Kendo – the way of the sword


Kendo is a martial art, although some would say more art than martial. Prohibited after the war in Japan due to its militaristic overtones and samurai origins, kendo is today a formalised discipline combining rigour, creativity, ritual and self-realization. One can make certain comparisons with European fencing.

The mental attitude, the thrusts, reaction times are all comparable. There is the same ideal moment for attack; the moment when one feels the opponent decide to attack, the same moment for the counter-attack; let the other engage himself before going in. However, in many ways they differ. One finds in kendo a deep respect for the equipment used, a kind of communion with the sword. One would never see, as in fencing, a kendoka throw his shinai in the air.

Kendo is a paradox. Very conservative in its rules but very liberal in its execution, its creativity. The ‘ippon’ or strike is strictly defined. The targets for the strikes are always the same – head, throat, forearm and torso. Movement is always accompanied by a ‘kiai’ or shout. However, when the combat begins, anything is possible, nothing is really defined – feinting, retreating, advancing, trapping, re-inventing.


The founding Fathers of Shobukai Kendo Club of Luxembourg in 1992: Robi HEIDERSCHEID (front row 1st from left), André CLERBAUT the first president of the club (front row 2nd from left), Dominique GERARD (front row 1st from right), and Norbert HANCK (back row 1st from right).


Photo from 1992, from left to right: Norbert HANCK, Oilvier KEISER, Dominique GERARD.