Etiquette and Manners in Kendo

Whenever or wherever you train kendo, you should follow certain etiquette and manners.

sitting bow, zarei
Sitting Bow Called Zarei

In kendo, we have certain rules such as what to do or what not to do in a dojo rules such as what to do or what not to do in a dojo (training place).

What are these etiquette and manners (reigi-saho)? They are basically to “show respect“.

Do you remember that kendo is the way of the sword? We pursue the way. We may have to start from what the way is so that we are on the same page.

How do you show your respect in your culture?

In Japanese culture, we bow. We bow a lot actually. We surely bow to show our respect to others.

If you know a bit of Japanese culture, that is great. You know how to bow. But do you know that we have two different bows and that how much we lower our head differs?

You can apply your knowledge to kendo. If you don’t know anything about Japanese culture, don’t worry. Once you learn kendo reigi-saho, you can now apply them to Japanese culture as well.

Of course, there are very unique rules in kendo because it is derived from Samurai swordsmanship. These unique rules do not apply to the modern Japanese society any more.

The way we treat our sword is an example. We don’t carry a sword anymore in our daily life. But once you step into the dojo, we have rules about how to treat our swords.

Oh, I should tell you this too. Our dojo is not a mere training place. Dojo is a place where we pursue the way. So please understand what dojo is too. We even have who sits where in the dojo.

I try to explain history or philosophies behind reigi-saho, but there will be some things that I cannot explain. It is simply because that is the way it is.

These traditions, customs and rituals surely had (still have?) meanings but somewhere between now and then, we lost the meanings.

If you are not in Japan, these rules are very odd or even prohibited to perform. If so, please do not upset. We all have different cultures.

Kendo is still on the way to becoming truly internationalized. I am sure that one day we can come up with some solution for the problems you may have.


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