Category: theory

Eighteen ways to improve your kendo 剣技上達法十八ヶ所

At the moment I am super busy with work, life, and kendo (as usual), but I managed to get some time out this evening to put together a mini-translation. Nothing much really, this short (abridged) translation came from an addendum to a book by the writer Aoki Haruzo, originally published in 1975. I intended to translate a larger section of the book, but I don’t want to rush anything… instead you get this short bullet-pointed tip list to chew on, with links to various other kenshi 24/7 articles. Enjoy!!!!

Suburi: a brief discussion 素振り:炉辺談話

A few months ago I was sitting down in an izakaya with Yano sensei discussing the upcoming Edinburgh Kendo Seminar. Over food and beer we discussed this and that, including of-course lots of kendo related things. During the conversation, in a rather off-hand manner, Yano sensei asked (because he knows I am a kendo history nerd) had I ever read much about suburi in pre-war kendo books, specifically in relation to the Budo Senmon Gakko (Busen). I had never even thought about that question before but I immediately knew the answer: no.

Maai is willpower 間合は気力だよ

The ability to read and utilise distance in kendo is paramount. In Japanese this is referred to “Maai” (間合) and “Ma” (間) – “physical distance” and “interval.” Some people use the terms interchangeably or overlapping – though they really are different words, they definitely overlap (a kind of “spatial relativity” as it were) . At any rate, it is important to understand the physical space between you and your partner, and the time it takes to traverse it (with your body or shinai).

Engendering positive kendo 積極的な剣風を養う

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.

Zanshin confusion, sutemi, and hikiage 真の残心

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.