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All About KENDO

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Kendo is a traditional Japanese martial art. Two contestants wear protective armour and fight with bamboo swords. A contest lasts for three or five minutes, and a further three minutes if necessary to decide a result. The contest ends when one contestant has scored two points, or the highest scoring contestant at the end of the allotted time.



Strikes made with the forward thrust of the shinai (the sword) count in the following areas:

Thrusts are valid when made at the throat.

Points are scored when the action is made with full spirit and correct form. Techniques can still score if the opponent steps out of bounds or drops the shinai.

Fouls and misconduct

A contestant may not:

These fouls result in a warning and one point to the opponent after the third foul.

This foul results in disqualification of the offender and two points to the opponent.


If a contestant is injured and cannot continue, the match ends.

If the opponent caused the injury, the injured contestant wins with one point, otherwise the injured contestant forfeits the match and the opponent receives two points.

Similarly, if a contestant ends the match without reason, they forfeit the match and the opponent receives two points.


There is one judge, and two assistant judges. They use red and white flags to control conduct, point out and rule on technique and determine the winner if necessary.

There may also be a line judge, and a timekeeper, a scorekeeper, and other assistants.



The floor is smooth and wooden. The centre is usually marked with a cross or circle. Two starting lines are also marked. The area is usually 10 metres or 11 metres squared (33 or 36 feet). There is a clear area of at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) around this area.


It is made of equal sections of bamboo, held together by leather and strings at the tip, halfway point, and the hilt. If one is used, it must have a maximum length of 118 centimetres (46 inches) and weigh no more than 468 grams (17 ounces).

If two are used, the longer has a maximum length of 110 centimetres (43 inches) and weigh no more than 375 grams (13 ounces). The shorter has a maximum length of 60 centimetres (23 inches) and a maximum weight of 235 grams (9 ounces).

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