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March book project #3: kendo by pictures

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:


btw, check out these kenshi 24/7 articles on tenouchi: one, two, three.

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.

Book covers

The two at the top are basically the same book.




By George

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7 replies on “March book project #3: kendo by pictures”

“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.”

I’ve noticed this trend for a very long time, and not just with kendo. The “gifted” tend to quit as soon as continuous progresses demand some real effort and discipline. Many also have difficulties accepting that less gifted players are given the same attention as them.
Slow, clumsy, but enthusiastic players, OTOH, tend to persist and finally flourish if given enough time and consideration.

Unfortunately, too many coaches (not just in kendo) tend to concentrate on the more immediately talented players and to sideline the less gifted. This leads not only to an unfair treatment of students, but, more importantly, to the discouragement and loss of late blooming and steady talents.
I’m pretty sure it also explains in part why it is so hard to develop an interest in many competitive sports that require fine technical expertise : bad publicity from those left out …

Great comment!

I think the very short career life of your average competitive sportsperson doesn’t help either: you need to find talented/gifted people as early as possible in order to use them for as long as possible. It’s difficult for coaches to expend time and sponsors to spend money on people who may have potential in the future… they want to see success and start profiting from it asap.

Kendo is, for the serious practitioner, a more long-term art. Of course the vast majority of kendoka here in Japan quit after high school or university… exactly the time when the shiai dry up! But thats another story!

Hi George

Once more your work furthers our understanding of kendo.

You mention a book written partially by Okada Morihiro Sensei.
His grandson Morimasa never expanded about this.

Could you help me get a copy of this book if you do not intend to translate It please?
This much loved teacher was also head of Keio medical university kendo dojo.
I was fortunate to spend some time with him between 75 and 79 during my student years.
His impact on my young life was immense.
If It weren’t for him, my love for kendo would have dwindled and died.
Fortunately his son Yasuhiko and his grandson Morimasa have carried on teaching at Shodokan, and Moriyuki the great grandson might follow later.
The oral tuition there stems from the teachings of Saimura and Nakayama Sensei.

It was wonderful to find their technique, and ambitious endeavour in Ogawa’s book.

Okada’s lofty goals of reconciliation, selfless desire to train those french “musketeers” that came to him as deshi, impressed on me the notion that kendo is a human activity to be shared by all men of ” goodwill”.

Could you please please please let us know when you come across such valuable documents?

Warmest regards


Hi Chris,

Thanks for your comment! Its a nice book but I cannot translate all of it because it is still under copyright (unlike my Noma and Ogawa books). I discovered where to buy the book online, so I’ll send you an email with the link.


It’s very moving to read so much in favor of Okada Morihiro sensei, who had (and retains) huge influence on the generation of French kendo pioneers, and on later generations through them. I have already mentioned him in other posts, and seeing that others describe him in much the same terms as the French sensei who have most influence on me, who were his deshi, is definitely heart-warming.

Great article, George! Keep them coming!

Hello Luc! What is your sensei’s name? Do you live in France? If so, where do you train? I moved to France from the US back in 2014 and I am currently training with Daniel CHARLEMAINE sensei.



Hi, Leo. My dojo is Seidokan Montpellier Kendo, Our sensei is Michaël Grignon, who is under the influence of several French and Japanese sensei. We’re a small, but friendly and dynamic dojo, created in 1993, the first in Montpellier. Email me personally to discuss more details.

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