The Benefits and Disadvantages of Tameshigiri Practice

Tameshigiri has been quite the hot discussion on forums lately. It will always pop back up after a few weeks of dormancy and then someone will bring it back up again. In these discussions you always have the advocates of tameshigiri, the side that frowns upon it, and couple of guys who are just curious and would like to give it a try.

It is my opinion that tameshigiri practiced within the context of their own art can always help supplement their original training depending on what art you practice. So let’s break down the advantages first.

Continue reading The Benefits and Disadvantages of Tameshigiri Practice

How to pass hachidan

Here is the advice that was given to my favourite teacher just prior to him passing his hachidan on this 4th attempt at the age of 49 a few years ago. The advice was given to him by the shihan of my dojo, a kendo hanshi who was in the last class of 5 people to graduate Busen (the legendary Budo Senmon Gakko in Kyoto). He was told to:


  • With a vigorous spirit and sword, and a good posture, be decisive (in your actions and cutting).
  • Apply pressure to your opponent by reading their intent and seizing his openings with a strong and confident spirit.
  • Do this until your body can react and move naturally.

Luckily he goes on to expand it point by point:


  • vigorous spirit: with a big kiai do your utmost to project your feeling of attack on your opponent;
  • vigorous sword: using both hands correctly cut decisively and strongly with the kensaki.;
  • posture: use your right foot to pressure the opponent, don’t forget to pull up your left foot always, and be careful of your movement after you strike;
  • cut decisively: without showing your intention to strike and from uchima, throw your whole body (sutemi) into the cut;
  • attacking with your spirit: hold the attack in your tanden until breaking point, whilst pressuring forwards;
  • Apply pressure to your opponent by reading their intent and seizing his openings: using your seme, study your opponents movements, both his kikentai and his heart. Pay particular attention to the attack/defence of the opening cut (shotachi).

On top of the advice he received, he then adds his own points:


  • Train your body to become stronger: run, do sit-ups, back stretches, and pushups;
  • Kirikaeshi / Uchikomigeiko: continually practise kirikaeshi and uchimomigeiko. After jigeiko, practise basic men cutting;
  • Continuation of kihon-waza practise: repeatedly execute decisive strikes at opportune moments.

This is a lot to digest, but just reading it has taken us all one step closer to hachidan!

Secrets of Kuzushi (崩し大全)

Inspired by George’s recent translations, I decided to be bold (and possibly foolish!) and offer up one of my own. As most of us know, kuzushi (崩し) is a very important concept in Japanese budo (武道). Kuzushi goes beyond merely unbalancing an opponent; it drives to the heart of destroying the opponent’s mental and physical composure so that a telling blow can be struck.

The following is a translation of the April, 2007 issue of Kendo Jidai (剣道時代2007年4月) “Kuzushi Taizen”(崩し大全).

末野栄二, 八段
1. 恐怖心を与えて崩す
2. 剣先で相手のクセを察知する
3. 剣先の円運動で攻め崩す
4. 手首の使い分けを意識する

Sueno Eiji, 8 Dan

1) Frighten your opponent so that their balance is broken
2) Uncover your opponent’s habits with your kensen
3) Create a offense by using a circling movement with your kensen
4) Be aware of the different uses of the wrist

Continue reading Secrets of Kuzushi (崩し大全)

Seme #1: Furukawa Kazuo


– 古川和男、剣道時代の「名選手、錬磨の日々」(1983ー84)からの抜粋です。「錬磨の日々」の本は1989発行。


Taking your kamae from a little bit outside issoku-itto-no-ma, lightly feel out your opponents shinai on both sides, all the time testing and looking at his KOKORO (心) and KI (気). From there, strongly press both sides of your opponents shinai and – whilst taking control of the center line – enter into issoku-itto-no-ma, pushing his shinai out of the way. In particular try slightly thrusting your kensaki or quickly adjusting moving your kamae down. Whilst moving in strongly, observe your opponents hands closely. During this time, use FUKUMI-ASHI (含み足). “Fukumi-ashi” is when you use the toes in your feet to slowly creep forward, slowly and bit-by-bit taking ground and moving into a good distance. SEME like this many times and – while continually observing your opponents feeling (気分) and kensaki – think about the method of SEME and what technique(s) you can use to defeat them.

– Furukawa Kazuo, from the Kendo Jidai article series called “Mei senshu, renma no hibi” that was originally published in 1983-84. The series was published in a two book format called “renma no hibi” in 1989.

This is the first in a serious of short translations about kendo concepts from renowned sensei. I am not an expert in Japanese nor in translation, so I have left the original Japanese in place for the Japanese readers out there. If you have comments on the translation, please get in touch.

It was 30 years ago today!

Osaka Grading

Not only when Seargent Pepper taught the band to play, but when I lived in Kansai doing pretty much the same kendo stuff as George is doing today. One of the real differences between then and now is that through the wonders of internet, email and skype etc., it is easy to let friends around the world share your experiences, whereas then, you were pretty much on your own. So it is a new experience for me to be able to dip into George’s blog and compare notes. Having moved back to the UK at the end of the 70’s, a lot of things have changed, but having visited fairly regularly for Kyoto Taikai and grading examinations, there are no real surprises.

Continue reading It was 30 years ago today!