Kendo Coaching Tips and Drills
Having been fortunate to have trained with George in Japan a few times and having undertaken a crash course with George in his coaching tips and drills, I find that there is a rationale, a progression and a great deal to be learned from the exercises that feature in the book. I use the drills with adults, kids and now with complete novice University students.
With all the great photos, this is a reference I will keep dipping into this for a long time.
George has really produced a fine product here and there really is a level of detail in this book that I have not seen in any other kendo instruction manual yet.
My favorite feature of the book are the pictures, I love Kendo photography and this book is jammed from cover to cover with quality photos to help illustrate the instructions and give you an image of what you should be working towards.
Easy to understand, well planned and executed. This does not belong on a coffee table but used as a tool in the dojo.
Geoge, Once again your latest book is just another sterling example of your amazing commitment to sharing this wonderful journey with us all out here in the worldwide kendo community. From your blog to your books to the great imagery. It all serves to keeps us informed and inspired. Hope to see you in the New Year for some keiko an beers. Thank You and keep up the great work.
Just started reading it. The explanations are very clear and I’m sure will help improve my kendo. Agree: the artwork is gorgeous. Many thanks mate!
Read a copy of this today; it is well articulated Kendo fundamentals. Well done!
Just got mine today. Love the fantastic photography and the well laid out descriptions. Many thanks for your hard work!
I’ve said it on Facebook, I’ve said it on G+… I’ll say it over here as well: I’m enjoying your book a lot! … it really is a good book!
Kendo Coaching Tips and Drills is the culmination of years worth of study, experimentation, coaching, writing, and of-course lots and lots (and lots) of keiko.
The book – unlike any other available in the English language – primarily aims to be a coaching aid for new-mid level teachers, or for those who aim to teach in the near future. Its also a very useful reference for less-experienced kendo practitioners, and provides more experienced instructors with new ideas.
The 76 page book – in beautiful A4 magazine and digital formats – is packed with lots of fundamental kendo teaching tips and tricks, as well as illustrated by high resolution photographs taken in Japan.
Check out the contents on the right and click the FULL PREVIEW AND PURCHASE button on this page to skim through the book before buying. Take time to have a look at the excerpts, pictures, and video on this page as well.
If you have any specific questions, queries, or feedback, feel free to contact the author here.
- Intro : who this book is for and how to use it
- Acquiring correct body movement : basic movement exercises
- Kamae : the prerequisite of beautiful kendo is a beautiful kamae
- Wrist dills : with flexibility comes technique variation and sharpness
- Cutting : developing a sense of cutting things
- Suburi : shinai and body in unison
- The most important person during practise : motodachi
- Basic movement : ken tai no ichi
- More Advanced basics : the next step
- Drills : acquiring basics through repetition
- Ippon : the construction of a correct strike
- Shiai-geiko : shinpan development and reinforcing ippon
- keiko plan making : whats your aim?
- Wrapping up : In conclusion
Taken from the chapter Basic Movement
Normal kendo training starts with men cutting, but what I would like to introduce here is that fundamentally, ideal kote and men strikes are identical in as far as body mechanics go. In the midst of keiko or shiai its normal that our bodies assume different shapes, even the highest graded or the top young guns do this; but ideally this isn’t our goal: we want not only accurate and precise kendo, but beautiful kendo as well.
The training method introduced here involves heavy focus on body mechanics using kote, then taking the exact same points and applying them to men. Men, therefore, is simply a natural extension of kote. Why choose kote as the basis and not men then? My rationale is:
A. the height of kote makes it easier to strike;
B. because you are looking down onto the kote you can easily
check if you are cutting straight and with the correct hasuji (cutting trajectory) or not. Its also its easier for the motodachi to check for you;
C. because kote is closer than men, any tendency to break your posture and overreach for the target it reduced;
D. many people raise their chin up on men strikes (especially small ones). Paying attention to it here will help emphasise the point later;
E. due to the height of the target it’s easier to get the image of cutting down into the ground than it is with men, which most people bounce off and up from;
F. it’s easier to focus on and explain the use and extension of the wrists in kote cuts;
G. with the extra distance involved in a men cut, many people pull their left foot up past their right foot when going into strike;
Now, with all the points mentioned in the kote section, and with the rationale above, let’s look at some men exercises.
Taken from the chapter The most important person in practise
You cannot study nor practise kendo on your own: you need a partner. Before we get to the point where we are free sparring, or competing in shiai, we need to spend a long time doing repetitive basics in the dojo. It is here – with the help of a good motodachi – that improvement is made. If you have no one to hit, or your receiver is inexperienced or simply not very good, then your progress will be compromised from the start.
As an instructor, building an environment where people learn from and help each other progress is vital. Ego should not be tolerated. When it comes to pairs of students executing and receiving techniques, both sides should be aware of what the other is doing, and the point that both are equal should be emphasised. More often than not, the motodachi ends up correcting the kakarite for perceived errors, but the opposite is not only valid, but more important: errors or modification in technique execution can sometimes be the fault of the motodachi. This point deserves attention.
The following chapters will start outlining a basic kihon practise, plus drills. In all cases strict attention must be paid to how the motodachi signals, receives, and acts in general, as it will affect the entire level of your kendo club.
Taken from the More Advanced Basics chapter
General points on HARAI waza
The following points apply to harai waza in general.
1) There are two types of footwork:
kote-men type: fumikomi on the harai and on each strike (e.g. harai men would have 2 stamps, harai gote-men would have 3). This movement is identical to other renzoku techniques we have discussed before so this method should be emphasised for the less experienced and for people who lack strength in their stamp or wrists.
floating harai type: you only stamp on the strikes, i.e. the harai happens while your foot is in the air (e.g. harai men would have a single stamp, and harai-gote-men would have 2). Due to timing differences and the need for a stronger wrist action, this is the more advanced method.
2) True harai requires understanding of shinogi use. The shinogi is the side part of a katana, and is the hardest part of the blade. Its use is commonly emphasised in various koryu, or old sword schools. The shinai is of-course round and has no real shinogi. However, the same mechanism of using the wrist must be applied in order to execute a solid harai.
3) Omote and ura harai. Although there are various directions for executing harai, here I want to look at only the orthodox and commonly used variety: harai-otoshi (omote) and harai-age (ura).
Harai otoshi is the action of smacking the opponents shinai down to the left utilising your shinais left shinogi; harai age is where you go under your opponents shinai to the left and smack their shinai up diagonally to the right using your right shinogi.
4) Harai deeply. You should aim to harai your opponents shinai quite deeply, going further than the nakayui (the exact position depends on the balance of your opponents shinai). A shallow harai at the tip of your opponents shinai is generally useless as the tip will quickly return to the position you tried to get it away from.
5) Be fast. The time between harai and strike must be as fast as you can. If you wait, the opponents shinai will come back in line.
6) Motodachi. In general the receivers kamae strength should vary depending on the ability of the kakarite. However, too weak a kamae, or simply allowing your shinai to be knocked away with absolutely no resistance, does not help the kakarite learn the correct mechanisms for the harai. This point should be considered deeply.
Lets look at the two actual techniques now.
From the chapter Acquiring correct body movement
A brief note on kata and its role in acquiring correct posture and body movement
In the English-language kendo community the term kata denotes the 10 paired forms that we learn. What is embedded in these forms is the culmination in knowledge of past swordsmen and they represent not only a physical ideal of how to move, but are also important as a vehicle for kendo culture and even metaphysical kendo ideology. The latter is not in the scope of this book though: I will just mention very briefly about why they are an indispensable part of the physical study of kendo.
After 10 or so years of experimentation and trial, in 2010 another set of forms where introduced into the grading scene here in Japan: Bokuto ni yoru kihon keikoho (“methods for basic practise using a wooden sword”). As far as my theme of this chapter goes – acquiring correct posture and body movement – this set is effectively no different in purpose than kendo-no-kata. Here in Japan, it is taught to children as an introduction to the move advanced kendo-no-kata. For adult beginners to mid- level practitioner’s its an excellent method to acquire kendo movement basics at a relaxed pace.
If we look at the word KATA in Japanese, its usually rendered as 形. However, the actual proper usage is 型. Both read the same, but what’s the difference? The former simply means “shape” or “form.” It describes the form that something is in, what it looks like. The second kanji, on the other hand, is the thing that is used to create items of the same shape, in other words, a cookie cutter like device. Kendo-no-kata can therefore be thought of as a kendo shaped cookie cutter and the students who practise it cookies (hopefully kendo shaped). Although non-Japanese readers might not be interested in the difference, I think that one of the main purposes of kata study is revealed: i.e. kata training was/is traditionally thought of as one of the main vehicles to teach people correct kendo.
The book was written by yours-truly, kenshi247 editor George. I have been studying kendo for almost 20 years now and been involved in coaching since 2000, when I took over the day-to-day running of Edinburgh kendo club. Straight after taking part in the 12th World Kendo Championships (2003) I moved to Japan… where I still am, almost 10 years later.
Since 2008 I have been the sole kendo coach of a large high-school kendo club in central Osaka, where I coach 6-days a week, all year-round. I am almost certainly the only official non-Japanese kendo coach in Japan. As well as this, I also established Eikenkai, the only foreign-run keikokai in the country with a permanent dojo.
This book is based on my own experiences as a kendo student in Japan, studying under top-level sensei on a regular basis, as well as the day-to-day coaching experience mentioned above. I hope you enjoy the book!!!