books kendo theory

The knack of acquiring kendo in three charts

A couple of years ago I rolled in to the dojo on a Saturday morning only to have one of my sempai give me a stack of old kendo books. After lugging them all back home I sat down and went through them. Some were not so interesting, others were books I’d seen online but never managed to to read. One especially piqued my interested. Although probably the newest book of the pile (from 1986) it was perhaps one of the rarest (because only a finite number of the book were printed and it never went on sale): a copy of the teachings of Mihashi Shuzo called Fudochi (“Immovable Wisdom”) put together and published by the Gifu prefecture kendo renmei.

Mihashi sensei

Mihashi sensei was a graduate of Koshi (studying under Takano Sasaburo) and had a long and successful professional career as a kendo teacher. He taught not only at many schools and universities (including his alma mater) but also published a number of kendo instruction manuals. His father was Mihashi Kanichiro, a well known late Meiji period swordsman as well as a senior member of the Butokukai in it’s early years.

Fudochi is a dense book and I still haven’t managed to get through and digest the whole thing, so for todays article I will simply introduce three charts that are found within, translate the bullet points, and perhaps add the odd personal comment or link to prior post. I won’t attempt a full translation or description of each point in the charts because I believe they offer enough food for thought as is.

All of the charts below describe how is it you can “get” the knack of acquiring kendo. There are some general or wide-scoped points to consider, followed by the elements required to acquire the knack. The last chart is (confusingly) a more detailed description of factors to consider between the wide-scoped first chart and the elements in the second chart. I have presented the charts in the order they are found in the book.

At any rate, please have a read and see if you can work it out for yourself. Comments welcome!

Chart one: general overview


  • Mastery of the basics and their underlying principles.
  • Whilst remaining aware of the meaning and purpose of kendo, practise with an objective in mind.
  • Enjoy practise.

2.Acquisition method

  • Process of acquiring new techniques.
  • Harmony between basic and free practise (teaching process).
  • Consideration between volume vs quality of practise (how to acquire kendo taking into consideration age, physical ability, etc.).

3.Practical KNACK

  • Practising in a manner to effectively acquire kendo (concentration).

4.Correction process

  • Correct bad habits (movements) to acquire good kendo.

Chart two: discovering the knack

The basics elements to discovery:

The combination of the above leads to:

  • The knack of mastery (reinforced through experimentation/trial and error)

Mastery in turn leads to the same four points above (except a different level of understanding).

Chart three: the basis of discovery

  1. The factors for skilled movement
  • Relax -> muscles move well
  • Rhythm -> smooth movement
  • Balance -> body stability
  • Sequence of movement -> move from the lower body (hips)
  • Power of concentration -> overall cooperation of body/mind
  1. The science behind successful movement
  • Physical -> lever principle, reaction, resultant force, centre of gravity
  • Physiological -> disposition of the muscles and nerves, breathe, sense of sight, reflexes
  • Mental -> willpower, decisiveness, mental state
  1. Traditional kendo (abstract)
  • Shinshin ichi nyo -> ki-ken-tai-no-ichi
  • Obey nature -> react in accordance to the natural world
  • State of one’s life -> neko no myojutsu
  • Spirituality -> free from worldly desire (munen muso)
  1. Kendo theory
  • Opportunity to attack -> the appropriate attack at the correct distance
  • Attacks which cannot be defended against -> attacking distance, direction, and timing.

Apologies for simply presenting todays information to you rather than go into a full blown description: life is super busy at the moment and kenshi 24/7 articles take a lot of time to produce! Still, to be honest, experienced people don’t need a full translation anyway – you get it.

If you are not so experienced and are unsure about the content of todays piece – ask your teacher or a sempai. Theoretical discussion about kendo between practitioners never hurt anyone (I don’t think!).

By George

George is the founder and chief editor of
For more information check out the About page.

5 replies on “The knack of acquiring kendo in three charts”

Can you expand a bit about the shinshin ichi nyo => ki ken tai no ichi ? The latter is standard yargon but what is the former?

Hey Markus,

Sure. Shinshin Ichinyo (身心一如) means “body and spirit as one” or “the same” which is basically the same as ki-ken-tai-no-ichi (minus the “sword” part it’s practically identical).

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