Year: 2009

Practise may ingrain bad habits

From “Living with ambiguity” by Sydney J. Harris. Published by Nan’Un-Do You probably know the chestnut about the stranger in New York, carrying a violin case, who stops an old lady on the street, and asks, “Can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?” With a glance at his violin case, she replies, “Practise, practise, practise!” One of the oldest maxims in the world is that “Practise makes perfect.” This, however, is a dangerous half-truth that has betrayed many novices in many fields of accomplishimnent.

Sinister Swordsmanship

It’s a not uncommon sight on sword-related forums these days. An aspiring student of the Japanese sword arts, left-handed, joins the forum and asks about studying ken (be it kendo, iaido, or aiki-ken) with a left-handed grip. He is quickly informed that no, Japanese swordsmanship is a right-handed affair, that all Japanese swordsman were right-handed, saya were worn on the right and saya-ate avoided at all costs, and trying to learn it left-handed would be weird at best, uncouth and disrespectful at worst. Veteran lefties give him “Ganbare! I’ve been there, too!” encouragement. Righties tell him about all the things …

Tsubazeria rule changes in high school kendo

The following rule changes will probably not impact your kendo training any time soon nor in the near future. However, implementation of them in competition for young Japanese kenshi ensures that there will be a stylistic change in the kendo leaders of the future and it is also strongly hints at what the kendo leaders of today see as bad style. The changes have been in discussion and trial over quite a while here in Japan (implementation was decided in May 2009, and I have personally seen the rules been applied in shiai), but it is only from this month …

Daily Readings for Kendo Growth and Development

“Motomereba Mugendai” (求めれば無限大) is my favorite Kendo book.  It is a small, easily readable book composed of 100 short essays on Kendo training and leadership topics.  One of the things I like about it (in addition to the uncomplicated, straightforward word choice and sentence structure) is the way the author has divided the book in to chapters based on the themes of the essays.  The first two chapters are devoted to the practitioner’s personal technical and spiritual development.  The third chapter is focused on advice for the kenshi as an instructor.  The last chapter is for parents, both those with …

Kendo places #8 and #9: Kashima and Katori jingu

As part of my summer Musha Shugyo this year I visited the spiritual and historical center of budo in Japan: Kashima and Katori shrines, located in Ibaragi and Chiba prefectures respectively. Their proximity to each other is very close, about 15 mins by train. Although 400 years ago there were no trains nor cars and travel was done by foot or horse, I can easily imagine kenshi of yore walking between these shrines as part of their musha shugyo. From the aptly titled article “A bit of Background” please refer to this quote from Meik Skoss to understand the relationship …