo is only partially about the sword, it is possibly more about the human spirit. Many Kendo practitioners say that "your sword is your mind."

All martial artists, understand the maxim "train your body, train your mind." Any expert athlete will tell you the importance of focus, discipline, the role that their brain plays in their craft. I hope that we can begin our Kendo training with this in our minds.

The Zen-Ni-Ken-Ryu (ZNKR – All Japan Kendo Federation) is the governing body for International Kendo practice. The following is an extract of the ZNKR which highlights the true purpose of Kendo and its application in our everyday life:

▪ To mould the mind and body

▪ To cultivate a vigorous spirit

Through correct and rigid training:

▪ To strive an improvement in the art of Kendo

▪ To hold in esteem human courtesy and honour

▪ To associate with others with sincerity

▪ To pursue forever the cultivation of oneself

Thus, you will be able:

▪ To love your country and society

▪ To contribute to the development of culture

▪ To promote peace and prosperity among all peoples

Students and I posing after our first Kendo class in Hiroshima, Japan.

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