Kendo as Character Building

(Note this is a guest post from Joe Pielech)

Kondo-sensei (Hachidan, Kyoshi) is one of Aichi Prefecture’s most well-repected kenshi.  He often discusses kendo in terms of character building and its benefits to modern society.  In this brief post, I have attempted to covey some of his feelings on these topics.



近藤勁助 剣道教士八段
財団法人 全日本剣道道場連盟理事

KONDO Katsuyuki, Sensei (Hachidan, Kyoshi)

Kendo is the first step in learning how understand your opponent’s intentions. By considering an opponent’s mind, our own mind will also be natured. Bushido is monono (もののあわれ), which is one of Japan’s most significant values. Monono means awareness, compassion, feeling. It can be said mujo (impermanence), which conveys the idea that all the things are transient, also includes the feelings of compassion, sensitivity, furyu (the fleeting beauty that combines compassion with humanism which can only be experienced in the present moment/shonen 正念), and elegance.

Originally a Buddhist expression, shogyo mujo means everything is ephemeral, nothing remains unchanged, and here it can be said that Bushido meets Christianity’s spirit of love. So, is a sense, Bushido has reached common ground with Christianity because both are concerned with compassion and concern for the other’s mind and in so doing, we can improve ourselves and grow as human beings.

When we meet people, we greet them; when we are taught, we thank our teachers. As human beings it is necessary for us to consider others. Through the serious study of kendo we can improve our manners, attitude and consideration of our fellow human beings in addition to building a strong, considerate character.

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