Kendo Rules & Etiquette

Etiquette is a very important part of Kendo. It is based on respect and is a display of how serious you are about Kendo and Martial Arts in general. Etiquette is hard to explain, but fairly easy to adopt; on the other hand, it is very hard to follow perfectly. Failure to try adhering to proper behaviour can be taken as a sign of poor instruction and personality. Nowadays, the rules of social conduct are quite relaxed and this causes much chaos in our world. To become better people and aim for a better world, it is essential to know basic etiquette in Kendo. So every Kendo students must try hard to apply all forms of etiquette if he/she wants to learn Kendo and become good at it.


What follows are basic guidelines to help you develop good Kendo etiquette.


Arriving and leaving

  • Please arrive on time for the practice, which means at least 10 minutes before the practice starts
  • You are allowed to bring anyone interested to observe (friends, parents) as long as they follow basic rules of courtesy and etiquette
  • Turn off you cell phones as you enter the practice area. No phone calls are allowed on the premises
  • As you enter the practice floor, keep your voice down before and after the class
  • Running around or sword fighting is prohibited before and after the class
  • Before the class starts, you are encouraged to warm-up and stretch or to practice basic techniques by yourself or with others as long as you do it safely
  • Always bow when entering or leaving the practice area


  • If absolutely necessary, you can leave before the end of the class, but only if you informed the instructor before the class started
  • Water breaks are given during a class so you should normally not need extra breaks. Other kinds of breaks will not be permitted unless they are for serious health reasons
  • If you need to take a break for a serious health reason, ask for permission between exercises
  • If you are expecting to be late to class, please inform the instructor so he can adjust accordingly. Being late once or twice isn’t a problem, being late all the time is disrespectful to your co-students and instructors.


  • Bring a towel with you and a clean Kendo head cloth if you were given one.
  • Always check for splinters on your shinai before, after and during the practice
  • Always hold your shinai or bokken with two hands, either in front of you (on guard / kamae position) or lower it to the right side
  • Never use someone else’s shinai or bokken unless you get their permission
  • Always hold your shinai or bokken by the handle, never touch the blade with your hand even if it is not a real blade. Handle your sword respectfully
  • From time to time, maintain your shinai at home by cleaning it up, tightening up the strings and sanding off the splinters. Ask for help if necessary.
  • Cut your nails (fingers and toes) before the practice, so that nobody gets cut.
  • Before wearing the armour make sure it is in good condition and report problems to the instructor
  • After wearing the armour make sure to wipe off sweat from the headgear as a courtesy to your classmates
  • Never step over a sword (including shinai and bokken) or other equipment lying on the ground

During practice

  • Always hold your shinai lowered to the right when the instructor is talking
  • Never use your shinai to rest on it, or use it as a cane
  • Never sit casually (unless told to do so) or lean on the walls
  • Try to limit your questions for between the exercises or after class
  • Do not stop in the middle of an exercise to talk with a classmate
  • Always make sure to look around you in order to avoid collisions with classmates
  • If your exercise is finished but the instructor is busy helping others, start over your exercise in order to avoid dead time
  • Never leave the room to attend to a personal matter unless you ask permission from the instructor
  • Always make sure your body is properly stretched (especially your legs) during the practice. If necessary, at any time you are encouraged to stretch tired or tight muscles
  • Always trust your instructor and follow enthusiastically his directions. Ask for additional help if necessary
  • If there are obstacles in the practice area (lights, fans, wires, posts,…) make sure you know where they are and position yourself in order to avoid them