Kendo is a way to discipline human character which helps to mould our mind & body, & encourage lifelong personal growth & improvement. No one in the world can stop us from improving & become a better person apart from ourselves. Therefore, let’s continue to do our best to refine our kendo together.
In Kendo, the ultimate goal for all kendokas is to strive for Ippon (or Yuko-Datotsu, a valid strike, at least).
In order to achieve Ippon, we need to execute a strike with Ki-Ken-Tai-Itchi.
That is why we need to show our strong spirit through strong Kiai. Kiai helps to bring our mind & body together so that we can deliver a good meaningful strike with intent. Handle the Shinai to correctly land a strike with Tenouchi on the Datotsu-bui of the opponent (striking targets) using the correct Datotsu-bu (striking area) on our Shinai. Strike with correct foot work, good body posture from Issoku-Ittou-no-Maai, then maintain constant alertness with good Zanshin following strikes. Only when all three elements (Ki=Spirit, Ken=Shinai, Tai=Body movements & Posture) are harmonised & executed with correct timing can there be a valid strike or Ippon.
Ichi-Gan Ni-Soku San-Tan Shi-Riki (一眼二足三胆四力) is the focus for the beginner & Kyu grades today. This is arranged in order of importance each body parts play during kendo.
1. Gan/眼 (Eyes): Is the most important element. We must be able to see our opponent at all times including turning around quickly following Zanshin run through to be ready to be on guard again with Kamae to shorten opening opportunities for our opponents to strike. We need to actively observe, read & anticipate our opponents next move in order to respond or initiate an attack. We need to strike with intent & not just striking randomly without an opportunity or opening.
2. Soku/ 足(Feet or leg): Good footwork is essential in maintaining good posture, kamae, & to keep in centre with your opponents at all times as well as maintaining correct distance for defence or offence. The left leg is the main driving force behind delivering a strong & sharp strike & not just relying on our weak arms & hands. We need to perform Fumikomi correctly then quickly follow up with left foot to run past or for repeated strikes. It’s also important to keep our left knee slightly inwards to keep alignment of the feet with inner parallel so we can perform smooth & fast Suriashi steps forwards & backwards during strikes without loosing balance or form.
3. Tan/胆 (Courage/Determination): The power of the Tan comes from our Tanden where our Ki/ Spirit energy is stored in our abdomen. Therefore, it’s important to work on our Kiai which needs to be generated from our abdomen to produce strong Kiai to show our courage & determination to fight with our opponents, & ensure we don’t lose our spirit right from the start.
4. Riki/力 (Power/Force): Even though the word literally means power, but this does not mean to use brute force without thinking, in fact, it is very technical. We need execute clean, sharp, crispy yet strong strikes with properly rotated shoulders & extend our arms concentrated on the left, performing correct Tenouchi, so the power is directed forwardly rather than downwards. So the strike is like a sliced cut.
Todays keiko was well structured with our excellent Senpais demonstrating Kihon strikes, Kirikaeshi, Kakari-geiko first, providing us Kohais with valuable insight to what is expected of us to improve onto next level & opportunity to do Mitori-geiko on the side, to learn by watching & copying their good postures & striking techniques.
Also thanks to Senpai-gata’s sharing of tips on how to be a good Motodachi. It’s certainly a difficult task to do well, & the Kohais can truly appreciate how much work was required for us to train properly.
The Motodachi needs to constantly adjust the correct distance for each Kakarite, applys pressure with their Kiai (to help boost Kakarites kiai), apply pressure with Shinai & to provide an opening only when Kakarite is ready to strike, in order to simulate as close as possible to true shiai scenario.
So as Kakarite, we need to use this valuable chance during Uchikomi-geiko to learn how to get ourselves ready, producing a strong determined Kiai to try kill the opponents Ki. Step into Issoku-Ittou-no-Maai, double check our foot position, left knee in, hip is straight, shoulders rolled back, upper body straight & relaxed, before pushing off with our left foot while rotating our shoulder to initiate the strike. Then we need to strike the target at same time as we perform Fumikomi with the right foot & quickly follow up with the left to complete the strike before moving forwards or backwards quickly to evade the opponent while maintaining Zanshin throughout.
It was wonderful to have both Sam & Marleen sensei back in Dojo again to lead the keiko today🙏🙏🙏
Good to see Marleen sensei keeping well & Sam sensei almost fully recovered❤️