Crouching lion and the roar of sonkyo

A while back I stumbled on a poetic phrase while reading some kendo information: 獅子の気合 (shishi no kiai). In kendo-friendly English it becomes “The Lion’s kiai” – what a great image! I stumbled on it randomly again today so thought I’d google it’s origin. Unfortunately I found next to nothing about the phrase online, so I assume it’s not an old phrase but perhaps just some personal imagery used by some sensei (famous or otherwise I have no idea; it could even be a sumo reference). What I did find was almost the exact same quote online as I appears in the book I was flicking through… which probably backs up my supposition (if anybody has any extra information, please comment!).

Anyway, it’s a nice image so I thought I’d share the – very mini – passage about it with kenshi 24/7 readers. The translation is a combination between the book and online descriptions and is very loose/free.

At keiko later this evening I will have this in mind !


百獣の王たる獅子は、自分より大きい像と戦う時にも、グーッと引きつけておいて飛び掛る。小さい兎に対しても侮らないで、グーッと引き付けておいて、ウォーと気合をいれ、パーッと捕まえる (book+online)。獅子がうずくまっている。。。この理の修業が大切である (online)。

礼法と思料するが内面は構え、外面は礼法である。これが修行の土台になる理の修行である。剣道で一番大事なことは、試合でも、稽古でも蹲踞である (book)。

The lion’s kiai

Even when the lion, the king of all beasts, comes up against something bigger than itself – the elephant – he pulls himself up, roars, and jumps at it ferociously. When he faces something smaller than himself – the rabbit – he doesn’t make light of it in any way, he again pulls himself up, roars bravely, and pounces.

The crouching lion – this principle is important to pursue.

Giving the topic of etiquette (reiho) some careful consideration, you will discover that the interior is your attitude and the exterior how polite you act. This is the very foundation of the pursuit of the principles (of budo). In kendo, the most important thing, whether it be in shiai or keiko, is sonkyo.


Online reference.

By George

George is the founder and chief editor of
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3 replies on “Crouching lion and the roar of sonkyo”

My old Sensei always talked about being a Lion in Kendo in reference to KuraiSeme (which I believe is 位攻め)although I wasn’t able to find much about it on the net…

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