Yesterday I joined a 120-person keiko at the Mecca of kendo, the Butokuden (this ancient article needs updating!). The Butokuden was the HQ dojo for the Dai-Nippon Butokukai, the most influential organisation in kendo’s history, and the father of today’s All Japan Kendo Association.
A few days ago (on the 19th of March to be exact) the ZNKR released a memo regarding changes in stipulations regarding kendo equipment. As it was only written in Japanese, today I’ve decided to briefly translate it so you can know what’s going on. Although the proposed changes are only concerned with Japan, it follows that changes here will naturally affect people living outside of Japan… eventually.
Introduction In a recent opinion piece posted on the Tokyo Kendo Associations website, Morshima Tateo sensei re-iterated his desire for kendo to return to its historically attack-centric style rather than the “win-at-all-costs” defensive style that is often seen nowadays. Although winning-at-all-costs and defending may seem contradictory it actually isn’t: winning is predicated on not-losing, and the surest way to do this is to minimise attacks (which create 隙, or “openings” which can be struck) and constantly be on the defensive. This of course works especially well if you are one ippon up.
Yesterday, for the first time in half-a-year I held an Eikenkai session. For the last 10 years or so we’ve been going at a pace of one session every couple of months, but with work and baby making life hectic, it has been difficult to get the time.
The common meaning of ZANSHIN nowadays is exactly as the kanji suggest – 残心 – “remaining spirit.” In other words, once you have struck you have to remain aware of your opponent in case they attempt to strike you back and, if they do so, you should be in a position to counterattack. In modern kendo this usually (for men) takes the physical form of turning around, facing your opponent, and going into kamae after a strike. I’ll explain why this can be slightly odd behaviour further down.