For the third instalment of my March book project I chose four titles that have variations on a similar name/theme: Shashin de miru kendo (“Kendo by pictures”). One of the four is actually a revised and reprinted version of the other, so it’s really three books I’m looking at today.
Kendo by pictures and diagrams
The first book was actually printed originally in 1966 but was later revised and re-printed in 1979 to match changes competition rules. Other than the shiai and shinpan areas, both books are pretty much the same.
The contents of the books are, to be honest, quite bland. The pictures are mostly uninspiring as well. Due to this I decided not to translate anything from the book, but simply upload a couple of pictures.
This picture shows where your elbows should be positioned in chudan no kamae. The first picture on the left is a good example, the other two bad:
The next shows chudan no kamae from the side and top. The pictures on the left are good examples, while those on the right are bad examples:
The last picture shows an uchikomi-dai and how to receive using uchikomi-bo:
Kendo primer by pictures
This book is far more appealing visually than the ones above. I’m mostly interested in the book, however, because it was at least partly written by Shodokan’s Okada Morihiro sensei (Keishicho shihan, Tokyo University shihan, Kurama-ryu exponent), someone that I’m sure a few of the older non-Japanese kenshi came across during their travels. Again, I’ll just show a couple of pictures from the book and skip translating any content.
An interesting uchikomi-dai which two people can use at the same time:
This picture shows how you should step back in to chudan when finishing kodachi kata, i.e. carefully:
Kendo by pictures
Not as visually good as the book above, but definitely the book with the most comprehensive content from those introduced today. As such I’ll translate a small part of the content below.
I don’t really know much about the author Kamo Jisaku other than what is written in the books bio: he was born in 1900 in Saga prefecture and eventually (1923) studied under Mochida Seiji and Nakano Sosuke. In 1934 he would study kendo and iaido with Haga Junichi. The following year he was sent to China. In 1938 he built his own dojo and was still teaching there at the time of the books publication (1981). He was kendo and iaido 7dan.
The secret to improving:
– Be enthusiastic about keiko –
There are many types of people in the world. Some are are alert and some are slow; there are those that are dextrous while are others are clumsy. Someone endowed with both alertness and dexterity may, if they continue practising throughout their lives, see their skills increase to reach expert level eventually. However, it seems that many people such as this are lacking in patience.
On the other hand, if someone who is both slow and clumsy continually practises with enthusiasm over a long period time, they cannot fail to become stronger, eventually defeating those blessed with more natural abilities.
– Aim to do kendo correctly, and place emphasis your own research –
Above and beyond enthusiasm it’s important to understand kendo theory, to not do wasteful keiko, to proactively ask your sensei about how to improve your kendo, and to respect your sensei’s teachings – these are areas important to emphasis as well. An enthusiastic person who keeps these in mind will improve smoothly.
– Keep good manners –
Although kendo is a combative art, it is important to always be polite, to respect your opponent, and to pursue kendo for the purpose of improving the character. If you heed this advice your sensei and your sempai are more likely to take an interest in you and teach you many things.
– Keiko with vigour –
In order to have a vigorous kendo style you have to pressure your opponent strongly with shouts from the pit of your stomach.
Your shouts and your movement cannot be detached, rather, nimble action depends on your kiai.
– Take the initiative (sen) –
In kendo there are techniques that require taking the initiative and those that are reactive. The former are by far the most important.
If you just wait for your opponent to attack you in the hope of striking an oji-waza, then your progress will be stunted. You must always aim to take the initiative at all times.
– Strike men a lot –
The opponents men is the target farthest away and attempting to strike it is highly dangerous as it may lead to your kote or dou being struck instead. However, as far as shiai is concerned, statistically speaking more men-uchi are scored than other areas.
Beginners like to strike dou a lot, but someone who does this will not improve quickly.
The two at the top are basically the same book.