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Pathfinders are intended to help you get started doing research on a particular topic, both online and at your local library. 

This Pathfinder is for anyone looking to learn about Kendo... or anyone who is simply curious as to what this is. 

What is Kendo: A Pathfinder

for Beginners

















This is my tare from my old dojo in Venice, California. It has my last

name in Japanese and in English.



Have you ever wondered what it was like to be a Samurai or if there is a form of martial arts to learn Samurai skills? Samurai may no longer be around, but you can learn about “the way of the sword,” also known as kendo, that is passed down from the Samurai of old. Kendo is now different in practice from what the Samurai learned, as it is an art, a cultural tradition and history, and a philosophy from Confucianism and Buddhism.


This pathfinder is designed to introduce the novice to kendo – the Japanese art of sword fighting. The resources listed here form a well-rounded introduction to kendo’s history, philosophy, vocabulary, organizations, and teachings.



Browsing information

To find books on Kendo on the shelves of the local library, search the following Library of Congress Call Numbers or Dewey Decimal Classification:

Library of Congress Call Numbers

GV1102, Sports - Martial Arts

GV1102.7, Sports - Special Topics

GV1141, Sports - Stick fighting

GV1141.3, Kendo

GV 1142, General Works.


Dewey Decimal Classification

796.8 – combat sports

796.86 – Fencing

796.86092 – Fencers


These are terms that can be used as subject headings in the search for information on Kendo for and the Library of Congress:

  • Confucianism

  • Japan – Emigration and Immigration – History

  • Kendo

  • Kendo – Juvenile Literature

  • Martial Arts

  • Martial Arts – Anthropological aspect

  • Martial Arts – Encyclopedias

  • Martial Arts – History

  • Martial Arts – United States

  • Sports & Recreation

  • Sports & Recreation – Martial Arts

  • Zen Buddhism



Reference works


Green, T. A., & Svinth, J. R. Martial arts of the world: An encyclopedia of history and innovation. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 2010.

      GV1101 .M29 2010

This book is a comprehensive 2-volume set focusing on all martial arts disciplines and history. It goes as far back and includes such forms of fighting as that of the Roman Gladiators and Shaolin monk, also including modern forms of fighting such as boxing.


Louis-Frédéric, Dictionnaire des arts martiaux. English A dictionary of the martial arts. translated and edited by Paul Crompton.

Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2006.

     GV1101 .L6813 2006

This book is a translation of a French reference dictionary on martial arts such as jiu-jitsu, kung-fu, and (especially) kendo. It explains the rules of each, is alphabetically organized with cross-references, covers the technical aspects, and gives the history of each. The first volume covers the history geographically, with the second volume focusing on religion, philosophy, and other topics in relation to martial arts.


Momii, I., & Okuizumi, E. Hokubei kendō taikan =: Cyclopedia of the Japanese kendo societies in North America, pre-1939. Tokyō:

Bunsei Shoin, 2001.

      GV1142 .M66 2001

This is a listing of kendo organizations, dojos, and clubs in North America before 1939. Many of these were Japanese communities practicing kendo as a tradition before the internment camps during WWII prohibited the practice under penalty of punishment. There is some information on each organization that was known.


Steinke, Aden. (2007). Japanese Sword Bibliography. Retrieved from:

As many of the books on kendo have been in Japanese, Adam Steinke decided to set up an online bibliography of the books that have been printed (or translated into) in English. It’s a good, comprehensive list with a few titles that my sensei passed down to me, which is how I’m gauging how authoritative this bibliography is.


Strawn, Kenneth.  Kendo Training. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2006.

       861546905 (OCLC number)

This book is a step-by-step reference guide to set up a kendo club. It is especially great for anyone that would like to start a dojo in a city or region without one, but also works for anyone looking to find information and “how-to”s on kendo practice. It also lists guides to scheduling a practice, entering competitions, and other information pertinent to any dojo complying with the AUSKF (All United States Kendo Federation – see section on Organizations).



Sources from the collection (stacks)


Kammer, Reinhard. English The way of the sword : the Tengu-geijutsu-ron of Chozan Shissai ; edited and annotated by Reinhard

Kammer; translated into English by Betty J. Fitzgerald. London ; Boston : ARKANA, 1986, c1978.

     GV1142 .K3513 1986

This is a translation of a text from 1729 focuses on the spiritual side of sword fighting. This advanced book on Confucianism vs. Buddhism in the art of sword play also goes over sword techniques that allow one to become one with the world through perfecting the way of the sword.


Kammer, Reinhard, English Zen and Confucius in the art of swordsmanship : The Tengu-geijutsu-ron of Chozan Shissai; Reinhard

Kammer; edited and annotated by Reinhard Kammer; translated into English by Betty J. Fitzgerald. London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1978.

     GV1142 .K3513 1978

This is a translation of a text from 1729 on Japanese culture and sword fighting. This book is an advanced book in the understanding of the history and philosophy behind the martial art. This would be a good companion book to the previous title.


Salmon, Geoff. Kendo : a comprehensive guide to Japanese swordsmanship. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing, 2013.

     GV1142 .S25 2013

For more of a beginners understanding of Kendo philosophy and history, a Non-Japanese author who has studied both in and out of Japan writes about kendo in all its aspects. I wouldn’t say it’s exactly a beginner’s book, but it is easier for a novice to comprehend.  The book also discusses technique and principles.


Ellis, C., Mavrikis, P., Bisson, M., Hamparian, A., Branch, K., & Hamlin, J. Kendo. New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2011.

      GV1142 .C65 2002

This is a very easy book to read; it’s actually written for kids and so it puts the concept of kendo into easy-to-understand language. This gives a basic overview or practice, equipment and terminology. There is a very brief touch of history as an introduction/what is kendo, but nothing more than that. Great for those who know nothing of the subject and are looking to find out more, but not extensively.


Collins, Paul. Kendo. Broomall, PA : Chelsea House Publishers, 2002.         

     GV1142 .C65 2002

Part of a series of 8 books that introduces children to martial arts, this book focuses on the practice of Kendo in easy-to-read language. The book goes over etiquette, terminology, choosing a dojo, and uniform and bogu (armor). It may not be completely comprehensive, but it’s still perfect for beginners, both child and adult.



E-sources, such as ebooks


Honda, Sotaro. (2012) Kendo – Approaches for All Levels.  Retrieved from

This is a book that can be used by anyone – not so difficult in the overview of kendo that a beginner cannot use it, but not so easy that an experienced kendoka can use it to brush up on technique or learn more about philosophy and history.


Maliszewski, M. (2005). Martial Arts: An Overview. Encyclopedia of Religion (2nd ed., Vol. 8, pp. 5730-5733). Retrieved from

This is an article in the Encyclopedia of Religion that discusses martial arts in relation to it. It covers many forms from different countries/lands. The martial arts in Japan are covered in the overall term as well as the history of it that came from the warriors, or Samurai.




America: History & Life: This database contains literature covering the time periods of prehistory to today of US history and culture, as well as that of Canada. It has access to about 1,700 journals from 1910 to the present.

Best terms to use:

*WORLD War, 1939-1945
*PHYSICAL education
*MILITARY occupation



Anthropology Plus: This database is a compilation of the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Anthropological Index and Harvard University's Anthropological Literature databases. It covers the subjects anthropology, archaeology, and other related subjects from the early 19th century to the present.

Best terms to use:

* Militarism -- Japan

*Martial arts -- Japan

*Violence -- Cultural aspects



*Manners and customs -- United States



History Abstracts: This database covers the history of the world from 1450 to the present. It excludes the US and Canada in its database of history.

Best terms to use:

* HYSICAL education

*MILITARY occupation



*CULTURAL identity



SPORTDiscus: This database covers of sport, fitness and the like. It is quite comprehensive and has articles that date back to 1800 from around the world.

NOTE: I was able to find several articles via this database. It contained the most articles and books of all the databases I tried, save for the books found on OCLC’s WorldCat.

Best terms to use:


*MARTIAL arts instruction

*EAST Asian martial arts






Three of the very few available journals in English. Most journals about or involving kendo are in Japanese.


Electronic Journals of Martial Arts
(Date accessed: October 13, 2014)

This site compiles links to online journals. From what I could tell, there are only two links, Physical Training: Fitness for Combatives and The Iaido Journal, that are current. The other sites listed are not. There are, however, some old interesting articles on different martial arts topics in the other journals listed, which makes it a good archive. Also, there is two other sites listed that are not journals but are current - Unka Kim's Bloggy Thingie and rather oddly a link to 180 Magazine, an online phtography magazine.


Journal of Asian Martial Arts
(Date accessed: October13, 2014)

This is a quarterly magazine that focused on all Asian Martial Arts. The site lists the type of Martial Arts by region, then by form of Martial Arts. One can order articles via this site for $2.40/article using their PayPal site. The site also sells books and eBooks on the various Martial Arts.


Kendo World: Crossing Swords and Borders
(Date accessed: October 8, 2014)

This is monthly magazine that compiles news and articles from other sources around the world. This is one of the first English magazines, which is a big deal as there are only a handful of journals in English. Usually, kendo is covered in a fitness magazine, or from time to time a major newspaper, like the New York Times. The site is a great companion to the magazine and offers some of the same features, plus videos.



Free web resources

(Date accessed: October 8, 2014)

This site is a great site to start with on everything kendo! It has a good overview of the history, starting with the earliest known history from about 400 C.E. It also gives a good beginner overview on philosophy and concept, mental and physical benefits, training, how competition works, information on Japan and its culture, and other links to kendo sites. This site is a great go-to site and does a superb job of gathering a well-rounded guide to information on kendo.


(Date accessed: October 9, 2014)

This is a detailed online guide to all things kendo. It is free and run by Indian kendoka, but anyone can use it and there is very little – but still some information – on kendo dojos in Indiana. One can subscribe to the newsletter for free to receive the newsletter via email, although the archive link allows you to peruse back issues. Subscribers can access the section that contains proprietary kendo videos and instruction. This site goes over all kendo basics – learning kendo, etiquette, terminology, the equipment, and the philosophy, plus lots more.  This is another great go-to site for beginners.


Kendo America
(Date accessed: October 8, 2014)

Here you can find information and links on kendo, focusing primarily on kendo as practiced in the United States. There is not an extensive amount of information on kendo, but it’s a good site if one is only looking to see what kendo is about. The site gives just enough information that one gets the idea of what kendo is and how it works, that if you wanted to know more, you could follow the links and research some of the other sites. It’s an introduction that will whet the appetite if intrigued by the information there. Primarily, though, it will be a good place to understand kendo as practiced here and any links that anyone in the United States can use to find dojos and organizations.


Wikipedia –Kendo
(Date accessed: October 8, 2014)

What can I say? It’s a Wikipedia page, which means that sources and information should be checked. However, the wiki page gives a good idea of what kendo is, its history, some terms, and how it’s practiced.




The following is a list of organizations that also contain excellent introductions to kendo, its movements, its history, and other useful information like vocabulary:


All United States Kendo Federation (AUSKF)
(Date accessed: October 8, 2014)

A “non-profit umbrella organization” for all regional organizations. AUSKF represents the United States in the International Kendo Federation (IKF), is responsible for organizing national tournaments, trains the U.S. team, is in charge of and organizes all promotion exams for the Kendo practitioners (kendoka), and supports regional organizations in promoting kendo. Here one can find news and events, information on Iaido (Kendo as an art form – no sparring, all movements), federation and dojo links, information on fees and forms for Kendo programs, and other miscellaneous links and information on Kendo.


University of Kentucky Kendo-bu Club
(Date accessed: October 10, 2014)

For anyone at UK who is interested in Kendo, one can fid information here on pratice, who to contact, how to join, and who the club is open to. The site also lists its members, pictures, a brief overview on Kendo, and other links to videos, Kendo equipment suppliers, and informational kendo links.


Venice Kendo Dojo (Venice, CA Japanese Community Center)
(Date accessed: October 10, 2014) and

This is included in here mostly because it is where I learned Kendo. I chose the Venice Dojo because of the Japanese Community Center ( where we practiced. One could not be helped but be immersed in how and why Kendo was practiced in the Japanese as well as other Japanese culture like philosophy, other martial arts, and – my favorite – the food. Talking to the old Sensei’s was particularly interesting because they would sometimes talk about the Japanese internment camps where they had to go during WWII and the importance of practicing Kendo as it wasn’t allowed.

East Central U.S. Kendo Federation
(Date accessed: October 8, 2014)

This organization oversees all Kendo Dojos in Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The ECUSKF lists regional news on exams, practices, tournaments, and other activities for the region’s dojos. There is some information on Kendo and links to other organizations related to the US and the All Japan Kendo Federation (Japanese or English). The archives include tournament results and other news of what happened in a particular month and year in the region. One of many US regional organizations; for particular regional information, one may find one’s regional organization at






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