Recently I wrote two articles that took a critical look at the current kendo style and the (obviously directly related) problems with modern shiai. Engendering positive kendo Zanshin confusion, sutemi, and hikiage Of course, I am not the only person who looks at and thinks about the current kendo situation. In most cases, however, any criticism given or suggestions made seem to fall on deaf ears – the ruling kendo elite make decisions for the rest of us often unilaterally without seeking input from general practitioners (a rare exception).
I recently received a question about kendo tokuren and decided to do this short article explaining what I can about the system. As the information isn’t generally available, I can only give a brief/rough outline about how the system works based on what I know about things here in Osaka, or what I have inferred through discussions and reading stuff over the years (I know or have known many tokuren members, and pretty much all my kendo teachers are police pros).
I love bokuto and own more than a few… maybe about 20 in total nowadays. For the first few years of my kendo career I had a single kendo odachi and kodachi pair, but over time, as I got more into classical swordsmanship and the history of kendo, I started to collect bokuto from different koryu. I didn’t limit myself to the styles that I practised personally, but picked-up basically anything of interest. I also have a small section of different kinds of shinai as well, but there is much less variation to be had there.
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).
The top event in the Japanese kendo calendar – the Kyoto Taikai – has finished once again. This was the 14th straight-year I’ve attended but even though the format never changes, it doesn’t get old. Unfortunately this year, due to non-kendo related responsibilities, I was only on the ground for a one full day and a couple of hours of a second one, so I was unable to do or see as much kendo as I wouldn’t really liked… but thats life for you I guess!