Teaching beginners 初心者の指導法

As many long-term readers of kenshi 24/7 know, I’m in a super rare kendo position here in Japan. This is something that I am keenly aware of myself, and am extremely thankful for. Because of this, I get a lot of people emailing/messaging me asking various questions. Some questions are easily answered, while others take some research. One common enquiry I get is about teaching beginners, specifically how I approach it, what type of exercises I do, and how long it takes. I’ve also had people asking for advice about starting up kids and university level clubs.

As teaching is something I am quite experienced in, I give advice as best I can, but always with an important caveat: teaching and rearing beginner kenshi in a Japanese high school environment is quite different to the situations they are in.

Now and again I’ve pondered about whether people would actually be interested in hearing about how I teach beginners, even if the situation I am is completely different from theirs, and so here today I have decided to take some time and briefly explain my process. I hope it’s interesting!

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Eikenkai (May 2017) 英剣会

After the flurry of kendo activity that was the Kyoto Taikai, it was nice to have a relaxed keiko with a bunch of friends. Whereas the last session was jam-packed, today’s was a more reasonably sized group of 15 people. Still, we had six countries represented (Scotland, England, Italy, France, America, and Japan), and people from grades nidan to nanadan.

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Hotta Sutejiro’s Kendo Kyohan (1934) 堀田捨次郎の剣道教範

Born in Tokyo in 1883, Hotta Sutejiro (Ono-ha itto-ryu) began kendo at around the age of 10, under the famed Shinto munen-ryu kenshi Watanabe Noboru. Where he worked and when is a little bit tricky to pin down, but we know he was employed as a budo instructor at Keishicho from 1905. At some point he quit the position and worked teaching kendo at various places through Japan, eventually returning to Keishicho in 1922 where he continued to teach until at least WW2. He took part in the 1929 Tenran-jiai in the kendo professional section, and did a demonstration match with Oasa Yuji in the 1940 one (he had obviously become hanshi in the meantime). What happened to him during and after the war is a mystery.

Although the details of Hotta Sutejiro’s kendo life are kind of vague, he left quite a large legacy in the shape of a number of publications. Doing research you can find quite a few titles that he authored, but it turns out that some of them are just re-prints of earlier books with a different title. In fact, I recently just bought a book by Hotta entitled “Kendo Kowa” (kendo lectures) that ended up being exactly the same as a book called “Kendo Kyohan” (kendo instruction) that I already had!!!

Below I will feature some pictures from Kendo Kyohan, plus a short translation. I hope you enjoy it.

Continue reading Hotta Sutejiro’s Kendo Kyohan (1934) 堀田捨次郎の剣道教範