Practitioners of kendo are called kendōka (剣道家), meaning "someone who practices kendo",[18] or  kenshi (剣士), meaning "swordsman".[19] The old term of kendoists is sometimes used.[20]

The "Kodansha Meibo" (a register of dan graded members of the All Japan Kendo Federation) shows that as of September 2007, there were 1.48 million registered dan graded kendōka in Japan. According to the survey conducted by the AJKF, the number of active kendōka in Japan is at 477,000 practitioners, 290,000 of whom have at attained at least shodan. From these figures, the AJKF estimates that the number of "kendōka" in Japan is 1.66 million, with over 6 million practitioners worldwide, by adding the number of the registered dan holders and the active kendo practitioners without dan grade.[21]

Within the activity, kendōka are distinguished by seniority. Teachers are sensei, seniors are senpai, and juniors are kōhai.

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