The following is short semi-translation of a small introduction piece published from the ZNKRs official kendo magazine Kenso (August 2013). I say only ‘semi-” as there wasn’t much explanation behind the points in the magazine so I’ve liberally translated what there was and then freely added in my own explanations. Feel free to interpret the points as you like.
Ishihara Tadami hanshi
* Born in Okayama prefecture.
* Graduate of BUSEN.
* Awarded 9dan at 74 years old.
* Honourary president of Okayama kendo association.
* Currently 97 years old.
10 important points for keiko
“Enter a little bit further than issoku-itto-no-ma”
When executing an attack its best to enter a little bit further than perhaps you need to when striking. In this way you will feel a little bit more “freedom” in your attack.
“Keep the kensaki up”
When being attacked many people lower their shinai. Rather than doing that, receive/absorb the attack with the shinogi of the shinai.
Don’t duck and dodge, or use your shinai like a wind-shield-wiper in order to avoid or stop an attack.
“Avoid men strikes by moving right or left”
Two things in one here: when the opponent strikes men move your body to the left or right and – catching their shinai with the shinogi of yours – deflect their attack and strike men.
This describes either a suriage or a kiriotoshi action.
“Pull a strike out from the opponent then strike them”
In other words, lure your opponent into striking you then – as you are in control of the timing – strike them as they commit to their attack. This describes debana waza.
“True seme comes from the lower body”
Loosen your upper body and put your strength into your tanden. Seme strongly with your spirit from this position.
This also relates to tension in your body and proper breathing method.
“At the instant you receive your opponents strike turn it back on them”
Its important to not just negatively receive or block your opponents strikes. Instead, turn any defensive posture immediately into an attack. For example, “defending” against a men attack by performing kaeshi-dou.
In kendo we have the teaching “kobo-ichi,” that is, attack and defense as one.
As the kanji imply, in order to progress your shugyo and understand ki-ken-tai-no-ichi, its important to combine your heart, spirit, and power into one.
8. 力 40・30・30
A successful strike must be made up of 40% of the shinai’s weight, 30% power, and 30% snap. Using only SAE itself (power+snap through correct use of tenouchi) will not alone lead to a sufficient strike.
You must always pay careful attention to the first strike as its here that life or death is decided.
The importance an individual gives to shotachi illustrates, I believe, their progress in understanding the deeper aspects of kendo shugyo.
“Suriage men, debana-kote, nuki-do”
These are what Ishihara sensei believes are the fundamental waza that should be acquired.
I’m not and will never be a hanshi (nor 8 dan) but for oji-waza these are the very minimum OJI waza that I require all my student to acquire:
– debana kote
– kaeshi or nuki dou
These are waza that I’m confident all of my students can learn to a good degree. On top of this I soon add kote-gaeshi-men and kote-suriage-men as well. Of course I also have my students practise debana-men constantly, even as beginners, but its such an advanced technique that many never get the knack. Therefore I ensure that they at least have options when responding to an opponents men strike.