Syllabus - Stage 1

2021 Beginners' Course (Stage 1) Training Syllabus

The purpose of this page is to outline the syllabus for Darwin Kendo Club’s Seven Swords Training Programme, Stage 1: Beginners’ Course.

This syllabus is not intended to provide a comprehensive list of all lessons, concepts, techniques etc.; but rather, to provide members with a handy reminder / notes, particularly for Japanese terminologies.

This document is continually being developed, so please look forward for a more complete version later.

Download: Darwin Kendo Club - 2021 Beginners' Course (Stage 1) Syllabus v2.0.pdf  (1,238 KB)


Week 1

1. Housekeeping Stuff!

Darwin Kendo Club acknowledges the Larrakia people as the Traditional Owners of the Darwin region.
We pay our respects to the Larrakia elders past and present.

Kendō is considered a full-contact indoor sport, and all members must follow the guideline set by the Northern Territory Government.

We train at the Darwin Squash Centre, therefore we are obligated to follow all the rules of this venue. This includes complying with any COVID-19 safety requirements, such as checking-in using the Territory Check-In App or on paper.

Anytime you feel unwell or in pain, stop what you're doing for a bit, reassess, and decide whether to rejoin or stop. If you have any question, feel free to ask - but if it's going to be a long answer, please allow us to cover it after training.

Your instructors are: Bernard Yehuda (Kendo 4th Dan) and Audrey Looi (Kendo 4th Dan).

2. What is Kendo?

Kendō (剣道), meaning the way of the sword, originated in Japan and is based on a mixture of different sword styles and schools dating back hundreds of years. Kendo is a mix of traditional martial art and modern sport - providing an opportunity for character development and improvement through discipline and respect, as well as challenge players through friendly competitions at various levels across many divisions – as individuals or teams.

The concept of Kendō is to discipline the human character
through the application of the principles of the katana (sword).

Kendo senior practitioners wear protective gear (bōgu) designed after the traditional samurai armour, and use bamboo swords (shinai) to practice the strikes. Despite being a full-contact combat sport, techniques in Kendo are very controlled, with a large focus on proper form and elegance in the way we move our body. Kendo is a group sport that emphasises teamwork where members must learn to practise with each other.


Four target areas of Kendo: men (head), kote (forearm), dō (torso), and tsuki (throat) for advanced players.

Kendo allows practitioners to work on self-improvement and discipline, improve their fitness, and participate in the growing local, interstate, and international community of Kendo or fans of martial arts in general; as well as experience a unique aspect of the Japanese culture, woven into our own Australian lifestyle and values. Kendo in Australia is practised by over 1,200 members, growing steadily.

What is NOT Kendo: Kendo is NOT a combat or self-defence art with any application in a real fight situation. The only practical thing you may learn from Kendo would be: 1) stay calm, 2) run away.

3. History of Kendo

For as long as swords had existed, so did the techniques to use them.

The origin of the sword is debatable - but it had gone through many forms. Swords first entered Japan in the form of double-edged straight swords - tsurugi (剣) - similar to the gladius in Ancient Rome. Sword crafting in Japan advanced out of necessity, and due to the use of different types of ores and heating / cooling methods, curved swords were born - the tachi (太刀) and eventually the katana (刀).

Sword techniques or kenjutsu (剣術) evolved throughout the centuries, with hundreds of different styles or schools. During the warring period (Sengoku Jidai), techniques were developed for warfare, fighting against soldiers in armour. However during the more peaceful era (Edo / Tokugawa Jidai), the techniques adapted to be more duel-focused, with no armour. The wooden sword, bokutō (木刀) was used for training; then eventually the bamboo sword, shinai (竹刀) as well as protective armour, bōgu (防具) were developed to minimise injury.

During the Meiji Restoration Era, Japan went through a modernisation period where martial arts were banned, and the samurai caste was abolished. Sword-fighting techniques were considered barbaric and was practically useless. In order to preserve these arts, a group of masters founded an organisation with the intention to blend the old techniques into a modern version that is detached from its original warfare purpose, and make it something that is positive, healthy, fun, and promotes discipline, self-development, and appreciation of the history and culture of the sword.

Kendo, the way of the sword, was eventually born - designed specifically as a hybrid of traditional martial art and modern sport, with its own set of internationally-recognised training methods, rules and regulations, and governing bodies. Kendo is now practised all over the world, with 59 countries and regions affiliated with the international federation.

Read more:

4. This Beginners' Course and the Seven Swords Training Programme

The Seven Swords Training Programme was initially about training a team of seven men and seven women to compete at the annual Australian Kendo Championships. The programme takes members through three stages:

  • Stage 1, Beginners' Course: Learning the foundational techniques of Kendo, with no armour.
  • Stage 2, Intermediate Course: Continue developing the foundational techniques, in armour - including introduction to sparring.
  • Stage 3, Advanced Course: Further develop foundational techniques, and introduction to competition rules and procedures.

This is Week 1 of the course, and we train on Wednesdays (6:30pm - 8:00pm) and Sundays (9:00am - 10:30am). Stage 1 will be 10-weeks long. Until Stage 2 commences, training across the christmas / new years break will be free. Members are encouraged to attend as many training sessions as possible.

To enrol, we need you to either register an account on the website, or with us directly (by e-mail or on paper). We will need the following information from you at minimum:

  • First Name and Surname.
  • Date of Birth.
  • Gender for Equipment.
  • Measurement for Equipment (height in cm).

Payment is to be made by the end of Week 2 (Sunday 24 October 2021), as we will need to order your equipment (uniform and swords). Until then, you will be using club equipment.

The course fee of $250 will give you:

  • Uniform (keiko-gi and hakama).
  • Wooden sword (bokutō).
  • Bamboo sword (shinai).
  • Sword bag (shinai-bukuro).
  • Membership to the national organisation that provides insurance for injuries.

Until you have your uniform, please wear comfortable exercise clothes. Do not wear pants that cover beyond your ankles.

If you have any question about the course, or any concern about payment, please let us know, and we'd be happy to work something out.

5. Lesson

Etiquette (reiho): As a traditional martial art, there are appropriate conducts or procedures that practitioners must pay attention to during training.

  • Bowing (rei): The proper way to bow is to stand upright, arms down on the side, and bow with a straight back, bending slightly using your hips.
    • Standard bow: When bowing to other people, bow down 15°, and maintain eye contact.
    • Deep bow: When bowing towards shōmen (the "face" of the dojo), bow down 30°, and lower your eyes. You should use this bow when entering or leaving the dojo.
  • Sitting (seiza): At the start and end of training, we sit down on our knees to meditate (mokusō), and bow to each other.
  • Handling equipment: Ensure that you handle your bokutō carefully - even though it is not a real sword, it can still injure people.
    • Ensure you maintain control at all times - do not swing it around carelessly.
    • When relaxing, hold it with both hands pointing down in front of you, or on one hand "sheathed" by your side.
    • Do not let the tip touch the floor, or lean on it like a stick.
    • Do not step over the sword.
  • Follow instructions, respect your fellow members, and have fun!

Warm-up: After the initial kneeling bow, we usually warm-up as a group. This includes counting in Japanese:






















  • Uniform (dōgi): The traditional Kendo uniform consists of the jacket keiko-gi (or just "gi"); and the parachute pants hakama, which was appropriate for horse-riding. The koshi-ita on the back helps keep the back straight. The deep blue colour came from the traditional dye aizome, which is also called the "Japanese indigo".
  • Wooden sword: The bokutō or bokken represents the katana, and must be handled with care. This is used for non-contact practice.
  • Bamboo sword: The shinai is used for contact practice - whether hitting someone in armour (bōgu), or someone holding their shinai up as target.
  • Steel sword: The mugitō or katayō is used for kata demonstration only. Because it's cool.

Footwork (ashi-sabaki):

  • Kendo footwork utilises a "sliding" technique (suri-ashi). The heels are slightly raised, leaving the toes and the balls of your feet in contact.
  • Generally the "leading footwork" (okuri-ashi) has the right foot forward, and left foot apart and very slightly behind.
  • Basic movements are: mae (forward), ato (backward), migi (right), hidari (left).

Holding the sword:

  • When relaxed (shizentai), stand with your heels together and keep your sword "sheathed" on your left hand by your side.
  • When preparing to draw (tai-tō), prop the sword up to your hip.
  • When drawing the sword (nuke-tō), put your right foot forward (okuri-ashi) and draw the sword with your right hand, making a slow slicing motion forward, before assuming your stance (kamae).
  • The sword (bokutō or shinai) is held with the left hand at the bottom, and right hand at the top.
  • With your back straight and elbows relaxed, aim the tip of the sword towards the opponent's throat.
  • This basic stance (kamae) is called chūdan-no-kamae (middle guard stance).


  • Strike to the head (men): Aiming to strike down to the nose level.
  • Strike to the forearm (kote): Aiming to slice the opponent's hand off.
  • Strike to the torso (): Aiming to strike the opponent's stomach on their right side (your left).
  • Thrust (tsuki): Aiming to thrust straight into the opponent's throat, aiming to stop around half-way into the neck.

Vocalisation (kakegoe), or usually referred to as kiai, is vocalising as part of your actions. This allows better focus and to relax your body better. For example:

  • Counting during warm-up.
  • When attacking a specific target (men, kote, , tsuki).
  • When performing exercises, such as footwork (mae, ato, migi, hidari).

6. Video Study

Title: NHK Sports Japan — Kendo / Nito


Uploaded by: KendoWorld (

Published: 12 March 2015

Duration: 28:04

Source: An episode from the “Sports Japan” series produced by NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), in collaboration with the KendoWorld team, originally aired in November 2014.

Comment: This episode provides an introduction to Kendo, with Alex Bennett (Kendo Kyoshi 7th Dan) as the spokesperson. Alex is a Kiwi (New Zealand chump) who is currently working as a professor of Japanese history and culture at Kansai University in Japan, and has had significant impact in the development and expansion of the international Kendo community. He is the founder of Kendo World, a group that publishes Kendo magazines and content in English. He tries to look angry in all his photos but he’s actually a big softie.

7. Homework

  • Learn how to count 1 to 10 in Japanese.
  • Practise correct bowing - standard (15°) and deep (30°).
  • Practise the sitting position on your knees (seiza).
  • Practise the footwork, sliding on your toes around the 4 directions (mae, ato, migi, hidari).
  • Measure your height!