Kendo is literally the "Way of the [Japanese] Sword." It is derived from kenjutsu, the sword techniques developed by Samurai warriors throughout Japan's history of feudal warfare. Kendo is always practiced with two dueling opponents and on a smooth, pliable wooden floor. To prevent injuries, shinai (bamboo swords) and bogu (fencing armor) are used in place of the sharpened katana and yoroi (samurai armor).
Like most Japanese forms today, kendo has both a traditional martial art component and a sport/tournament component. Most kenshi will inevitably participate in tournaments for the exhilaration and potential for glory. However, kendo is first and foremost a martial art. Kendo is more than just a sport, it places emphasis on spiritual development and technical discipline as well as the practical application of using a sword on the medieval battlefield.
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