The Rules of Kendo – EXPLAINED!
Ninh explains, the Rules of Kendo
The object of the game is to score more points than your opponent.
Kendo, is a modern Japanese martial art, based from traditional samurai swordsmanship and
is contested worldwide. Kendo practitioners, like Fencers are lightning-quick and attacks
can happen within 1/10 of a second. The contest starts by bowing to your opponent,
and crouching at the start lines. When the referee tells you to go, the contest
begins. To score points, you must strike your opponent
with a bamboo sword, known as a shinai. And you can only score by attacking one of
4 areas. The men – which is the head of your opponent.
The kote – the gloves or wrists. The do – which is the torso.
and tsuki – thrusting to the throat of your opponent. If you managed to strike any one of these
four areas faster than your opponent, this scores 1 ippon, which is effectively 1 point.
Kendo is contested in just one period of 10 minutes, and is the best of three ippon.
Scoring two ippon, wins the match outright. Or being 1-0 up after 10 minutes, wins the
contest. Wow, it’s THAT simple?
As you can probably tell, this is the part where it gets more complicated.
For an ippon to be scored, there are certain conditions that have to be met.
This can be summarised in the phrase, Ki Ken Tai – which means Spirit, Sword & Body.
You must show Ki (or fighting spirit) by shouting when you attack.
This is a verbal indicator known as a kiai, and is required for an ippon to be scored.
Ken, which is the sword element, also has requirements.
If you look carefully, the shinai has a string which indicates the back of the sword.
This string must be on the top, when an attack is landed.
This indicates that you have cut your opponent with the blade the correct way up.
You must also strike with the correct part of the sword, which is an area 25cm from the
tip of the shinai. You cannot attack too deep or too shallow.
The Tai, or body must also be in the right position.
You must maintain a straight body posture and both hands on the sword when attacking.
Being off balance, doesn’t count. The fourth and final element is Zanshin – which
is physical and mental alertness. You have be constantly alert & concentrating
during the whole 10 minutes, and must be mentally and physically ready to attack again.
Any break in concentration may not score, or in some cases, may be penalised.
Take for example this guy. He scores an ippon and then for a split second, was seen making
a fist pump. This indicates a lack of Zanshin, and was also seen as rude or disrespecting
the opponent. The referee saw this and cancelled his ippon.
Even with these elements, we have to acknowledge that referees exist.
Kendo fighters are tagged on their backs with either red or white, and three referees hold
corresponding flags in their hands. If a judge thinks that an ippon is scored,
he will raise that fighters coloured flag, and at least two judges have to agree before
an ippon is awarded. Now that you understand how an ippon is scored,
there’s a few other things you’ll need to know before contesting in or watching Kendo.
For example. Tie
Should the scores be 0-0 or 1-1 after ten minutes, one of three things will happen.
In tournaments, the contest will carry on until an ippon is scored. Whoever scores first,
wins. The contest could be declared as a draw.
Or the three judges will decide who was the superior fighter, and they will be declared
the winner. Format
Most contests are individual contests, where one person fights against another person.
This is usually fought in a tournament format, whereby the winner moves onto the next round
and the loser is eliminated. The last person standing, wins the tournament.
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– enjoy Kendo. Ninh Ly – www.ninh.co.uk – @NinhLyUK