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Kendo is a martial sport tat derives its modern form from the late 18th century. when the yotsuwari shinai (slatted bamboo sword) was developed along with the bogu (kendo armour).

Prior to this time sword practise was undertaken with fukoro shinai (bagged bamboo sword) which was less flexible that the new version and hardwood bokken (waster).

The sport of kendo was developed long after end of the medieval period in Japan and bears little resemblance to the combative styles. This is notable in the limited target areas allowed by the various kendo strikes.

These are namely:

  • men (a cut straight down on the head)
  • kote (a cut to the right forearm if in a ready position or a cut to either forearm if the arm is raised to strike)
  • do (cut across the body)
  • tsuki (thrust to the throat)

There are various lengths and weights to the shinai and modern shinai can also be made with carbon fibre rather than bamboo. Shinai are sometimes used in recreationist combat as a weapon that allows full contact practise (when wearing armour) or light contact when wearing little to no armour.

See also