16th World Kendo Championships

So, at the 2012 World Kendo Championships in Italy there was a presentation and vote to decide where the next championships would be held. There were two countries in contention: Japan and Korea.

A few weeks before the event I was contacted by a rep of the ZNKR and asked to give my opinion on how to grab the interest of non-Japanese kenshi (I assumed, and still assume now that they asked quite a few people the same questions). i.e. they wanted something that would appeal to the FIK board members to choose Japan over Korea.

One of my ideas was to interview famous kenshi and have them talk about why the Budokan is THE place to take part in shiai… about their experiences there, and about how its often seen as the pinnacle of every (Japanese) kenshi’s dream to compete there.

I was told that this idea was used, but I never saw the result of it until today – here it is (or at least a re-edit). I’m sure other people had the same or similar ideas, but it’s a thrill to see it nonetheless !!!

SEME #5: Arimitsu Masaaki

The following is a short translation of a famous sensei’s description of SEME.

Seme #5: SEME #5: Arimitsu Masaaki

“Kamae with the centre line (the extension of your shinai) being around the area between your opponents chest and throat, all the while energetically pressuring your opponent. However, don’t intentional show this spirit at the end of your shinai; as much as you can, keep your outward composure at all times. For example, if the opponent does something like strikes down your shinai etc, quietly and unhurriedly allow your shinai to go back to the centre line.

However, at the instant when your partner threatens to step in and strike, without a moments delay face them enthusiastically and ensure that your pressure is projected out through the tip of your shinai towards your opponent with the feeling of “If you are going to attack, come on then!!!”

To do this, you must relax your shoulders, soften your hands, and kamae in the centre utilising your spirit to face the oncoming attack. In order to achieve this you must always sink your spirit into your lower abdomen (tanden)…. so much so that your abdomen feels tight against your obi and tare.

Depending on your ability to do this, your shoulders will become relaxed, your hands soft and flexible, and your kamae will look bigger and more impressive.

If you can achieve this then during a fierce bout then you will be able to read even the smallest behavior in the disposition or movement of your opponent, and you will be able to strike wholeheartedly with abandon using all the resources available to you. This ability to read your opponent is connected to one’s belief and therefore ability to throw themselves into an attack wholeheartedly (sutemi).

During keiko, especially of your partner is more senior to you, its common that you find yourself being constantly pressured strongly by the tip of their shinai. At this time its important that you fight with the feeling of receiving that shinai on your throat, and that when you step in and attack, to do so with the aim of getting past that shinai tip. This is the first stage in the study of true kendo.”

Arima sensei was the winner of the All Japan police individual championship 3 times and the team championships once (2nd place once as well). He has also taken part and placed highly in the All Japan Championships, Kokutai, and the Meiji mura taikai amongst other competitions. At the time of writing this piece he was a police kendo teacher in Kagoshima police HQ and kyoshi 8dan. He is currently the vice-director of Kagoshima kendo renmei and a director of the All Japan kendo association. He is now hanshi 8dan.


This small section is part of a much larger series of interviews called “Mei senshu, renma no hibi” (famous competitors and their day-to-day practise) published by Kendo Jidai between 1983-84. The series was compiled into 2 books and published as “Renma no hibi” in 1989. Most of the interviewed sensei were only 7dan at the time and are now renowned 8dan sensei.


Thanks! (Kendo Reader)

This is just a quick post to say thanks to everyone for help making our latest publication – Noma Hisashi’s THE KENDO READER – a great success… ALREADY!!

It was only released on Wednesday night (it’s Sunday night as I write this) and multiple print editions have already gone out to the following locations:

The UK, America (at least 8 states), Hong Kong, Japan, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belgium, Holland, Brazil, Switzerland, Finland, Canada, Singapore, Chile, Australia, Portugal, Ukraine, France, and Spain.

Of-course, digital copies have also been downloaded in various locations around the world as well (I don’t have precise location information on them though).

Not bad for the first 4 days!

So…. a big big THANK YOU to everyone who picked up a copy, whether it was digital or print.

I believe that this book book is a true kendo classic, and I am sure (nay, positive!) that it is the not only the most comprehensive kendo book available in English now, but that it will remain so for the foreseeable future.

I hope that everyone that reads the book gets as much out of it as I did working on it. And please remember and share it with your friends and dojo mates.

Again, thanks!

More information / Get it

Deluxe print edition with free digital:
*** Get it on magcloud.com

Download the digital edition:
*** Get it on gumroad.com

Blog post:
Read about it on kenshi247.net/

Dedicated page:


After over 2 years of editing, translating, reading, more editing, double-checking, re-reading, etc, I’m finally proud to announce the release of my latest book: Noma Hisashi’s KENDO READER.

The original book was published posthumously almost 75 years ago in 1939 (pre World War 2) yet has barely aged a day – it’s jam-packed full of information that is as relevant to the kenshi of the past as it is to us today. Not only that, but as far as kendo information goes, the book is exhaustive. In my opinion (and I’ve read many Japanese kendo books) the Kendo Reader is a true kendo classic.


Some people reading this might say “Hang on, you can find that online!” but I’m afraid to say that the version you can find online is over 30% incomplete with full of transcription errors as well as lots of omissions. i.e. it’s no longer the book as Noma wrote it. Realising the state of the situation, and with an original 1939 copy of the book in hand, I wondered what I could do to make this gem available in its original form to the kendo community.

After some investigation, I got in touch with the initial translator of the version that was floating on the net, and he gave me all his remaining paperwork, as well as his blessings to re-edit, re-translate, and generally complete the project.

What I did

Over the past 2 years I’ve gone through the original Japanese and meticulously re-edited the initial translation into a 100% complete English language version. This included translating large sections (including forewords and whole chapters), discovering and fixing omissions, re-wording sections, etc, as well as all the usual design issues taken on when self-publishing.

I also scanned in all the original inlays and provided translations and background notes on them – something the original Japanese doesn’t have.

What the initial translator started in 1979 I have now – with the release of this new version – brought to a close…. almost 35 years later!

What you get

This new version of the book is – and I don’t say this lightly – almost certainly the most comprehensive kendo book available in the English language.

There are two versions available:

  1. A deluxe print edition (with free digital)
  2. A standard digital edition

For more information on the book, including pictures and differences between the editions, please visit the books dedicated page:


Enough chat, get it!

Preview and purchase the stunning deluxe print version here (with free digital).

Purchase and download the digital version right now here.


See kendo-book.com.

Comments and/or questions?

Please feel free to ask any questions or leave comments about the book on this site or on facebook. Cheers!!!

Ishihara Tadami hanshi’s Important point’s for keiko

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

1. 一足一刀少し入る
“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.

2. 剣先立てて指す
“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.

3. 面は左右にかわす
“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.

4. 引き出して打つ
“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.

5. 上虚下実で気攻め
“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.

6. 受け、即打突に
“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.

7. 心気力一体

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
“Power 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.

9. 初太刀

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.

10. すりあげ面。出ばな小手。抜き胴
“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:

Men oji-waza:
– debana kote
– kaeshi or nuki dou

Kote oji-waza:
– aigote-men

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.