Kendo History

This page attempts to organise well over a decade of kenshi 24/7 historical articles in broad themes to make them more easier to access for the discerning reader. Sections are divided in to: Historical Timeline, Kendo People, Kendo Places, Kendo Events, and Kendo Books.

I have also hand picked some of my favourite/useful/popular articles (when not historical per se, they have been informed through close study in kendo history) and appended them on the end as: Kendo study topics and theory and Listicles.

(Updated May 2021)

Historical Timeline

—– Meiji (1868-1912) —–

The Meiji period (明治時代 Meiji-jidai), or Meiji era, was a Japanese era which extended from October 23, 1868, to July 30, 1912. This period represents the first half of the Empire of Japan, during which Japanese society moved from being an isolated feudal society to a Westernised form. Fundamental changes affected its social structure, internal politics, economy, military and foreign relations. [wikipedia]


- Gekken Kyogen
- The argument for the revival of gekken
- Busen and Koshi

—– Taisho (1912-1926) —–

The Taishō period (大正時代 Taishō jidai), or Taishō era, is a period in the history of Japan dating from 30 July 1912, to 25 December 1926, coinciding with the reign of the Emperor Taishō. The new emperor was a sickly man, which prompted the shift in political power from the old oligarchic group of elder statesmen (or genrō) to the Imperial Diet of Japan and the democratic parties. Thus, the era is considered the time of the liberal movement known as the “Taishō democracy” in Japan; it is usually distinguished from the preceding chaotic Meiji period and the following militaristic-driven first part of the Shōwa period. [wikipedia]


- Kendo no kata creators
- Busen and Koshi
- Kendo Kyohon (Takano)
- Kendo Gokui (Hotta)

—– Showa (1926-1989) ——

The Shōwa period (Japanese: 昭和時代, Hepburn: Shōwa jidai, potentially “period of enlightened peace/harmony” or “period of radiant Japan”), or Shōwa era, refers to the period of Japanese history corresponding to the reign of the Shōwa Emperor, Hirohito, from December 25, 1926 until his death on January 7, 1989.

The Shōwa period was longer than the reign of any previous Japanese emperor. During the pre-1945 period, Japan moved into political totalitarianism, ultranationalism and fascism culminating in Japan’s invasion of China in 1937. This was part of an overall global period of social upheavals and conflicts such as the Great Depression and the Second World War.

Defeat in the Second World War brought about radical change to Japan. For the first and only time in its history, Japan was occupied by foreign powers; this occupation lasted seven years. Allied occupation brought forth sweeping democratic reforms. It led to the end of the emperor’s status as a living god and the transformation of Japan into a democracy with a constitutional monarch. In 1952, with the Treaty of San Francisco, Japan became a sovereign nation once more. The post-war Shōwa period also led to the Japanese economic miracle. [wikipedia]


- Showa Tenran Jiai: 1929, 1934, 1940
- Shinai-kyogi
- Teikoku Kendo Kyohon (Ogawa, revised ‘37)*
- Kendo Kyohan (Hotta)
- Kendo: a detailed explanation of its essence and teaching methodology (Tanida)
- Kendo Shinan (Ozawa)
- Kendo Tokuhon (Noma)*
- Kokoku Kendoshi (Ozawa)
- Zusetsu kendo jiten (Nakano, Mochida)

—– Heisei (1989-2019) —–

The Heisei period (Japanese: 平成時代 Hepburn: Heisei jidai) is the current era in Japan. The Heisei period started on 8 January 1989, the day after the death of the Emperor Hirohito, when his son, Akihito, acceded to the throne as the 125th Emperor. In accordance with Japanese customs, Hirohito was posthumously renamed “Emperor Shōwa” on 31 January 1989. [wikipedia]


- Kyoto Taikai: 20142015, 2016, 2017, 2018
- World Kendo Championships: 2015
- Edinburgh Kendo Seminar (2009-2019)
- Kendo Coaching Tips and Drills (McCall)*

—- Reiwa (2019〜) —-

The Reiwa period (Japanese: 令和) is the current era of Japan. It began on 1 May 2019, the day on which Emperor Akihito’s elder son, Naruhito, ascended the throne as the 126th Emperor of Japan. [wikipedia]

- Kyoto Taikai: 2019, 2020 
- All Japan Kendo Championships: 2019

Kendo People

* All Five kendo judan
* Every kendo kyudan

– name (notable dojo or organisation / style / born-died)

- Momoi Junzo (Shigakukan, Kobusho / Kyoshin meichi-ryu / 1825-1885)
- Takayama Minezaburo (Jikishinkage-ryu / 1835-1899)
- Koteda Sukesada (Shingyoto-ryu, Muto-ryu / 1840-1899)
- Okumura Sakonta (Jikishinkage-ryu / Okumura Nito-ryu / 1842-1902)
- Naito Takaharu (Tobukan, Keishicho, Busen / 1862-1929)
- Takano Sasaburo (Keishicho, Koshi / Ono-ha Itto-ryu / 1862-1950)
- Monna Tadashi (Tobukan, Busen)
- Saimura Goro (Busen, Kokushikan)
- Oshima Jikita (Busen)
- Nakano Sosuke (Busen)
- Mochida Seiji (Busen / Noma dojo)
- Ogawa Kinnosuke (Busen)
- Nakayama Hakudo (Yushikan / Shinto munen-ryu)
- Noma Hisashi (Noma dojo)
- Fujimoto Kaoru
- Hotta Sutejiro
- Ozawa Aijiro
- Takano Hiromasa (Shidogakuin / Nakanishi-ha Itto-ryu)
- Takizawa Kozo (Shidogakuin, Saineikan / Nakanishi-ha Itto-ryu)
- Ogawa Chutaro (Shidogakuin, Kokushikan, Keishicho, Noma dojo / Ono-ha Itto-ryu) 
- Gordon Warner
- Asagawa Haruo
- Ikeda Yuji (Busen)
- Furuya Fukunosuke (Busen)

View more by looking at the kenshi tag.

* Note that style is only mentioned here if the kenshi was a notable practitioner. 

Kendo Places

- Kashima / Katori jingu
- Reigando
- Yagyu no sato
- Shubukan (1786, rebuilt in the 60s)
- Kodokan (1841)
- Tobukan (1874, relocated 2017)
- Saineikan (1883, rebuilt 1933)
- Bujutsu Kyoin Yoseijo / Budo Senmon Gakko (aka Busen, 1906-1945)
- Tokyo Shihan Koto Gakko (aka Koshi, 1908~1949)
- Noma (1925, dismantled and a completely re-built in 2007)
- Okazaki aka "The Butokuden" (1899)
- Nara (1903, dismantled 2017)
- Wakayama (1905)
- Kyoto (1914, moved and re-purposed 2015)
- Shiga (1937, currently scheduled for dismantling)
- Branch butokuden of the Dai Nippon Butokukai (circa 1925)

View more by looking at the dojo tag. 

Kendo Events

- Showa Tenran Jiai: 1929, 1934, 1940
- Kyoto Taikai: 20142015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
- World Kendo Championships: 2015
- All Japan Kendo Championships: 2019
- Edinburgh Kendo Seminar (2009-2019)

Kendo Books

- 1879 Gekken Saikoron (Kawaji)
- 1915 Kendo Kyohon (Takano)
- 1919 Kendo Gokui (Hotta)
- 1932 Teikoku Kendo Kyohon (Ogawa, revised ‘37)*
- 1934 Kendo Kyohan (Hotta)
- 1935 Kendo: a detailed explanation of its essence and teaching methodology (Tanida)
- 1938 Kendo Shinan (Ozawa)
- 1939 Kendo Tokuhon (Noma)*
- 1944 Kokoku Kendoshi (Ozawa)
- 1970 Zusetsu kendo jiten (Nakano, Mochida)
- 2012 Kendo Coaching Tips and Drills (McCall)*

View more by looking at the books tag. 

Kendo study topics and theory (random)

- One hundred keiko
- Step in, reflect
- Sankaku-ku
- Suburi
- Re-imagining shiai
- Engendering positive kendo
- Zanshin confusion, sutemi, and hikiage
- Conceptual kendo shield
- Shugyo
- Teaching beginners
- Nito-ryu
- Improving tsuki waza
- Tenouchi (one, two, three)
- The mystery of the black hand
- Duty of care
- One should always be ready for snakes and demons
- Doing kendo in Japan (cheat sheet)
- Kendo mode
- Ichiban yari
- Quality of assessment
- The difficult years
- Aggression, violence, and catharsis
- Motodachi
- Shinsa - things to think about
- Seme: one, two, three and four, five
- Naming guidelines


- 27 teachings from past masters
- 45 points to consider during kendo practise
- Quality kenshi
- 18 ways to improve your kendo
- Takano Hiromasa’s keys to improvement in kendo
- Victory and defeat: 15 points
- Takano Shigeyoshi’s 50 pointers for kendo keiko
- Ishihara Tadami hanshi’s important points for keiko
- Small things