Rules of a Kendo Match
A scorable point (有効打突 yūkō-datotsu) in a kendo competition (tai-kai) is defined as an accurate strike or thrust made onto a datotsu-bui of the opponent’s kendo-gu with the shinai making contact at its datotsu-bu, the competitor displaying high spirits, correct posture and followed by zanshin.
Datotsu-bui or point scoring targets in kendo are defined as:
- Men-bu, the top or sides of the head protector (sho-men and sayu-men).
- Kote-bu, a padded area of the right or left wrist protector (migi-kote and hidari-kote).
- Do-bu, an area of the right or left side of the armour that protects the torso (migi-do and hidari-do).
- Tsuki-bu, an area of the head protector in front of the throat (tsuki-dare).
Datotsu-bu of the ‘shinai’ is the forward, or blade side (jin-bu) of the top third (monouchi) of the shinai.
Zanshin (残心), or continuation of awareness, must be present and shown throughout the execution of the strike, and the kendōka must be mentally and physically ready to attack again.
In competition, there are usually three referees (審判 shinpan). Each referee holds a red flag and a white flag in opposing hands. To award a point, a referee raises the flag corresponding to the colour of the ribbon worn by the scoring competitor. Usually at least two referees must agree for a point to be awarded. The match continues until a pronouncement of the point that has been scored.
Kendo competitions are usually a three point match. The first competitor to score two points, therefore wins the match. If the time limit is reached and only one competitor has a point, that competitor wins.
In the case of a tie, there are several options:
- Hiki-wake (引き分け): The match is declared a draw.
- Enchō (延長): The match is continued until either competitor scores a point.
- Hantei (判定): The victor is decided by the referees. The three referees vote for victor by each raising one of their respective flags simultaneously.