equipment kendo

Mokumoku shugyo

I picked up my first nama-kiji dou in 2015, as a sort of present to myself. Up until that time – unbelievably – I’d never had a bamboo dou. There were a couple of reasons why I didn’t get one: the main one being economic, and the second that I thought that (somehow) a bamboo […]

dojo history kendo

Weekend musha-shugyo and research trip

Last weekend I took some time out of my super busy schedule to visit a kendo friend in Iwate prefecture, in the north of Japan’s main island. I’d been promising to go for years, but with this and that, I’d never managed to quite find the time and make good my promise. Realising I’d probably […]

kendo theory


For perhaps the fifth year (or maybe it’s the sixth) I find myself going through ramadan. Well, not exactly ramadan, as I am an atheist (though not irreligious), but I co-opt the month to do my own sort of spiritual and physical discipline (for the same reason I have tried Lent before). During this period […]


The shugyo spiral

Just under six years ago I published an article entitled The Kendo Lifecycle. It was quite popular at the time and, based on my site stats, is still visited regularly by people from all corners of the Internet. As an extension to this I started, from about two or three years ago, to attempt and […]

dojo history kendo kenshi

Tokyo Musha-Shugyo

At the very end of July this year I took some time out of my normal schedule and headed to Tokyo for a Musha Shugyo, that is, I went on a “warriors pilgrimage,” with the aim of polishing my kendo. In the short time I was there (I stayed five nights in Tokyo) I visited […]

eikenkai kendo

Eikenkai (July 2023)

Today I held my first Eikenkai since February. Due to this-and-that a lot of regular members weren’t in attendance. Still, 15 people turned up for a just-over three hour session. Nationalities represented included Japan, China, America, Croatia, Ireland, Switzerland, Venezuela, Italy, Germany, and, of course, Scotland. The lack of locals made today’s session feel more […]

japanese kendo

Slow horse, fast horse

Just the other week a friend was visiting from Tokyo. She popped into the dojo for a couple of keiko, one in the morning and another in the afternoon. To my surprise she also brought with her a gift from my 2022 Kyoto Taikai partner: a tenugui. I of course knew that they were friends, […]

gradings kendo

A brief comment on rokudan/nanadan gradings (2022)

UPDATED: when I posted this article originally it was about the rokudan tests. When I later went to translate comments for the 2022 nanadan tests I realised that the published comments were the same. Rokudan and nanadan always happen together over two days, and it seems that the same shinsa-in work on both. I have […]


2022 Review

Happy holidays! Usually at the end of the year I review what has been happening on kenshi 24/7 but this year has been rather thin pickings again, with only 14 articles published (this being the 15th). This has partly been due to the ongoing pandemic (at least, it seems to be still ongoing here in […]

eikenkai kendo

Eikenkai (Nov. 2022)

Yesterday, for the first time this year, I held an Eikenkai session at my work dojo. Twenty-one friends gathered together representing something like ten countries (Japan, China, Scotland, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Croatia, America, and New Zealand) for a spirited morning of keiko. A couple of us arrived at the dojo at 7:30am-ish to practice […]