How to pass hachidan

Here is the advice that was given to my favourite teacher just prior to him passing his hachidan on this 4th attempt at the age of 49 a few years ago. The advice was given to him by the shihan of my dojo, a kendo hanshi who was in the last class of 5 people to graduate Busen (the legendary Budo Senmon Gakko in Kyoto). He was told to:

気勢・剣勢・体勢をもって正しく打ち切る。気攻めで、相手の気と機をつかむ。それを自然と身体が覚える。

  • With a vigorous spirit and sword, and a good posture, be decisive (in your actions and cutting).
  • Apply pressure to your opponent by reading their intent and seizing his openings with a strong and confident spirit.
  • Do this until your body can react and move naturally.

Luckily he goes on to expand it point by point:

気勢:立合は、必死も大きな声を出し、懸かる気持ちをみせる。
剣勢:左手、右手の使用で剣先がおちる打ち。
体勢:右足の攻めと、左足の引き付け、打突後のさばき。
正しく打ち切る:色を掛けないで、打ち間から、捨て切る打ち。
気攻め:留めて留めて丹田から前に押し出し攻め。
気と機をつかむ:その攻めにより、相手の気剣体の動きと、心の動きを観、初太刀の攻防。

  • vigorous spirit: with a big kiai do your utmost to project your feeling of attack on your opponent;
  • vigorous sword: using both hands correctly cut decisively and strongly with the kensaki.;
  • posture: use your right foot to pressure the opponent, don’t forget to pull up your left foot always, and be careful of your movement after you strike;
  • cut decisively: without showing your intention to strike and from uchima, throw your whole body (sutemi) into the cut;
  • attacking with your spirit: hold the attack in your tanden until breaking point, whilst pressuring forwards;
  • Apply pressure to your opponent by reading their intent and seizing his openings: using your seme, study your opponents movements, both his kikentai and his heart. Pay particular attention to the attack/defence of the opening cut (shotachi).

On top of the advice he received, he then adds his own points:

基礎体力の充実:走り込み・腹筋・背筋・腕立て。
切り返し・打ち込み稽古:朝稽古での切り返し、打ち込み稽古の継続。地稽古の後、面の打ち込み稽古。
基本技の継続:機を熟しての打ち切る技の反復。

  • Train your body to become stronger: run, do sit-ups, back stretches, and pushups;
  • Kirikaeshi / Uchikomigeiko: continually practise kirikaeshi and uchimomigeiko. After jigeiko, practise basic men cutting;
  • Continuation of kihon-waza practise: repeatedly execute decisive strikes at opportune moments.

This is a lot to digest, but just reading it has taken us all one step closer to hachidan!

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Published by

George

I’m the founder and chief editor of kenshi247.net.

Amongst other things I am a high school kendo club coach, an avid practitioner of classical swordsmanship, a history student, and a vegetarian.

7 thoughts on “How to pass hachidan”

  1. Excellent post. Lots to digest. Actually, I gave 八段の修行 (Hachidan no shugyo) to a friend of mine last year and she loved it. Thanks for the post!

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