Enjoy the soothing sounds of a kendo competition

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/06/enjoy-the-soothing-sounds-of-a.html


Watching this, I just realized I have no idea how kendo works, at all. I have no clue how it’s being scored and what their actual goals are, and even the cries seem to happen at the wrong times.
Also I feel like someone needs to add some crow/hawk noises in there.


Basically you try to hit one of four target areas with a bamboo sword. In order of most common to least, they are: strikes to men (head), kote (wrist), do (chest) and a thrust to tsuki (throat). I’ve never done a tsuki myself, but I have been poked in the throat a few times by others.

In competition you face off against an opponent and the first person to get two points wins the match. Matches are 5 minutes long and if it’s 1-0 at full time then the person with the point wins.

Scoring is kind of weird. There are some underlying objective criteria but it’s also subjective to a large degree - there are three referees per match and at least two of them have to agree that a given strike or thrust was valid enough to count as a point. Their criteria are: a simultaneous yell, stomp of the foot, clear strike or thrust at the appropriate part of the target and part of the sword, as well as displaying proper posture, follow-through, and “spirit.”

As for “cries that seem to happen at the wrong times,” they do that to both psyche themselves up and also to present an intimidating front to their opponent.

My favorite part of training is kakarigeiko, where you attack an opponent continuously for about 20-30 seconds. It’s fun to watch but incredibly exhausting to do:


That was my guess. It’s Japanese Haka.

dropping the shinai is 1/2 point to the other player, right? i can’t remember anymore.

Is there different styles, because that main video seems tame and slow compared to a match I watched. There the strikes were quick, and if they missed they reset. There was none of that resting sticks on shoulders.

Also, a couple of those screams sounded like Axel Rose.

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Clinching was never a strategy I associated with swordplay. Some of the use of it is presumably because of how formalized kendo is (hard to get in a “spirited” hit when you’re that close) but there’s clearly a tactical aspect as well, as they’re changing the engagement in pretty consistent patterns as they separate. There must be some risk at that moment of disengagement.

In every other sword art I can think of, being in infighting distance is a Bad Thing almost unequivocally – at least, not the kind of thing you’d want to linger in any longer than necessary.

Anyway, really interesting.

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it really depends on the level of kendo going on. both of those guys are proably like 7 or 8th degree black belts and at that point you’re like a mind reader. the slightest twitch from the opponent and you know what they are about to do. so it’s not surprising to me that the thing is a deadlock from the start.

i can only imagine it - only reaching 1kyu i don’t think i reached that level of consciousness, but in various tournaments i faced people with less skill and it was kind of amazing how they telegraphed what they were going to do so early that i was able to block and score on them ‘easily’ (and then continuously suffer the same fate when facing my teachers, who were all 2-dan and above.)

as far as the infighting is concerned, yeah, it’s not something you’d ever do with a real sword, but of course this is a sport based on swordfighting so different stuff has evolved. a judge would never give you a point if your opponent’s shinai is touching you, so the shinai on the shoulder thing is a way for the two kendoka to break the close-in fighting while minimizing the risk of someone pulling a ‘backward’ strike on you (which would have to be perfect because judges are pretty reluctant to give ‘retreating’ points to people in general.)

[i was sitting there racking my brain trying to remember what one of these backwards strikes is called, but subconsiously i must have known since i said “pulling” - in japanese they are literally called “pull-face” (hiki-men) or “pull-wrist” (hiki-kote).



Just by the noises I guess feral cats are doing kendo tournaments next to my street´s dumpster.


This would have made Star Wars so much better.

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I reckon the obvious analog to Kendo is surely curling, what with the screaming and waving of wooden sticks.

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Many years ago I was watching Wimbledon and Jimmy Connors was threatened with censure by the judges for grunting too loud. Of course that is England.

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supposedly mark hamill studied a bit of kendo for Empire Strikes Back. and when the star wars prequels came out, suddenly we had a bunch of new beginners at the dojo. so there is a connection :slight_smile:

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