SEME #5: Arimitsu Masaaki

The following is a short translation of a famous sensei’s description of SEME.

Seme #5: SEME #5: Arimitsu Masaaki

“Kamae with the centre line (the extension of your shinai) being around the area between your opponents chest and throat, all the while energetically pressuring your opponent. However, don’t intentional show this spirit at the end of your shinai; as much as you can, keep your outward composure at all times. For example, if the opponent does something like strikes down your shinai etc, quietly and unhurriedly allow your shinai to go back to the centre line.

However, at the instant when your partner threatens to step in and strike, without a moments delay face them enthusiastically and ensure that your pressure is projected out through the tip of your shinai towards your opponent with the feeling of “If you are going to attack, come on then!!!”

To do this, you must relax your shoulders, soften your hands, and kamae in the centre utilising your spirit to face the oncoming attack. In order to achieve this you must always sink your spirit into your lower abdomen (tanden)…. so much so that your abdomen feels tight against your obi and tare.

Depending on your ability to do this, your shoulders will become relaxed, your hands soft and flexible, and your kamae will look bigger and more impressive.

If you can achieve this then during a fierce bout then you will be able to read even the smallest behavior in the disposition or movement of your opponent, and you will be able to strike wholeheartedly with abandon using all the resources available to you. This ability to read your opponent is connected to one’s belief and therefore ability to throw themselves into an attack wholeheartedly (sutemi).

During keiko, especially of your partner is more senior to you, its common that you find yourself being constantly pressured strongly by the tip of their shinai. At this time its important that you fight with the feeling of receiving that shinai on your throat, and that when you step in and attack, to do so with the aim of getting past that shinai tip. This is the first stage in the study of true kendo.”

Arima sensei was the winner of the All Japan police individual championship 3 times and the team championships once (2nd place once as well). He has also taken part and placed highly in the All Japan Championships, Kokutai, and the Meiji mura taikai amongst other competitions. At the time of writing this piece he was a police kendo teacher in Kagoshima police HQ and kyoshi 8dan. He is currently the vice-director of Kagoshima kendo renmei and a director of the All Japan kendo association. He is now hanshi 8dan.

Source

This small section is part of a much larger series of interviews called “Mei senshu, renma no hibi” (famous competitors and their day-to-day practise) published by Kendo Jidai between 1983-84. The series was compiled into 2 books and published as “Renma no hibi” in 1989. Most of the interviewed sensei were only 7dan at the time and are now renowned 8dan sensei.

剣道時代の「名選手、錬磨の日々」(1983ー84)からの抜粋です。「錬磨の日々」の本は1989発行。

Thanks! (Kendo Reader)

This is just a quick post to say thanks to everyone for help making our latest publication – Noma Hisashi’s THE KENDO READER – a great success… ALREADY!!

It was only released on Wednesday night (it’s Sunday night as I write this) and multiple print editions have already gone out to the following locations:

The UK, America (at least 8 states), Hong Kong, Japan, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belgium, Holland, Brazil, Switzerland, Finland, Canada, Singapore, Chile, Australia, Portugal, Ukraine, France, and Spain.

Of-course, digital copies have also been downloaded in various locations around the world as well (I don’t have precise location information on them though).

Not bad for the first 4 days!

So…. a big big THANK YOU to everyone who picked up a copy, whether it was digital or print.

I believe that this book book is a true kendo classic, and I am sure (nay, positive!) that it is the not only the most comprehensive kendo book available in English now, but that it will remain so for the foreseeable future.

I hope that everyone that reads the book gets as much out of it as I did working on it. And please remember and share it with your friends and dojo mates.

Again, thanks!

More information / Get it

Deluxe print edition with free digital:
*** Get it on magcloud.com

Download the digital edition:
*** Get it on gumroad.com

Blog post:
Read about it on kenshi247.net/

Dedicated page:
http://kendo-book.com/kendo-reader/

KENDO READER 剣道読本

After over 2 years of editing, translating, reading, more editing, double-checking, re-reading, etc, I’m finally proud to announce the release of my latest book: Noma Hisashi’s KENDO READER.

The original book was published posthumously almost 75 years ago in 1939 (pre World War 2) yet has barely aged a day – it’s jam-packed full of information that is as relevant to the kenshi of the past as it is to us today. Not only that, but as far as kendo information goes, the book is exhaustive. In my opinion (and I’ve read many Japanese kendo books) the Kendo Reader is a true kendo classic.

Background

Some people reading this might say “Hang on, you can find that online!” but I’m afraid to say that the version you can find online is over 30% incomplete with full of transcription errors as well as lots of omissions. i.e. it’s no longer the book as Noma wrote it. Realising the state of the situation, and with an original 1939 copy of the book in hand, I wondered what I could do to make this gem available in its original form to the kendo community.

After some investigation, I got in touch with the initial translator of the version that was floating on the net, and he gave me all his remaining paperwork, as well as his blessings to re-edit, re-translate, and generally complete the project.

What I did

Over the past 2 years I’ve gone through the original Japanese and meticulously re-edited the initial translation into a 100% complete English language version. This included translating large sections (including forewords and whole chapters), discovering and fixing omissions, re-wording sections, etc, as well as all the usual design issues taken on when self-publishing.

I also scanned in all the original inlays and provided translations and background notes on them – something the original Japanese doesn’t have.

What the initial translator started in 1979 I have now – with the release of this new version – brought to a close…. almost 35 years later!

What you get

This new version of the book is – and I don’t say this lightly – almost certainly the most comprehensive kendo book available in the English language.

There are two versions available:

  1. A deluxe print edition (with free digital)
  2. A standard digital edition

For more information on the book, including pictures and differences between the editions, please visit the books dedicated page:

http://kendo-book.com/kendo-reader/

Enough chat, get it!

Preview and purchase the stunning deluxe print version here (with free digital).

Purchase and download the digital version right now here.

Pictures

See kendo-book.com.

Comments and/or questions?

Please feel free to ask any questions or leave comments about the book on this site or on facebook. Cheers!!!

Ishihara Tadami hanshi’s Important point’s for keiko

The following is short semi-translation of a small introduction piece published from the ZNKRs official kendo magazine Kenso (August 2013). I say only ‘semi-” as there wasn’t much explanation behind the points in the magazine so I’ve liberally translated what there was and then freely added in my own explanations. Feel free to interpret the points as you like.

Ishihara Tadami hanshi

* Born in Okayama prefecture.
* Graduate of BUSEN.
* Awarded 9dan at 74 years old.
* Honourary president of Okayama kendo association.
* Currently 97 years old.

10 important points for keiko

1. 一足一刀少し入る
“Enter a little bit further than issoku-itto-no-ma”

When executing an attack its best to enter a little bit further than perhaps you need to when striking. In this way you will feel a little bit more “freedom” in your attack.

2. 剣先立てて指す
“Keep the kensaki up”

When being attacked many people lower their shinai. Rather than doing that, receive/absorb the attack with the shinogi of the shinai.

Don’t duck and dodge, or use your shinai like a wind-shield-wiper in order to avoid or stop an attack.

3. 面は左右にかわす
“Avoid men strikes by moving right or left”

Two things in one here: when the opponent strikes men move your body to the left or right and – catching their shinai with the shinogi of yours – deflect their attack and strike men.

This describes either a suriage or a kiriotoshi action.

4. 引き出して打つ
“Pull a strike out from the opponent then strike them”

In other words, lure your opponent into striking you then – as you are in control of the timing – strike them as they commit to their attack. This describes debana waza.

5. 上虚下実で気攻め
“True seme comes from the lower body”

Loosen your upper body and put your strength into your tanden. Seme strongly with your spirit from this position.

This also relates to tension in your body and proper breathing method.

6. 受け、即打突に
“At the instant you receive your opponents strike turn it back on them”

Its important to not just negatively receive or block your opponents strikes. Instead, turn any defensive posture immediately into an attack. For example, “defending” against a men attack by performing kaeshi-dou.

In kendo we have the teaching “kobo-ichi,” that is, attack and defense as one.

7. 心気力一体
“Shin-ki-ryoku-itai”

As the kanji imply, in order to progress your shugyo and understand ki-ken-tai-no-ichi, its important to combine your heart, spirit, and power into one.

8. 力 40・30・30
“Power 40-30-30”

A successful strike must be made up of 40% of the shinai’s weight, 30% power, and 30% snap. Using only SAE itself (power+snap through correct use of tenouchi) will not alone lead to a sufficient strike.

9. 初太刀
“Shotachi”

You must always pay careful attention to the first strike as its here that life or death is decided.

The importance an individual gives to shotachi illustrates, I believe, their progress in understanding the deeper aspects of kendo shugyo.

10. すりあげ面。出ばな小手。抜き胴
“Suriage men, debana-kote, nuki-do”

These are what Ishihara sensei believes are the fundamental waza that should be acquired.

I’m not and will never be a hanshi (nor 8 dan) but for oji-waza these are the very minimum OJI waza that I require all my student to acquire:

Men oji-waza:
– debana kote
– kaeshi or nuki dou

Kote oji-waza:
– aigote-men

These are waza that I’m confident all of my students can learn to a good degree. On top of this I soon add kote-gaeshi-men and kote-suriage-men as well. Of course I also have my students practise debana-men constantly, even as beginners, but its such an advanced technique that many never get the knack. Therefore I ensure that they at least have options when responding to an opponents men strike.

Source

月刊剣窓8月号。全日本剣道連盟。石原忠美先生の教え・山本普一郎。

Monna Tadashi 門奈正

(the picture above shows (l-r): Monna Tadashi, Sasaki Masanori, Naito Takaharu)

Along with his friend and fellow Tobukan/Hokushin Itto-ryu kenshi Naito Takaharu, Monna Tadashi (1855-1930) was one of the most influential swordsmen in modern kendo’s early period. At Busen they were known as the pair: “Waza Monna” and “Ki Takaharu.”

The Monna family were hereditary retainers of Mito-han and Tadashi was his parents 4th child (out of 8). The period was a tumultuous one, and his family didn’t escape involvement in political matters: his father became involved in intrigue and eventually died during political imprisonment. Due to this the eldest brother committed seppuku and the other brothers yet to reach manhood (including Tadashi) were confined to house arrest.

Tadashi was under house arrest from 10-15 years of age. After his release, Tadashi studied Suifu-ryu kenjutsu, attaining Menkyo-kaiden in the art before joining Tobukan in around 1881. There he studied Hokushin Itto-ryu and Shin-Tamiya ryu battojutsu as well as shinai kendo under Ozawa Torakichi. At Tobukan he also received instruction under Shimoe Hidetaro (a student of Chiba Shusaku) and in 1888, due to the influence of Ozawa and Shimoe, Tadashi went to Tokyo and began teaching kendo at Keishicho (eventually with Naito).

In 1894 he was sent with the other kendo teachers from Keishicho to take part in the First Sino-Japanese war (they were sent to the Korean peninsula). During a particular battle in Pyongyang, he is said to have spearheaded an attack and killed 28 Chinese soldiers (with a sword presumably).

In 1899 (while Naito joined the Dai-Nippon-Butokukai) Tadashi moved to the Kanagawa police department and worked hard to establish the Dai-Nippon Butokukai Kanagawa branch. He was awarded Seirensho the same year.

In 1907 he joined Naito at Busen and became a kendo instructor here.

1911/1912 he was involved in the committee for development of kendo-no-kata.

In 1913, at the same time as Naito Takaharu and Takano Sasaburo, he was awarded hanshi.

Scandal ?

In 1919 Tadashi was dismissed from Busen and moved to the Butokukai’s branch school in Nagoya – seemingly for having a relationship with a Geisha from Gion 37 years his junior. In Nagoya he continued to teach kendo but led a secluded life with his paramour until his death.

He is buried in Nanzen-ji temple in Kyoto.

Back line (l-r): Takano, Naito, Monna

Sources

This article is basically a quick translation of some secondary material simple to introduce someone whose picture many kendo people have seen and hopefully to spur some interest in the people that helped develop modern kendo.

水戸東武館一三〇年誌。
明治撃剣家 春風館立ち切り誓願。堂本昭彦。