Sign in

Ken Ryu: Kendô, Iaidô, Chanbara

Published on 08/04/2011 - Edition 2011

Anyone can practice martial arts. Japan Expo is happy to present to you the most representative disciplines from Japan: Kendô, Iaidô, Chanbara…

© All rights reserved




Very famous Japanese martial art, Kendô, fencing with Japanese sabers, is an inheritance of the combat techniques of the Japanese warriors.

Kendô can be translated into the Way (in Japanese) of the Sword (Ken).

The practice of Kendô involves a body armor and a supple bamboo saber, a Shinai, in order to avoid wounds. Every assault is meant to reflect the spirit of the Samurai, which was to reach and assail his opponent on the first strike. However brutality is banished: the opponent isn’t an enemy to kill but a partner in sparing much needed for progress.

Kendô favors the discovery of one’s own body, concentration and awareness, perception and capacity to adapt to the opponent’s solicitations. One also develops emotional control, capacity to manage opposition and to channel aggressiveness.

© All rights reserved © All rights reserved © All rights reserved




Iaidô comes from I (being), Ai (harmony) and (way). It literally means “the meeting of two fighters” or “the Way to the Unity of the Being”.

Iaidô consists in several fencing techniques aiming at drawing, controlling and hitting the enemy in a single move, with the intent to slash him. One practices alone, in front of an imaginary opponent. Based on three inseparable elements (mediation, coordination and etiquette), it is very closely linked to Zen and aims to the control of one’s ego.



© All rights reserved Chanbara is a Japanese onomatopoeia representing the sound of two blades encountering. It can designate Japanese sword movies as well as children play to imitate Samurai.

Chanbara, based on self-defense techniques, is an evolution of Japanese fencing. Opponents fight with look-alike but harmless traditional sabers. Thanks to the protection wrapping of these weapons, fighters only need a helmet to confront, with a complete liberty of action, freed from the risk of harming the partner.

Fights can be dealt against multiple opponents, with or without equity in the distribution of weapons. Very new, this sport encounters a great success thanks to the absence of strict rules. The only rule is to touch without being touched.


© All rights reserved
Naginata demonstration by CNK at Japan Expo in 2010


More about the Comité National de Kendo on their website

Associated themes

  • Sports
  • Culture and traditions
    Culture and traditions