Kendo, known as the “way of the sword”, is a thrilling and ancient Japanese style of fencing that involves wielding a two-handed bamboo sword. Originally developed from the techniques of the fierce samurai warriors, the art of swordsmanship became a way of fostering discipline, patience, and skill for building character as opportunities for real sword combat dwindled after the unification of Japan in the 1600s. By the 18th century, practitioners had invented protective armour and the shinai, a bamboo sword, which enabled them to engage in realistic sword-fighting without fear of injury. In a kendo match, participants grip the shinai with both hands and aim to land blows on specific scoring areas of their opponent's body, such as the head, wrist, and trunk. A thrust to the throat also counts as a point. The attacker must call out the name of the point they have struck at the same time they land their blow, which is verified by judges. The first combatant to score two points is declared the winner, making kendo a fast-paced and thrilling martial art to watch and practise. In terms of numbers, kendo is the most popular budo discipline in Japan, and is gaining a large following internationally.

Kendan – Conversations on Kendo and Life with Yamanouchi Tomio-sensei

Ozawa Hiroshishi

Translated by

 Matsuda Kazuyo 

Kendan” describes the lessons in kendo and life that were imparted to Kendo Kyoshi 8-dan Ozawa Hiroshi by his mentor, Kendo Hanshi 8-dan Yamanouchi Tomio.

Ozawa-sensei studied kendo under Yamanouchi-sensei while a student at Nippon Sports Science University, and also at the internationally famous Kodansha Noma Dojo. Then, in 1979 when Ozawa-sensei’s father became ill and could no longer teach him kendo, his father told him to study kendo under Yamanouchi-sensei. From that moment Ozawa-sensei practised kendo under the watchful guidance of Yamanouchi-sensei until he stopped practising at 85 years old. Ozawa-sensei remained his student until Yamanouchi-sensei passed away in 2005 at the age of 92.

Kendan contains Ozawa-sensei’s conversations with Yamanouchi-sensei over 13 years from 1980 to 1993. These conversations were largely had after training at Noma Dojo in the car on the way to the train station, and consisted of advice on different aspects of kendo. In addition to the technical side of kendo, many of the conversations were philosophical in nature and were about life as much as kendo. At times Yamanouchi-sensei would hand Ozawa-sensei long reports written on paper about different topics on kendo. Ozawa-sensei then collated this information and published Kendan on July 30, 1993, to celebrate Yamanouchi-sensei’s 80th birthday.

Now expertly translated by Matsuda Kazuyo in the UK, the knowledge and lessons on kendo and life found in Kendan are available in English.

This link is for, but it can be purchased from most Amazon stores in print and Kindle formats.


Preface 1

Chapter 1: Yamanouchi Hanshi’s Kendo Study

Chapter 2: Conversations with Yamanouchi Hanshi

Chapter 3: Seishin-kai Lectures


Appendix 1: Kendo Note

Appendix 2: Lecture Summary

Appendix 3: I Learned Everything About Life From Kendo

Translator’s Note

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