Kendo Competition and Grades
Competition: In shiai, or competition, a point is only awarded when the attack is made firmly and properly to a target point with ki-ken-tai-ichi, or spirit, sword and body as one. This means that for an attack to be successful, the shinai must strike the specified target, the contact by the shinai must happen simultaneously with the attacker’s front foot contacting with floor and the kendoka must vocalise an expression of kiai that displays good spirit.
Additionally, the top third of the shinai must make contact with the target and direction of movement (hasuji) by the shinai must also be correct. Finally, zanshin, or continuation of awareness, must be present and shown before, during and after the strike, then the player must be ready to attack again.In a tournament, there are usually three referees, or shinpan. Each holds a red flag and a white flag in opposite hands. To signal a point, the shinpan raise the flag corresponding to the colour of the ribbon worn by the scoring competitor.
Generally, at least two shinpan must agree, for a point to be awarded. The match continues until a pronouncement of the point that has been scored.
The first competitor to score two points wins the match. If the time limit is reached and only one competitor has a point, that competitor wins.
In the case of a tie, there are several options:
- The match may be declared a draw.
- The match may be extended (encho), and the first competitor to score a point wins.
- The winner may be chosen by a decision made by the shinpan, or hantei, in which the three referees vote for their choice. This is done simultaneously, by show of flags.
Grades: Technical achievement in kendo is measured by advancement in grade, rank or level. The kyu and dan grading system is used to assess the level of one’s skill in kendo. The dan levels are from sho-dan (1) to ju-dan (10). There are usually 6 grades below sho-dan known as kyu. The kyu numbering is in reverse order with ikkyu (1) being the grade immediately below sho-dan.
In the AJKF the grades of kyu-dan (9) and ju-dan (10) are no longer awarded. However, FIK grading rules allow national kendo organisations to establish a special committee to consider the award of those grades.
There are no visible differences between kendo grades; beginners may dress the same as higher-ranking yudansha. All candidates for examination face a panel of examiners. A larger, more qualified panel is usually assembled to assess the higher dan grades.
Kendo examinations typically consist of a demonstration of the applicants skill and for some dan grades, also a written exam. The hachi-dan (8 dan) kendo exam is extremely difficult, with a reported pass rate of less than 1 percent.
Kata: There are 10 nihon kendo kata (Japanese kendo forms). These are performed with wooden swords (bokken/bokuto), the kata include fundamental techniques of attacking and counter-attacking, and have useful practical application in general kendo. Occasionally, real swords or swords with a blunt edge, called kata-yo or habiki, may be used for a display of kata.
Kata 1â€“7 are performed with both partners using a daitÅ or tachi (long sword) style bokutoh of around 102 cm. Kata 8â€“10 are performed with one partner using a daitÅ and the other using a kodachi or shoto (short sword), style bokutoh of around 55cm. During kata practice, the participants take the roles of either uchidachi (teacher) or shidachi (student). The uchidachi makes the first move or attack in each kata. As this is a teaching role, the uchidachi is always the ‘losing’ side, thus allowing the shidachi or student to learn and gain confidence.
Nihon kendo kata were drawn from representative kenjutsu schools and tend to be quite deep and advanced. In some areas the regular training curriculum does not include nihon kendo kata.
In 2003, the introduction of Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho, a set of basic exercises using a bokuto, attempted to bridge this gap. This form of practice, is intended primarily for kendoka up to ni-dan (2), but is very useful for all kendo students.
Kendo outside Japan: The International Kendo Federation (FIK) was established in 1970 and in December 2006 admitted their 47th national or regional federation as an affiliate. The World Kendo Championships have been held every three years since 1970.You might also like: