Kenjutsu is the technique of using the sword. This originated with the samurai class in feudal Japan. It is the term used for traditional schools of Japanese swordsmanship. The history of Kenjutsu is closely related to the history of martial arts development in Japan. In XII-XIII centuries of the early Middle Ages the swordsmanship was deemed essential for any warrior as the part of training as the samurai.
However, throughout further centuries the sword loses its decisive meaning in showdowns to yield to bows and spears and later, to fire weapons. The swords were used only in cases of self-defense and head striking-off for the ritual self-destruction called seppuku.
The peaceful epoch of Edo (XVII century), though, gives another breath to Kenjutsu and again, the art of sword mastering becomes incredibly popular among the Samurai class warriors, especially the opportunity for the noble warriors only afforded to carry the weapon. The schools of Kenjutsu appeared in plentiful amount in the country that offered different techniques of swordsmanship. The struggle was initiated between these schools for the intelligence and excellence of their techniques and methods and each one tried to prove their individual dominance over others.
Hundreds of Samurais wonder in Japan from school to school participating in various combats, thus, honing their skills. There are several of them popular all over the world, namely Miyamoto Musashi, Sasaki Kojiro and many others.
Wooden models of swords (bokken) made from heavy woods coated with special wood preservatives or tars are mainly used during Kenjutsu trainings. The most popular kinds of trainings are kata performance which is the technique to conceal military situations. By means of hundreds of kata repeating, the swordsmanship is understood on the level of reflexes. This is good for the warrior to combat without thinking of the way to battle.
The sword is used open in Kenjutsu and thus, rough and aggressive way of combating is applied, threatening and power-demonstrating at once. Daito (long sword) is the basic weapon in Kenjutsu. As the particular level of training is achieved, the trainee may start using the shoto (short sword) and two swords, short and long, at once.
During Meiji restoration period (1868) the European fire weapon pushed out the sword from circulation, though in 1895 the Greater Japan Martial Virtue Society (Dai Nippon Butoku Kai, DNBK) gave a new breath to the Kenjutsu merely replacing the hieroglyph “jutsu” meaning “art” for the hieroglyph “do” as the path. Thus, creating the entire system of education they aimed to revive Samurai traditions and strengthen “Japanese” spirit amongst the Japanese youth.
During the period after the World War II and occupation of Japan by the forces of the United States of America the martial arts were prohibited to train and advocate throught the country and there was the tendency to eradicate as the practice “to facilitate the growth of Japanese nationalism”.
However, America gradually loses its influence onto the country and by 1950 it was high time to create the All Japan Sports Kendo Federation (AJKF or ZNKR) and two years later, the word “Sports” was deleted to become All Japan Kendo Federation. Sooner the International Kendo Federation was launched which nowadays unites Kendo organizations in over than 50 countries of the world. Regulations and rules were created as well as special protective clothing (bards to protect from traumas), wooden sword (bokken) replaced for the safer Sinai from bamboo wood.
As any modern martial arts, Kendo aspires to make the person noble, stronger emotionally and courageous. It helps to develop love to the country and people around, strengthen the tolerance and mutual understanding between nations and countries.
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