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The following are just a few of the many Japanese terms used in a majority of kendo dojos today. From the second you or your child step into your first practice. Memorizing just a few of these terms will give you an idea of what kendo is all about, and possibly impress your Sensei as well! If there is a term used in kendo that you are unsure about and would like us to clarify, just ask! Send us an email at info@kendo-kids.com, or let us know on Facebook and we will respond and add your term to our list.


  • Kendo (剣道): The way of the sword. (Literally Ken: Sword, Do: Path)
  • Kenshi (剣士): A practitioner of kendo.
  • Dojo (道場): A training hall - specifically for martial arts.
  • Sensei (先生): A teacher.
  • Rei (礼): Etiquette or Respect - The most important part of kendo. Also referred to as Reiho or Reigi.
  • Kiai (気合): Spirit - Partially represented by ones scream.
  • HAI! (はい!): YES! One should always enthusiastically respond "Hai!" to their sensei or elders.


  • Keiko (稽古): Practice; Training
  • Shiai (試合): Tournament
  • Suburi (素振り): The practice of swinging a sword. There are many different kinds of Suburi that often differ depending on your dojo.
  • Ashi Sabaki (足捌き): Footwork
  • Kihon (基本): Basics
  • Kamae (構え): Your ready position. One should have a strong physical stance with their mind on their opponent.
  • Ippon (一本): A point scored in a kendo match. There are four possible points one can score:
    • Men (面): A clean strike to the opponent's head.
    • Kote (籠手): A clean strike to the opponent's wrist.
    • Do (胴): A cut to the opponent's stomach.
    • Tsuki (突): A thrust to your opponents throat. (This technique generally not used by children and lower ranked kenshi.)


  • Shinai (竹刀): A sword made up of four bamboo staves and leather. The shinai is used for striking armor.
  • Bokken (木剣): A wooden sword used to practice Kata (kendo techniques). Also referred to as a Bokuto.
  • Kendo-gi (剣道着): A woven cotton jacket used for kendo. Also referred to as a Gi or Keiko-gi
  • Hakama (袴): Traditional pleated trousers worn with the Kendo-gi.
  • Bogu (防具): Armor. Bogu used in kendo is made up of four parts:
    • Men (面): Helmet
    • Kote (籠手): Gloves
    • Do (胴): Armor for the Stomach
    • Tare (垂): Armor for the Upper Legs and Groin





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