By David Aguero

Kendo injuries are comparatively very minor, yet there are injuries like any other physical activity. The following injuries are a few common as well as some rare injuries.

Foot Injuries

A common injury for many beginners are foot blisters. Blisters are a result of tender skin being in contact with and subjected to tremendous friction with the floor. Pay careful attention to the condition of your feet before each practice. Before kendo practice apply a couple of layers of a 'liquid bandage' (a type of bandage that is usually used for covering cuts) to the tender areas of your feet. The 'liquid bandage' gives your tender skin some time to become toughened. Apply the 'liquid bandage' in a well ventilated area. After practice condition your feet by walking barefoot as much as possible. Walking or running barefoot on sand will also toughen you feet. Blisters on the feet are a kind of right of passage in kendo.

Liquid bandage for minor cuts. Apply a couple of layers of liquid bandage on the areas of the foot that are prone to blisters before kendo practice.

Wrist Strike Injuries

A common injury for many are wrist strike injuries. The underside of the wrist is the choke point for many nerves that go to the hand, besides not having any muscle to cushion the impact of a blow to the wrist. One way to help prevent injury is to turn your wrist slightly so that the top of your wrist and not the side just before being struck to the kote. Use an easily obtainable neoprene wrist brace on your right hand to help cushion heavy strikes to the wrist. If your partner is constantly striking too hard, tell your partner that his kote strikes are too heavy handed.

There are many different types of wrist braces, choose one with an over lapping neoprene material to better cushion a kote strike. Help control the impact of a heavy strike to the wrist by turning your wrist so that flat portion is hit and not the side. (use only during kote strike exercises)


Right Hand Wrist Injuries
A common injury for many are wrist injuries. One mystery wrist injury is a painful tendon injury on the right hand. This injury is caused by hyper-extending the right wrist while striking men.

 Wrong - Right Hand Controlling
Correct - Left Hand Controlling
The illustration below shows the windup for a big men strike. The right wrist becomes injured when the right hand stops mid strike not allowing the left hand a big arching motion. The pivot point is wrongly placed on the right wrist. The illustration below shows the left hand controlling the arch windup for a big men strike, the arch is pivoting at the shoulder. Use the left hand to control the shinai in a big sweeping motion. Large motion exercises need careful attention to details especially when trying many strikes, at a fast pace.


Fatigue and Heat Exhaustion
Experiencing fatigue after a strenuous kendo workout is very common. Fatigue after a workout is the after math of a “fight or flight response” or Adrenaline Rush caused by exercising and other stress related conditions. During a workout your body will be charged with adrenaline and feel strong and ready for anything, your heart will race, extra blood and oxygen is rushed to the muscles and brain, minor injuries may not be noticed. After a workout the Adrenaline dissipates, your heart rate drops and fatigue is felt for short time as your body returns to normal.
Heat Exhaustion is a problem in the summer months, symptoms include: fatigue, heavy sweating, paleness, nausea, dizziness, headache, fainting and muscle cramps. Always drink plenty of cool water to replenish what water you have lost during a workout, and rest as often as you can. If Heat Exhaustion is not treated it may progress into heat stroke, potentially life threatening, seek medical attention immediately.
During kendo practice, muscle fatigue experienced by doing to much in kendo drills is caused by a build up of lactic acid in the muscle tissue that is unable to be dissipate. A recent study of older persons showed that drinking liquids or eating energy bars containing Bioenergy D-Ribose(TM) before a workout experience less fatigue and better aerobic performance during the workout. There are over 100 products that contain D-Ribose, a list of some beverages: SoBe Adrenaline Rush, VitaminEnergy or Snapple Antioxidant Water, some energy bars: Marathon, Detour and FastFuel.


Kendo Achilles Tendon Injuries and Prevention
Preface: The cause of achilles tendon injuries in kendo is very mysterious since not everybody gets injured and people can practice kendo for years without any problems. Because everyone warms up at the same time and in the same manner, how does one person get injured and another person not? No one knows exactly how achilles rupture occurs happens in kendo or (except for properly stretching) how to prevent it. I have made it my job to find out how and why this injury occurs in kendo and how to prevent further injury. After a couple of years testing a theory I have had, I can say I have a come up way, a solution to help prevent achilles tendon injury. My conclusions are based on research, observation, creative insight and personal testing of my theory.
Achilles Rupture or Tear and Achilles Tendinopathy:
Achilles rupture or tear is a break in the tendon that secures the calf muscle to the back of the heel and is caused by a sudden stressful force to the calf muscle. Symptoms include mild to severe pain in the ankle.

Achilles tendinopathy has two conditions or types of injury Tendinitis and Tendinosis:
1) Tendinosis: A series of micro tears in the Achilles tendon that weaken the tendon and is caused by overuse of the tendon. Symptoms include decrease of strength and movement in the leg, tenderness and pain in the ankle. Because of the micro tears, Achilles Tendinosis is an injury that can progress over time into Achilles rupture.
2) Tendinitis: Inflammation of the Achilles tendon, does not cause pain, and usually does not progress into Achilles rupture.

Reference: WebMD, Achilles Tendon Problems,

PREVENTION: The achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body and is attached to large calf muscles, the tendons and long muscles of the toes run along side and underneath the achilles tendon and the under the calf muscles in the back of the leg. When you actively use your toes along with the balls of your feet to forcefully move your body the tendons and muscles and tendons of toes contract and affect the achilles tendon to a severe degree. Even a small amount of stress in propelling the body with the toes will inflame the achilles tendon. Proper prevention of Achilles tendon problems in kendo include use of stretching exercises done slowly prior to strenuous exercise or activity along with a technique of Always pushing off the left foot with the balls of your feet without any the use of the toes.

Kendo Achilles Stretching
The classic kendo Achilles and leg stretch, heel down. Hold this position without bouncing in place. Pushing against a wall with your left foot extended and the heel down.
Pushing off technique to help prevent Achilles injury
When lifting your left heel, place most of pressure and weight of your leg on the balls of your feet, do not flex your toes allow them to stabilize your position naturally, allowing the natural and relaxed placement use of the toes. 1) Although the toes are in contact with the floor they do not play a part in moving the body forcefully, allow your toes to relax 2) Propel your body forward as forcefully as possible from the balls of your feet.


Kendo Head Injuries (concussions)

Kendo requires mutual respect and mutual concern for the safety of each other. Being struck on the head in kendo is generally very safe and not a problem, since our armor usually protects the head from injury. You must never allow an opponent to strike you with such force that it hurts you or so hard that it may cause a head concussion, stop your opponent and do not allow him to strike you too hard. If you strike your opponent too hard apologize and take care not to injure your opponent as they have feelings too.

What is a Head Concussion?
A concussion is sudden blow to the head or to the body. A concussion shakes the brain inside the head temporarily causing the brain from functioning in a normal way. Concussions effect each person differently such as light headedness, blurry vision, head aches, feeling nauseous or throwing up to loss of consciousness. In general the effects of a concussion diminishes within a few hours to a few weeks. Head concussions can be very serious and you should seek medical attention.

Sometimes a concussion may have caused more damage and a person will suffer from symptoms of post-concussive syndrome. Symptoms of post-concussive syndrome: changes in ability to think, headaches, changes in sleep patterns such as not sleeping or sleeping all the time, dizziness, changes in personality such as quick to anger and other symptoms. With serious head concussions you should seek medical attention.

Reference: WebMD:

What causes a head concussion in kendo?

There are two primary ways someone can receive a head injury in kendo:
Being struck very hard with full force blows, once or repeatedly on the head so that it hurts you, a rare occurrence yet you must not allow this to happen. You should never allow anyone to strike you hard with full force repeatedly. A head concussion may or may not be immediately apparent at the time of being struck hard repeatedly and symptoms may surface days after being hurt.

2. Being pushed off balance and falling on your head. Being pushed and falling is sometimes an accident but more often it is an intentional push where the opponent wishes to score a point while you attempt to get up from a fall or by being off balanced, or attempting to push you out of bounds. This type of tactic is seen usually in shiai keiko where any kendo technique may be used. This injury does not happen very much, and can only occur if your feet are not firmly set on the floor. Be alert and observe to see whether your opponent uses this method of pushing or causing the opponent to be off balance they will usually repeat what the know.

How do I prevent a head concussion in kendo?

Be alert with how hard you are striking your opponent, and never allow the opponent to strike you too hard on the head. Be alert observing whether the opponent tends to push when in a match, if so keep your opponent at arms length as much possible or limiting any in-close body positioning.

The quality of kendo bogu may affect the amount of head protection you have. Generally the tighter the stitch pattern the stiffer the material and the more protection.
Kendo men with a wide stitch pattern, soft and flexible materials. The soft flexible men offers medium protection from heavy men strikes.

Kendo men with a fine stitch pattern, stiff materials gives better protection from heavy men strikes.

Wearing sub quality bogu can cause a heavy strike to the head to be much worse of an injury than need be. Sub quality bogu can be detected by inspecting the men portion of the bogu, make sure that cloth padding does not feel light and flexible, with overly wide stitching. Replace the men with one that is stiff and closer stitching as soon as you are able.




(Kendo) Tennis Elbow
A pain located usually in the bony area of the left elbow is called tennis elbow. Tennis elbow in kendo is a condition that comes from the overuse of the arm and forearm involved in the griping and swinging of the sword.

Injury to the muscles and tendons of the forearm that attach to the outside bony area of the elbow is called "lateral epicondyle", and may sometimes include a micro tear in the tendon that attaches the muscle to the bone.

Symptoms include: Pain when in the elbow when gripping and squeezing the sword or other objects.

Reducing the Pain: Apply ice to the elbow. Take ibuprofen to lessen the pain.

Recovery: Discontinue kendo for a couple of weeks, avoiding use of the forearm. Apply an elastic band as a counter force brace, made for tennis elbow injury. See a doctor if the pain persists.


Lower Leg Injury (shin splints)
Shin splints are a very common injury in many sports such as running. Characterized by sharp or throbing pain in the front portion of the lower leg. Given time shin splints or Tibial Stress Syndrome will heal on there own, but if agrivated shin plints may worsen. There is no single cause of shin splints but some causes maybe: overuse, or tiny hairline fractures in the leg, or flat feet impacting the floor causing the tendons and calf muscles to stretch.

Recovery: Discontinue kendo for a couple of weeks or even months (six months is not unusual). If the pain persists see a doctor to make sure your shin spints are not caused by hairline fractures.



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