There are mysterious victories, but no mysterious defeats

The following is a translation of short piece by Haga Junichi.

Haga was born in 1908 and started kendo when he was 18. Moving to Tokyo he joined Nakayama Hakudo’s Yushinkan and became one of the top pupils there. With Nakayama’s introduction he got a post as an imperial guard in 1930, eventually being transferred to keishicho in 1931 to work as a professional kendo instructor. In 1934 he transferred to Korea and taught kendo at police, military, and university level. Post WW2 he was a much sought after kendo teacher, but he turned down various requests, including an offer from keishicho. He was also influentially in helping to start up the ZNKR but chose not to continue his work there soon after the organisations establishment. He died in 1966.

Pressure the opponents spirit and technique with your own

During shiai practice most people (save the selfish) feel defeated when struck. On the other hand, there are times when, despite not sensing or feeling that you have been struck even lightly, a point is scored against you. This type of loss happens only when you spar with someone who is good at “touching” and cannot be said to be a true victory.

There is a kendo teaching that says:

There are mysterious victories, but no mysterious defeats.

If you take the effort to discipline yourself daily over time it stands to reason that you will naturally develop good cutting ability. With this skill there are times where you will be victorious in competition. Despite acquiring such technique however, there are times that you may lose: the source of this loss springs from trying to force things to much, that is, by desire and ambition. Like this, there are times in kendo where despite hitting or striking someone you don’t feel like you have been victorious.

Rather than talk about other people, let me give an example using myself.

Back when I was attended keiko at keishicho (Tokyo Metropolitan Police), there was this one time when I approached Saimura Goro sensei for keiko. I was around 24 or 25 and he was in his 40s I think. I had what I thought was quite a good spar with Saimura sensei, and so did my friend who was watching. However, when I sat in seiza and thought about it, all I could remember were the few times I was struck by Saimura sensei… all the strikes I thought I had made had disappeared from my mind like melted snow. I realised then that my strikes had actually been spiritless and that Saimura sensei had just led me around by the nose, striking me with large spirited strikes now and then as he pleased.

In kendo, if you don’t attack the faults in your opponents technique or any deficiency in their spirit, then you will never achieve true victory.



By George

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