"The concept of kendo is to discipline the human characterthrough the application of the principles of the katana. The purpose of practising 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 treat others with sincerity, And to forever pursue the cultivation of oneself. Thus, one will be able To love his country and society, To contribute to the development of culture, And to promote peace and prosperity among all people." From the All-Japan Kendo Federation
kendo is composed of the two kanji characters ken, which means "sword", and do, which translates into "way". Literally, kendo means "the way of the sword." It is a traditional Japanese sword art that was originally developed and practised by bushi, or samurai. Modern kendo originates from the various schools of sword fighting techniques developed over hundreds of years of combat and study. The goal of kendo is not only to develop the physical ability for fighting, but also the moral and spiritual aspects of rigorous and disciplined training. It is difficult to precisely determine when and how kendo originated. kendo was not created or developed by a single person or even a group of people (though, perhaps the most famous contributor is the legendary Miyamoto Musashi, who wrote Go Rin No Sho).The sword was introduced to Japan from China around the 200 B.C. By 700 A.D., the sword was being forged domestically in Japan. After the 9th century, as the bushi class was established, the prototype of the nihon-to was developed. This sword differed from its Chinese predecessor in that it had a curved blade rather than a rigid straight one. As Japan plunged into civil war in the 14th century, nihon-to became the weapons of choice among the warrior class. During these warring years, Japan saw the rise of different schools of kenjutsu. These ryu were started by various master swordsmen, and each school had its own style unique to the originator. As the civil war drew to a close and more peaceful times prevailed, more emphasis was placed on the spiritual aspects of kenjutsu training. These moral and social aspects stemmed from Zen Buddhism, bushido, and Confucianism. During the mid-18th century, the first protective equipment was developed for kenjutsu. These developments in protective equipment and the usage of shinai (a mock sword made of four bamboo slats bound together) played an important role in the popularization of kenjutsu. In the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, awareness for the need for national defence was on the rise and the modified kenjutsu that included protective armor became popular among non-bushi class citizens. After the shogunate fell in 1867, modern Japan was established and the bushi class was dismantled as the right to bear a sword in public was abolished. Kenjutsu suffered a momentary decline in popularity. However, in the late 1870's kenjutsu was once again revived to train the Tokyo police. However, the popularization of kenjutsu demanded a universal form, one that would integrate all the different existing schools of the art. In 1912, after a long deliberation among masters from major ryu, a new system of kenjutsu was developed. This was dubbed kendo to differentiate the intent of the art. Kenjutsu aimed at defeating the opponent whereas kendo aims at self-cultivation.