Kendo Etiquette

There is a saying that what separates Kendo from other barbaric practices is that it begins and ends with respect. You must always uphold yourself to the code of courtesy and kendo etiquette.

There are 3 rules to showing your courtesy

FIRST Regardless of social status, you must always have respect and gratitude towards others

SECOND You must behave yourself and maintain dignity

THIRD You must be moderate

Standing Bow and Sitting Bow

A standing bow is a form of bow performed in a standing position and a sitting bow is a bow performed in a sitting position. You perform a standing bow by bending your waist in an upright posture. When facing a superior, master, or sensei, you bow at about a 30 degree angle, and when facing an opponent or a peer during a match or practice, you bow at a 15 degree angle while keeping eye contact.

For a sitting bow, you start at a knelt down position when performing a sitting bow and bend down to the floor. When bending down, you make a triangle with your hands on the floor by only separating your thumb. Then, you lower your head down to the floor, stopping 15cm (1/2 foot) from the back of your hands and then you slowly raise your body.

Five Etiquettes of Kendo

1. Courtesy towards the national flag-As a citizen of the nation, one must show respect and gratitude towards the flag at the beginning and end of practice.

2. Courtesy towards the gym-In order to express gratitude and modesty towards the place you train in, you must perform a standing bow when entering and exiting the gym. Also, organizing your shoes, keeping the gym clean, and tidying up the place are etiquettes of a trainee. You must treat the equipments as if they were your own, and take lead in cleaning. You can say that Kendo starts from cleaning. Needless to say, messing up the place will not be tolerated.

3. Courtesy towards the teacher, master, or sensei-It is the courtesy that a trainee shows to the trainer. You must show thankfulness for the teachings. You can perform a standing bow or a sitting bow. Usually, you perform a sitting bow after the training.

4. Courtesy towards each other: it is the courtesy you show to your opponent or peers. You must not forget to mind your Kendo etiquette even towards close friends and you must not be rude to your opponents. You must be thankful to everyone because it is through them you can develop yourself and have fun.

5. Courtesy towards juniors and pupils: it is impolite for seniors or teachers to receive bows in an arrogant behavior. The role of seniors is to be an example to juniors and treat them with care. By doing that, seniors must be able to bring out the respect from juniors. However, it is important for the juniors to always stay mentally prepared to learn.

Courtesy During Practice or a Match

When entering and exiting an arena or a gym, it is etiquette to perform a standing bow where you bend your waist down about 15 degrees while keeping eye contact. You must bow together; a formal bow alone does not have any meaning. It can be a joyful and instructive training only when you respect each other; therefore, irritating or ridiculing the opponent goes against the Kendo etiquette. Jumping up and down after winning a match or walking away without properly bowing is ill mannered. Regardless of the result of the match, you must show courtesy to each other.

Courtesty During Regular Training

Showing up late to practice is against basic Kendo etiquette. You must always arrive before practice, change into uniform, stretch your body and prepare for training. Practice time is a promised time. Inability to keep basic promises means that you are an incredible person only here to learn how to use a sword. If you are late due to unavoidable circumstances due to your social life, you hurryingly join practice with a sense of guilt to others. The first thing you must keep in Kendo is credibility. The first thing in credibility is keeping promises. You are unqualified to learn Kendo if you are unable to keep promises.

You must try not to disturb other people’s learning of Kendo. You must pass behind a person or when unavoidably passing a person in the front you should nod as a sign of regret and stretch out your hand.

Even though you may feel tight or uncomfortable, you shouldn’t take off the mask on your own will but with the permission of the Sensei. Practice time is not an individual time; therefore, endurance from start to end is required for group order and moderation. Regardless of age or rank of Dan, you must always keep in mind that practice time is a time to nurture your endurance and restrain from individual behavior. In other words, it goes against the Kendo spirit to walk away from formation, take off the mask, or leave to drink water without prior permission. When you follow orders and decorum, you will be able to have a good time and be well disciplined students.

During practice, you must follow the order of rank. Seniors must be an example to juniors and provide them help. Juniors must thank and respect seniors and follow their instructions.

Courtesy Towards the Sword

The sword is the most important instrument in Kendo. You must not use a sword as a cane or throw it around imitating another sport. You must not also kick a sword on the ground or jump over one.

You should not play or practice with others without the armor. You must take good care of the bamboo sword and repair it or exchange it if damaged in order to prevent harming others. You should always prepare at minimum two bamboo swords so that you can change swords if there is a problem with one and prevent from breaking the flow of the training.

When handing over a real sword to another person, you must use both hands; the giver must hold the mouth of the sheath with his/her left hand and hold the middle of the sheath, having the back of the sword towards the receiver. You must never touch someone else’s sword without permission and you must not touch a sword with you bare hands.

Courtesy For a Safe and Comfortable Training

Since Kendo is a sport you practice with a partner, you must not show any ugly behavior or spread a foul odor. You must be equipped with a safe bamboo sword and a clean uniform and mask. Kendo equipments, especially the uniform and the mask can often reek a bad odor if not cleaned therefore it is important to keep your equipments clean for a pleasant training.

Leaving the rope of the face armor to flap, or leaving the mask alone until you can see a ring of salt and you smell bad odor goes against basic Kendo etiquette. Clean and neat training preparation is the basic attitude of a trainee.

In addition, you must cut your toenails in order to avoid any accidents. Occasionally, people would have long toenails and collide turning the toenail inside out and leaving a scar on the opponent’s foot; therefore, it is for the best to keep your toenails short.