For the first instalment of this months book project I picked two books that were written by the same authors: Oshima Kotaro and Ando Kozo. Oshima Kotaro was the son of Oshima Jikita (another article here) and Ando Kozo was the shihan of the Waseda university kendo club from 1999-2002.
The two books being looked at today are: Kendo Nyumon (“An introduction to kendo”), published in 1971, and Kendo Dokushu Kyohon (“A self-study guide to kendo”), published in 1980. Putting aside the difference in titles, the latter is essentially a renewed version of the former with extended supplementary chapters (for example on shiai and shinpan) and increased emphasis on some of the introductory parts. It’s also worth mentioned that the books are quite in-depth despite being labelled with “introduction” or “self-study” in the title.
The standout feature of the books – which is immediate to anyone who picks up either book – is the clarity and precision of the diagrams… they might be the best kendo diagrams I’ve seen yet. In this short article I’d like to pick-up a couple of said diagrams and share them here. For the same of interest I’ve chosen things that are not particularly common.
Hanging up your bogu
Kendo dou always come with a small leather hoop in the back. Nowadays most people just string a dangly charm through it, but its real purpose is for hanging up your bogu in the dojo. Here are some easy to follow pics and an abbreviated description from the book about how to do so. You can of course use your own method as well.
(Described using a men tied using the top-down style)
1-3: Make two loops with the himo as shown in the diagram.
4-5: Pass the loops through the kote ensuring to hook the ends onto the thumbs of the kote.
6-8: Pass the men himo thought the piece of leather on the back of the dou. Tie tightly and hang on the wall.
Migi-morote jodan / migi-katate jodan
In his youth Takano Sasaburo was said to specialise in one-handed migi jodan kamae. Use of this kamae is seldom (if ever) used nowadays, and it is never listed in newer kendo manuals. Before it disappears out of the consciousness of kenshi forever here are some diagrams and abbreviated description of how to kamae like this. Of course I don’t suggest you take up this kamae in your daily practise unless you have a mitigating factor (e.g. use of only one arm).
Migi-morote jodan (right for forward):
When going into this kamae you have to swap the normal position of your hands, putting the left hand to the front and the right hand to the back. When swapping over be careful that your opponent doesn’t attack.
Moving the kensaki slightly to the left move up into jodan by extending your right elbow forward. Your right first will be around about the same line as your right foot and your shinai will be at about 45 degrees behind you.
Swap your hands. Remove your left hand from the shinai and place it on your waist. Raise your right hand up enough so that you can see your opponent.
Shikake and Oji waza diagram
Next is one of the most interesting diagrams (actually two of them) found in the books. The first is the shikake-waza diagram under which it is written:
Attacks shouldn’t be limited to a single strike but, like shown in the diagram, there are many different ways you can string them together. In fact, this doesn’t show everything as there are infinite combinations.
I quite liked looking at this and imaging some non-obvious patterns, for example “tsuki-dou-tsuki” or “men-tsuki-dou” etc.
Next is the oji-waza version. The left side shows where the opponent is attempting to strike, and the right is where you strike (after kaeshi, nuki, suriage, etc).
Again this sometimes suggests waza that we wouldn’t usually consider, for example striking dou when your opponent attacks kote… but with a bit of imagination it could be done!
Katate migi (han-) men
A favourite of my sensei, I’m currently working on this technique at the moment. I’m not confident with it at all and am currently at the one handed suburi and hitting tyres stage. I like to think that looking at these diagrams and doing the short translation aids me in acquiring the technique!
This one-handed technique (left or right handed) is generally used when the opponent lowers their shinai and steps back or when their kamae is opened due to a strong harai from yourself. It can even be used when you attempt to strike your opponents kote but they have somehow avoid your strike – you can then move quickly onto this one-handed attack. Let’s look at the standard way of executing this technique.
1. Whilst dropping your shinai tip step in and pressure your opponent. Reacting to this your opponent will lower their shinai tip as well. At that very instant swing your hands up and release the grip on your right hand.
2. Whilst moving your left foot to the front start the striking action. Before making the striking action ensure that your are gripping strongly and that the shinai won’t travel below a 45 degree diagonal line.
3. Placing your right hand on your waist and twisting your hips, use the power generated from there to unleash your strike.
4. Strike your opponents men with your arm at around shoulder height.
* Ensure that you don’t drop the tip and strike from the side.
* Practise this technique using an uchikomi-dai.
* Make sure that your hand grip is sufficiently strong enough before using this technique in practise.
* To avoid injury, never strike the opponents men at ear height.
Katate migi-men kaeshi hidari dou
In the rare case that someone actually launches the technique above at you, you must respond somehow. There are a number of techniques listed in the book but I like this one as it’s also useful to practise against jodan opponents. Come to think of it, I’m much better at responding to one-handed techniques than I am at executing them!
1. From chudan kamae pay careful attention to your opponent. When you think he is about to launch a one-handed katate strike be ready to move quickly and with a soft grip.
2. You read that he is about to launch the attack.
3. Move your left foot directly to the left and bring your right hand to about the height of your right shoulder. Twisting your body slight to the left hold your shinai vertically.
4. With the feeling of shouldering your shinai receive the opponents shinai with yours. From the moment you receive until your strike should be done in a single action.
5. Moving your shinai diagonally back to the right knock the opponents shinai of target and prepare to strike his left dou.
6. Preparing for the strike move your left hand strongly into the centre line whilst beginning to bring the shinai down to strike at a 45 degree angle.
7. Shifting your centre of gravity onto your left full pull the right foot in front of the left. If you don’t relax the strength on your left hand at this point your strike will be weak or may miss.
8. Strike the opponents left dou. After striking either move to a safe distance or express zanshin.
I don’t have a dust jacked for my version of Kendo Nyumon, so I whipped it of amazon.jp… sorry Amazon!
解説：剣道独習教本。大島宏太朗・安藤宏三。Illustrated Budo Series。昭和５５年発行。