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history kendo kenshi

Okumura Nito-Ryu

Tachiai  Early spring 1859. A young 17/18 year old kenshi from Okayama domain, Okumura Sakonta, was nervously standing in the renbujo (an open-air, on earth area used for practicing bujutsu) in the grounds of Tsuyama castle. Facing him was the far more experienced and well known Ikumi Tadaichi. Ikumi, 30 years old, was a Tsuyama […]

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history kendo kenshi

Takayama Minezaburo: the scourge of Keishicho

The political revolution that occurred in Japan across the entire second half of the 19th century brought in a slew of changes in all aspects of life for everyone in the country. The coup d’etat on the 3rd of January 1868 was the principal political event of the Meiji Restoration, but it took decades after […]

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kendo

Kendo saved me

Just over five years ago one of my sempai suddenly said – knowing I am a kendo book addict – that he was cleaning out some of his stuff and would I take a couple of boxes of kendo books from him. “Of course” I replied, and soon after he gave me a trove of […]

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kendo shiai

Pandemic rule changes – mini analysis

While (most of) the rest of the world has been in various stages of lockdown and societies across the world have been facing existential difficulties, things have been going on more-or-less as normal here in Japan. Kendo has faced difficulties of course, for example, with many shiai (todays topic) being postponed or cancelled indefinitely. The […]

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kendo

Hitorigeiko

With vaccinations rolling out in various parts of the world (not here in Japan though…) and rumour about kendo resuming in some places soon, I think it’s worth looking back and thinking how our non-dojo time was spent during the pandemic. Perhaps you did a lot of suburi? Maybe you took notes? Watched videos? No […]

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gradings kendo

Point of view: female gradings

(Note that I added an UPDATE section at the end of the article) A number of years ago, while on a seminar in Edinburgh (actually, in the pub afterwards), a young female kenshi from Sweden asked me why there were no female kendo hachidan (they exist in iaido and jodo). I slowly quaffed my beer […]

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equipment kendo

What’s in my kendo bag

I read an anecdote many years ago (when, where, and by who by I can’t remember*) that has stuck with me over time. In it a kenshi tells the story about how they would often go to the Nippon Budokan for keiko, walking up a sloped path from the nearest station, Kudanshita. En-route sometimes they […]

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history kendo kenshi

Shinbu-ken

About three and a half years ago I wrote about the sad fate of one of my dojo here in Osaka. It had been my “second home” for about 15 years, and 2020 would’ve been it’s 50th anniversary. As I wrote in the the linked article above, the disappearance of local dojo in Japan is […]

Categories
kendo theory

Imagining seme

Striking in kendo, for the experienced, is something that occurs at the end of a process, which is usually encompassed in the umbrella term “seme” : through pro-actively applying some sort of pressure on your opponent you “break” their posture (physical and/or mental) and defeat them. This is the theory of-course. The less experience someone […]

Categories
history kendo kenshi

Yagyu Kaido

“Known as the village of master swordsmen, Yagyu is the birthplace of Yagyu Shinkage School of swordsmanship… Long ago, Japan was a land engulfed in war where the principal objective was slaying ones’ enemies by sword. From this war-torn wold, the mast swordsman Yagyu Muneyoshi was born. He created the school of Yagyu Shinkage where […]