So, the start of 2018 ushers in the end of kenshi 24/7’s tenth year online. Unbelievably I’ve been writing this site since 2008 (which itself was an extension of a private kendo blog which began in 2003). I can’t remember exactly when the first post went up as I’ve deleted, archived, or otherwise removed or re-jigged quite a few posts over the years, but it was early-ish in 2008. At any rate, it feels like I’ve been running kenshi247.net for twenty years not ten!
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.
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 sure if you will be interested in the translation, but it spoke to me on a private level. I hope you enjoy it.
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!!!
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 and even foreigners are also recorded to have taken part.
Gekken Kogyo, July 2013