Here are the essential elements of any Kendo practitioner, no matter where she or he practices this martial art, thanks to the KENDO America website.
The beginners in Kendo have to go through the same process as beginners in every other martial art or sport. The first thing new students have to learn is:
Etiquette – Kendo values its traditions, and it succeeded in bridging different cultures and regions. Every dojo in the world is run in that way, so all new students have to learn it.
Movement – Kendo developed a specific way of movement that has shown to be the most effective, but can at first seem odd and unnatural. The correct body posture is probably the most important for any future development.
Basic cut – from the very first training, kendoka is given hers/his sword, and starts to learn the basic cuts that are the backbone of all other defensive and offensive techniques.
After a few months, when the new student begins to wear and practice in armor, hers/his training begin to include the following practice:
Kiri-Kaeshi – successively striking the left and right men while moving in a preset order. This is the first advanced technique kenodas learn, and continue to do so, because of its importance in developing correct distance and pacing as well as building up stamina.
Waza-Geiko – technique practice in which the student learns to use the different techniques with a receiving partner.
Kakari-Geiko – short, intense, attack practice with a receiving partner. It’s intended to mold the offensive mindset and the build up stamina.
Ji-Geiko – free sparring practice.
Shiai-Geiko – competition matches, which are judged on the basis of a person scoring valid cuts against an opponent.
The remaining element of Kendo is kata.
Kata are pre-set sequences of motions which illustrate very deeply one or more aspects of the art. They give the practitioner a better understanding of a particular technique, which is often neglected when training in armor.
Kendo kata is practiced with a solid wooden sword called a bokken. There are ten kendo kata specified by the All Japan Kendo Federation. Each kata studies a single set of concepts.
Kendo kata is practiced between two people, the Uchitachi and the Shidachi. In kendo kata, the Uchitachi attacks the Shidachi who in turn demonstrates a proper response to the attack. Seven of these kata are illustrations of the technique of the long sword against the long sword. The last three kata illustrate the short sword defending against attacks by the long sword.