The word “Kendo” is constructed from the character “Ken” (tsurugi) and the character ”Do”(michi) – the first one means “sword” and the second ”path”. Combined, these two character represent Kendo, or ”way of the sword.”
Like all traditional martial arts, the development of this discipline lasted several centuries, and unlike modern sports, it has incorporated many different influences, and many of them developed long before modern times. Swordplay dates back to the time when swords were invented, during the bronze age, when the technology of metal casting allowed them to evolve from knives and daggers. Soon, people realized they needed a way to learn how to fight with these new weapons, and fight techniques started to pop up around the globe.
Japan is one of the regions of the world where the evolution of sword making reached its peak – katana is considered one of the finest hand-held bladed weapons that were ever created. Samurai, the warrior cast that used them, had enormous respect for the “tools of their trade”, as well as their social ranking and the position they held in Nippon (Japan).
Kendo developed as a way of practicing swordplay unique to Japan. Its founded in the Bushi, or the warrior cast – for them, the skill of master swordsman meant the difference between life and death on the battlefield (and often, personal peacetime duels). But, as the centuries passed and the warriors became interested in poetry, literature and other non-lethal arts, religion and philosophy also made a permanent mark – be it the mental attitude of Zen Buddhism, or the warrior etiquette described by the famous ”Bushido”, Kendo grew into something bigger. Today, it still holds many elements that are unusual in the world of moderd competitive sport.