Kendo: Culture of the Sword by Alexander C. Bennett

Hardcover: 328 pages
Publisher: University of California Press (July 31, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0520284372
ISBN-13: 978-0520284371
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches 

Kendo is the first in-depth historical, cultural, and political account in English of the Japanese martial art of swordsmanship, from its beginnings in military training and arcane medieval schools to its widespread practice as a global sport today. Alexander Bennett shows how kendo evolved through a recurring process of “inventing tradition,” which served the changing ideologies and needs of Japanese warriors and governments over the course of history. Kendo follows the development of Japanese swordsmanship from the aristocratic-aesthetic pretensions of medieval warriors in the Muromachi period, to the samurai elitism of the Edo regime, and then to the nostalgic patriotism of the Meiji state. Kendo was later influenced in the 1930s and 1940s by ultranationalist militarists and ultimately by the postwar government, which sought a gentler form of nationalism to rekindle appreciation of traditional culture among Japan’s youth and to garner international prestige as an instrument of “soft power.” Today kendo is becoming increasingly popular internationally. But even as new organizations and clubs form around the world, cultural exclusiveness continues to play a role in kendo’s ongoing evolution, as the sport remains closely linked to Japan’s sense of collective identity.

About the Author
Alex Bennett was born in 1970 in Christchurch, New Zealand. He graduated from the University of Canterbury in 1994. He received his Doctoral degree from Kyoto University in 2001, and another from the University of Canterbury in 2012. After working at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, and then Teikyo University's Department of Japanese Culture, he is currently employed as an Associate Professor at Kansai University's Division of International Affairs where he teaches Japanese history and society.

In terms of the martial arts, Alex is Vice President of the International Naginata Federation, International Committee member at the All Japan Kendo Federation, Director of the Japanese Academy of Budo, and also represents NZ Kendo as the Head Coach. He is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of "Kendo World", the world's only English language journal dedicated to Kendo, and holds the grades of Kendo Kyoshi 7-dan, Iaido 5-dan, Naginata 5-dan. He has competed successfully in international competitions in Naginata and Kendo, taking second place in the World Naginata Championships in July, 2011, and leading the NZ Kendo team to a top 8 placing at the World Kendo Championships in 2012. (more)