Re-discovery

I was lucky to spend my university years in the U.K.’s most beautiful city, Edinburgh. A city with a long and interesting history, unique architecture (‘Athens of the north’), and host to Europe’s largest cultural festivals, its a great place to be when you are young. And smacked right in the center of this wonderful town is the imposing Edinburgh castle. For 4 years I wondered about the city looking at the castle everyday. For my first few weeks in the city I used it as an orientation tool… was I facing north or south? Which way should I walk …

Small things

Sometimes I come across people in the dojo that have a certain sense of ‘something.’ This is nothing to do with physical ability per se, but more to do with their manner, how they naturally move, and the way that they approach keiko. Often, its hard to say what exactly makes them look (feel?) good, but for the sake of this small article I will try and verbalise – from my perspective – what some of these things may be. This list is of course completely arbitrary, and I don’t go into full explanations exactly…. allowing you to construct your …

Old geezer

A couple of weeks ago in the dojo a young kohai of mine, about 24 years old, attacked and knocked over one of the older sensei in his late 70s (needless to say, it wasn’t deliberate). The sensei fell backwards and knocked his head on the dojo floor. Keiko stopped and everyone rushed to him. He was a bit dazed but seemed alright. We took him to the edge of the dojo, removed all his bogu, gave him some water and generally made a fuss over him. The rest of the dojo resumed practise. In the end he was fine, …

Uchikomi

This year lets, with the goal of polishing our kihon, endeavour to spend a lot of time doing ‘uchikomi.’ Kyoto Budo Senmon Gakko’s (Busen) head instructor, Naito Takahuru, emphasised ‘uchikomi’ (what we now call ‘kakari’) – as transmitted by Hokushin Itto-ryu in Mito (Tobukan, where Naito started kendo) – as an important part of training. All five of the Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei (ZNKR) awarded 10-dan’s were students of Naito at Busen. That is, Ogawa Kinnosuke, Saimura Goro, Mochida Moriji, Nakano Sosuke, and Oasa Yuji. The content of the ‘uchikomi’ itself could be repetitiously attacking the motodachi’s men (left or …

Objective

A month or so ago – I can’t quite remember – I was reading a piece in one of the local kendo mags about someone who had, after many years of kendo practice, decided to quit. Of the many reasons he gave for this, one stood out: that there was no special ‘polishing of the character’ to be had through kendo practise. That is, through kendo there is no sort of ‘bettering’ of the person. This topic is actually something i’ve struggled with for a long time, so it made me (as occasional I do!) re-examine my rationale for doing …