About this blog..

This is a blog that I started in April 2006, just after I first put on my bogu (kendo armour). It collects the advices given by more experienced kendo practitioners as well as those from my own experiences. Both technical and the mental aspects of kendo are written in the blog. I hope someone will find them useful or interesting at least!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Training with Tatsuro 2

Yesterday evening we had the last training with Tatsuro. 15 people with bogu turned up and we had plenty of time for mawari jigeiko. It was a bit embarrassing that Tatsuro got a straight men-strike in the first few seconds during the jigeiko with me.

I took his advice from the day before that I should fight for the centre, but then I forgot about the maai and I was often too close to the opponents.

Lately I started to use tsuki when training with certain people during jigeiko, and got nice surprising results. But at the moment I'm still exploring this technique.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Training with Tatsuro 1

We practiced yesterday with Tatsuro, a Waseda University student who already visited us once earlier this year. We did the usual kihon-geiko until the last 30-40 minutes, when we did jigeiko.

During kihon-geiko, we did a couple of round of butsukari-geiko (two consecutive sets of men-taitari-hiki-men/kote/do, and finishing with a men-uchi). I was lucky enough to did this with Tatsuro. He corrected me that I should never move as a motodachi when the kakarite execute taitari. The lower abdomen should be pushed forward, and be brought to clash with the opponent. It's one thing training with the others and another thing training with him. It felt like being hit by a bull. So I had to almost exaggerate (from our normal standard here) my movement in order to stop him properly. I tried it again and it worked.

I also practiced sashi-men with him. What stood out from his men-strike is the forward movement of his hip and abdomen. The moment that he seme'd and launched his strike, it felt like he was "falling" forwards onto me. The power and the speed was tremendous.

I was extremely tired towards the end of the jigeiko. Maybe because I trained only once a week in the past month due to various reasons.

Tatsuro gave me some advice after the jigeiko:
  • He noticed that when he seme'd I tended to back out. He told me to have patience and seme back.
  • The distance between the left feet of both players should be kept the same most of the time. The right feet, however, moves forwards or backwards during seme.
  • I pointed out that when he retrieved while I attacked, I tried to do rezoku-waza with men, but I couldn't keep my momentum up. He said the left arm is important, and I should do more katate-men. One should also strike with the hip.
  • He said, in kendo, the body is relaxed, and the hip is very important.
Stephan told me after the jigeiko:
  • My seme leading up to the men-strike is not enough. I have to hold the centre while bringing my shinai up.
Tonight there's the last training with Tatsuro before he goes back to Japan.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Zanshin 残心

What is Zanshin? What is the manifestation of Zanshin? The wikipedia says:
... the continued state of mental alertness and physical readiness to instantly attack or respond to an attack or counter attack by ones opponent.
The kanji's are 残心 (Zan-Shin). Zan (残) means residual or remaining; Shin (心) means heart or mind. So the literal translation would be something like the remaining mind. Of course, as we know, it is used in the world of martial arts, but in a general way, it is simply the state of mind after one has performed a task. In kendo, one teaches that Zanshin should be the alertness after a strike, accompanied by clear physical postures and movements to manifest this state of mind.

For me, however, I think there is an element of "declaring victory" for the attack just made. This goes to the aesthetic part of kendo. When I execute Zanshin, I want to show with my kiai and movement: "I wanted it, I went for it, and now I am claiming it!"

What is Zanshin for you?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Collaborative training

I led the training yesterday again, with 8 people with bogu and 2 without. We first did 400 various suburis, and then do- and kaeshi-do strikes without the helmet on. Then with bogu, as usual, 4 x kirikaeshi was the starter. The following exercise were:
  • 2 x tsuki first from issoku-itto-no-maai, then 2 x tsuki from toma with one step in to seme, afterwards with proper zanshin to propel the body backwards.
  • kihon: men, kote, do and kote-men with the feeling of the shinai reaching for tsuki just before striking.
  • Before the jigeiko, we did men-taiatari-hiki-men 3 times, whereby the last hiki-men should be executed with loud kiai, arms raised high-up and quickly propelling backwards away from the opponent, as though claiming the point.
Kendo is best done going forwards, therefore if one uses hiki-waza, one must show something special. This is the reason why one should keep the spirit high.

In jigeiko I had the opportunity to practise with David. I now realise more and more the difference in people's styles, and how important it is to practise with as many people as possible to make my kendo more flexible. David has a strong centre and defends well. He can change the direction of his shinai quickly, which means that I can not have a moment of hesitation. His height is a challenge for me as well. He shows also a genuine will to learn and humbleness, which made him a nice partner to train with, because the mood is a more positive and collaborative one.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Yesterday was my first time after ten days from the previous one. I missed two session to spend time with my parents who visited me last week, and have absolutely no regrets.

There were 13 people yesterday, all with bogu. We divided into groups of 3-4 and practiced kihon for half-an-hour, and then did jigeiko. It felt really good exercising again, but somehow my body felt strange after a ten-day's pause.

We also practised oji-waza against kote- and men-strikes. My waza worked very well against kote, but it was much more difficult against men-strikes, mainly due to the opponent's arms blocking the men.

  • Suriage: I need to practice more suriage, with two main goals: footwork to the side, and the sliding/warding-off action.
  • Men: I also need to push with my left leg more to launch my body farther.