Kendo is an old martial art, aka budo. It roots back to the time of the samurai in Japan. Kendo means the way of the sword.
The sword in kendo is wooden. A shinai consists of four bamboo slates, which bend when a strike hits home on the bogu. Bogu is a protective equipment, consisting out of several parts that protect designated striking areas. The head and throat are protected by men, wrists by kote and sides by do. Tare is extra protection for hips and lower body parts to avoid injuries through unintended strikes to the lower body. The equivalent strikes are men, kote, do and a thrust to the throat, tsuki.
In kendo not only hitting a specific part of the opponent is enough to score a point, an ippon. A point is only awarded for a perfectly executed technique, in which several things come into unison: good posture and balance, strong voice – kiai -, and readyness before and after the strike, as well as correct timing and distance.
Alongside bogu practise there is also kata practise. Kata is practise without bogu, with bokken, an unbending wooden sword, or the short sword, kodachi. In kata all strikes are predefined and applied without actual contact, in a very controlled manner.
One of the key points in the spiritual side of kendo is mutual respekt between the practitioners, kendoka. The young and the old can practise kendo together, regardless of age.
The equipment, bogu and shinai, are prerequisite for safe training. Bokken and kodachi are used for kata. Kendoka wear hakama and gi, traditional japanese trousers and a shirt. They are usually cotton and colored indigo blue.
Shinai is up to 39 rin long, which is about 120 cm, and weighs from about 440 to 510 gramms, depending on model and the exact length. Shinais need maintaining, especially in the winter time. A dry shinai bamboo slate will at some point splinter. A splinter has to be sanded or the slate or the whole shinai replaced, depending on how badly broken the shinai is.
The club has a few loan bogus for new members, who have recently finnished the basic course, or are just visiting Turku. For basic course a normal sports trousers and T-shirt and shinai are enough.
Kyu– and dan-grading system is incorporated in kendo, although kendoka carry no outward signs of their grade. Kyu-grades from six to one follow the basic course for the first two or more years of kendo practise. After 1. kyu the kendoka move on to dan-grades, first receiving 1. dan, every dan-grade taking at least a year more than the previous to pass. The highest level Finnish kendoka are 7. dan. Most well-known japanese senseis are 8. dan.
There are several national competitions in Finland every year. The Finnish Championships include an individual and a team competition. Kyu-level kendoka have Kyu Cup and dan-level kendoka have Dan Cup.
International competitions include the European Championships, which were held in Finland in Turku 1993 and in Helsinki 2008. Every five years the Five Nations competition takes place here as well.
Kendo found its way to Finland in 1986. Rendaino was founded just two years later in 1988.