The following is a translation of an extremely interesting hand written note given to Jim Gucciardo (NYC kendo club) by Nishino Goro hanshi in 1998.

Nishino Goro hanshi was born in 1923 in Kochi prefecture. After graduating from Tokyo Normal Higher School he became a school teacher in Hokkaido. After the war he returned to his home prefecture and worked as a high school teacher. He has taken part in the Senshuken Taikai (“All Japans”), the kyoshokuin taikai (All Japan teachers championshop), kokutai, etc. He is the honourary kendo teacher of Kochi Prefectures Medical University.

Putting the concept of kendo into practise

This can be found in the pursuit of yuko datotsu.

(The steps to this run sequentially as follows:)

  1. Getting an ippon by hitting (striking);
  2. Getting an ippon by cutting (cutting, thrusting, evading);
  3. Cutting cleanly with clarity (a cut that leaves little doubt);
  4. Cutting your opponents heart/mind (a cut that strikes at the psychological or spiritual weakness of your opponent);
  5. Wielding the sword harmoniously (accepting defeat and feeling gratitude at the same time);
  6. Wielding the sword with compassion, being able to close into your opponent through strength of spirit alone.


  • Dont express winning or losing through your physical manner, remain calm.
  • Both yourself and your opponent must be in unison.
  • The beauty of kendo can be found in choosing not to cut even when you can.

– Nishino Goro, 1998.


As you can see by the image emblazoned in the header (written in the traditional Japanese style of right->left), the steps towards deeper understanding of the Concept of Kendo as understood by Nishino hanshi progress from 1-6 and parallel the movement from reliance on waza/technical ability (技) towards the more mental/psychological aspects (心).

As any practitioner of kendo can imagine, these stages are not always uniform in length nor does the change between one to another happen as smoothly as we would like them to…. if we are even cognisant about them at all. For most of us its a struggle just to get to step 3. If that is the case, then how much harder is it then to continue to aim towards a more complete understanding of the Concept of Kendo?

In this short note I can see that not only is my kendo experience shallow at best, but It reminds me that kendo indeed is not a race, but a lifetime endeavor*. I hope readers can also take something away from this short message.

* See “Lifelong Kendo” in the “The Mindset of Kendo Instruction


Thanks again go to Jim for passing this note to me and allowing it to be translated and made public to the readers of As small a note as it is, I think its a very personal one. Cheers!