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The rules of Kendo.


Kendo is deriverd from the fight with the real Samurai Sword.If you imagin the fight at the risk of your life, you will understand the Kendo rules naturally, even when you fight with a bamboo sword.



剣道ルール1 どこを打つのか

Kendo Rule 1: Point Areas


First of all, I'll explain where to strike to score an Ippon !


You can score Ippon when you could make the opponent unable to fight if you hit by a real Samurai Sword.


Making the opponent unable to fight is like these as below.

Men 相手の頭を斬る Choping the opponent's head.
小手 Kote 竹刀を持っている相手の手首を斬り落とす Cutting off the opponent's wrist.
Dou 相手の腹を斬る Choping the opponent's side.
突き Tsuki 相手の喉を貫く Cleaving the throat.


Even if you chopped the other points of the opponent's body, the opponent might be injured badly. But, Ippon areas are determined as a rule whether you made the opponent unable to fight by a stroke or not.

剣道ルール2 勝つ条件

Kendo rule 2: Victory Condition


As for victory or defeat, the contender who first gets two Ippon for Sanbon-shobu during the match time wins the match. If the match time is up, then the contender who has earned one Ippon wins.


THe match times are as below.

小学生 ES student 2~3分 2 or 3 min
中学生、高校生 JHS & HS student 3~4分 3 or 4 min
大学生 CS student 4~5分 4 or 5 min
全日本剣道選手権※ All Japan
10分 10 min


※Zen Nippon Kendo Sensyuken


By the way, at the corporate team tournament, the match time is 3 minutes. Most of businesspersons are not strong physically, so if they fought more than 3 minutes, they couldn't move anymore.lol


In the Kendo match, you fight one on one, and there are individual match and team competition.


In the team competition, the team with more winners wins. If the number of winner are same, the team with more Ippons win.


Kendo position's names are as follows.


Kendo position's name

1人目 1st 2人目 2nd 3人目 3rd 4人目 4th 5人目 5th
先鋒 次鋒 中堅 副将 大将
せんぽう Senpo じほう Jiho ちゅうけん Tyuken ふくしょう Hukusho たいしょう Taisho


Most of teams assign the strong player to the Senpo, Tyuken, Taisho. Senpo's match make a good mood to win. Tyuken should be the one of the key pillars of the team. And, if Taisho is so strong, the team members can keep their hope to win, because they believe that Taisho will win and their team can come from behind.


However, sometimes a leading player of the team is assigned to the Jiho to win certainly. And sometimes, a leading player and a second leading player are assigned to Taisho, and Hukusho to make the other players calm down.

また、団体戦が大将まで終わった時点で、勝者数と本数が全く同じだった場合、代表戦となり、それぞれのチームが選んだ 最強の選手同士が時間無制限で、1本勝負を行い、チームの勝敗を決めます。

If after all player's match, and the numbers of winners and Ippons are same, the strongest player of the each team fight to score an Ippon in unlimited time.


The match time is unlimited, so if both players can't score an Ippon, the match continues even more than 2 hours.lol

剣道ルール3 一本になる基準

Kendo rule 3: What is Ippon?


Next, I'll explain the standard of Ippon.


In the Kendo match, 3 referees watch two players from different direction. A hit judged Ippon by 2 referees at least, gives the player a point "Ipoon".


So, if you touch Ippon area by your bamboo sword little, is the hit judged Ippon by referees?




You have to meet the conditions to judge Ippon.
※ In my opinion, "the conditions" make it difficult for kendo to become an Olympic event.

一本の基準は、正式には全日本剣道連盟 試合審判規則 に、以下のように書かれています。

The referee rules made by All Japan Kendo Federation says about the conditions to judge Ippon like this.


『A yuko-datotsu is defined as an accurate strike or thrust made onto designated targets (datotsu-bui) of the opponent’s kendo-gu. The strike or thrust must be executed in high spirits with correct posture, using the striking section (datotsu-bu) of the shinai with the correct angle (hasuji), and followed by zanshin. 』


I think it's difficult to image Ippon.


I understund Ippon as below.

『In order to cut the opponent by Katana, you need a strong will and to be relaxed by breath.

If you hit with your collapsed posture, you can't cut the opponent.

If you hit with Katana near a handguard, you can't cut enough.

Ippon area means the vital spots of human body.You should hit there.

The bowstring-shape side means the opposite side of the main part to cut.

After you hit the opponent, maybe he still attacks you. Watch out.

If you fulfill all of these, your hit will be judged Ippon.』


"In high spirits" means you should make a loud voice in order to be braved and relaxed. It's so rational behavior to cut opponent, that the referee rules says you need "high spirits".


Many people ask me why does Kendo player make a loud voice.
Each time, I answer like this.
Because the referee rules says to do, and it's so rational.


The conditions to be Ippon needs considerable experience and subjective judgment, so Kendo players often feel unfair. Even in All-Japan Championship, it happens as well.


However, I feel the judgment by the referees and the players are as one in there opinions with about 95% possibility. It's not still perfect though. In my veiw, it makes difficult to enjoy watching Kendo match for beginners.



How do you think about the conditions to be Ippon?


3 referees judge, and if 2 out of 3 referees judge Ippon, the hit is judged Ippon.


It depends on their subjectivity to judge one player was killed or not if the bamboo sword was a real Katana. This rule makes it difficult to adopt sensor and light that means a point like fencing.


The conditions of Ippon are common understanding for kendo players who have judged and been judged for many years.


A world Championship of Kendo is held but Kendo does not become a Olympic sport. I understand that the Olympic means the celebration of peace, but they compete for the pride of their country so emotionally.


Judges of Kendo neads deep common understanding and referees cannot refuse their subjectivity perfectly. I guess many people all over the world would feel unfairness about judges.


The concept of Kendo is to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the Katana. It's not to win.


Therefore, from my personal perspective, Kendo should hold just a world Championship and stop being one of Olypic sports.

剣道ルール4 反則

Kendo rule 4: Foul


In the end, I'll tell you about "Foul" of kendo!


Kendo has foul rules and Two Fouls by opponent give you Ippon. If you imagin that the bamboo sword was a Katana, it helps you understand about foul rules of Kendo.


There are many detailed rules, but there are 3 rules mainly which give you foul as below.

  • 竹刀を落とす
  • When you drop your bamboo sword
  • 場外に出る
  • When you go out of a fighting area.
  • 卑怯な行為(明らかに時間稼ぎを狙っている行為等)
  • Unfair actions (for example, actions to gain some time)


Most sports have foul rules about "Unfair actions" , so you can understand easily.


"When you drop your bamboo sword" means you lost your Katana and the opponent has ones, so you definitely lost.


Very skilled Kendo player can send your bamboo sword flying by centrifugal power, called "Makiwaza". When you lose your concentration, the opponent flick your bamboo sword hardly, and you drop it. Some Kendo players lose a game all because of a foul.


"When you go out of a fighting area."means you should confront with the opponent.


By the way, Kendo has a interesting rules about going out of fighting area.


You can ram yourself into the opponent once a scene, and it doesn't matter that he fall down.


Kendo rules don't have "weight class". If thin player fight wigh strong build opponent, he would be thrusted away.


And, if you are thrusted away to the out of fight area, you will be judged foul.


Moreover, Kendo rules permit that you hit the opponent after you thusted him away. It doesn't matter he is standing or falling down.


This rule symbolizes that Kendo is martial arts, "Budo".


Kendo is not a sport. Kendo is the mock battle with real Katana for your life.

剣道ではガッツポーズ禁止!? Kendo Ban expresssing your happiness!


Have you ever heard the rule that Kendo bans expressing your happiness?


Kendo values politeness. The purpose of Kendo is to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the Katana.


Therefore, even when you feel happiness after you win the Kendo match, you should bow to show respect.


Even when you hit Men perfectly, your Ippon will be took back if you expressed happiness. What a wonderful idea to ban the action expressing happiness to respect the opponent, isn't it?