Kentaisei (剣待生), translated sword-bearing student or swordbearer, is a contraction of Kengi-Tokutaisei (剣技特待生), meaning "swordsmanship scholarship student." It refers to a subset of students at Tenchi Academy who carry swords with them at all times throughout the school day, in constant preparation for the Hoshitori. The swordbearer system was invented by Amachi Hitsugi, and first instituted in her freshman year at Tenchi's middle school.
Halfway through the program's fifth year (Hayate's first), there are 174 registered shinyuu pairs in the swordbearer program, or 348 individual swordbearers, plus an unknown number of tanshin. Halfway through the next year, the number has increased to 213 pairs, or 426 individual swordbearers. The number of known, named pairs by this point is 29 (13.6% of the total).