Ten years ago today, I self-published “Kendo Coaching Tips and Drills.” At that time it was the only English language kendo instruction manual that didn’t focus on basic stuff like how to fold your hakama or the names of the parts of shinai*. Instead it introduced footwork and wrist drills, gave ideas for basics and “more” advanced basics practice, and discussed the role of motodachi in forming good kendoka. It has chapters on what an ippon is, shiai-geiko, and some model keiko plans. As I write this post today, ten years later, I believe it might still be the only kendo book that takes this more-comprehensive approach.
In the proceeding ten years since, I have continued to coach kendo in the same school pretty much on a daily basis. I have also travelled to literally hundreds of other schools, seen their keiko style and listened to how their instructors taught. I have also experimented with teaching at my school, at Eikenkai sessions, and at the Edinburgh kendo seminar. Naturally, I have evolved as an instructor (as has the situation), but in general my physical approach to kendo coaching remains pretty much as is written in the manual. There are perhaps some things I would have worded differently, or other stuff I would’ve added, and I certainly have more tricks (= drill patterns) under my sleeves nowadays, but in general it has aged well! Kendo hasn`t really changed afterall.
Since the manual was self-published I not only edited it myself, but I did the layout design as well as the photography (almost exclusively featuring my students and friends). Looking at the manual today it I can see pictures of students that have married (including two kendo students married each other!), students who have gone on to work as doctors, child psychologists, teachers, academics, and so on, and sadly one who passed away. I am happy to say that friends featured in the book all continue to do kendo one way or another, some of whom I still practice with multiple times a week, and others who have returned home and are actively promoting kendo in their own way.
I am not sure exactly how many people picked up a copy of the manual due to the dashboards of the online services I am using, but it is probably somewhere between 2000-3000 copies sold across all corners of the world. I still can’t quit my day job yet though (would I want do when I have my own dojo there?!)! I hope everyone that picked up a copy found it useful and/or inspiring.
* Nor did it give a very vague, brief, and kind-of wishy-washy run down of the history of kendo.
The success of the Kendo Coaching manual inspired me to go on and publish two other books – The Kendo Reader and Teikoku Kendo Kyohon – both of which also went on to sell well, with copies of each in kendo bookshelves across the globe.
Soon after publishing Teikoku Kendo Kyohon I started on yet another book, one with a larger scope that inluded a lot more original research and writing rather than translation. Mostly written and researched by mid-2017, it stalled with the birth of my daughter in the autumn of 2017, then the pandemic and the chaos that ensued robbed me of motivation. I still pick it up from time to time and edit or add parts, but I am not sure when or it I will ever publish it. Maybe an abridged version would be good enough for now.
Instead, I am slowly warming to the idea of writing another “Kendo Coaching” book. Not a manual, but a book. Sure, it would include drills and such like in it, but the main focus would be on the teacher, the “sensei,” rather than the student. Hmmm.
Anyway, big thanks to everyone from me for supporting kenshi 24/7 all these years, and of course picking up a copy of my publications. Cheers!