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Kendo is the modern Japanese budo discipline of fencing based on techniques of the samurai warrior's legendary two-handed sword (katana). The weapon used in kendo now, the shinai, is made up of four slats of bamboo tied together by a leather grip (tsuka), an end-cap (saki-gawa), connected by a nylon cord (tsuru), and a stabilizing strap in the middle (nakayui). The length and weight of the shinai varies depending on age and sex but must not exceed 120cm for adult males.

Practitioners wear thick cotton protective armour known collectively as bogu or kendo-gu to protect the body from the opponent's attacks. This consist of protective mask (men), torso protector (do), gauntlets (kote), and a lower-body protector (tare). The armour is attached over a thick cotton kendo-gi jacket and a traditional split skirt (hakama). Practitioners compete with each other to score points by striking the men, kote, do, and thrusting to the throat (tsuki), four valid target areas in all.

Although kendo has a long history, steeped in the traditions of samurai culture, it was banned by GHQ in the postwar period because of its wartime associations with militarism. However, kendo was gradually reinstated in the 1950s as a sport deemed appropriate for a democratic society, with emphasis placed on enjoyment, competition, and mutual respect and equality with others. Theses ideals were embodied in newly formulated match rules, and led to an explosion in kendo's popularity. Today, kendo is one of the most widespread budo disciplines in Japan, and is gaining a dedicated following around the world.


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