Beginning Kendo

Compiled by Dave Christman From notes & publications by George K. lzui sensei, Chicago Kendo Dojo Ron Fox, Michigan State University G. Warner, & J. Sasamori, H. Ozawa, & J. J. Donahue Authors Parts originally published by Ken Strawn at The San Jose State University Kendo Club
This re-print is intended for use by members of the Toyoda Center Kendo Club only and never for distribution or Publication.


Devised by Dr. Benjamin Hazard

Hitotsu, Reigi Hitotsu, Yuki Hitotsu, Chishiki Hitotsu, Wa-i Hitotsu, Danketsu Hitotsu, Kigan Hitotsu, Ki-ai Hitotsu, Shisei Hitotsu, Token Hitotsu, Zanshin

Courtesy — Etiquette Courage Knowledge Harmony Unity Opportunity Spirit Posture Sword — Correct Cuts Remaining Spirit

From the All Japan Kendo Federation
The concept of kendo is to discipline the human character through the application of the principals of the sword. The principal of practicing kendo is: To mold the mind and body, To cultivate a vigorous spirit, And through correct and rigid training, To strive for improvement in the art of kendo; To hold in esteem human courtesy and honor, To associate with others with sincerity, And to forever pursue the cultivation of oneself.


Ranking in kendo is similar to other martial ways. merely for the love of kendo. They learn the correct footwork and then combine it with their swinging strike. to contribute to the development of culture. relieves stress.Thus one will be able to love his country and society.S. honesty. and seizing the moment. tones bodies. Today. poise. Although modern kendo only faintly resembles its feudal origins. 3 . It is based on the legacy of classical Japanese swordsmanship. Then time is spent attacking and practicing on their seniors. Finally they can now freely practice the full delivery of their attacks without injury to certain target areas on their opponents body. that is as old as Japan herself. the kendo student has the unique opportunity to study an art that has been handed down through the centuries. Instructors in this country rarely profit from their activity. for they will practice the basic swings of the attacking motions with their "shinai" (bamboo sword). and the power of concentration. Also in contrast. the art doesn't have to compete with many schools and traditions for the "self-defense dollar" the average person is looking to spend. or blows that would have killed. Kendoists' use a lightweight split bamboo sword. chest protector. quick in action. adds strength. and mental / physical fitness. it is fencing. calm mindedness. Over the years. patience. together with the "ki-ai" (shout). the emphasis has changed from killing ones enemy to training for self-discipline. benefits the practitioner forever with the ideals of the formidable warriors of the past. gentle in preserving life. and to promote peace and prosperity among all people. like its ancient ancestor. grace under pressure. its theory and methods slowly evolving through generations of great swordsman. The armor is not needed for the beginners. with six levels below black belt and ten levels above. and freely practice with others. and registered in the International Kendo Federation. "Bushi" or "samurai" used the sword to establish and maintain order from the 9th to the 19th centuries. Bravery. Certification is under the All U. kendo is from the heart. but above all. Kendo. clarity of thought. Japanese style. In contrast though. agility. usually giving up their own time. It builds character. gloves. and teaches one to shoulder responsibility for ones actions. After weeks or months they are finally allowed to wear "bogu" (armor). and a set of protective armor that consists of a helmet. if one had a real sword. What is Kendo? Simply put. and a waist flap-groin protector. quickness. These men and women followed an unwritten code called "Bushido". It is for those who desire to become strong in spirit. Later one can enter tournaments and participate in matches. Kendo is not recommended for those who are looking for a flashy or even a practical style of self-defense. or outward sign of rank. Kendo Federation. there is no colored belts. hard work. like most other martial arts of Japan. and integrity were at its core. with judges trained to recognize points. Kendo can help develop posture. it still retains its bushido concepts of dedication.

Definition and Brief History Kendo is a combination of two Japanese words — ken meaning "sword" and michi or do meaning "road" or "way" the result being "sword's way" or "the way of the sword. Kendo as we now know it emerged in the late 19th century. or the technique of the sword) of which written records date back to the seventh century. Power of concentration b. kenjutsu has undergone various refinements. Determination to carry out the decision d. Ability to make a decision c. a substitute weapon for the sword. the mental development portion must still be considered an important function. Shoulder responsibility for action Etiquette a. Respect for elders. The dojo for kenjutsu were established during the Muromachi Period (1336—1573) when a good swordsman was literally "worth his weight in gold" because of the many battles being fought among the feudal lords of that day. Agility and quickness b. techniques. and pressed the other provincial lords to cease hostility among themselves. Posture and poise Mental Development a. Buddhism and Shinto played a major role in the mental and physical discipline utilized in the development of kenjutsu. Although kendo is regarded today as physical sport. such as the introduction of protective equipment. Objectives of Kendo Physical Development a. etc. teachers and fellow students 4 . Kenjutsu was born during the early Tokugawa Period (1603—1867) when Tokugawa Ieyasu ruled as the shogun. There was a special need for the samurai of that day — something other than just the practice of swordsmanship. Subsequently. Self-reliance and self-confidence e." Kendo was derived from one of the oldest of the martial arts – kenjutsu (swordsmanship. This is when kenjutsu made its beginning.

RESPECT for fellow kendoists. 15. 17. 5 . Know that each martial way or art has a place in this world. 6. Develops alertness b. Assist in cleaning the dojo before and after practice. When necessary to walk in front of anyone. 14.self respect will be attained. kon-nichi-wa (good afternoon). A zarei (bow from sitting position) is performed if the sensei is in seiza position. using it as a cane. 10. arrange the men over his pair of kote to his right. Not lean on his shinai. Ask permission from sensei or any officer of the dojo. 13. 9. Ohayo-gozaimasu (good morning). Move with promptness. as well as his equipment. 2. Develops a sense of responsibility Kendo Etiquette A kendoist should 1. Not converse unnecessarily during practice hours. 7. Keep himself clean. 12. konban-wa (good evening). Understand that RESPECT is the keyword to any martial way or art. 11. Develops good reflex (instant judgement in face of danger) c. Not step over or kick a shinai or any part of bogu (armor) placed on the floor. lo ud and clear.Attitudes Regarding Safety for Oneself and Others a. Say . Greet his instructor (sensei) and fellow students. RESPECT for elders. 16. extend his right hand to his front. Not do harm to anyone or anything. Develops common sense d. 5. RESPECT for the dojo. RESPECT for your equipment. put on tare and doh. pointing toward the floor."onegai shimasu" or "onegai itashimasu" to each instructor before engaging him for practice. take his place on the floor. Ritsu-rei (standing bow) if sensei is standing. Toenails should be clipped for neatness and safety sake. Address instructor as: Tagawa sensei. 8. then . Bow respectfully when entering or leaving the dojo. Upon changing to keiko gi and hakama. not slowly and slovenly. after which — "arigato gozai-mashita" should be said. or Matsumoto sensei. if necessary to be excused before the regular time. RESPECT for the sensei. Thus one does not say unkind words or compare unfavorably one martial art to another. and bow as he passes. (an example) 4. 3. Be attentive during the practice hours. and place his shinai to his left. When leaving. sayo-nara (good-bye) or oyasumi-nasai (good night).

Bringing the back section with koshi-ita pressed to the small of the back. front and secure snugly in the back.fitting. over which the face mask ( men ) is worn. so that it offers no confinement about the shoulder area. The men is secured as shown in the illustration with a pair of himo (cords). Bokuto sometimes referred to as bokken. Today the ideal size for the average fifth or sixth grader is about 3 feet 5 inches. Left glove is put on first. and the other is to signify that the wearer is ready for action. Known as fukuro-jinai. Centuries ago the bokuto was actually used in practice sessions. A thigh protector. it is wrapped around the waist. until the shogunate government set the regulation length to be 3 feet 8 inches. The left cord crosses over to the right with slipknots. Doh or the chest protector is held over the chest. Today’s shinai consists of four lengths of polished bamboo which fit together. one purpose is to keep perspiration and hair off the brow. Upon first wearing the keiko gi. holding the front section (the part without the stiff board. Tenugui is a cotton towel to wipe away perspiration. making it safer. When used as a hachimaki (headband). Hakama is a divided skirt. To tug at the hand portion will weaken that portion. Men is a face mask. and the maximum to be 3 feet 9 Inches. the student then steps left leg first into the hakama. The length should be so that it will not drag on the floor. When reomoving. These should be put on while in seiza position. It also aids in concealing ones foot movements from his opponent. A bamboo sword was later devised. is a hardwood replica of a sword. Tare is the first piece to be put on. which allows leg freedom. which can be pulled loose. sometimes crippling the loser with a broken arm or fractured skull. Today it is used only in performing kata or to practice various strokes.Apparel and Equipment Keiko gi is a jacket made of light material. of which the front half was split into many lengths and wrapped in a leather bag. Bogu (armor). worn over the head with chin and forehead resting on respective padded rests. The tenugui is tied about the head. it was used extensively by the Yagyu school. and the himo (cords) are tied securely in front under the large center flap. Sleeves should cover the elbows. causing one to trip. it is tied in the front. The length varied up to about six feet. push off by the same area when taking off. Kote is a pair of padded gloves similar to those worn by hockey players.foot piece of bamboo. koshiita ) and wraps the two long tapes back. These strips are held together with a leather cover. which serves as 6 . The keiko gi should be loose. Shinai first appeared as a three. and the long right cord is brought over the left shoulder. pulling at the sleeve area.

Otagai ni rei 10. When placing shinai on one's left side (in seiza ) it should be with tsuba in line with the knees. Gorei Words to recognize in the dojo. 6. "to sit properly. Junbi-taiso 2. this word means. Yame 7. Sonkyo 2. 2. Seiretsu 3. These two leather articles are connected with a heavy nylon or silk cord which is secured around the fore third of the shinai by a length of leather strip. as they are shouted commands. Sensei ni rei 9. move left foot back a half a step. bending the left knee to the floor with the right leg following. and a tubular leather bag which is the hilt. Hajimae Seiza Literally translated. which was often referred to as the "soul" or "spirit" of a bushi (samur ai). Mokuso 6.To Warm Up Exercises Line up Sit Attention Deep Meditation Halt Bow to the top front Bow to the sensei Bow for all others Wear the Men Stand Up Draw your Sword Squat On guard Begin. thus placing the "cutting edge" toward oneself. One must never leave it where others must step over it. Seiretsu Seiza Ki wo tsuke Mokuso Yame Shomen ni rei Sensei ni rei Otagai ni rei Line up Sit Attention Deep Meditation Halt Bow to the top front Bow to the sensei Bow for all others During Practice: 1.the point. 5. it should be treated with respect. and the tsuru on the outside. or go Ending a session: 1. Shomen ni rei 8. Nuke . In as much as the shinai represents a sword.. Kiritsu (Tate) 12. Men wo tsuke 11. or lean on it as one would a cane." Substituting the first kanji its meaning could be interpreted as "to sit quietly. the blade portion pointing to the rear." To sit. Kamae te 3. 7. The buttocks gently 7 . 4. Ki wo tsuke 5. Beginning a session: 1. Seiza 4.. 8. 3.

The head comes down to within 6 inches of the hands. index finger tips and thumb tips touching. For men. Maintain that position for time enough to take count to four. and form the zazen hand sign in front of navel. the knees should be about a fist apart. 8 . but rather like an oval. Your hands palm up left hand on the bottom. When finished. In seiza. Zarei Mokuso Normally performed after warm ups but before putting on men. the class will meditate together for a few moments. thumbs just barely touching. It is execut ed as follows: Place both hands on the floor in front of the knees to form a triangle like shape. at the command close your eyes not quite all the way. then gently rise to seiza position.rests on the feet. slowly allow your hands to go back to the top of your thighs. Bend body forward. Thus. taking care not to let your buttocks rise. concentration being focused to the area just below the navel (with abdomen somewhat tense). and for women the knees should be together. the right foot comes forward first. Form neither a mountain nor valley shape. Seiza Zarei The bow while sitting is also called seiza-no-rei. To stand. the left foot moves first to sit and the right foot moves first to stand. Hands should be on the thighs and eyes are fixed straight ahead as though to gaze upon a distant mountain. The upper portion of your body should be erect.

Mokuso 9 .

hold shinai in left hand at arm length. The left thumb is placed on the tsuba and 3 large steps. Develop your seeing ability so that you will be able to observe even the area surrounding your opponent. Taito: After rei the hand is brought up to the waist. The left thumb is relaxed. and attempt to absorb his every move. It is in this position one performs a ritsu rei (standing bow) at 10 paces from the opponent. The tsuka should be pointing to the front and the "blade" pointing to the back. With chin pulled slightly. Both arms are hanging to the sides. Me no tsuke kata This is about your eyes. neck. carrying the bodyweight equally. right foot first you’ll step towards your opponent. The "center of gravity" should be at a point just below the navel. again as if to gaze upon a distant mountain. with feet spread slightly apart. When practicing you must look steadily into the opponent's eyes. but be able to observe his whole stance. hips. with the tsuru on the underside. and limbs.Postures Shizentai A natural standing position. eyes should look straight ahead. It is also an acceptable method to move about the dojo carrying a shinai during practice. the chest should be held high as the stomach and buttocks are pulled in. Shinai no sage kata (How to carry a shinai) Teito: In a shizentai posture. or your gaze. Take care not to tense up shoulders. 10 . draw your sword (shinai) and with dignity and a straight back lower yourself into sonkyo posture. but straight. at a lower angle. Stand relaxed.

It is perhaps the most important thing for all kendoka to study. Hasso no kamae 5.Sonkyo Sonkyo is a squatting position you’ll take right as you draw your sword (shinai). Waki no gamae. which literally means posture or attitude in Japanese. Sonkyo Kamae Go-gyoh no kamae (The 5 stances) 1. as this is the most popular of the kamae currently in use in 11 . Our discussion will be limited to Chudan no kamae (middle-stance)... Kamae is the source of attack and defense. is used in kendo to refer to foot positioning (we call this ashi kamae). . whenever you are to be with a partner for any reason.. 1 2a 2b 3 4 5 Discussion on Kamae.Chudan no kamae 2a. and shinai positioning (Ken kamae). Kamae. When a match or practice is over. It officially means we have “drawn our swords and are now in session”. the participants will meet in the center of the dojo. and lower to sonkyo posture and re-sheath the sword (shinai). This is also the only acceptable way to start a match between two kenshi. Hidari jodan no kamae 2b. Migi jodan no kamae 3. body posture (we call Tai kamae). Gedan no Kamae 4. Sometimes the whole class will do it together.

Foot position: Good kamae foot position provides the kendoka with a base from which movement in any direction (hiraki ashi) is easy. In kendo all cuts begin from the center of your body. 4. Bad body posture can induce discomfort. Chudan no kamae (3 views) 1. Body posture: Good kamae body posture makes it possible to remain relaxed physically. 12 . For chudan no kamae. In a strong chudan no kamae. the shinai tip. Now your left and right feet make a backward letter “L”. The feet: In kendo footwork is at least as important and in some circumstances perhaps even more important than arm or sword work. Pivot your left foot to towards the left touching your left heel on the ground. Therefore to hold a kamae out of center inhibits and slows your attacks because you will only have to first return to the center before attacking. that in order to move easily. 1. In addition to providing a solid defensive position. while watching the opponent alertly. Good foot position also leaves the feet always in position to launch the body into attack. 2. 3. it also serves as a stable base from which the kendoka can launch attacks of his or her own. both heels and toes touching. Knees should be straight but not locked. first the feet must be placed properly. which will eventually distract your attention from your opponent's momentary weaknesses (suki). A well-centered kamae is also the key to good attacking motions with the shinai. or kensen. threaten the opponent. 1. Bad body posture such as hunched or raised shoulders can restrict or slow shinai movements. It should not be surprising.modern kendo. Kamae consists of three elements all working together in harmony. therefore. Stand with feet together. is constantly threatening the opponents' throat. Shinai position: Good shinai positioning is a combination of handgrip and placement of the hands to control the position of the shinai. movement to one or more of the directions may be cumbersome or even impossible. Good body posture also makes it easy to move the shinai into attacking and defensive motions. Good body posture can also extend the distance from which you can attack. Good footwork allows the kendoka to move easily and gracefully from point to point. the beginner can easily achieve proper foot positioning. and to attack. which makes it difficult for the opponent to attack. With bad foot position. and the left hand remains in the center of your body. Kamae serves a two-fold purpose in kendo.

Shoulders should be level and relaxed. 1. when you wear bogu. The spine must be absolutely straight. A strong placement of the shinai serves the dual purpose of establishing a position from which attacks can be easily launched and discouraging attacks on the part of the opponent. 8. and relaxed. all power is derived from here." Keep the chin slightly tucked. 2. Your neck muscles should be relaxed. Bad body posture can inhibit movement. Hint: it will take years! The Body: The body in chudan no kamae is very important. this allows the throat protection on the men to be most effective. Bend the left knee slightly so that the left heel comes a little more off the ground and the right heel nearly touches the ground. If the shinai is misplaced. The following procedure should establish a good shinai grip. Make sure weight is forward on the balls of the feet. 3. Remember “golf ball” under the left heel. 3. 5. Body stance should be natural and relaxed keeping the following points in mind: 1. attack and defense. and hard to place it optimally to frustrate attacks by the opponent. Neither shoulder should be higher than the other should. Make sure weight is evenly balanced (50/50). 5. 9. your feet are back in kamae position. This brings feet into the proper distance relationships both front/back and side to side. The body should be centered over the foot base. Your “center” or hara should feel like the center of the universe. 6. 7. Beginning kendoka should practice holding this foot position until it is comfortable. Make sure that after each step you take. Keep the right knee bent but not locked. “paper” under the right heel. Keep the feet parallel. A very common mistake is to put all the weight on either the front (right) or the rear (left) foot. 4. This is proper foot position for chudan no kamae. 2. The body should squarely face your opponent. eyes looking ahead. 13 . 4. You want to feel like you could play “belly-bump” with a Mack truck and bounce it backwards. This should bring both heels slightly off the ground. Now pivot your left foot on your left toes so that it is again parallel with your right foot. through the opponent "as at a distant mountain. Neck should be straight. looking and feeling just as you did the step before. Move the weight to the balls of the feet keeping it evenly balanced.3. 6. it will be hard to bring it into play to attack. The Shinai: The shinai grip and location are very important. perpendicular to the ground.

In this position. 2. Both thumbs should be pointing down. 5. Make a note of this position. Keep your left hand centered. your right arm should be as if holding a grapefruit in your armpit. It’s more like a brush and you’re an artist. the shinai will be easy to swing. 4. Only grip strongly with the little and ring fingers of the left hand. you should not see any fingernails.1. the tighter the grip. Once source says: "Your left arm should be as holding an egg in your armpit. When you look down at your hands. Establish the right hand position by placing the tsuka-gawa (very tip of the hilt of the shinai) on the inside of the right elbow. this is the optimal locatio n for most people's right hand. Arms may be somewhat away from the body. 3. Te no Kamae (The position of the hands) The left hand should firmly grip the very end of the tsuka. so that the sakigawa is pointed in the center of your body directly at throat height. All other fingers should hold the shinai but be relaxed. Relax your shoulders throughout this procedure. Elbows should be relaxed and somewhat bent on both arms. you should now adjust the direction of the tip of the shinai by moving your left wrist. and the kensen (tip of the sword) will threaten an opponent with impalement should she/he decide to attack. Remember. and turning the right wrist so that the right hand can grasp the shinai. The right hand holds the tsuka just behind the tsuba lightly to insure maneuverability. 2. Maintaining the grip you have achieved by the procedure above. Do not grip the shinai like a policeman grabs a criminal. and following as needed with the right hand. 6. the smaller the finger." 14 . Important points to keep in mind are: 1. The V-between your thumb and index finger should lined up with your body center. Kensen should be centered and at the height of your opponent's throat.

should he counter attack. but not resting on it. You must always be attempting to make your footwork “snappy”. It is important to perform fumi komi at the exact instant you strike your opponent. The whole bottom of the foot must land at once. 10. When that distance. If you look down. after moving the first foot. Practice this maneuver until it can be done in one motion. Left forearm is in light contact with the body. Your left hand should be one fist width away from your belly. in any of the kendo footwork. Your body must face the opponent in the same direction as your feet in order to ready yourself for the next move. Ashi Sabaki (Foot work) Okuri ashi Is used for covering close range or far or when attacking. This is the footwork of attack. Hiraki ashi Is used to shift body position when parrying or attacking. so that you do no t waver or weave as you execute these steps.7. and one is able to hit his opponent by taking one step forward. you leap forward with the right foot followed by the left. as you attack. and left oblique for dou ichi or kaeshi men. Care must be taken to concentrate your centre of gravity to a point two inches below your navel. The foot nearest toward which you wish to move steps out first followed by the other foot. Tsugi ashi Is used to cover distance forward when attacking from a chudan no kamae. (maai). Right oblique front step could be used for tsuki suri age men. This footwork is a bit rare. as you’ll have to constantly employ this movement against your opponent. you should not see your fingernails. Fumi komi Refers to the right foot action at the moment of an attack. and without a pause. The left foot is brought in line with the right foot. is greater than the issoku itto no ma. normally when you are under no danger from the opponent. tsugi ashi is employed. Great force is generated as the sole of the foot strikes the floor hard. This is used to cover larger distances. 2. Do not hesitate to move your second foot. would be telegraphing your intention. If one isn’t careful. This describes the way to move quickly in any direction. more like a normal walk. It is considered bad to pad your heel if you’ve hurt it. You will employ this footwork when you learn kata. injury can easily occur to the heel. 9. 15 . The right (or left) oblique front may be used for attacking men or nuki doh. Ayumi ashi Is a normal sliding step. 8. Important points to keep in mind: 1. Always keep your toes down. The left foot moves first followed by the right when moving to the left. To pause upon bringing the left foot to the right. Issoku itto no maai is the normal distance between two contestants facing each other with their shinai crossed. You’re left and right step alternately. The right foot moves first followed by the left when moving to the right side. This is the most often used footwork. The tsuru (string) of the shinai is always on top.

Maai is the word for “combative distance” Ma in a broad sense also describes the idea of “seizing the chance” or of timing. a time to be very alert. Tsuba zeriai This is pretty much face to face. or “backward strikes”. Keep a low centre of gravity. or getting safely back to issoku itto no maai.3. The shinai are crossed at very sharp angle. 4. Both players’ are trying to strategize a way of either striking their opponent. One doesn’t have to step at all to hit or be hit. or step back one step then hit. and one is able to hit his opponent by taking one large okuri ashi style step forward. and do not linger in this zone. In kendo we have four description of this distance between players.. Okuri ashi Hiraki ashi Tsugi ashi Ayumi ashi Discussion on Maai.. It is for this posture one must study the application of hika waza.. Toma This is a longer distance between players. A player has to move back into issoku itto no maai enable to strike. 5. 16 . Chikama This is closer than issoku itto no maai. Always keep a straight back. even when performing big movements. To strike him you either have to break his posture by pushing-then striking. One can also avoid being struck with a quick step backward. One could not quite get to his opponent within just one step. Issoku itto no maai As mentioned earlier is the normal distance between two contestants facing each other with their shinai crossed. Avoid bobbing your head up and down. this is a danger zone.

Think of your left hand pulling down on a rope that rings a bell. Before one can properly execute a correct strike on an opponent. The right hand “throws” the shinai out and forward. almost as if you were wringing a towel. When practicing basic strokes. and you want to cast a large piece of bait way out in front of you. where does one stop the back swing? The general rule is: a warm up type of suburi should be done as large as possible. Your arms are extended. you must be able to correctly swing in suburi. The tip of the shinai should describe a straight line as it rises and falls. and your fists are in front of you at about shoulder height. then together they “twist” the shinai to a stop right where you want it. and the left provides the down ward pull. which tend to roll outward when you swing the shinai up. There is a very common tendency to try to mus cle the shinai down in an arc with the right hand. the beginner should concentrate on keeping the arms (particularly the right arm) relaxed and swinging in an easy motion. Even choyaku (jumping) suburi should be as large as possible. the right hand merely rides along to guide it. the hands are raised up and down along the centerline of the body in a relaxed manner. The hardest point for the novice (particularly the right-handed novice) to grasp in this exercise is the fact that the left hand does most of the work in striking. When swinging in kendo. There is a question of when swinging the shinai. in kendo. If you practice in front of a mirror. The wrists. There is a tendency to think of suburi as only a warm up exercise. therefore. you should have a light yet firm feeling. The student will learn several different drills. That is not correct. In swinging. Very often too much tension in one hand or another is revealed in the fact that the shinai wanders from one side to side as you try to strike.Issoku itto no maai Toma Chikama Tsuba zeriai Suburi Suburi is the action of swinging the shinai properly. If you are trying to simulate an attack. Tension and the overuse of muscles only slow the motion down and tire out the arms. Yet. but coordination and speed. The waza type suburi or when you attack a specific target then could be done up to a 45 degree angle. then slapping your buttocks with the shinai is not good training. It is a slight twisting motion. It is important not to "break" the wrists by bending them too much. come back in as you strike forward and down. this will aid you in developing proper technique. and most 17 . You may also think of it this way: It is like using a two handed fishing rod. the factors that make a stroke effective are not muscular strength.

and then snap your left foot up when you bring it down. In modern kendo we’d rather think of it as a way to display our vitality. 4. to surprise and depress the enemy. and stay sharp. Men! Kiai The quick translation of kiai is “spirit shout”. and look outwards. Time properly the swing with your step. Both concepts are valid and will integrate nicely into your all around kendo education. Some schools like you to step forward with the right foot as you raise your shinai. Also the concept of our shouting in kendo will be introduced (see Kiai next). Keep your head still. Kiri kaeshi 18 . 5. Suburi is one the few things that the kendoka can do alone at home or anytime to improve. ai is a coming together. Left hand always stays centered. Shomen suburi done very big. 7. Important points to keep in mind: 1. This demonstrates a consciousness of purpose and precision that is highly valued in kendo. The word kake-goe is also used to describe this shout. Keep your chin tucked in. In the old days the kiai was employed by warriors to attack their enemy’s spirit in a negative way. Ki is life force. To try to show more vitality. Also it is required you cry out the target as you hit it on your opponents body. 3.will include footwork in combination with the suburi. It proves you are not just flailing about randomly. “Twist” to stop the shinai where you want it to stop. The shout is to show our total commitment. Swing up always over the very center of your body 2. and follow immediately with the left. 6. Other schools like you to move your right on the downward swing. in a positive way. to show our spirit. Don’t rise up your body with your feet muscles as you lift the shinai.

3. very important. and is a workout all in itself. 5. I’ll describe it. you can’t take hundreds of blows a night on your head. 9. From issoku itto no maai. wait until you are at least wearing the kote until you bump hard. After the second set of nine strikes. 4. beginning with left men. accompanied with a shout naming the particular 19 .. it is to be practiced all of your days. The benefits of kiri kaeshi are to provide the kendoka with experience in judging timing and distance. One must confidently strike any of these areas.This is a drill that is very. To learn to breathe properly. When receiving. and you will have to receive his attacks. Strike left and right men correctly. Only the first. then without stopping strike 5 times stepping backward. men. before they hit the men. Important points to keep in mind: 1. It is best to strike continuously in the same breath. kiri kaeshi will foster physical strength. After taiatari (body check). give a loud shout and boldly strike has all the basic concepts built in. turning to face him quickly. and vigor. 10. 2. Later he will receive with cuts with his shinai. You also learn to do taiatari (body checking) and all in all. Watch and learn to improve the distancing between you and your partner. “blocking” them so to speak. high enough to look under both fists. Remember the tsuru (string) on your shinai. Keep in mind every strike should be thought of as a serious blow that would kill if one had a real sword. This process should then be repeated. This will be your first try at taiatari. To develop stamina. and improve posture. Raise your shinai high over your head each time in a large and fully extended movement. but I’ll include no diagrams. Beginners are usually encouraged to strike the seniors men directly as they practice their cuts. Normally it will now be his turn to perform the kiri kaeshi. Kihon Waza (Basic Strikes) Basic Hits and Thrust In kendo there are many parts of the body which are set target areas. Move each time with nice sliding okuri ashi style footwork. and repeatedly re-enforcing the tenouchi (grip or twist) action. it is an aerobic exercise. swing the shinai up in a large movement and.. 6. the footwork you use is ayumi ashi. nonstop while shouting "men. After all. but at his men. 8. middle and last shomen strike has the fumi komi footwork. So important you should learn it directly from sensei at the dojo. spirit. 7. strike alternate right and left men 4 times stepping forward. It is never neglected even by the most advanced sensei. Never strike at your opponents’ shinai. It refers to continuously striking of the left and right men alternately. you must strike with the proper hasuji (angle). When carried out correctly. Then move quickly from toma to issoku itto no maai and boldly strike shomen immediately. men" in a loud voice. Do not “bark” but “sing”. move quickly from toma and strike shomen and continue through and past your partner.

As you strike. Hidari Men left Men and Migi Men right Men . Doh Uchi – Is the hit to the side of the chest protector (torso).shomen – top center of the helmet. it is swung down diagonally to your left to strike the opponent's migi doh. Both up and down strokes should be executed in one flowing motion without pausing in the middle. is struck when the opponent is about to raise his shinai above his head and when he is in jodan no kamae. 20 . This technique is reserved to only 2nd dan and above. Your left hand should not hamper visibility. hands rotating in toward each other. Omote tsuki is done with your shinai passing the opponent's shinai from your right side. Hidari doh. raise shinai above your head in a straight arc without wavering. using shoulders boldly. Tsuki – A thrust to the throat with arms extended. Try to strike above the eye. using the clockwise motion. Kote Uchi – Is the forearm strike. The migi kote. If executed properly it is O. Any form of tsuki must be done with your body backing up your extended arms. and not recommended to novice players. as the shinai is swung down. the right foot steps (or leaps). a stance when the shinai is held above the head.K. twistin g your shinai counterclockwise. a whip like movement is created by the "wringing of the towel" motion as stated earlier. As the shinai is about to touch the men. Upon completion of your tsuki. Ura tsuki is done with your shinai passing his from your left. (right chest). Kata te tsuki is a left or right single hand execution. a thrust is made to the throat as the right foot lunges forward with the left foot following. right wrist. without a moment's loss. Men Uchi . bringing the shinai lower. Stretch your arms. never go as low as the ear. you must come back to the chudan no kamae. You must pass on your opponent's left side. Then you must assume the chudan no kamae.Hitting the head . left wrist. using the left foot to push and follow the right foot. From a chudan no kamae. That motion is done by rotating both hands inwardly with the right hand fully extended.are executed by bringing the shinai down at a 45° angle on respective sides. Each hit should end with the "wringing of the towel" motion and with the right arm fully is hit in the same manner as the men. left doh. Raising the shinai over your head. Hidari kote . taking care not to put strength in the shoulders as this might cause the upper part of the body to lean forward. (also called giyaku doh) is a very advanced technique.

Move quickly. Every night. respect for your fellow students and respect for your equipment.S. Most dojo follow a standard physical layout. don't hold up practice by not being ready to perform the requested techniques. It is important. The more experienced kendoka will be on the high side. A Typical kendo practice The format of a typical kendo practice anywhere in the world would be nice to know. as it is how everything is situated from its location. The wall to the left of the main door is the low side of the dojo. Some say the samurai of feudal days cultivated this to such a high degree. and then be alert to the opponents possible counter attack. It describes the ability to completely finish an attack correctly. Before practice formally starts: 1. it is important to keep in mind the following points: The concept of rei (respect). and be ready for that. Watching your own kendo is how your correct your faults. Pay attention to the other students and to yourself. 1. This is the door through which students initially enter the dojo. Every moment in a fight. 2. a warrior must have this ability. It may be best described as “follow through. Throughout the practice. This concept of high and low side will reoccur throughout shinai kendo and the kata practice as well. Try to make sure you are always in position for the next practice. Typically. the least experienced on the low side. but the general structure will be the same. However there is no such thing. It is important to locate the kamiza. 21 .” but in this instance. every session is going to be different. Dojo layout. and sand off rough spots with a piece fine sand paper. Sensei will formulate the class to fit the level of the student’s experience. even while sleeping. they were on guard and ready at all times. The dojo will have a kamiza (deity seat) or maybe at least a focus point to which the kendoka as a group will acknowledge with a collective rei (bow). Make sure hakama and kendo gi are clean and neatly folded. while the wall to the right is the high side.. This physical layout determines your orientation during practice. 2.. a dojo has a main door. Watching the kendo of others is called learning through the eyes. or by not being ready to receive for your partner. Especially here in the U. not just some motion with the shinai. At home check shinai for splinters. especially when entering strange dojo to figure out the layout so that you will know how to practice. They could never be taken by surprise. It normally is the wall farthest from the door.. it means mentally following through. show respect for your instructor. the details of a practice may vary from dojo to dojo.Zanshin Zanshin is interpreted as: Alertness remaining form..

slowly with large motions. You may or may not be switching partners after every series of attacks. Kendo keiko (practice): Sensei will now direct the practice. and give yourself fully up to the directions from sensei. once to your teachers. the key to this is not to wait. and once in respect to all present. if you are wrong someone higher up will correct you. then some suburi that practice attacking the point areas. as soon as you are set at the right maai. Try to move as swiftly as possible. Here is the time to calm down. Some techniques may be quite advanced. clear your mind. It is a prelude to free sparring. 3. 4. Sensei will most likely take a moment in between changing partners to correct or further explain the proper movements and probably demonstrate them also. or a lower ranking black belt. A Typical kendo practice 1. then some variations of men suburi.2. “edge” inwards. Put on the doh and tare immediately. Be alert to moving quickly when you are directed. make sure you greet the sensei if practicing at your home dojo. forget about your daily life and problems. Opening rei: Just as taiso and suburi prepare the body for practice. be sure to welcome new kendoka and guests. kiai loudly. arms. left one first and you’ll pick up your shinai. 3. Keep good form. kote then goes on. Greet guests with Irasshaimase. Taiso: This segment consists of warm up exercises. just as you have been taught. your doh and tare will already be on. so watch the others and try it yourself. It will remind you a little of a one sided free 22 . and sit down. Next will most likely be a series of practicing the basic attacks or uchi kome. You’ll be asked to attack your partner continuously. Kakari geiko: This is interpreted as “a ttacking practice”. place your men on top then slide it to a place 45 degrees to your right. These include body stretches. Typically you’ll do a very large swing to start. knee. once to the front. Then the command to put on men is made. The class will then mediate together. and ankle warm ups. You must remember to set your shinai down on your left side. If you have bogu. the opening formalities prepare the kenshi’s mind for kendo. then stand up (if your sempai stand up before you). and your body in exact line with all others. Suburi: This is a chance to smoothly swing the shinai. Once the men is tied on. finishing with a very fast jumping style of suburi called choyaku suburi. the tsuba should be in line with your knees. Traditionally all kendoka count toge ther during the exercises to develop spirit and foster a group feeling. so that you have time to change before practice is scheduled to begin. This section may be led by less than a black belt student. If practicing in a strange dojo. Make your swings big. so set your kote down in front of you. warming up the arms and shoulders. Greet sensei with kon ban wa (evening) Ohayo gozaimasu (morning) or kon nichi wa (afternoon). After changing. allowing you room to bow. Try to arrive at practice a bit early. When this ends (20 – 50 secs. you must attack any openings you see.) you will bow 3 times. The highest-ranking student gives the commands to line up. 2. You’ll normally split into two lines so you will have a partner. The practice usually begins with kiri kaeshi. unpack your bogu. etc. 5. and receive your partner’s practice with a grateful and cooperative attitude. you must yell loudly and display your attacking spirit. wrist.

kiai loudly. Iaido What is iaido? Simply put. but non-combative atmosphere. to be the receiver in this exercise. It is a series of ten formal exercises practiced by two kendoka together. from the 9th to the l9th centuries. ready for battle. there is four stages the blade will pass through. First is the draw. immediately followed by the cutting action. and 1981. Please consider this another reason to attend the classes at the dojo. Kata Kendo kata are a link to the past generations of master swordsman who shaped and kendo into what it is today. It is one of the important cultural heritages that is unique to the Japanese culture. was taught in many sword schools. Techniques for drawing and cutting with the sword are studied and practiced in a serious. and keep zanshin at all times. 1933. A good swordsman was worth his weight in gold. The iai exponent’s ideal is to 23 . This was (until l600) a time of many civil wars. The sword is now looked upon as a spiritual instrument for controlling the "self". The kata are intended to embody significant insights into the practice of kendo. Then a snapping or flicking action. iaido is the art of drawing the traditional Japanese sword. or words that can properly convey this part of kendo training. even some of the techniques taught today. in order to keep up with demand for trained warriors. attack correctly with good technique. Please do not fall into that trap. In feudal Japan. There is no picture. if done properly. Each time the sword is drawn. In Japan today people feel it is very important to remember and preserve the old ways. (chiburi) followed by a return (noto) of the sword to the scabbard. You must follow all the rules taught you. slowly evolved into training for self-discipline and self-perfection. Iaido reflects this change of emphasis.sparring match. It must be admitted many trainees neglect kata training. This was called iai-jutsu. is his ego. 6. Your sensei will teach you the kata as you need to know them. As early as 1400 a serious study of delivering a killing blow directly from the scabbard. The allure of free sparring has a strong attraction. The kata have evolved through time: revisions and adaptations have taking place in 1912. or batto-jutsu (sword drawing art). The only enemy one has. 1917. to remove blood from the blade. I will not include descriptions or drawings in this beginner’s handbook. especially to the young. but it takes great skill believe it or not. keep good posture. the samurai used the sword to establish and maintain order. Jiyu geiko: Here is the time where you are finally able to freely spar will your dojo mates. description. the samurai's constant training to defeat and kill an opponent. kata is an important part of your overall training. As the civil wars subsided and peace came. and a real warrior did not attack his enemy using these methods. to one or more imaginary opponents. One must have a good grasp of the kata and be able to demonstrate it in order to pass examinations of rank in kendo. Many sword schools and styles of swordsmanship flourished. have no real combat value.

A true devotee can develop a strong spirit.perform these motions with no wasted action. yet remains closely linked. and a strong degree of control over his emotions. Many clubs will study both and many sensei will hold black belt ranks in both. Those who lack sincerity or seriousness are advised that iaido is not for them. How to tie Knots on your Shinai Sakigawa 24 . improved posture. Today iaido is a martial art form studied separately from kendo. smoothly blending the techniques into a unbroken demonstration of determined superiority over the supposed opponent. muscle-flexibility.

25 . or just down from it a bit. It is supposed to be no more than at the top one third mark.Nakayui This is the one knot most fussed over. and has to be retied the most often. Around where your shinai will get the most wear and tear.

Tsukagawa 26 .

msu. See you in class.html Thank you and practice hard. please visit: http://kendo.Additional Notes for Toyoda Center Students To learn more about Yutaro Matsuura 27 .nscl.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful