Kendo is not only fighting with armour and bamboo swords. To master the art of sword-fighting, we also practice fundamental techniques with wooden swords (Bokutō).

Two sets of Kata

The word “Kata” in Japanese means “form”, “shape”, or “appearance”. In martial arts, Kata designates a sequence of predetermined gestures and techniques to retrace a specific attack and the according reaction.


Today, we practice two different official styles of Kata in modern Kendo:

• Nihon Kendo Kata

• Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon Waza Keiko Ho



The older of the two mentioned Kata, Nihon Kendo Kata, is a summary of the most important sword-schools of ancient Japan. It has been defined as such back in 1912. For this reason, it is rather a collection of different styles than a homogeneous concept. The first seven katas are fought with two long swords (daitō), while the last three are long sword against short sword (daitō vs. kodachi)

You can download a pdf – file (in french). You better print it out as the sketches are upside down… Please follow this link here


The other official style is called Bokutō ni yoru Kendo Kihon Waza Keiko Ho, and literally means “Basic Kendo Techniques using Bokutō”. It has been introduced in 2001 by ZNKR (Zen Nihon Kendō Renmei or All Japan Kendo Federation). The reason was to come up with a more modern and useful introduction to Kendo than the criticized Nihon Kendo Kata. In fact, it has a rather practical approach to the major techniques used in modern Kendo competitions. In my opinion, it makes more sense to master Bokutō ni yoru Kendo Kihon Keiko Ho (despite its fastidious name) before attacking Nihon Kendo Kata.

Here is a detailed instruction (in french): Kihon_ZNKR

Here is the official Video (Japanese Language) Please try and repeat the speaker’s anouncements 🙂 Although it is in Japanese, the videos are detailed enough that you can easily guess the meaning. The three main benefits mentioned in the beging of this video are:

  • 1. To have kendo practitioners understand the concept of a Japanese sword (nihontō)
  • 2. To have kendo practitioners learn kendo basic movements by bokutō and make it possible to learn more advanced techniques.
  • 3. To make it easier to shift to Nihon Kendo Kata.

I have also found this beautiful version of two Japanese female Senseis. I really like how they pass on the feeling, rhythm and tension as needed in a successful kata demonstration.