Year: 2017

Looking back 古へを稽へて

「歩驟各々異に、文質同じからずと雖も、古へを稽へて、以て風猷を既に頽れたるに繩し、今を照らして以て典教を絶えなむと欲するに、補はずいといふこと莫し」 The Japanese word “KEIKO” (稽古) is derived from the above passage from the Kojiki. Literally it means to think (KEI 稽) about the past (KO 古), in other words, “to reflect on past experience(s).” Phew, so another year is coming to an end. This has been, in both good and bad ways, quite a tumultuous year for yours truly. Luckily there was a lot more of the former than the latter.

Ichinen-fusho 一念不生

Today’s article is a short translation piece from the venerable Ogawa Chutaro sensei (1901-1992). Not only was Ogawa sensei kendo hanshi kyudan (teaching posts at Kokushikan and Keishicho) and an Itto-ryu and Jikishinkage-ryu swordsman, he was also one of the few distinguished kenshi known to have a truly deep involvement in buddhism. I think only Yamaoka Tesshu and Omori Sogen top him in this regard. His ideas about the purpose of kendo as well as his rationale for practising budo, was influenced heavily by this, and can be seen in The Concept of Kendo, which he helped write. I’m not …

Busy busy busy… 紺屋の白袴

Like most people, I lead at times what seems to be an overly-busy life. Part of this is because I live in a large bustling city, but most of it is because of a demanding kendo lifestyle and a super-hectic job. The last two years, especially, have been chaotic to say the least. Now, as you probably guessed from the image above, my life just got expotentially crazier!!!

Kendo art 剣道美術品

When the Tokugawa-Bakufu was dismantled in 1867/68 budo education was thrown into turmoil: gone were the domain schools as well as the short-lived Kobusho, and with that budo instructors suddenly lost their profession. Many (now ex-) samurai were suddenly jobless and facing destitution. One person that stepped up to help these people was the ex-samurai, Kobusho kenjutsu instructor, and Jikishinkage-ryu kenshi Sakakibara Kenkichi. He instituted what was called “Gekken-kogyo” – the highly popular public budo shows. “Gekken” refers to the nascent form of what we now call kendo. Although mainly sword-based shows, bouts with other weapons also occurred, and women …

Farewell – the sad demise of local dojo さらば - 町道場の死滅

Coming to Japan to study kendo, the first thing you look for is a good dojo. In English as well as Japanese (nowadays) the word “dojo” also has the implied meaning of “group” or “club,” which goes beyond the mere physical location suggested by the word itself (see this article from 2011). Although there are many “dojo” in Japan that practise in school gyms or sports centres, I have always been lucky in that every group I belonged to have always had their own dojo (actually, one is owned by the prefecture and rented by the group – also not …