Practice and Play

A typical practice at the club consists of stretching and warmups to start, followed by basic footwork and strikes or stylized forms (kata), and finishing with sparring (keiko). Beginners will practice the basic strikes and footwork both on their own, and with partners (motodachi), who will provide the targets for them.  Senior Players will practice with each other in full armour (bogu).

Kendo Play:
There are four designated target areas in Kendo, each worth one point in a match. There are strikes to the head (men), the wrist (kote), the body (do) and a thrust to the throat (tsuki) -- scroll down for diagram. Competitors call their target in a strong voice (kiai) as they strike. Blows must be delivered with clarity and precision, using the outer third of the shinai. The referees look for good form, and a strong follow-through that leaves a player in a position to continue immediately with no letup of spirit. Unnecessary roughness or poor sportsmanship carries penalties.

In a Kendo tournament, individual matches are played for two-out-of-three points over a two to five minute time period, the length of which is announced before the competition. A scoreless or tied match may be extended at the referee's discretion. There are also team competitions, with five members per team, in which a winner is determined by either the total number of points scored or the total number of match winners per team.

In a match, the three referees indicate points scored by snapping red or white flags over their heads (for each match, the two competitors wear either a red or white streamer attached to their backs). At least two judges must agree that the point is deserved. A fast criss-cross of the flags below hip-level means the official did not see a valid point. The lead referee's word is final in all cases, although he may, on occasion, summon his colleagues for a brief conference over application of the rules.

Play is stopped after each successful point, to be resumed at centre court on the referee's signal. Two points scored simultaneously by each player cancel one another, however, and the match is not stopped. If two players are closely locked in a sword guard tangle for too long (tsubazeria), and there is no sign of impending movement, the referee may stop play and separate them by their swords' length to start again. If a player falls, is forced out of bounds, or drops his or her shinai, a penalty point is called. If a second such foul is committed, the player concedes a point to his or her opponent.