IAIDO.COM recommends the Japanese Martial Arts Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where intensive courses are offered in iaido, judo, and jujutsu (jujitsu). Kendo is practiced in a weekly workshop. See the Japanese Martial Arts Center site.

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Kendo means "the way of the sword."  Students protect themselves during practice with padded armor covering the head, upper body, and hands, and score points against each other by striking designated areas with a shinai (a practice sword of split bamboo).  Competition is fast-paced and exciting, but many hours of drilling are required before you can expect any success in sparring.  There is also a kata element to kendo, using metal practice swords, in which students study and practice forms that are very similar to iaido forms.

Kendo is the most popular type of swordsmanship in Japan.  Junior high school students there can join kendo clubs at their schools, and many continue to practice for the rest of their lives.  The art is evolved from older swordsmanship styles, sometimes called kendo but usually referred to as kenjutsu ("sword art").  These earlier forms of the art were practiced with wooden swords or real blades, but as the sport evolved and the use of the point system developed during the eighteenth century, it became too dangerous to use any solid weapon and the shinai was created.

This art is ideal for anyone who desires a good aerobic workout.  Practice develops excellent muscle tone and improves mental focus.  Muscular strength is a minor factor in winning matches, so men and women can compete equally, making kendo a good martial art for anyone.  Factors that limit the appeal of kendo are the difficulty of finding good instruction outside of Japan and the discomfort of the body armor.  Another consideration is that there are no direct self-defense applications for kendo movements, so if your primary purpose in studying martial arts is self-defense, it would be better to choose another art.

- from BUDO MIND AND BODY, by Nicklaus Suino.

BATTOJUTSU refers to some of the other Japanese arts that involve drawing the sword. One notable difference in the schools that call themselves Battojutsu rather than Iaido or Iaijutsu is that they typically place more emphasis on cutting with the sword after it is drawn. Iaido tends to focus on a quick draw that may also be used to cut the opponent, whereas Battojutsu is more likely to involve several cuts after the draw is complete. Some iaido schools frown on actual practice cutting, while Battojutsu schools often engage in cutting practice (called tameshigiri).

YUKO DATOTSU is an effective strike or cut in kendo. The strike must be accurate and intentional, and must contact a scoring spot on the opponent’s gear with the correct portion of the shinai. Yuko Datotsu includes five aspects:

  1. 1.Kamaeru (Posture): you must be prepared to attack or defend, and maintain kamaeru as you strike and follow through.

  2. 2.Semeru (Control the Center): you must apply attacking pressure and break through your opponent’s kamae.

  3. 3.Toraeru (Opportunity): you must recognize the opportunity to strike after semeru.

  4. 4.Utsu (Datotsu): You must make an effective cut or strike to the correct part of the bogu with the monochi portion of the shinai.

  5. 5.Zanshin (Abiding Mind): You must maintain your ready spirit after striking and return to a fighting posture, prepared to cut again.

Other details of Yuko Datotsu:

  1. 1.Datotsu-bu - use the correct part of the shinai - the monouchi (between the tip and the nakayui).

  2. 2.Datotsu-bui - strike one of the scoring portions of your opponent's bogu.

  3. 3.Hasuji - strike with the side of the shinai opposite the string.

  4. 4.Ki - maintain fighting spirit (kiai) and good posture throughout the attack.

  5. 5.Ki-ken-tai-no-ichi – strive to make spirit, sword, and body one.