Leather Tsuba 皮鍔

A few months ago I was roaming around the internet looking for some interesting stuff and by accident I landed on the facebook page of a gentleman that hand makes tsuba – mainly for bokuto, but also for shinai. I love this sort of handmade product and posted a link on the kenshi 24/7 page. Immediately people began to like the link so I knew that I was not alone in enjoying such craftsmanship.

Fast forward a couple of months and I found myself looking at the page a few more times and getting more intrigued by the tsuba. I wanted one for myself! I got directly in touch with the craftsman – Tom Bengston – and inquired more into his work. After some chat, Tom kindly sent me a couple of his kendo leather tsuba for review – one in antique tan, and another in dark brown.

Review (kendo tsuba)

When I placed my order I asked for just a plain shinai tsuba – if you have a look on the website you can see that you can customise tsuba with either kamon or writing. The only other information I supplied was the diameter of the hole. Less than 10 days later the tsuba arrived safely here in Osaka.

The first thing I noticed when I opened the package was the thickness of the tsuba and the gorgeous colour of both… especially of the antique tan one. I realised that in 20 years of kendo practise I’d never set my eyes on a “beautiful” tsuba before!! These leather tsuba really are quite unique.

Despite the thickness mentioned above (required for durability), the tsuba are quite light. I’ve only been using them for a few days now, but I suspect that the tsuba will easily last a long time… in fact, I can’t imagine them breaking, ripping, tearing, or otherwise being damaged during kendo practise.

One concern that immediately came to mind was if it was illegal to use this type of tsuba in shiai. I’m not sure of the answer, but I can’t imagine they would be disallowed. Even if that were the case, there would be absolutely nothing to stop you from using them in your daily keiko.


For me this is a no-brainer: if you want a durable and unique tsuba for your shinai, these are great. I think they make awesome gifts as well, perhaps as a thank you to a sensei or a grading congratulations for friends. Everyone I’ve shown them to here in Japan love them.

More than anything, however, there is something personally satisfying in having and using a unique handcrafted product.

(I haven’t seen the bokuto tsuba but I assume that they are finished the same high standard.)

Check out and order Leather Tsuba’s work at the following places:


Facebook page

Note that the shop closes Dec 18th and re-opens January the 2nd.

Applied theory

In the last post on the site I discussed about what the term ji-ri-itchi means to me personally on a more macro level, and now I want to discuss a particular example of a theory applied to physical practise.

Ken-chu-tai, tai-chu-ken

AFAIK the first reference to the teaching of Ken-Tai appears in Yagyu-shinkage ryu’s Hyoho Kadensho, written by Yagyu Munenori in 1632 (it also appears in Hozo-in ryu and Itto-ryu documents, and probably more traditions as well). Ken-tai and variants of it (e.g. Kobo-fuki, Do-sei-ichinyo, etc) are usually rendered into English as “defense within attack, attack within defense” or more simply as “attack and defense as one. A description from the Hyoho Kandensho reads:

“Ken means to attack single-mindedly, to strike fiercely in order to be the first to strike a blow.

Tai means resisting making the initial technique while awaiting the opponent’s first move. It must be understood that tai is a position of utmost watchfulness.

Ken and tai mean to attack and wait.

Concerning the principles of ken-tai pertaining to the body and the sword, advance upon the opponent with an attacking posture and hold the sword in a position of waiting, making efforts to entice the opponent to make an attack and counter it. In this way ones posture is in an attitude of ken and the sword one of tai. The ken posture is used to induce the opponent to initiate the attack.

Ken-tai pertaining to the mind and body. The mind should retain an attitude of tai and the body an attitude of ken; this is because if the mind retains an attitude of ken it races and this is not good; thus have the mind wait in tai, and with the body in ken induce the opponent to make the first move and defeat him.

Again there is the principle whereby the mind takes an attitude of ken and the body in one of tai; the reason for this is that with the mind in ken it is put upon its guard and with the sword in tai the opponent is induced into making the first attack. One should think of the body as being the hand that holds the sword. Thus the mind takes the attitude of ken and the body one of tai.

Ultimately both methods are the same, the aim is to induce the opponent to make the first move and defeat him.”

Kendo Tokuhon (The Kendo Reader), kenshi247.net, October 2013

I don’t think the theory of Ken-Tai is particularly difficult to understand cerebrally, but utilising it effectively within keiko is another matter. Specifically, I’d like to talk about it in reference to executing oji-waza.

I’ve sometimes seen oji-waza described as “reactive” techniques in English but I posit that this is – for advanced practitioners anyway – a misnomer. I mention this in my Kendo Coaching Tips and Drills under the “Oji-waza is not a guessing game” section. To be clear (under this definition): oji-waza are techniques executed with prior knowledge to what your opponent is going to do. The reason you have this foresight is that you have setup the situation: that is, you are in control of not only the area being struck, but also the timing.

A specific example: men-kaeshi-dou

To setup the situation you need to do two things:

1. Open up your men for attack;
2. Seem to be unaware of the impending attack.

There are many ways to open your men up, but the easiest one is done simply by dropping the point of your shinai down diagonally to the right (preferably subtly) and, at the same time, moving your right foot out diagonally (body in ken). By doing this all you need do is raise up your arms to catch your opponents men strike and move smoothly into the dou strike. Needless to say, you should be calmly watching your opponent and calculating while doing this (mind in tai).

However, we still have a problem. If your fighting spirit is obvious and/or your look like you are setting things up, then your opponent will not attack you (unless they are inexperienced): you have to fool them into actually believing that you are actually open. If you are overtly obvious in your setup or desire to strike then experienced people will not strike.

In this situation it’s often best to make your attacking spirit obvious immediately prior to the setup described above… then slightly relax the pressure. The switch from overt pressure to a relaxing of it is often enough for someone to launch an attack… inexperienced people will attack at this point even when there are no openings. This, of course, is Ken-tai in application.

Do I need to know the theory behind the action?

The answer to this is “no” if you are doing kendo casually, and “yes” if you are not. To some extent, “knowledge” of kendo will come naturally through doing it… in fact, I suspect that the best and most naturally way of understanding kendo is simply through constant daily practise without too much thinking. At some point, however, especially if you want to become a teacher, then it’s probably better if you spend time on the whys and wherefores.

Many people might say “I can describe my experience without relation to the more traditional kendo terms” which I think is a fair comment. I guess it’s up to the individual to choose how they teach and describe kendo. For me personally, I prefer to pepper the description with classical terminology…. kendo is after all, for me anyway, also a study of the past.

There are a number of overlapping theories used to describe the physical and mental process of executing kendo techniques, for example the different kinds of sen, discussion of kyojitsu (a term almost unknown in the English kendo community and disappearing in the Japanese one), and various other teachings from classical swordsmanship schools that have found their way into kendo theory. On top of this there is also the more modern boxing of waza into shikake and oji techniques, the odd sports-science explanation, and of course personal theories (sometimes eccentric) from various teachers. Some of these complement each other (for example, my use of ken-tai to describe oji-waza), and some don’t (the various types of sen and the shikake/oji waza definition).

I guess the point here is that for every action you do in kendo has, theoretically, some sort of rationale behind it, and if you want to be a good kendo teacher then you should spend time not only in research of these theories, but in actually application of them. At least, this is my aim.

“An important teaching, comprehension is difficult to come by without hard training.”

For a longer discussion on Ken-Tai, please see p84-6 of the kenshi 24/7 published Kendo Tokuhon (The Kendo Reader). Also, don’t forget to check out Kendo Coaching Tips and Drills for discussion and description of oji-waza.

Working Towards a Coherent and Cohesive Teaching Approach

Introduction: Many good teachers are able to plan on the spot and pull together whatever is at hand to make their lessons work, sometimes ‘picking and mixing’ seemingly disparate approaches, methods, techniques and activities to aid learning. However, for this ‘eclectic fusion’ to be effective, rather than it being unplanned, random and confused, it needs to be underpinned by a clear and sound understanding of the fundamental principles behind various teaching practices. Unfortunately, most people who find themselves in the position of being a teacher of Iaido or indeed any type of Budo; regardless of their nationality be it Japanese, British, North American or other, are untrained as teachers and have a questionable grasp of the methodology involved in effective pedagogy. As a result this can lead to dull, confused, repetitive and unplanned lessons that are often lacking coherence or cohesion.

Recent research into classroom teaching practice (for example by Baynham et al, 2007) confirms that it is the most experienced and effective teachers who use what might be called a ‘principled eclecticism’, based upon their own critical evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of different established approaches. In my own field of psycholinguistic and academic language teaching, established professionals usually draw on a wealth of different frameworks, approaches, methods, procedures and techniques. These have been developed throughout the history of teaching and continue to evolve to this day. Practitioners’ perceptions of the value of these models, approaches and methods – and indeed, of the very concept of method – have also evolved, in line with paradigm shifts in generic teacher education and in the social sciences. However, it is not within the remit of this short paper to define and discuss differences between the various approaches, methods, procedures and techniques, or indeed the vast cultural differences often found between Japanese and non-Japanese pedagogical approaches, or the arguably antiquated methods of instruction used in Budo.

Nevertheless, what can be clearly stated is that rarely in any dojo context does a teacher (sensei) have the chance to instruct a group of learners with the same skill sets and knowledge base as each other, as every learner is unique in their personal needs based obviously on individual grade and level. So how can a teacher effectively cater to a group of learners all with different needs and wants in a timely, efficient and cohesive manner? With this question in mind, I would like to share a basic 3 Levels framework I use to teach Iaido and briefly discuss how it fits in well with the fundamental needs of all level of learners in a clear and consistent manner. ** However, all ideas relating to the following 3 Level approach in this essay are my own, and therefore are still very much work in progress. Thus, all mistakes or misunderstanding at this point of my own learning and development are mine.

Terminology: Within the dojo I regularly use the terms Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 techniques, to describe and explain different points being taught in Iaido. In short, these 3 levels can be summarised as being:

Level 1: Are points relating to the highly prescriptive sword work found in areas of study such as Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei (ZNKR) Seitei Gata (or arguably Shoden level koryu) and how the body essentially fits around the sword. This is a fair start since during the early study of Iaido many beginners and lower grades focus solely on the sword, thus focusing on prescribed sword and body positions and movements is key to building fundamentally sound foundation and technique to build from.

Level 2: Are points relating too more effective bodywork being used thereby meaning that the sword now starts to fit around or more in sync with the practitioner’s body. This level of input is required when the learner has internalised a decent amount of basic Iaido knowledge and the instructor tries to move the focus away from the sword controlling the person to the new desired level of the person and body controlling the sword. As an instructor, this requires a deeper understanding of how the body is supposed to work to achieve effective technique and investigation into how different body types need to interact with the sword. Despite what many think, one size does not fit all and sometimes adjustments need to be made for differing body types, just like some of the technique may vary slightly for both male and female practitioners.

Level 3: Are higher- level points relating to the mental and spiritual development of the practitioner. This is where the focus changes from solely what is happening outside the body, with all things being equal and hopefully done effectively, to dealing with what is happening inside the body and head. These Level 3 points enhance the physical technique and add flavour to it, turning it from a two-dimensional empty movement or sword dance, into a three dimensional (or dare I even say 4 dimensional) effective technique. However, even higher-level practitioners constantly have to review the basic Level 1 and 2 points, so as to check accuracy, especially when the ZNKR Seitei Gata are revised by the AJKF.

Thus, these 3 Levels tie neatly into my aims of making my own technique effective as I remember the mantra I was taught as a beginner:

Dai – Make the technique (technically) BIG

Kyou – Make the technique (technically) STRONG

Soku – Make the technique (technically and appropriately) FAST

Kei – Make the technique (technically) SMOOTH

LEVEL 1: The term Level 1 can be used to define and teach the highly prescriptive techniques of the sword and body required by all practitioners of Iaido, and especially, but not exclusively, those of beginners. Experience has taught me that in the early days of Iaido training most beginners are usually focused entirely on their sword and what that is supposed to be doing, so their bodies generally fit around that. Thus, it seems key to inculcate first the correct knowledge and muscle memory for where the sword and body are supposed to be. This ties into the first mantra point Dai, as lower grades often have trouble not only understanding what the katana or the body is supposed to be doing or where the correct finishing positions are supposed to be, they often have trouble freeing and building up their muscles enough to do these prescribed movements effectively. Thus, emphasizing BIG correct movements with the sword and body not only helps develop the essential Iaido muscles needed to endure practice but also helps creates a strong foundation to work from.

Example 1: From a ZNKR Seitei Gata point of view, Level 1 can be thought of as those points written down in the ZNKR Seitei manual and shown constantly at any regional or national seminar. These highly prescriptive points which are required to be understood and inculcated by all ZNKR Iaidoka. Using the very basic example of the opening sword movement in the first technique called Mae, Level 1 could refer to points such as the correct drawing technique of the sword and how both hands work, where the tsukakashira should aim during the draw and at what point the sword starts to turn onto its side. Then moving on to the shape of the first cut, where the two hands should be after completion of the cut, how the left hand creates effective sayabiki, the angle and position of the blade during and after the cut, the shoulder and hip positions after the cut has been made and the kissaki and right hand finishing position after nukitsuke… to name but a few points. These of course seems very obvious to experienced Iaido-ka; however, in retrospect how many can claim to do these correctly all the time?

Because many beginners in Iaido are focusing only on the sword at this point of their learning, it is useful and important to make as much of this prescriptive knowledge as clear to them as possible and make it easy for them to identify what is relevant to them at their level. From that initial starting point, which deals with only the sword and what is happening with the top part of the body, other Level 1 points for the lower half of the body should also be focused on.

Simple points such as the squeezing of the knees to help put the toes under in the correct way and at the correct position directly behind the hips, the correct foot placement on first cut, and the correct left knee, hip and left shoulder alignment after the first cut etc. Thus, even in this opening part of the first technique we can describe it in very prescriptive terms.

Example 2: Level 1 input should also include areas such as something as fundamentally important as the correct ashi-sabaki in any of the standing forms. This can be something as simple (but apparently difficult to do) as trying to get the learner to just take three steps forward in an absolute straight line. Remarkably, this is something that many find difficult, and despite having walked almost all of our lives, we still tend to walk with splayed open feet and often on our heels, thus, not exactly straight or using the lower body the way that we need to for effective Budo. Although there may be some slight variation in understanding and application of techniques based on different ryuha or lineage, there should be more similarities than differences within these Level 1 applications. Needless to say, many will scream that the application of footwork in the ZNKR Seitei Gata standing forms varies form to form. This of course is true and there are many subtle ashi-sabaki differences that must be shown in the various standing techniques; however, it is up to the individual instructor to decide whether they want to have their students walking correctly in a straight line, on the balls of the feet with the hips and body being used more effectively than on civilian street, or running into the form attempting Jo-Ha-Kyu acceleration but at the cost of sword and body control, AKA: correct form.

LEVEL 2: At this level of instruction the focus shifts to the way the body interacts more effectively with the sword. This might usually begin in earnest once the practitioner has reached perhaps a good 2nd or 3rd Dan level. The marco-goals as given by the ZNKR for 1st to 5th Dan are given below; however, as stated above, it is up to the individual instructor to decide at what point to start focusing on Level 2. My own understanding of this, based on many years of living and training in Japan, would be that Level 1 input is suitable for new beginners to a good 2 Dan level, because it takes considerable time and practice to internalise even to a basic level many of these points. However, even the most experienced Iaido-ka need to be reminded of these fundamentals sometimes. The macro goals as set out by the ZNKR are:

ZNKR – Seitei Gata: 1st to 3rd Dan the Iaido-ka must show knowledge of:

a)  Correct wearing of uniform (chakuso)
b)  Correct etiquette (saho)
c)  Correct horizontal cut (nikitsuke)
d)  Correct vertical cut (kiritsuke)
e)  Correct blood wiping action (chiburi) and correct angles
f)  Correct returning of the sword (noto)

ZNKR – Seitei Gata: 4th and 5th Dan the Iaido-ka must show knowledge of and including:

a) The previous points for 1st to 3rd Dan
b) A tranquility of heart and mind when performing (kokoro no ochitsuki)
c) Correct use of eyes (metsuke)
d) A sense of vigor, energy, spirit and drive in the performance (kihaku) 
e) The body and sword being used as one in unison (kikentai no ichi)

Example 3: Following on from the above example of the initial draw in Mae, the Level 1 nukitsuke can be further developed from the simple prescriptive positioning of the sword in relation to basic body movements, and further developed into Level 2 with the aim of using the body more effectively with the sword for Iaido purposes. For example, this could include elements of how to achieve better sayabinari considering hand and arm positioning of whether the left hand was used to turn the saya or if the right was used thereby locking/straightening out the right elbow, correct sayabiki and whether the hand and wrist position of saya-biki are correct and the elbow is being used, that the application of the tenouchi in the cut is effective so that the kissaki is alive and not dipping and the angle the cut moves through the intended target is correct, that the hips are solid and the shoulders are correctly extended forward so that the target is indeed hit in the correct way so as to check that the practitioner is not doing a hikigiri, that the left hand, sword and right foot act as one when the sword is released from the saya, and that a continuous acceleration of jo-ha-kyu is used. This would equate to an improved understanding of some of the nukitsuke technical issues, and lead to a better application of Kikentai no ichi and kihaku. In Japanese terminology this can be referred to as Dokan; or the revisiting the same technique but at higher levels of understanding. A useful image for this is that of an upward spiral staircase, where you revisit items over and over, but always at a higher level of understanding and execution.

Example 4: Another example of Level 2 input could be that once the learner is able to walk correctly in a straight line using correct foot and bodywork, that can be added to by building in specific movements such as of small, medium and large steps to develop back foot suriashi. Footwork such as this is found and needed in techniques such as the nukitsuke in the technique ZNKR No. 6 Morote Tsuki. At higher levels, many of the ZNKR Seitei Gata standing technique have different types of footwork that should be used, so the instructor needs to be able to explain those elements more deeply. Another example of Level 2 development could be to then introduce elements of jo-ha-kyu into the different size of the steps, so as to build better and more explosive timing. Thus, again adding an improved element of kihaku into the forms.

Level 3: Are arguably the mental and spiritual technical elements of Iaido. Perhaps this can be developed from around 4th Dan onwards; however, in my own experience in Japan it is more likely to be deliberately and increasingly focused on at a 5th Dan level and beyond. By the time the practitioner has mastered (to a suitable degree) the Level 1 and 2 elements of the various techniques, they will have also by imitation, but not necessarily because of explicit instruction, tried to implement some of these higher-level elements of Iaido. The higher level points are described below:

ZNKR – Seitei Gata: 6th and 8th Dan the Iaido-ka must show mastery of and including:

a) The points covered for 1st – 5th Dan (considered the basics)
b) Logic and understanding of all the elements of the form within the forms (riai)
c) Developed presence, style, gusto; character and personality in their execution (fukaku)
d) Be able to perform with elegance, dignity and grace (hin-i)

Example 5: At Level 3, the aim of tuition is to help bring all of the practitioner’s skills together and polish them into a formidable thing of power, beauty and presence. Continuing on from the previous nukitsuke example, once Levels 1&2 have been achieved, the Level 3 elements such as ma and ma-ai should be focused on more deeply as this will not only have an improved impact on the execution and shape of the cut but also aid in proper depth perception which also improves metsuke and zanshin. These are also elements of riai, or understanding the true meaning of the technique and ultimately where the opponent is. Metsuke in this case should not only mean a calm enzan no metsuke, but also a type of ganriki, which shows the difference between looking with the heart and looking with the eyes, or put another way, the difference between a 2 dimensional technique with no real opponent and a 3 dimensional one when you know exactly where your opponent is. At this level, elements such as meri-hari are also required so that the technique has a balance of strong and soft, and fast and smooth use of the body and sword. This shows that the technique is not just one tempo or strength and that it has appropriate pressure (seme), thus displaying fukaku and hini, which shows kokorogamae, or in other words the depth of practice of the Iaido-ka and thereby showing sufficiently high levels of Dai, Kyo, Soku, Kei.

Level 3 requires an in-depth study of the fundamental mechanics of the various techniques. It is also important to develop the ability to discern when someone is not doing Levels 1&2 effectively but doing what seems fast, effective and spirited Iaido. On several occasions we have all encountered new students or other Iaido-ka who display the most spirited and sometime ferocious Iaido. Nevertheless, a hard or aggressive spirit without effective control of the sword and body is not effective technique and arguably not the true purpose of Iaido.

Conclusion: The approach of using Levels 1, 2 and 3 to describe techniques and application works well for the way I teach Iaido, as it allows me to consider a persons level or grade and quickly decide what is appropriate input for them. This of course can be adjusted up or down as necessary. It also allows me to explain to large mixed level groups at the same time, while emphasizing what is relevant at that time to the different grades present and what might be the next suitable points to consider adding on, thus being able to show what the current goal is and also what the next level up is. For those willing to learn to walk before they run this can be very motivational, providing clear and definable current, short and long-term goals. Another of the benefits of this approach is that it allows information to be disseminated in deliberate manageable chunks of input. By being able to clearly define targets in a lesson I can also employ different teaching and learning techniques that allow varied and interesting ways of engaging these learning targets. These can include approaches such as (but not limited to):

  • Test-Teach-Test: where we can check for specific knowledge, understanding or performance; then show, build and improve on that knowledge; give time to practice and internalize the new input; then test to see what has been retained. This technique works well with individuals or groups.
  • Collaborative Learning: Where groups or pairs can work together to ask and/or answer questions on technique. This also leads us on to:
  • Peer Assessment: where learning targets can be given and practitioners work in pairs or groups to check each other’s understanding and performance. Thus, helping them to notice the gaps in application in both others and ultimately themselves.

However, regardless of which approach is used it is important to remember that different people learn in different ways, so a variety of methods should be employed so that audio, visual and kinesthetic learning takes place, thus hopefully reaching all learning types preferred input methods.
Needless to say, the ideas presented in this paper may seem unclear to the reader, but those who have participated in any classes or seminars where I have taught, have commented positively about the way points are explained and the sequential clarity and cohesion of this approach. This I believe is much to do with the simplicity of using a 3 Levels approach of focusing initially on sword-work and basic bodywork, then improved sword and bodywork and finally on to higher level elements such as timing, and spirit. For many who practice Iaido as a hobby rather than an in-depth lifestyle, this makes the awareness of these various learning targets easier to understand as they are presented in manageable chucks of input. Sadly, it does not make the actual doing and mastering of them any easier. That still requires the hard work!

For anyone wishing to contact me about this paper or the ideas in it, I can be reached on through the Edinburgh Genbukan webpage: http://www.genbukan.co.uk/


Due to an injury, I’ve been spending a lot of time sitting down and watching keiko a lot recently. This is usually termed KENGAKU (見学) or MITORI-GEIKO (見取り稽古) in Japanese. The former uses the kanji 見 for “look” and 学 for “study” thus means “study through observation.” The latter has a slightly different literal translation but in effect the meaning is identical. Basically, through watching people do kendo you yourself can perceive something or reach some sort of (sometimes new) understanding.

Even when I am not sidelined due to injury, I routinely find myself queueing up to face senior sensei. At this time I find myself watching the pair in front of me, not just the teacher him or herself, but their opponent as well. This is a chance not just to learn the mechanics of kendo, but the strategies that come into play between two opponents. A pet peeve of mine is when people line up for a sensei but don’t study their kendo… they are looking elsewhere or even, god forbid, chatting. But I digress.

I also routinely instruct my students to watch other students shiai: I think it is vitally important that they have a strong image of the type of kendo that can be done at their own age and gender… an image that a nearly-40-year-old bearded Scotsman can’t project!!!

Thinking about this over the last few days I remembered something I read a few years ago in regard to copying the kendo of those whose who went before you, that is, your sempai and sensei. I present a translation of this piece below. It was originally written by Sakuma Saburo hanshi, and was published in 1997, the year of his death.

When people call themselves “unskilled” or “clumsy” we can say as a general rule the problem is not lack of skill, but inability to copy or mimic others. As long as a someone is normal bodied (head, neck, chest, arms and legs) then they should really have no problem doing this. The practise of budo, sport, the arts, and academic study all begin by copying those that went before you (sempai/sensei). A person who can’t copy or mimic others often fall into these categories:

– they are self-important and can’t find the value in others: bias and preconception;

– they imagine that they are not good enough to mimic whats being done: timidity;

– they don’t even want to try to copy others: laziness;

– they think copying others is somehow bad: misunderstanding.

Of course there are people who are good and bad (at some things), but most people can expect to become generally decent at most things outside of their particular strong areas.

Kendo shugyo is pursued with the aid of a shinai and falls within a defined range. Thus, depending on the methodology used, we can expect anyone to become proficient in its practise. If you watch a skilled sempai in front of you and constantly strive to do your best, you will definitely be able to arrive at or even surpass their ability. Improvement after this is down to your own research. Try your best.

If you think that you are already skilfull, then you are a Tengu, and a way forward for you does not exist.

Thus, kendo is learned essentially through the copying of models and mitorigeiko is the conscientious process whereby you choose what to (or not to) mimic. Depending on your current kendo goals, there’s almost certainly some filtering going on as well.


Recently I’ve seen the odd blatantly commercial website selling lots of learning-kendo dvd’s (for a pretty-penny I might add). It strikes me that if there was one thing that you couldn’t learn from a dvd then it would be kendo. Sure, it’s possible a dvd could give rise to new ideas about training to those already experienced, but theres zero chance a dvd can replace a teacher or a dojo – who, after all, is there to watch and copy? A 2D image on a screen? I have a strong feeling that those that buy these expensive dvd sets live in areas where these is no kendo infrastructure. I feel sorry for people in this situation who pay a lot of money for these essentially useless dvd’s.

My message to those of you reading this that don’t have someone in front of you to model yourself on is simple: rather than waste your time with dvd’s and backyard-budo fantasy, consider doing a different martial art – one where you have access to a proper teacher. At the end of the day, whether you study kendo or judo, shorinji-kempo or aikido, the end goal is the same… and the guide towards that goal is a teacher.


平成・剣道 地木水火風空 読本(下)。佐久間三郎。平成9年発行。