Kendo (剣道, kendō?), or "Way of The Sword", is the Japanese martial art of fencing. Kendo developed from traditional techniques of Japanese swordsmanship known as kenjutsu.
Kendo is a physically and mentally challenging activity that combines strong martial arts values with sporting-like physical elements.
Practitioners of kendo are called kendōka (剣道家, kendōka?), meaning "one who practices kendo", or kenshi (剣士, kenshi?), meaning "swordsman".
Kendo is practised wearing traditionally styled clothing and protective armour (bōgu), using one or two bamboo swords (shinai) as weapons. Kendo may be seen as a Japanese style of fencing. The movements in kendo are different from European fencing because the design of the sword is different, as is the way it is used. Unlike western style fencing, Kendo employs strikes with a defined 'edge' and tip of the shinai. Kendo training is quite noisy in comparison to other martial arts or sports. This is because kendōka use a shout, or kiai, to express their spirit, and when a strike or cut is performed, the front foot contacts the floor in a motion similar to stamping.
There are estimates that about eight million people world-wide practice kendo with approximately seven million in Japan. The "Kodansha Meibo" (a register of dan graded members published by the All Japan Kendo Federation) states that as of January 2003, there are 1.3 million registered dan graded kendo practitioners in Japan. The number of kendo players not yet graded to a dan level is not included: those kendōka would outnumber considerably the dan graded players.
Kendo is one of the modern Japanese budō and embodies the essence of Japanese fighting arts.
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