Don’t give advice to other peoples students

他人の弟子をアドバイスするな。

子供たちは順調に伸びていくわけではない。
右に行ったり左に逸れたりしながら伸べていくのだ。
右に曲がっているものを矯正するには、
真っ直ぐではなくて。
左に行きすぎるぐらいにしないと真っ直ぐにはならない。
それが解って指導できるのは、直接の師匠だけなのである。

出稽古などに行って、よその門下生と稽古するときは、
スキがあったら打ってやればいい。メンばかり打ってくる子に、
「コテもドウもあるよ」などと言わない方がいい。
訳あって「メンの稽古をしろ」と言われているかもしれないのだ。

Don’t give advice to other peoples students!

Kids (kendo) doesn’t always improve according to plan.
If you go too far to the right the only way to fix it is aim left, not by simply going straight ahead.
In fact, if you don’t bend extra far to the left then things won’t straighten themselves out.
The person who understands how to do this is the kids direct teacher alone.

If you go for degeiko (training outside your dojo) etc and keiko with other teachers students you should strike them whenever you see an opening. If all they do is attack your men you shouldn’t stop them and say “you can also strike kote and dou as well you know.”
After all, they might have been told (by their teacher) to “practise only men” as far as you know…


Arriving in Japan back in 2003 I immediately started searching for a dojo and a good teacher. Although I finally found a good dojo, and practised there constantly for 2 years, I didn’t really find a the kind of teacher I was after. Strong sensei, yes, but nobody that inspired or mentored me like Mr Miyagi did Daniel.

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2010 – Eikenkai in Scotland

Eikenkai organiser George went back to his home country of Scotland and whilst there managed to conduct a small 2-day kendo workshop as well as some local keiko in the beautiful city of Edinburgh.

The two day workshop consisted solely of kihon with only a small amount of jigeiko had. More was planned but due to time constraints (only 6 hours on Saturday, 3 hours on Sunday) the content of the keiko had to be somewhat restricted.

All in all about 40 individuals attended (or watched) the sessions over the two days, and included representatives from all the leading kendo clubs in the country, specifically Edinburgh kendo club and its satellite dojo (especially Edinburgh university club and Yugenkai) and people from the west coast.

Special thanks go to people who travelled down from Aberdeen and to Jon Fitzgerald (current U.K. kendo team member, Tora dojo) who came up from London for the event.

Hopefully we will be able to do something like this again in a couple of years time!

The kendo lifecycle 剣道のライフサイクル

(a.k.a.Kendo and you: what it means and how you approach it at various points in your life)

I started kendo at the comparatively late age of 19 (I’m 35 now) and, with only 16 years of practise under my belt, I can say with no false humility that my experience is pretty shallow… considering that many of my sempai and sensei have over 50 years of experience. During these 16 years the way that I have approached kendo – what it is and why I do it – has changed drastically. Part of that is, of course, simply because I have gotten older, and part of it is because of my current kendo situation: I am not only surrounded by highly experienced instructors (some of whom are professional kendo teachers) but I have also become – mostly through chance, but partially through design – a (high school) kendo teacher myself. I consider myself to be very lucky.

As my aim for practising has changed, so has my approach to kendo… not just in the way I swing my shinai, but how I aim to interact with my students, my kendo friends, my sempai, and my sensei, and how I conduct myself in these relationships. I have also seen a large change in how my sensei treat me. I guess that this change in approach is something that happens to everyone.

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Bokuto ni yoru kendo kihon waza keikoho

I am sure most if not all regular kenshi247.net readers have at least heard of bokuto ni yoru kihon waza keiko ho if not already actively practising it (some people for years I guess). The first time I was introduced to it was in 2000 (or 2001?) at a seminar in Brussels, Belgium (Editor: see Serge’s comment below). What we were doing wasn’t explained to us and we rushed through the practise of it. 10 years later I find myself in a position where I must actively teach this to my beginner students as – starting this year (2010) – it has become a requirement for ikkyu across Japan.

Although I’ve been through it a few times and I think it an extremely simple set of exercises, I thought I had better go to a seminar and find out exactly what it is for and what I am meant to teach. What follows here is (selected/partial) translated information from the materials provided by a seminar held in Osaka earlier this year. The seminar was taught by 5 hachidan and the participants had to be at least godan (exceptions where made for school teachers lower than this). I also recently received direct instruction on the method by a sensei who had recently attended a hachidan-only seminar where this was taught.

I will leave my personal comments to the end.

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A very brief look at the formation of reiho used in todays kendo

Without taking your eyes of your partner, and at a distance of roughly 9 steps do a standing bow (ritsurei) of 15 degrees, move your shinai from sageto to taito, take three large steps in and “draw” your shinai in a largish arc up and diagonally down through to the center of your opponent while performing sonkyo. Your shinai do not touch at this distance. After a brief moment (in a shiai the center referee will call hajime) the bout starts.

This is an example of one of the standard methods of “reiho” or “etiquette methods” we use daily in our kendo practise. Its use is so common that you can see many people simply perform the actions with no or little understanding behind the purpose of the movements or – at times – even in an almost disrespectful manner. Thats not the purpose of this short article though: what I want to (very!) briefly discuss here is who were involved, and when modern-kendo’s reiho was standardised (or, at least, a small part of the story).

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