The martial art form known as Kendo has perhaps one of the most well known histories in martial arts today. Starting in Japan during the Kamakura period, Japanese sword fighting became exceedingly prevalent among Samurai warriors and other military peoples. During this time, Kendo was created beneath extremely heavy and powerful Zen Buddhist influences, this is perhaps the reason that the principles and ideology that run within the martial art of Kendo are so strong.
Zen Buddhism considers the division between life and death a mere concept or delusion, that life and death are not as separated as humans think. Using this philosophy, Samurai warriors were able to confidently discount the fear during a sword fight or battle and often emerge victorious.
Because Kendo was associated with the fighting styles of the Samurai warriors, the popularity of this form of martial art grew astonishingly quickly. Many martial art schools (or dojos) opened up shortly after to begin teaching students who wished to learn Kendo. These martial arts schools formed the basis for Kendo as we know it today and many of the schools mirrored a single instructor’s enlightenment or individual forms and theses for fighting.
Although there were many Kendo masters sharing their individual knowledge with students across the country, Kendo changed very little from its original inception. Most of the techniques (also known as kata) have not changed and almost none of the concepts and philosophies within Kendo have changed. It is perhaps these philosophies that have kept the art form on such a solid ground.
Kendo is having been considered more modernized by a man by the name of Naganuma Sirozaemon Kunisato, he introduced the bamboo fighting staffs called shinai and full body armor (known as bogu) to Kendo schools around the country. The popularity of Kendo increased ever more so since the introduction of safer training techniques and it was during the 18th century that Kendo began becoming known in countries other than Japan. After developing safer practice forms along with the use of shinai and bogu, Kendo morphed into the martial art form as we know it today.
Similar to other forms of martial arts, Kendo employs a belt grading system known as the kyu and dan grading structure and has been around for centuries since being used in several earlier forms of martial arts. The use of these grading structures allows a Kendo master to assess the skill level of the student so that he or she can begin learning new techniques and practicing his or her skills on equally skilled opponents. This type of system has been around since the creation of Judo by Kano Jigoro.
The only difference between the levels of skill in Kendo and other martial arts is that there is no obvious difference between students, although the skill levels are awarded, there are no different colored belts or uniforms to distinguish a lower level student from a higher one. During the year 1970, the International Kendo Federation was formed and since that year, International Kendo Championships have been held tri-annually for those students who wish to compete.