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history kendo kenshi

MEI-SHOBU: the ki of Naito vs the waza of Takano

Kyoto Butokuden, late Meiji period*. It’s the last tachiai of a long day but the hall is packed. The yobidashi (announcer) steps forward: East side. Tokyo. Takano sensei ! West side. Kyoto. Naito sensei ! With the call the packed audience suddenly goes quiet and an palpable feel of excitement (or perhaps expectation?) fills the […]

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history kendo kenshi

Saimura Goro

一、剣道は精神が本である。技は精神を体得せんがための手段である。 一、剣道の稽古は竹刀を真剣の考え使い、身を捨てて練磨することが大切です。 一、どの間に入っても、少しもの気が抜けてはいけない。 The words above are attributed to Saimura Goro, one of the the most influential kenshi in the pre-WW2 period, and one of only 5 sensei that were awarded 10 dan after the war. A liberal translation in English reads: * The aim of kendo is to improve the spirit. The means of […]

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history kendo

The Sword of the Samurai in the Hands of Americans

“Another new fad has come to New York – Japanese fencing. If you hear the clash of armor and clang of steel as you saunter through the brown stone districts uptown it’s wealthy young men taking lessons in palace stables and studios where the famous two handed swords to the samurai are at work. The weapon always has […]

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history kendo kenshi

Monna Tadashi

(the picture above shows (l-r): Monna Tadashi, Sasaki Masanori, Naito Takaharu) Along with his friend and fellow Tobukan/Hokushin Itto-ryu kenshi Naito Takaharu, Monna Tadashi (1855-1930) was one of the most influential swordsmen in modern kendo’s early period. At Busen they were known as the pair: “Waza Monna” and “Ki Takaharu.” The Monna family were hereditary […]

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history kendo media

Kendo 1925 – in pictures

I spent a lot of time reading about kendo and of course, preparing scripts and pictures for my own kendo projects and of course this website. By far the most fascinating thing for me is to get my hands on older kendo manuals, the well-worn the better. I especially enjoy looking through those books that […]

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history kendo

Budo in schools in the early Meiji period – pros and cons

About two weeks back I was looking through a friends small book collection and noticed a budo book in English that I hadn’t heard nor see of before: “Jigoro Kano and the Kodokan – An innovative response to modernisation” (produced by the Kodokan and translated by Alex Bennet). Not being a judo/jujutsu person, I must […]

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history kendo

Gekken Kogyo

Sometime in the very early 1990s, Britain’s Channel 4 TV station started broadcasting Sumo on terrestrial TV. I don’t know why they took the chance of broadcasting such an exotic sport, nor did I care – it was on, it was Japanese, I must watch it. I not only watched it, but I studied it: […]

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history kendo media

Looking back

Happy 2013! For the first post of the new year I spent some time looking back af old kendo pictures, some from books, others that I picked up randomly on the web. I really enjoy looking at these old pics so I’d like to present a handful of them here (the earliest picture is from […]

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history kendo kenshi

Naito Takaharu

Naito Takaharu (1862-1929) was one of the most influential kenshi to pick up a shinai. Born as as Ichige Takaharu in Mito in 1862, his Samurai parents were of budo stock: his father an archery instructor for the domain and his mother the daugher of the Hokushin Itto-ryu shihan Watanabe. At the age of 7 […]

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history kendo

The Argument for the Revival of Gekken

Gekken Saikoron – The Argument for the Revival of Gekken Editors note: The Jikishinkage-ryu swordsman Kawaji Toshiyoshi (1834-79) was a Satsuma-han samurai who lived during one of Japans most tumultuous periods. A military man, he took part in many of the battles that happened over the country as it reacted to western encroachment and fell […]