Kendo Taikai – The First Edition

KENDO TAIKAI, meaning Kendo Championship, is an entertaining strategy cardgame for 2-6 players, based on the physical and mental aspects of kendo, the traditional japanese fencing. It comes with three rule versions: an easier one with less and open cards for beginner players and for competition purposes, a similar easy one with more cards and hidden cards designed for more players, and a more complex one for advanced players.

There are three gameplay-versions of the game. All of them can by played with the same deck or with its parts.
Version 1: Kendo Shiai – Kendo Competition

The Kendo Competition is a more complex variant rule designed to more advanced players and for those who practice kendo in reality. It takes more time to learn and needs bigger attention while playing, however the gameplay is very much like a real kendo bout.

Difficulty: 4/5
Players: 2
Gameplay: 10-20 mins
Cards needed: 110

  • at the beginning players draw 8 cards
  • during the game players must swith their cards and pick a new one befor every attack or counterattack
  • a player is awarded an IPPON or hitpoint if he or she make the opponent not be able to react to an attack. The player wins who gets the 2nd IPPON first.
  • it is also possible to get HANSOKU or penalty points during the game for stepping out of court, or losing the bamboo sword (SHINAI)which is exactly the same in real kendo comeptitions.
  • The players can gain adventage by altering their cards. The use of the cards is more complex than it is in the 2. version: Musashi’s Challenge.

Version 2: Musashi no chōsen – Musashi’s Challenge

Musashi’c Challenge is much easier to learn and play the kendo playing cards.It also makes possible a simulatnous gameplay of 2-6 players. It needs less attention as it offers entertainment for children and non kendo practicioners as well. The players can have a glimpse into the wonderful World of Kendo, the Way of the Sword.

Difficulty: 2/5
Players: 2-6
Gameplay: 3-10 mins
Cards needed: 105

  • at the beginning the players draw 12 cards
  • it is allowed to switch only once and only the the beginning. the players don’t keep picking new cards during the game
  • players can choose whom they attack (when >2 players)
  • there is no IPPON or HANSOKU nor marking sign during the game.
  • the player who is the last one to lose all of the cards form the hand wins.
  • attacks can be parried or turned back to the attacker or even to other player, and can also be strenghtened with additional cards.
  • the players can take other player’s cards and use them if they can’t react to an attack.

Version 3: Shobu – Bushi no ketto – Samurai’s Duel

The Shobu – Samurai’s Duel is a variant of the Musashi’s challenge version, but with only the half of the cards.

It is the easiest and the suggested way to start to get acquainted with the Kendo Playing Cards, however it needs different strategy than Musasi’s Challenge and Kendo Shiai since it is played with open cards.
Therefore it is also the best choice for a competition since the spectators can easily follow the game and may think together with the players.

Difficulty: 1.5 / 5
Players: 2
Gameplay: 3-10 mins
Cards needed: 55


The Kendo Playing Cards game is created by
Akos Vachter (kendo 4.dan, Hungarian Japanese-Kendo Club, Budapest, Hungary)

The very idea of the game came to me about 3 years ago, as I was travelling on the underground. In a random moment I just imagined how great it would be to transmit kendo into an entertaining card game that we could play after or besides training, and maybe it could pass kendo to more people in the world as well.

After arriving home I wrote down the first version of the rules – that is about the 80% same of the present final version in about an hour. Than to find the remaining 20% by testing and improving the gameplay took the last 3 years and lots of played test games.

I hope that it will give you as much fun as it has been giving to us over the last years creating it.



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