How has Kendo changed since the Meiji Restoration?

I have been practicing Kendo for around 5 years now and have been fascinated by how the sport has changed, in particular since the Meiji Restoration.

I have several photographs from the 19th century of Kendōka facing off in various studio poses in our collection at which hint at some of the lost techniques that are no longer practiced. In particular the aikido techniques where throws or grapples seems to be a normal way of subduing an opponent in order to score.

The name Kendo was only introduced in 1920 and prior the sporting form of swordsmanship was referred to as Gekiken. Chiba Shusaku Narimasa (1793 - 1856) the founder of Hokushin Ittō-ryū could be considered the father of Kendo as he introduced Gekiken which was full contact duels using shinai (bamboo swords) whilst wearing lightweight armour known as bogu in the 1820s.

The popularity of Hokushin Ittō-ryū during the Edo period contributed to the uptake and wide use of shinai and bogu in Japan. In fact many of the waza (techniques) in modern Kendo are based on techniques practiced in Hokushin Ittō-ryū and were named by Narimasa himself including Suriage-men and Oikomo-men.

After the Meiji Restoration in the late 1800s the famous Samurai Sakakibara Kenkichi (1830-1894) popularised Kendo through public demonstrations generating an increased interest in Kendo and Kenjutsu. The sport was banned in 1946 after the war and only reintroduced formally as Kendo in 1952 with the introduction of the All Japan Kendo Federation.

I have seen Shinai vs. Naginata in demonstrations though hadn't seen Kusarigama vs. Shinai before and I wonder if any Kendo dojos in Japan still practice the older techniques of Gekiken today. It certainly requires more research and the purpose of this post was to share these fascinating photographs. If you have any further information on the photographs and prints below please add a comment and let me know!