Kendo is the art of Japanese fencing. ‘Ken’… is from the character meaning sword. The character for “Do”… includes the meaning way or path which translates as ‘The way of the sword…’ Kendo is a Japanese martial art that has been around for over 300 years. If you include its predecessor, Kenjitsu then its history goes back even longer.

In this section, you will learn a little bit about the equipment that we wear and some of the important customs in Kendo called Reigi or etiquette.”

Kendo Equipment

Kendo equipment consists of the swords, uniform and armor.

Kendo ShinaiThere are two types of wooden swords used. First, the Bokken or Bokuto, a solid wood sword made of oak or another hardwood. The Bokken is used for basics and forms practice called Kata. Second, the Shinai is made up of four bamboo staves and leather. The Shinai is used for full contact sparring practice.

The uniform consists of woven cotton top called a Keikogi and pleated skirt-like trousers called a Hakama.

Kendo BoguThe armor or bogu consists of four pieces: the head protector or Men, the body protector or Do, the protective gloves or Kote, and the hip and groin protector or Tare. Modern Kendo armor design is fashioned after the body armor of the Samurai.

Kendo Practice

Kendo practice is made up of many types of training. Each one has a different purpose for developing the Kendo student or Kenshi. There are two main components of Kendo practice: the physical and the mental.

Kendo, like other martial arts requires discipline and a dedication to training. A new student begins with learning the basics such as: etiquette or Reigi, different postures and footwork, and how to properly use a Shinai. The student progresses through a series of skills preparing them to begin training with armor or Bogu.


Reigi or sometimes called Reiho or sometimes shortened to Rei are the moral standards and acts of courtesy in Kendo. It is always done at the beginning and ending in Kendo. However, this practice is not limited to Kendo alone. All martial arts practice Reigi. In Japan and all throughout Asia, people practice some form of Reigi in their everyday lives. This is a very important custom in Japan that is found both inside and outside of the Dojo.