Kendo vs Fencing: Difference and Comparison

Key Takeaways

  1. Kendo, rooted in samurai traditions, is a modern Japanese martial art emphasizing discipline, focus and respect.
  2. Fencing, an Olympic sport, preserves the essence of historical swordsmanship while adapting it to a modern, competitive context.
  3. Kendo uses a bamboo sword called ‘shinai’ and protective armor known as ‘bagu’ while Fencing uses a foil, sabre, or epee and protective gear that includes a mask, jacket and glove.

What is Kendo?

Kendo, rooted in samurai traditions, is a modern Japanese martial art emphasising discipline, focus and respect. Centred on using the ‘shinai’ and protective armor, kendo practitioners engage in intense yet controlled duels. The objective extends beyond the physical strikes and is about refining the mind and character.

The practitioner of this dons protective gear, including the ‘bogu’(armor), which covers the head, hands and body. The shinai, a bamboo sword, simulates the katana, the iconic Japanese sword. Kendo encourages striking precise targets like the head, wrists and torso, emphasising form, speed and timing.

Its philosophy extends beyond the physical realm. It nurtures values like perseverance, self-discipline, and mental clarity. Practitioners develop humility by acknowledging that there’s always room for improvement.

What is Fencing?

Fencing, an Olympic sport, preserves the essence of historical swordsmanship while adapting it to a modern, competitive context. The sport involves fast-paced, strategic duels where athletes wield one of three weapons- foil, epee, or sabre. Fencing is a dynamic blend of physical agility, mental acuity, and tactical thinking.

Fencing’s appeal lies in its strategic depth. Fencers constantly analyze their opponent’s moves, adapting their tactics accordingly. Footwork, speed, and feints are crucial components. ‘Right-of-way’ rules govern who scores a point in situations of simultaneous hits, adding further complexity.

Beyond the sporting aspect, Fencing hones mental resilience, strategic thinking, and adaptability. Fencing upholds a code of etiquette that emphasizes sportsmanship and respect. Before the match, fencers salute each other and the referee as a sign of respect for their opponent and the game’s rules.

Difference Between Kendo and Fencing

  1. Kendo originated in Japan as a modern martial art inspired by traditional swordsmanship, while Fencing traces its origins to various European swordsmanship traditions, with distinct styles developed in different regions.
  2. Kendo uses a bamboo sword called ‘shinai’ and protective armor known as ‘bagu’ while Fencing uses a foil, sabre, or epee and protective gear that includes a mask, jacket and glove.
  3. In Kendo, points are scored by making valid strikes on specific target areas such as the head, wrist or torso, while in Fencing, points are awarded for touching proper target areas with the tip or edge of the weapon, depending on the weapon type.
  4. Kendo emphasizes fluid and precise footwork, with movements that involve sliding and pivoting, while Fencing focuses on quick, agile footwork and distinctive actions like lunges and advances.
  5. In Kendo, matches involve a series of pre-determined strikes and movements, focusing on proper form and timing, while in Fencing, games can vary based on weapon and rule set.

Comparison Between Kendo and Fencing

ParametersKendoFencing
OriginJapanVarious European swordsmanship traditions
Weapons and EquipmentA bamboo sword called ‘shinai’ and protective armor are known asA foil, sabre or epee and protective gear that includes a mask, jacket and glove
Scoring systemBy making valid strikes on specific target areasBy touching proper target areas with the tip or edge of the weapon
Footwork and movementFluid and precise, with activities that involve sliding and pivotingQuick and agile, with distinctive actions like lunges and advances
Competition FormatA series of pre-determined strikes and movements focusing on proper form and timingBased on the weapon and rule set
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Reference

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1572347X05800631
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00221473.1972.10617259

Last Updated : 28 January, 2024

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