My experience in Ki in Kendo - Awa

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[Experience sharing from 3rd Dan and above senpai]
Body-Mind IntegrationHow do you use your Ki (mental/spiritual power) to lead your Ken and/or Tai (sword and/or body; physical power) in Kendo keiko?

Ki – this is how I use Ki to help me in keiko and kendo in general.

Ki through kiai to help my breathing and settle my mind but make it active and ready which also includes my body.

Ki- to increase my vigour when tired. To get ready quicker and having that ippon feeling throughout my body. 

My ki is also affected by how I interpret my body and mind on the day. If I haven’t rested well or I am physically tired I try to use my ki to pump myself up. Usually done by a louder kiai or remembering my goals. 

If I am injured or sore focus on my strengths and strategies I can use to manage my body but with stronger ki to help complete the cuts. 

Using my breath to focus ki and keeping lower abdomen engaged (tense) and vice versa breathing out slowly to focus ki and knowing when you breathe in that your ki is naturally weaker. 

Star War @ Hamilton City Library, 2016 

In keiko

When my ki is stronger than the opponents I feel in control and can set the keiko to my pace, this requires understanding your opponent and yourself. Something I am working on is knowing when my ki is weak and when my opponent’s is strong. If my ki is weak I shouldn’t attack but wait until I have gathered my focus (ki) again and sense when there is a change in my opponents and strike when there is a drop in theirs. The difficulty here is your opponent may drop their ki on purpose to open debana waza or kaeshi. 

Body wise I use to push through pain and tiredness. In tenouchi and zanshin and the waist to move past quickly. 

To be a better modatachi by creating a connection between kakarite and lifting their spirit up (ki/focus) and keeping that intensity there. With this modatachi needs to work in synchronisation with kakarite. In addition to this kakarite needs to do their best 100% otherwise it becomes one-sided and the connection is lost. 

A strong ki is built through determination, goal setting, hard training, and pressure to improve oneself (goals), the ability to filter and manage one’s mind and a positive outlook on life. Also having confidence in oneself and their abilities. This is what I think helps develop my ki to become stronger. 

Also I don’t do this 100% of the time it varies from training to training dependent on how I am physically and mentally that day. Having a goal to work on helps keep my ki strong. I have a sort of checklist that I use to quickly reflect and monitor my kendo. E.g. Kiai, step in strike (instant reflection – did I hit the correct area with the right technique, right part of kensen, was my zanshin quick and correct, did I drop my ki anywhere if so why/ improve it the next cut. The next cut more ki if tired or zanshin was poor. 

A good modatachi should be able to recognise when kakarite Ki is strong or not and if not lift them up. I like it when modatachi does this :)

This is my understanding and sense of Ki. It may be not quite right so please let me know if I have misinterpreted it. 

Many thanks for reading my long post