The philosophy of kendō is what makes it a martial "art".  Kendō is more than hitting each other with sticks.  We aim to spar without fear, anger, frustration, or pride.  Learning is more important than winning, and behaving correctly is more important even than learning.  Kendō makes us better people.


Bushidō (literally "the way of the warrior") is the code of conduct of the Samurai.


The Book of the Five Rings is a letter written around 1645 by Miyamoto Mushashi, the most famous Japanese swordsman, detailing the techniques and philosophy of his style for his students.


The Unfettered Mind is a series of letters written around the same time by Takuan Sōhō, a Zen Buddhist monk and philosophical advisor to high-level samurai (including Mushashi), describing the correct state of mind needed for swordsmanship.


Hagakure is the best-known commentary on Bushido written in the early 1700s by Yamamoto Tsunetomo.  Tsunetomo addresses what it means to be a Samurai during times of peace.  Tsunetomo is regarded as a bit of a fanatic; he criticized the 47 ronin because they waited a year to avenge their lord.  He thought they should have attacked immediately, even if it meant certain failure.


Bushidō is was written in 1899 by Inazō Nitobe, an economist, educator, and diplomat who was born into a samurai family at the time when Japan was opening up to the West.


Torī Mototada's last statement was a letter written to his son before his death.  It is probably the most famous samurai death letter, and a great example of Bushidō in action, especially the virtues of honor and loyalty.


Reiho (from the characters for "gratitude" and "rules") is the etiquette of kendo, the way we show respect and appreciation to the art, to our teachers, and to our training partners.  We are thankful to the Memphis Kendo Club for this very clear guide.


A tiny introduction to the Japanese language: Japanese is written with Chinese characters ("Kanji") and Hiragana.  For foreign words and names, the Japanese use Katakana .

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