Episode 32 – The Way of the Sword in the Age of the Gun

This week, we’re going to discuss the topic of swordsmanship and kendo in modern Japan. We’ll talk about where modern traditions of swordsmanship came from, and why kendo retains such a popular grip on modern Japan.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Meyer, Isaac. Soul of a Nation: Swordsmanship in Japan’s Modern Period. BA Thesis, Wesleyan University, 2010.

I have always wanted to do that.

Images

 

A contemporary depiction of Sengoku warfare. Note the wide variety of weaponry used. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
A contemporary depiction of Sengoku warfare. Note the wide variety of weaponry used. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Japanese matchlocks from the Edo Period. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Japanese matchlocks from the Edo Period. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Late Edo samurai with naginata. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Late Edo samurai with naginata. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Practicing with bamboo swords (shinai) during the Edo Period. The protective gear used for kendo has changed little since this time. Courtesy of Kenshi 247.
Practicing with bamboo swords (shinai) during the Edo Period. The protective gear used for kendo has changed little since this time. Courtesy of Kenshi 247.
Sakakibara Kenkichi's public tournament, the first ever to have public demonstrations of swordsmanship. Courtesy of Kenshi 247.
Sakakibara Kenkichi’s public tournament, the first ever to have public demonstrations of swordsmanship. Courtesy of Kenshi 247.
Sparring in traditional protective gear during the 1890s. Courtesy of the International Kendo Federation.
Sparring in traditional protective gear during the 1890s. Courtesy of the International Kendo Federation.
Japanese cavalry troopers on forward reconnaissance during the Russo-Japanese War. Note their European-style cavalry swords. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Japanese cavalry troopers on forward reconnaissance during the Russo-Japanese War. Note their European-style cavalry swords. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
A shinai kyogi match. Courtesy of Kenshi247.
A shinai kyogi match. Courtesy of Kenshi247.
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