Start Submission

Reading: The Historical Creation of Kendo’s Self-Image from 1895 to 1942: A Critical Analysis of an I...

Download

A- A+
Alt. Display

Articles

The Historical Creation of Kendo’s Self-Image from 1895 to 1942: A Critical Analysis of an Invented Tradition

Author:

Yasuhiro Sakaue

Hitotsubashi University, JP
About Yasuhiro

Yasuhiro Sakaue is a Professor in the Graduate School of Social Sciences at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo. He has published widely in the history and sociology of sport in Japan. His most recent book is Showa tenno to supotsu – gyokutai no kindaishi [The Showa Emperor and Sports – A Modern History of the Imperial Presence, Yoshikawa kobunkan, 2016]. He has written extensively on the modern history of Japanese martial arts and is editor of the book Umi o watatta jujutsu to judo – Nihon budo no dainamizumu [Jujutsu and Judo Overseas – The Dynamism of Japanese Budo, Seikyusha, 2010].

X close

Abstract

The self-image of kendo (Japanese swordsmanship) in modern times is a complicated historical fabrication and an ‘invented tradition’ [Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983] involving ‘ethno-symbolism’ [Smith 2009] relating to images and ideas of history, heritage and cultural identity in modern Japan. This means that, despite the high current value and status of Japanese swordsmanship, its cultural identity is shot through with paradoxes and contradictions. This article aims to examine the formation of this self-image through the invention of traditions, and how swordsmanship came to be bound by these inventions. There are numerous components to the invented traditions of Japanese swordsmanship, but this article will focus on three key dimensions: (1) how the tradition was reconstructed, accompanied by the name change from kenjutsu or gekiken/gekken to kendo; (2) the fabrication of historical facts around methods for swordsmanship competition; and (3) the recasting of ‘levels of mastery’ in supposedly traditional styles of teaching and learning swordsmanship. In conclusion, the article reflects on the possibility of freedom from such constraints in the future and explores the question of possible further changes in the future of kendo.

How to Cite: Sakaue, Y., 2018. The Historical Creation of Kendo’s Self-Image from 1895 to 1942: A Critical Analysis of an Invented Tradition. Martial Arts Studies, (6), pp.10–26. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/mas.66
252
Views
122
Downloads
1
Twitter
Published on 23 Jul 2018.
Peer Reviewed

Downloads

  • PDF (EN)