Aiki Jujutsu Vs. Kendo: Which Is Better?

Aiki Jujutsu Vs. Kendo: Which Is Better?

Today, we are going to end the long-standing debate of Aiki Jujutsu Vs. Kendo! People (especially those online) go back on forth on which discipline is better.

Some say that Aiki Jujutsu is more fluid and instinctive, while others argue that Kendo is more powerful and straightforward. So which is it really, and why?


The main difference between Aiki Jujutsu and Kendo lies in the martial arts' respective origins and techniques. Aiki Jujutsu originated as a form of combat for samurai during feudal Japan, utilizing leverage and blendings of an attacker's movements to defend oneself.

In contrast, Kendo developed later as a way to practice and perfect traditional Japanese swordsmanship, using wooden swords called "shinai" to simulate sword strikes.

While both stem from samurai traditions, Aiki Jujutsu also incorporates principles from other Japanese martial arts such as Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu and Judo.

The focus of Aiki Jujutsu is on controlling an attacker through joint locks, throws, and strikes to vulnerable points. Kendo, on the other hand, emphasizes correct form and execution in delivering strikes to designated target areas.

What We Know About Aiki Jujutsu

What We Know About Aiki Jujutsu

Aiki Jujutsu is a martial art that involves harmonizing your own energy with that of your opponent in order to redirect it in a way that suits your needs.

Instead of meeting force head-on, Aiki Jujutsu practitioners use Kempo-Jutsu's striking and evasive techniques to position themselves close to their opponents. They then follow up with linear, diagonal, or circular movements to redirect the opponent's energy.

Throwing techniques in Aiki Jujutsu rely heavily on Kempo-Jutsu's Atemi. In some instances, a skilled practitioner can apply Aiki Jujutsu throwing techniques by blending with their opponent's energy.

Aiki Jujutsu can be traced back to the Takenouchi Hisamori's Shinmei-ryu school of swordsmanship, which he founded in the early 1600s.

His student, Takeda Sokaku, is credited with creating Aiki Jujutsu from the techniques he learned from Hisamori. Sokaku passed on his knowledge to his son, Takeda Tokimune, who then continued to develop and teach the art until his death in 1943.

The art was further refined by Morihei Ueshiba, who created Aikido, a modernized version of Aiki Jujutsu.

Even today, Aiki Jujutsu can be used for self-defense or as a form of physical and mental exercise. Its excellent teachings regarding control over one's body and mind have made it a staple in the martial arts community.

What We Know About Kendo

What We Know About Kendo

Kendo is a Japanese martial art that involves full-speed, full-contact fighting using split bamboo swords. The word Kendo quite literally means "way of the sword," and it is considered one of the most challenging and demanding martial arts.

As a consequence of the naturally potentially dangerous nature of the sport, Kendo practitioners wear light armour called bogu, which protects the head, torso, and wrists.

In order to practice kendo effectively, practitioners need a partner to help them perfect their techniques. That doesn't mean you can't practice on your own though--there are lots of solo drills that you can implement too, useful for honing your skills.

In addition to physical prowess, Kendo also cultivates mental strength and self-discipline. As a martial art, Kendo can be used for self-defense and competition, but it is also deeply rooted in traditional Japanese culture and philosophy.

And that's something I've definitely noticed while looking into this martial art. The ultimate goal of Kendo is not simply to win against an opponent, but rather to improve oneself and perfect one's character.

Kendo is also a highly social activity--what with you mashing swords at each other's faces and all--with many practitioners belonging to local or regional kendo clubs.

These clubs often organize events and tournaments for members to compete in, as well as providing a community for kendo practitioners to share their passion and support each other in their training.

All-in-all, Kendo can be a physically and mentally rewarding practice for those willing to commit themselves fully to its rigorous training.

Of course, this is only a brief history and understanding of Aiki Jujutsu and Kendo, but if you want to go deeper into either art, be sure to check out the following posts:

Now, back to the comparison...

Let's look at the origins of the respective disciplines and then compare the key elements of their practices. You will be able to understand some of their similarities and differences a bit better afterward.

 Aiki JujutsuKendo

Key Elements Of Aiki Jujutsu

One of the fundamental principles in Aiki Jujutsu is the use of leverage and balance to gain an advantage over one's opponent. This involves the strategic application of force and momentum to manipulate an opponent's body, making it easier to control and overpower them.

Another essential component of Aiki Jujutsu is the use of body movement and positioning.

By carefully positioning one's body in relation to the opponent, a practitioner can create openings for attacks or defensive maneuvers. This requires a high degree of spatial awareness and precision in movement.

Joint locks and throws are powerful techniques that can be used to subdue an opponent quickly and efficiently.

These maneuvers involve applying pressure to a joint or manipulating an opponent's balance to throw them to the ground. They require a thorough understanding of anatomy and a high degree of technical skill.

One of the most advanced techniques in Aiki Jujutsu is the ability to blend with the motion of an attacker. This involves moving in a way that allows a practitioner to avoid incoming attacks while simultaneously positioning themselves to counterattack.

It requires an acute awareness of an opponent's movements and a high level of skill in evasive maneuvers.

Next, up here in Aiki Jujutsu is breath control. By learning to regulate their breathing, practitioners can maintain their focus and energy levels, even in the face of physical exertion and stress.

Mental focus and calmness in the face of adversity are critical traits for any Aiki Jujutsu practitioner.

And speaking from personal experience, if you're knee deep into a fight, you'll want to know how to maintain a clear head and a calm demeanor, even in the face of obvious danger.

This requires mental fortitude and the ability to stay focused under pressure, the kind that Aiki Jujutsu will teach you.

Finally, one of the most powerful parts of this martial art is its ability to use an attacker's energy against them.

By skillfully redirecting an opponent's momentum, a practitioner can use their strength and force to overpower them. Of course, this requires a deep understanding of physics and a high degree of technical skill--which, trust me, your training will be able to give you in spades.

Key Elements Of Kendo

The following are key elements of Kendo that you'll need to be very mindful of during your training:

  • The use of a bamboo sword, or shinai, to simulate a Japanese katana, allowing you to exert full effort during practice, all the while still maintaining a safe and controlled environment.
  • The focus on proper form and etiquette in order to maintain discipline and respect for one's opponent.
  • The use of consistent sparring to improve one's technique and ability.
  • The emphasis on self-improvement and inner strength.

Each of these elements is important in its own way, contributing to the overall art of Kendo.

The use of a shinai instead of an actual sword, like I mentioned, promotes safety and allows for a controlled practice environment. It's a great way to make sure your beloved limbs stay firmly attached to your body while training.

Meanwhile, its focus on proper form and etiquette helps to maintain discipline and respect among practitioners.

The use of sparring allows students to test their skills against others and improve their techniques, and the emphasis on self-improvement encourages individuals to work hard and improve themselves both physically and mentally.

Together, these elements make Kendo a well-rounded martial art with benefits that extend beyond the physical realm.

Another thing I think is important to look at is the different rankings and levels in each art. if you are looking to take up either Aiki Jujutsu or Kendo, whether as a hobbyist or to compete, you need to understand the different levels of proficiency and what is required for testing and ranking.

Aiki Jujutsu Rankings & Levels

Aiki Jujutsu Rankings Levels 3 1

Aiki Jujutsu has its own ranking system, as you've likely already expected. It starts with the 10th Kyu white belt, which represents the beginner level. As one progresses, they move up the ranking system by earning colored belts and stripes.

The ranking system is divided into two categories: kyu and dan. Kyu represents the colored belts that one earns before reaching the black belt level. Dan represents the black belt levels.

The colored belt levels range from 9th Kyu white belt with a yellow stripe, all the way to 4th Kyu purple belt.

The amount of training required to earn these belts is pretty significant, in my opinion. IT ranges from 2 to 3 months, such as for the 9th Kyu white belt with a yellow stripe, to 15 to 21 months, like for the 4th Kyu purple belt.

The black belt levels start with the Shodan-Ho (Junior Black Belt) and progress to the highest level, which is the Godan (5th Degree Black Belt).

If you ask me, it's definitely not an easy feat to achieve: it normally takes years of dedication and training to reach the highest levels of the black belt ranking system.

If this is all a bit hard to visualize, don't worry; I've made a more detailed breakdown for you to see below:

10th KyuWhite
9th KyuWhite
8th KyuYellow
7th KyuBlue
6th KyuGreen
5th KyuGreen
4th KyuPurple
3rd KyuBrown
2nd KyuBrown
1st KyuBrown

Kendo Rankings & Levels

Kendo Rankings Levels

Technical expertise in kendo is measured by a person's rank, grade, or level. In 1883, the kyū and dan grading system was established to do just that--determine proficiency.

The dan levels range from sho-dan (初段), or first-dan, to jū-dan (十段) or tenth-dan. Below first-dan are usually six grades known as kyu, with rokkyū (六級), or sixth kyu ,being the lowest grade and ikkyū (一級), or first kyu, being the immediate grade below first-dan.

Advancing ranks isn't a vanity project, in case you were curious. Attire is the same for all kendo grades, irrespective of the rank.

Children usually hold kyu ranks in Japan, and 1st kyu (ikkyū) is their initial exam and grade. Adults, in contrast, often take shodan (1st dan) as their first exam. In countries outside Japan, kendoka usually pass through every kyu rank before being eligible for dan ranks.

The highest dan grade that can be achieved through a physical kendo skills test is the hachi-dan (八段) or eighth-dan.

The All Japan Kendo Federation, or the AJKF, doesn't award the Kendoka ninth-dan (九段) or tenth-dan (十段) anymore, but the FIK allows national kendo organizations to establish a special committee to award these grades.

Ninth-dan kendōka is still active in Japanese Kendo. Following the establishment of the AJKF in 1952, only five Kendōka were ever awarded the rank of 10th-dan.

These five Kendōka--Ogawa Kinnosuke, Moriji Mochida, Nakano Sousuke, Saimura Gorou, and Ooasa Yuuji--were awarded the 10th-dan almost all in 1957, in the same year. Unfortunately, all of them are now also deceased.

Like I mentioned a bit ago, there aren't any visible differences in dress between kendo grades. Those in the lower dan levels may dress the same as those in the upper dan levels.

Aiki Jujutsu Vs. Kendo Attire

This section simply compares the clothing and uniforms that practitioners wear in combat.

Aiki Jujutsu Attire:

Aiki Jujutsu Attire:

In terms of attire, Aiki Jujutsu practitioners typically wear a traditional dogi and hakama. This affords them better gripping and movement during techniques.

Kendo Attire:

Kendo Attire:
Anon (2022). Retrieved 27 October 2022, from - A set of bōgu for kendo

Kendo practitioners wear protective armor called "bōgu." The bōgu consists of a helmet called a "men," chest protector called a "dō," hand protectors called a "kote," and waist and groin protector called a "tare."

When properly worn, the bōgu protects the practitioner from strikes to vital areas and allows for safe full-power strikes during both practice and competition.

What A Typical Aiki Jujutsu Training Session Looks Like

What A Typical Aiki Jujutsu Training Session Looks Like

A typical Aiki Jujutsu practice session may start with a few minutes of warm-ups, such as joint rotations and light stretches. This is followed by practicing techniques, which may include throws, locks, and pins. The session usually ends with some relaxation exercises and a cool-down.

One of the most commonly used techniques in Aiki Jujutsu is the wristlock. This involves controlling an opponent's wrist and using their own momentum to throw them off balance.

In addition to physical technique, Aiki Jujutsu also emphasizes mental and spiritual development. This includes cultivating a strong mind-body connection and developing qualities such as patience and awareness.

What A Typical Kendo Training Session Looks Like

What A Typical Kendo Training Session Looks Like

You can expect a class to go about in this fashion:

  • Warm-Ups
  • Suburi
  • Kata
  • Randori
  • Cool-Downs and Clean-Ups

When you arrive at a Kendo practice class, the first thing you will do is warm up. This usually involves some light stretching and calisthenics to get your body ready for the physical activity to come. After the warm-up, you will put on your armor.

After everyone is suited up in their armor, the next thing you will do is suburi. Suburi are basic swings of the shinai, or bamboo sword, to warm up your arms and get a feel for the weapon.

You will start with slow, controlled swings and then gradually increase the speed and power as you get more comfortable.

After the suburi, you will move on to kata. Kata are pre-arranged sequences of moves that simulate a fight between two opponents.

There are many different kata, each with its own name and purpose. Some kata are designed to teach specific techniques, while others are simply for exercise or to instill principles of movement and footwork.

Once everyone has had a chance to practice their kata, it will be time for randori. Randori is free sparring between two opponents. The goal isn't to score points or land hits, but simply to practice your techniques in a realistic setting.

At first, you will likely be paired up with someone of similar size and skill level so that things are fair. Naturally, as you improve, you will be matched up with more challenging opponents.

Once your randori is done, it's time to cool down and clean up. This usually involves some more stretching and calisthenics to help your body recover from all that physical exertion.

If the last few sections have been a bit full-on or a bit too technical, you will like this next section! Why? Because who doesn't love a good martial arts flick?

Both Aiki Jujutsu and Kendo have been featured in a number of films and TV shows, so if you want to learn more about them, then entertain yourself with the following 👊

Aiki Jujutsu Movies

Aiki Jujutsu Movies

These are some of the top movies and shows with Aiki Jujutsu in them:

  • The Bourne Identity (2002)
  • Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)
  • The Protector (2005)
  • The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
  • 13 Assassins (2010)
  • The Raid (2011)

And next up, some good movies with Kendo in them are:

  • The Last Samurai (2003)
  • Kendo: A Way of the Sword (2014)
  • The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi (2003)
  • Princess Mononoke (1997)

And as one last quick treat, it's actually also common to see Kendo portrayed in television shows and anime, such as Rurouni Kenshin and Bleach.

Conclusion: Aiki Jujutsu Vs. Kendo

I hope you now have a deeper understanding of Aiki Jujutsu and Kendo. In all truth, it is not about which discipline is "better" as they each have their pros and cons.

If you do plan on starting classes for either, please check out my other related posts, as I have tried my best to answer all the FAQs related to the art.

Feel free to share this post and any graphics you like, and of course, if you have any questions or thoughts, drop them below or shoot me an email, and I will be happy to assist 🙂

Eager to learn more about Kendo? I definitely don't blame you. You can check out more about it here!