British Pathé – kendo !

British Pathé have finally released their archive on youtube including some kendo videos for us enthusiasts to wonder at (they had been available on their own website and in lower quality for a few years now). The vids span the years from WW1 up until 1974 and are an extremely valuable source for those interested in the historical development of kendo.

The post-war vids in particular show just how ad-hoc kendo was in the UK during the ’60s and ’70s (or even – dare I say it – how made-up it all was). This is valuable in many respects, not in the least because Britain was one of the earliest European countries to adopt kendo. Of course, I’d love to compare these videos to kendo from other countries around the same time frame.

(Actually, did you know that the first ever kendo manual in English was published in 1964? The book was called “An Introduction to Kendo” and it was written by R.A. Lidstone, an early British kendo pioneer. He passed away in 1969 but must have been at least partly responsible for the teaching and dissemination of kendo to the people in these videos.)

Anyway, my favourite vid from the Pathé bunch is the 1932 “Big Hits” one… mainly because the gentlemen in the video looks like he is having a great time !!


“Interesting Wrestling” 1914-18 (Kendo aboard a navy ship during WW1)


“Big hits” 1932


“Japs On The Jump” 1932 (sorry, thats the original title)


“Judo and Kendo” 1936


“England Expects Every Man To Do His Judo” 1937 (kendo demonstration at the end)


“Biff!” 1937


“Kendo Beware” 1962


“Kendo Beware” 1966

“Kendo Beware” 1966 OUT TAKES (no sound)


“Karate Championships” 1969 (kendo starts at the 40 second mark)


“Kendo in London” 1974 (no sound, film reversed)

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George

I'm the founder and chief editor of kenshi247.net. Amongst other things I am a high school kendo club coach, an avid practitioner of classical swordsmanship, a history student, and a vegetarian.

13 thoughts on “British Pathé – kendo !”

  1. These are really nice videos. It is always interesting to see how kendo was done in earlier times and how it has evolved to that, what we are doing today.

    Is “Judo and Kendo” (1936) filmed in Germany? I believe they are doing the Nazi salute at the end.

    By the way, my personal favourite is the kakegoe practice in “Kendo Beware” (1966).

  2. Yup, one nazi salute right there. Might be shocking to look at for some but it helps put things into perspective. btw, it was filmed in London.

    The “kiai-geiko” bit is an example of just how these early kendo practitioners made elementary mistakes – this type of practise is sometimes used with very young children only, never adults. It’s good for a chuckle!

  3. Hey George,

    Thanks to a club mate I stumbled across CriticalPast (“Vintage stock footage and millions of stock photo images comprising one of the world’s largest royalty-free archival footage collections.”). And they have some Kendo footage, too:

    http://www.criticalpast.com/stock-footage-video/kendo
    http://www.criticalpast.com/stock-footage-video/japanese-martial-arts
    http://www.criticalpast.com/stock-footage-video/samurai

    In one they are doing kendo, jukendo and tankendo while skating on ice!

    And there are some pre, during and post war videos that try to explain the influence of martial arts, bushido, etc. on the japanese militarism (e. g. http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675054168_Japanese-culture_Japanese-soldiers_Bushido-codes_military-nobility)

    Bye, Stefan

  4. Hi Stefan,

    Cheers! I’ve seen a couple of the videos before, but not all of them. I’ll have a good look tonight when I get home.

    UPDATE: a couple of the clips i’d like to own but they are selling them at a criminal price!!!

  5. Lousy spell checker, I have a original correspondence from Seiji Noma, I have searched for those that might collect his autograph to no avail. If you know of any serious collector please email me @ mrwatchmaker@yahoo.com
    Thank you.

  6. Hey Nico.

    At the 59 second he is actually doing an Orishiki-dou technique… this is one where you go down on one knee and strike the opponents dou. This is pretty much unknown in the kendo community nowadays… pretty much…

    If you look around the kenshi 24/7 website you will find pictures of this waza.

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