kendo kenshi

Kendo ideology

In the last article I briefly touched on The Concept of Kendo and The Purpose of Practicing Kendo as published by the All Japan Kendo Federation (ZNKR) in 1975. In the piece I referred to Ogawa Chutaro as the principal architect behind both. Now, this is my inference based on the kind of person he seemed to have been and what I have read here and there, rather than anything that I have explicitly heard. Still, with the information I have at the moment, he seems like the man. 

Just to clear up my thoughts, and because I was asked a couple of questions about the article, I decided to do introduce the other members of the committee as well and, at the same time, see if I can dig up a bit of background. 

As you know (if you are a long-time reader of kenshi 24/7 and my books), after the war the Butokukai was disbanded and members purged from all manner of government posts. A new democratic kendo-like sport called Shinai Kyogi was created in 1950, after which the ZNKR was established in 1952 which quickly subsumed the former. From this time, the ZNKR’s aim was simply the promotion and popularisation of kendo itself as well as a vehicle for building friendships and communication between practitioners.

It is important to note that post war, GHQ explicitly stated that “spiritual education” (including nationalism) be removed from schools, singling kendo out as an activity that was particularly bad for this (the Butokukai had become increasingly nationalistic in the 30s, and was taken over totally by the ministry of war in 1942 – for a time kendo was a propaganda tool). Also, I haven’t discussed the original spiritual goal of the Butokukai either.

Eventually however, in 1965, the ZNKR did in fact (re-)use the term “kendo spirit” when attempting to re-define itself slightly:


“(the ZNKR exists to) promote and popularise kendo, to strengthen the body and cultivate the spirit of citizens and, at the same time, to  create friendship and harmony between practitioners and member organisations.”

In 1971 a committee of 11 senior ZNKR members was established to discuss the matter of the diluting of the “ken” (sword) element of kendo and the future of the organisation . It took four years, multiple meetings and debates before a new ideal of kendo was decided upon. The Concept of Kendo and The Purpose of Practicing Kendo were published on the 20th March 1975.

The fact that I was exactly six weeks old at this point suggests how modern kendo thinking actually is.

The committee 

The following section introduced the people who were on the committee. When I can, I will add a bio and a pic of each person. 



Began kendo at Shubukan from the age of nine. When graduating university began to work at Nankai railways. Deeply involved in the university kendo scene as well as having roles in the ZNKR and Hyogo kendo association. 1965: hanshi. 1982: kyudan.

Committee members:


Studied kendo at (Saitama) Kobukan under Ozawa Aijiro and also Meishinkan (Takano Sasaburo). In Tokyo he went to Koshi and Shudogakuin, both under Takano. Joined keishicho and also practised at Kokushikan (both with Saimura Goro). 1959: hanshi. 1971: kyudan. (Also achieved hanshi hachidan in iaido.)

OGAWA CHUTARO (1901-1992)

I’ve written about Ogawa Chutaro in a few articles before, so please have a look around. Hanshi kyudan.


Scouted by Saimura Goro on a kendo trip to Kagoshima and joined Waseda (Takano Sasaburo was also there). Spend his life in business and was known as a good shinai craftsman. 1964: hanshi. 1982: kyudan. 

Bonus: this men at 1:58 from the 1930 Tenran-jiai has long enthralled me because it looks modern in comparison to others at that time. His opponent is Noma Hisashi. Note that he is known by his real name, Sannosuke, in this video:

NAKANO YASOJI (1911-1985)

Went to Koshi in 1929 and studied under Takano. Taught at school and university (Keio). Practiced at Noma where we learned from Mochida Moriji. After the war he worked at Tokyo University of Education (an extension of Koshi and the precursor to Tsukuba university) before moving to Nippon Sport Science University. Held too many positions to list. 1962: hanshi. 1978: kyudan.  


Heavily involved in the high school sports association as well as the affiliated kendo association. Professional educator and author. Hanshi hachidan.


The 5th chairman of the ZNKR, I couldn’t find any information about him at all. The top of the ZNKR is chosen (usually nowadays, but not always so in the past) not because of their kendo skill or knowledge, but who they are in society and what they can bring to the organisation (plus, they are always a Tokyo University graduate…). As such, I couldn’t find any information about him in the usual kendo channels. I suspect his presence in the committee was as an official, rather than a contributor.

INOUE MASATAKA (1907-2003)

Went to Koshi and studied under Takano. He became a teacher and held various positions in Fukuoka and Osaka. Was one of the head teachers at Osaka Shudokan and involved in the school kendo association. Prolific writer and held lots of positions. 1962: hachidan. 1966: hanshi.

OGAWA MASAYUKI (1908-1979)

Ogawa Kinnosuke sensei’s son. Busen graduate. Worked as a kendo teacher in the Kyoto prefectural police system. Took over his fathers dojo, Kodokan. My sempai’s teacher!


Went to Busen where he studied under Naito Takaharu, Ogawa Kinnosuke, and Miyazaki Mosaburo amongst others. Became a school teacher, but also taught police. 1965: hanshi. 1982: kyudan.


A senior management figure in the International Kendo Federation. I couldn’t find much about him in Japanese, only that he was involved in discussions about the internationalisation of kendo (and how difficult it would be for non-Japanese people to understand budo). The idea behind holding a yearly “Foreign leaders” kendo summer camp seems to have been his as well. I also accidentally found out that the Kasahara Cup, held in Switzerland every year, is in his honour (which is where I grabbed this picture from). His kendo background or grade I am unsure of (hachidan?). I suspect his role in the committee was to consider the international side of things.

The point of todays piece is simply to introduce the people involved in the committee that created the current stated purpose of kendo. Who had the most say, who decided what, etc., obviously needs more research. Also, it is remiss of me not to discuss the original Butokukai ideology and how it was warped in 1930’s Japan. That is too large a topic to discuss in a blog post though.

Anyway, I am extremely skeptical about the worth and effect of the resultant Concept/Reason itself, as I strongly stated in the last article. Knowing who the people involved were can, I hope, help us make a more informed judgement on the matter. Hopefully, also, it provides a nudge in the right direction of more research (by me or by others).

If anyone has more information on the people involved, please feel free to comment below. Cheers!


Header photo by Fabrizio Chiagano on Unsplash

By George

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2 replies on “Kendo ideology”

Thank you George,
Very interesting indeed. Was Kasahara possibly doing Nito? Thanks again!
Best regards
Krister Dahlström, Sweden

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