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Participation in Internationals at All-time High (August 15, 2003)

The 12th World Kendo Championships in Glasgoh
The 12th World Kendo Championships in Glasgow (All Japan Kendo Federation)
Kendo, the traditional sport of Japanese fencing, has become more international in recent years. The 12th World Kendo Championships took place in Glasgow, Scotland, over a period of three days beginning July 4, and participation in the triennial event was at an all-time high: There were about 500 athletes from 42 countries and regions. While Japan extended its domination, other countries are continuing to make good progress, and there were a number of excellent matches. The All Japan Kendo Federation believes that its efforts to spread kendo will lead to an increase in the number of people taking part in the sport worldwide.

Japan Dominates; Other Countries Improve
The World Kendo Championships began in 1970 with the participation of 17 countries and regions. At the time, the only events were team and individual competitions for men. As the number of participants grew, a women's individual competition was added, and at this year's event the women's team competition became an official event.

The 12th World Kendo Championships in Glasgoh
Two athletes face off (All Japan Kendo Federation)

At the tournament in Glasgow, Japan was represented by 10 men and 10 women. Japanese athletes won all four events: the individual and team competitions for both men and women. In fact, Japanese participants have won every event in the tournament's history. Recently, though, competition has grown stronger from such countries as South Korea, Taiwan, France, Hungary, the United States, Canada, Brazil, and Italy. Twice in the past the South Korean men's team has battled the Japanese men's team in the title match down to the taisho, the last member of the team. This time the two countries squared off in the final again. The result was evenly split, as both teams recorded one win, one loss, and three draws, and the Japanese team was forced to win a tiebreak match.

According to the All Japan Kendo Federation, a total of 44 countries and regions belong to the International Kendo Federation, and, excluding Japanese athletes, some 420,000 people around the world take part in kendo. There are also 39 nonmember countries and regions in which people practice kendo.

In the more than 40 years since its establishment, the All Japan Kendo Federation has promoted the sport by providing kendo clothing and equipment in developing countries. In addition to dispatching instructors to between 10 and 15 countries each year, the Federation invites foreign athletes at the rank of third dan or above to Japan for a one-week intensive training course every summer. A spokesperson for the international division of the Federation says, "We're not just looking to increase the number of competitors and tournaments; more than anything, we want to facilitate the spread of kendo while preserving the culture behind it."

Internationalization Takes a Variety of Forms
The All Japan Kendo Federation is not the only body working to internationalize kendo. Once a year the Nippon Budokan hosts the International Seminar of Budo Culture, which is open to foreign martial arts practitioners holding a shodan (first dan) in one of nine disciplines, including kendo. The seminar features lectures and practical training in these disciplines, and many participants come back year after year.

The International Budo University in Katsuura, Chiba Prefecture, meanwhile, accepts between five and ten foreign exchange students every year and puts the students through a program of physical training that includes kendo. In 2001 the university established an international sports culture department in which 60 students per year study to become international ambassadors of martial arts culture. The department will produce its first graduates in 2005.

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Related Web Sites
12th World Kendo Championships
All Japan Kendo Federation

Copyright (c) 2004 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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