Kendo and Death:
How do you see death?

How do you see death? Kendo and death are quite inseparable, I think.

As a kendoist I quite often think about death. Do I live as I am supposed to?

Will I regret what I have been doing or what I have not been doing if I died right this moment?

Do you question yourself like that?

As we all know, kendo is derived from kenjutsu that basically taught techniques to kill others.

Unfortunately it was true that there was a quite strong possibility that they must have hurt others to survive until they became really good.

Then kenjutsu was sublimated into kendo. From the "techniques of the sword, "kenjutsu became the "way of the sword."

That was a shift from the way of killing others to the way of letting others live and live all together for the better future. This is katsujin-ken, "the sword to let others live."

However, as seen in the concept of kendo, we discipline our human character through the application of the principles of the Katana (sword). That means we treat our shinai (bamboo sword) as a real sword.

Why do we want to treat our bamboo stick as a real sword? It is because we do not want to forget about how important our lives are and other people's are, even our enemies'.

In the old days, your victory quite often means your opponent's death. Your loss means your death.

Can you imagine the world of no second chance if you lose?

Quite often we think we think we are invincible. We feel we will live forever, even though we all know we will die sometime in the future.

We just do not feel it because our lives are not as danger as they used be.

Some people do live right next to their death. Famine, War, Disease. Illness. They do not know when death comes to them. They have to live thinking about their death.

In a war, they may think about a moment when they will give their enemies a death sentence, even though they do not want their enemies to die because the enemies are still humans and have loved ones, just like they do.

Moreover, they know how to live in the moment. They know how important one's life is; they know how valuable one's life is. They know they might not be able to do things tomorrow, if they do not do them at the moment they live.

As a kendoist, I think the samurai were ready for their own deaths. I do not want to believe the purpose of their being samurai and training as samurai was to die or to kill. They prepared for the moment that they had to fight for themselves or for their loved ones.

Am I ready? Do I devote myself into whatever I have to do or I want to do? Will I regret if my life ends tomorrow?

In kendo we can learn a lot more about how to devote ourselves into the moment we live. We are lucky that we do not have to worry about our death in our daily life. However, it does not mean we are invincible or we can live our life without doing our best.

We must remember this...

It does not matter who we are and what we are, we all have the same place to reach since we were born.


There are a lot of samurai out there even though they do not practice the way of the sword. I recommend that you should read "Tuesdays with Morrie". 

He did not do kendo at all but he talks about his own death as if he is a kendo master. After all, kendo is a just a way to improve ourselves (see also "Meaning of the Way")

I hope the book brings you another view to help you to deal with kendo and real life, as it did to me.

Have you read one of the articles called "unknown kendoist"? He lived in a moment, too

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