Koushinkan, our club philosophy, is comprised of customs and practices that we observe to build discipline and bolster our skills.

Customs and Courtesies

  1. Bow when entering and leaving the dojo.
  2. Shoes are not worn in the dojo.
  3. Bow to your opponent (or the group) before starting and upon completion of every paired (or group) exercise.
  4. Smoking, chewing gum and eating are not appropriate in the dojo.
  5. Hats are not worn in the dojo.
  6. Jewelry is not worn during kendo practice. If you desire to leave jewelry on for any reason, it must be taped flat to your skin so that it cannot snare a shinai.
  7. Walk behind seated kenshi. If you must walk in front of them, extend your right hand at the elbow and bow slightly as you pass. In close proximity to kenshi or other people in the dojo, do not pass in front of them. Never walk between people engaged in conversation.
  8. Never step over a shinai, bokuto or other practice weapon.
  9. Never touch another’s kendogu (bougu, shinai, keikogi/dogi, etc.) unless specifically invited to do so.
  10. Upon entering/leaving the dojo, always greet/take leave of the instructor first, followed by the group.
  11. Upon the completion of practice, remove your men only after the instructor.
  12. Sit in descending order of rank from left to right. Seniority is determined by kendo rank first, followed by age. For kenshi of the same rank, it is polite to invite the older kenshi sit on the higher side, regardless of who attained the rank first. If the older kenshi refuses your offer, insist one additional time, and then follow his or her suggestion.
  13. Learn to tie your bougu so that it does not become untied during practice. Periodically check to make sure your knots are tight, but do not remove and retie your equipment at times when your doing so will disrupt practice.
  14. Say onegaishimasu (a humble “please”) prior to starting paired and group exercises. When finished, say, arigatou gozaimashita (a polite “thank you”).
  15. If for any reason you are unable to continue practice, request permission of the instructor or senior student to take leave of the group. If you come to the dojo injured or unable to participate in certain exercises for medical or other reasons, state as such to the instructor or senior student so that you may receive instructions on how to participate in that day’s practice.
  16. Use the restroom and drink ample amounts of water before practice.
  17. The shinai and bokuto represent the katana, or sword. You will be taught the etiquette surrounding these implements. Internalize this information quickly.
  18. Kendo is rooted in Japanese culture. As such, we issue commands in Japanese language in the dojo. Internalize kendo vocabulary, counting and the commands used during practice.
  19. Kendo cannot be practiced by fewer than two people. Respect your fellow kenshi, and remain cognizant of our goal of mutual spiritual and physical improvement.
  20. We strive for the highest quality practice given our limited time together in the dojo. In the dojo, please refrain from conversations or activities that are not pertinent to our practice.

Kendo Vocabulary

Knowing the vocabulary is essential to succeeding in kendo. For a more complete collection, see this excellent list compiled by Industry Sheriff’s Kendo Dojo.


  • A as in father (“ah”)
  • I as in sheet (“ee”)
  • U as in student (“oo”)
  • E as in stretch (“eh”)
  • O as in vote (“oh”)

Words and phrases

  • The way of the sword: Kendou
  • Practitioners of kendo: Kenshi
    • lit. “Swordsman”/”Swordswoman”
  • Bamboo sword: Shinai
  • Wooden sword: Bokuto/Bokken
  • Uniform top: Keikogi/Gi
  • Pleated trousers: Hakama
  • Protective armor (as a whole): Bougu/Kendougu
    • Protective mask: Men
    • Protective gauntlets: Kote
    • Torso protector: Dou
    • Groin protector: Tare
    • Name tag: Zekken/Nafuda
  • Before practicing with another kenshi: Onegaishimasu
    • ​lit. “Please”
  • After completion of any exercise: Arigatou gozaimashita
    • lit. “Thank you”
  • At the end of practice, to each other, and to the group: Otsukaresama deshita
    • Thanking and acknowledging everyone’s effort
  • If you leave before the group finishes for the day: Osaki ni shitsurei shimasu
    • lit. “I am being rude first”
  • I understand: Wakarimashita
  • Yes: Hai
  • The room where kendo is practiced: Dojo
  • Kendo footwork: Suri-ashi
  • Practice swings: Suburi
  • Change partners: Koutai
  • The person receiving during drills: Motodachi
  • Repetitions: Kai
    • Example: 30 times is san-juu kai


  • Stand at attention: Ki wo tsuke!
  • Turn to face the front of the dojo: Shoumen ni!
  • Turn to face the instructors: Sensei ni!
  • Turn to face each other: O-tagai ni!
  • Bow: Rei!
  • Begin: Hajime!
  • Stop: Yame!
  • Sit kneeling on your calves: Seiza!/Chakuza!
  • Put on your men: Men wo tsuke!
  • Take off your men: Men wo tore!
  • Meditate: Mokusou!
  • Stop meditating: Mokusou yame!
  • End of practice: Keiko owari!


  1. One: Ichi
  2. Two: Ni
  3. Three: San
  4. Four: Shi/Yon
  5. Five: Go
  6. Six: Roku
  7. Seven: Shichi/Nana
  8. Eight: Hachi
  9. Nine: Ku
  10. Ten: Juu
  11. Eleven: Juu-ichi
  12. Twelve: Juu-ni
  13. Thirteen: Juu-san
  14. Fourteen: Juu-yon
  15. Fifteen: Juu-go
  16. Twenty: Ni-juu
  17. Thirty: San-juu
  18. Forty: Yon-juu
  19. One hundred: Hyaku
  20. Two hundred and thirty: Ni-hyaku-san-juu
  21. Three hundred: San-byaku