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Out of curiosity, I was looking up the rules of kendo, and a very peculiar rule stood out to me. If a player celebrates in any way after winning a point, even with a subtle fist pump, the point can be nullified/taken away. Personally, this sounds utterly baffling. Apparently, it is seen as disrespectful to the opponent to celebrate a point in kendo. But how, and why? Why is it disrespectful in kendo, but not in other sports?

The main sport that I follow is tennis, but I'm also familiar with rules of several other sports, and none of them have such a rule. In fact, celebrating a point to increase one's morale is encouraged in many sports. But I'll use tennis as my main point of comparison since it's what I know best.

For example, in the 2019 US Open Rafael, Nadal scored a point against Cilic by hitting the ball around the net and into the other court. He then lets out a loud yell, and understandably so. The shot that Cilic hit was extremely difficult to return, and hitting around the net is extremely rare and very difficult to do. It seems fitting to celebrate after scoring such an impossible point. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBw63IFYaRk

Don't get me wrong, tennis also has many stringent rules and regulations, and sportsmanship/respect is highly valued. Tennis has a reputation for being a snobby/uptight sport because of that, but even then, celebrating a victory is seen as a normal thing to do. Seeing the emotions of the players displayed on the court is part of the experience.

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  • Among other reasons, the same reason you don't watch a home run ball in baseball. Because it's just rude to your opponent. May 15, 2023 at 17:16

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The "purpose" of kendo is to develop capability of self. Winning is not about beating the opponent, but demonstrating quality of posture, movement, and attitude in the best way, to the extent that winning has a point at all (this is a highly contentious issue within kendo itself, and investigating that context is worthwhile in its own right).

In this respect, celebrating victory as one does in tennis would be rude to everybody involved. This reflection from a kendoka describes the relative importance of politeness and deference in kendo, with the emphatic point that

... the competitive aspect of kendo is less important than demonstrating kendo’s budo (武道; “martial art”) spirit. Indeed, kendo practitioners make a point of resisting associations of kendo as a “sport”. Kendo in Japan is unequivocally a martial art – the distinction being that sports are based on overcoming external opponents whereas the point of budo is to overcome oneself. One doesn’t “defeat” opponents in kendo so much as one demonstrates the progress one has made on their abstract quest for self-cultivation. “Winning” matters less than paying respect to the sparring partner who permits one to learn how to overcome their personal limitations.

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Because kendo "emulates" a sword fight, and one should never celebrate the death (or even the disabling) of someone else, even an enemy.

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