During keiko, when you are struck by your teacher or a friend its really them giving you kind, wordless, advice: “Be careful, this is a weak point.” If you are resentful and think “damn it, I’ve been hit!” then – when you have reached the status of being able to take part in the Kyoto Taikai* – you may become someone who doesn’t bother going up to thank someone after a losing match (i.e. you hold a grudge against them because you lost). Isn’t this type of thinking incorrect?
If you get hit and do something like raise your eyes/head up (i.e. look annoyed after being struck), it may help you dissipate your anger a little, but it would be much better if you just accepted the fact that you were struck, thought on what happened, and studied how to fix this weak point.
“KO-KEN-CHI-AI” : to understand ‘compassion’ through the clashing of shinai**. Reading the AI portion as simply ‘love’ has no meaning. You must do kendo so that your opponent thinks: “I’d love to have the chance to keiko with this person again.”
Becoming more proficient whilst being struck is kendo.
In the beginning, everybody is struck.
* The Kyoto Taikai (held Mat 2-5th every year) is the pinnacle of the kendo community. With a history of over 100 years, you have to be at renshi level to take part (non-Japanese living abroad can take part at only 6dan). Although this example using the Kyoto Taikai, you could extend it to shiai and to keiko in general.
About the author
SAKUMA SABURO sensei was born in 1912 in Fukushima prefecture. He started kendo at around 10/11 years old in Fukushima Butokuden. After graduating from what is now Fukushima University he started teaching kendo at various high schools. In 1939 he began to work in Mitsubushi’s mining operation and taught kendo throughout the country whilst visiting various mines. After the war, he became a student of Mochida Seiji hanshi and – while running his own kendo club – began working as a director in the Tokyo Kendo Renmei amongst other things. He died at 84 in 1997. He was hanshi hachidan.
平成・剣道 地木水火風空 読本（下）。佐久間三郎。平成9年発行。