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The concept of Kendo and Basic Kendo Equipment

Basic knowledge for kendo Beginner

In Kendo there is much more than just beating each other up with a bamboo sword, kendo got it own concepts, manner and glossary. It is always a good idea to know more about these things as a beginner to Kendo.

The concept of Kendo:

The concept of Kendo is to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the Katana (sword).

The purpose of practicing Kendo is:
To mold the mind and body,
To cultivate a vigorous spirit,
And through correct and rigid training,
To strive for improvement in the art of Kendo,
To hold in esteem human courtesy and honor,
To associate with others with sincerity,
And to forever pursue the cultivation of oneself.
This will make one be able:
To love his/her country and society,
To contribute to the development of culture
And to promote peace and prosperity among all peoples.

(The Concept of Kendo was established by All Japan Kendo Federation in 1975.)

Kendo manners

There is a saying in Kendo, "Kendo begins with manners, and ends with manners”. Before holding a sword, one must learn manners first. Don’t be surprised if your first duty of kendo practice is to sweep the floor.

1) Shoes must be removed prior to entering the kendo dojo, and neatly arranged so as not to create a hazard, or kept in one's equipment bag.

2) Courteous manners are required by Kendo tradition. All kenshi must show respect to their seniors in the art, especially senior sensei (instructors). Fostering respect and concern for fellow kenshi - helping each other train and develop physically and spiritually - is the purpose for studying kendo, and must motivate every consideration in the dojo.

3) The dojo floor must be carefully cleaned and inspected for hazards prior to the beginning of every practice and all trash picked up. Sweeping the floor is the duty of all junior kenshi, supervised by the ranking kenshi.

4) All chairs, tables, benches and other loose furniture must moved well away from the practice area, and all personal baggage neatly arranged against the wall.

5) Horseplay, fooling around, waving or throwing equipment, lounging, casual conversation during practice, or behaving carelessly in the dojo is strictly forbidden.

6) Smoking, eating, chewing gum, or drinking of any beverage whatsoever is strictly forbidden inside the dojo. This applies to visitors or guests as well as kenshi.

7) It is forbidden to kick, step on, or step over any kendo equipment at any time.

Basic Kendo Equipments:

Beginners who have not yet entered the sparring practice are not required to wear keikogi (kendo gi) and hakama (Kendo Uniform), and are permitted to wear ordinary loose clothing, subject to review by an instructor, while they are learning.

Sometimes beginners require to have their own shinai (bamboo sword) in there first training, depend on the case. A new shinai is not ready to be use straight away, you must check there is no crack in shinai, before you use it for practice.

Useful glossary in your first kendo training

Shinai – Bamboo sword.

Sonkyo – Squat down with sword in ready position

Men – head target

Kote – wrist target

Do – waist target

Sensei – Instructor

Sensei Ni – Face toward Sensei

Rei – Bow

Yame – Stop

Seiza – Kneel Down

Mokuso – close eyes and meditate

Counting 1 to 10 in Japanese

One – ichi, Two – ni, Three – san, Four – shi, Five – go, Six – roku, Seven – shichi, Eight – hachi, Nine – kyu, Ten – ju,

What’s are the basic Kendo equipments OnlineKendo suggest:

To all kendo beginners, OnlineKendo do not suggest to spend lots money at entry level. A standard shinai and uniform is good enough to start with, and you don’t need to consider to buy the kendo bogu (armor) until you nearly finish your beginner course.

Kendo Shinai (Bamboo Sword):

There are many different kendo shinai in the market, firstly kendo beginner don’t need to spend too much money on the more expensive kendo shinai, more expensive kendo shinai doesn’t provide longer duration, but better balance you can choose. You will get the idea of balance when after your first few training.

When kendo beginner choosing the first shinai, you must make sure it passed all the specifications as bellow (even it is a very cheap beginner shinai):

Table A. Specifications for use of one Shinai (Itto).

Shinais are weighed complete, but without tsuba or tsuba dome.
Maximum diameter of tsuba - 9cm.



Junior High School
(12-15 yrs)

Senior High School
(15-18 yrs)

University students and Adults
(18yrs and over)

Maximum length
Male & female 114cm 117cm 120cm
Minimum weight
Male 440g 480g 510g
Female 400g 420g 440g

Minimum diameter
of sakigawa

Male 25mm 26mm 26mm
Female 24mm 25mm 25mm
Minimum length
of sakigawa
Male & female 50mm 50mm 50mm
Suggested size Male 37 38 39


Table B. Specifications for use of two Shinai (Nito).

Shinais are weighed complete, but without tsuba or tsuba dome.
Maximum diameter of tsuba - 9cm.



(long shinai)

(short shinai)

Maximum length Male & female 114cm 62cm
Minimum weight Male 440g 280-300g
Female 400g 250-280g
Minimum diameter of sakigawa Male 25mm 24mm
Female 24mm 24mm
Suggested size
36 or 37

Kendo Uniform:

There are many different Kendo uniforms, firstly let’s talk about the color. In some traditional kendo dojo, only the instructor going to wear the white uniform, so if you like to get a white kendo gi and hakama for your first uniform set, that’s a good idea to go and check the culture of your dojo before you go head.

Next, we are going to talk about the hakama, there are 2 main different materials for kendo hakama. One is indigo hakama and another one is TR (also known as TC or Tetron or Polyester) hakama.

Where indigo hakama must be indigo dye blue, and must be 100% cotton. This material the dying of the fabric will keep coming off, unless you wash it with some special treatment (add salt and vinegar, more detail see how to wash your hakama). Indigo hakama are normally hardly maintain, because it is 100% cotton.

Better indigo hakama comes with higher indigo code, such as #10,000 is better than #7,000. In old Japanese standard, #10,000 is the highest code for indigo hakama, and now this code can normally use as reference. Different value of the indigo code, they stand for different way of the stitching on the fabric (most of case the original material is the same), and higher indigo code will obtain more complex way of stitching, hence obtain heavy weight or thick fabric.

TR Hakama is much easier to maintain compared to the 100% cotton Hakamas. And TR is normally used of 65% Polyester and 35% Rayon. This hakama is very popular to kend beginners, as it is with good price, and you can wash with washing machine. (100% cotton hakama only by hand wash)

Kendo Bogu (Armor):

For your first set of Kendo bogu, OnlineKendo suggest you to buy under your personal budget, coz due to Kendo culture, kendoda love to wear a new bogu when there dan grading (that’s normally take 3~4 years to do, if you train hard). And more expensive doesn’t mean longer duration or better protection, but better craftsmen on the finished and more valuable material.

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If you have any further question, we will always do our best to answer your questions.