An Introduction to Kendo Basics

Kendo, as practiced today, involves quite a bit of equipment and terminology. Though it may seem overwhelming at first, eventually people find that it is all the varied pieces of the puzzle that intrigue them to begin with.

After several months of basic movements, a Kendo practitioner (Kenshi) will be allowed to wear bogu, or the armor used in Kendo.


Though the bogu can be somewhat expensive, our club can provide temporary equipment to beginners until they are able to purchase their own. In addition to the bogu, a kenshi must also provide their own shinai, or bamboo sword. Though the shinai is made of flexible bamboo and therefore will not cause serious injury, a shinai is meant to represent a Japanese katana and must be treated as such.

In Kendo, a valid strike (yuko-datotsu) can only occur when a successful strike is targeted as specific areas on the bogu, which is illustrated below.


During a shiai (match) a decision on a strike must be reached by the three referees (shimpan). At least two out of the three shimpan must be in agreement about the strike's validity in order for the point to be awarded. Typically, matches last from between three-five minutes with victory being awarded to the first to make two yuko-datotsu, or to the only person to land a successful strike.

Equipment in Kendo is to be considered very important and is not simply as athletic wear. The gi, or shirt, worn in Kendo was originally inspired by robes worn by monks, and is to be treated as respectfully. The hakama, or pleated trousers, also has a unique function--each of the pleats represents a different virtue considered to be important towards budo and proper living. Below is a diagram of the proper method of putting away the Kendo uniform.


When you visit a Kendo dojo for the first time you should know that the most important attitude to have in a dojo is respect. In Kendo, unlike many martial arts, there are no colored belts or any visible signs of rank. In Kendo it is believed that a person's quality will show through their actions. Because of this, please be courteous and careful about what you say--the person you are speaking to may well turn out to be your future sensei...



Kendo: The Definitive Guide, by Hiroshi Ozawa ISBN# 4-7700-2119-4
Kendo: Elements, Rules and Philosophy, by Jinichi Tokeshi ISBN# 0-8248-2598-5
The Heart of Kendo, by Darrell Craig ISBN# 1-59030-014-9
Kendo: The Essential Guide, by Jeff Broderick ISBN# 0-7607-6102-7
Looking at a Far Mountain, by Paul Budden ISBN# 0-8048-3245-5
A Book of Five Rings, translated by Victor Harris ISBN# 0-087951-018-8


  • Beginner I Class (8 Week Session)
    Saturday 1:00pm - 2:00pm
    Class Description: The class emphasis is on Principles and Basics of Kendo including- Reigi-saho (manners and ettiquette), Warm Up exercises, Basic stances and postures (kamae), ashi-sabaki (footwork), Basic Swings (suburi), a basic strike (men) and Kirikaeshi.
  • Beginner II/Intermediate Class*
    Saturday 2:00pm - 5:00pm
    Class Description: The class emphasis is on Basics of Kendo including- Kendo Kata, Warm Up exercises, ashi-sabaki (footwork), Fumikomi-Ashi (stamping), a variety of swings (suburi), Basics strikes (men, kote, kote-men and do), Kirikaeshi and Ji-Keiko (free sparring).
    *Beginner II Class students must have completed the Beginner I class.
  • Intermediate/Advanced Class*
    Tuesday 6:00pm - 8:00pm
    Class Description: The class emphasis is on Basics and advanced Kendo techniques including- Basic strikes, advanced technique drills and Ji-Keiko (free sparring).
    *Intermediate Class students must obtain permission from the instructors to attend this class. Intermediate Class students MUST attend Beginner II class, but are encouraged to attend this class as well. Advanced Class students are recommended to attend Beginners II class.