Categories
kendo theory

Sankaku-ku (三角矩)

A few weeks ago, a guest of one of the young kendo teachers at my workplace was standing in front of the dojo mirror kamae-ing and looking at himself from different angles. I guess it is quite a common scene in many dojo with a mirror, be it Japan or elsewhere, but what got me […]

Categories
history kendo kenshi

The tenth-dan that wasn’t: the story of Oshima Jikita

十段になれた筈:大島治喜太の物語 About four years ago I briefly introduced a kenshi who I have been interested in for a good while via a couple of small articles: Oshima Jikita. In one of those articles I wrote a brief bio, but today I want to look at his life in more detail. This more detailed article is […]

Categories
kendo

45 points to consider during kendo practise

The following is a loose translation of 45 points to consider during your kendo practise split into three levels. The book that it is from (see Source) was published in 1976, over 40 years ago. Although the book is old-ish, any kendo practitioner today could pick it up and refer to the pictures and text […]

Categories
history kendo kenshi

Busen and Koshi

Over the last few years I’ve repeatedly mentioned Budo Senmon Gakko (Martial arts vocational school, known as “Busen”) and Tokyo Koto Shihan Gakko (Tokyo Higher Normal school, or “Koshi”) in articles. Their respective kendo head instructors, Naito Takaharu and Takano Sasaburo, have also made appearances all over kenshi 24/7. Despite this I hadn’t really gone […]

Categories
kendo theory

Maai is willpower

The ability to read and utilise distance in kendo is paramount. In Japanese this is referred to “Maai” (間合) and “Ma” (間) – “physical distance” and “interval.” Some people use the terms interchangeably or overlapping – though they really are different words, they definitely overlap (a kind of “spatial relativity” as it were) . At […]

Categories
gradings kendo

My route to hachidan (Yano Nobuhiro)

The following is a loose translation of a short essay from a book entitled “Kendo: the route to promotion.” There are two books in the same series, each containing about 60 short essays by people who have passed hachidan. In the essays the sensei discuss their mindset and approach to the exam. Of course, the […]

Categories
history kendo kenshi

Mei-shobu: Oshima Jikita vs Nakayama Hakudo

It was a relaxing Sunday autumn morning in Kyoto when the school dormitory’s door was flung open: “Everyone! Nakayama Hakudo and Kawasaki Zenzaburo are practising at the Gojo police station!!!!” The Butokukai’s bujutsu kyoin yoseijo (martial arts training school) was established in 1905 and was the direct forerunner to the legendary Busen. All five of […]

Categories
kendo theory

Victory and defeat: 15 points

Along with Naito Takaharu, Takano Sasaburo (1862-1950) is rightly considered one of the fathers of modern kendo. There are many reasons why he can be considered so (see a full bio of Sasaburo here) but the one of interest to us today was the publication of the highly influential kendo manual (sometimes referred to as […]

Categories
kendo shiai

All Japan Teachers Kendo Championships

A couple of weekends ago I found myself in Kyoto watching this years All Japan Teachers Kendo Championships. It was the first time I’d attended this event and was intrigued into how it ran. The taikai was split into basically three competitions: ladies individuals, mens individual, and mens team, with all competitors either being a […]

Categories
iaido

Bowing to the “7”

Editors note: The following is a guest post by NYC Ken-Zen dojo’s iaido instructor, Pam Parker. Last year Pam became one of only a small handful of American’s to pass the iaido nanadan exam in Japan (and probably the first American female) and as such I immediately asked her for her thoughts on the matter. […]