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Kendo is a martial art of sword fencing. "Ken" means "sword" and "Do" means "a way of life-long training". It is not just a way of physical training but mental training is a major goal in practicing Kendo.


Sword fencing, along with horse riding and archery, played a major role in Japanese battles until the middle of 16th century. Therefore, training of swordsmanship was very important for Japanese warriors; however, since it is too dangerous to use a real sword for the training, wooden swords were used instead. Because of the introduction of rifles into Japanese battles at the middle of the 16th century and arrival of relatively peaceful era at the beginning of the 17th century, practicing sword fencing became less important in terms of preparing for a battle. However, people continued practicing Japanese fencing for physical and mental training. That's the origin of Kendo. But, at that time, it was not organized and different groups had different ways of training. We had to wait until 1920 for the official establishment of Kendo as a Japanese martial art. At present, around 8 million people world-wide practice kendo with approximately 7 million of them in Japan.

Training suits and armor

Jacket (Dogi), Skirt (Hakama), Head gear (Men), Gloves, gauntlets (Kote), Abdomen protector (Do) and Waist protector (Tare).

Bamboo sword

The Shinai is made of four bamboo slats held together by two pieces of leather, and a string (tsuru).


A match is played between two competitors and the one who gets two points first wins the match. To get a point you need to to strike targets on the opponent. There are basically four specified targets. The first one is Men (head), and second one is the arm where it is covered with Kote. The third target is Do and the last one is the throat, called Tsuki. There are other important criteria for getting points. First, the top third of the shinai should make contact with one of the targets. Second, you need to vocalize where you are going to strike. And the last criterion is that, after you strike, you need to show a posture indicating you are ready to continue the fight.

Meeting times / locations

The schedule for class meeting times and locations can be viewed here: Schedule.

A beginner's credit class is offered to UT students during the fall and spring semesters. You must be a student enrolled in classes at UT to register for the class.


No equipment is needed for beginners since we have extra bamboo swords and so forth. Just wear a regular training suit and come visit the class!
The instructors are not paid for their time, however, club dues are collected to provide for such items as mat covers and travel expenses. Dues are $45 per semester (Fall, Spring, and Summer) and are due at the beginning of each semester. Payment of dues entitles you to participate in all other classes at no additional charge.

To participate in the club or the class, players will also be required to purchase a gi (the standard jujitsu uniform). Cost varies depending on the size and style of the gi you choose to purchase.

Guests are welcome to attend two classes before paying dues and purchasing a gi.

Some videos of Knoxville Kendo-kas

Shige Eda:

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