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Evolution of Kendo (split from what do you have on zekken?)

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  • Evolution of Kendo (split from what do you have on zekken?)

    Hi, guys. Haven't been around for a while. Sorry about that!

    I know there's a lot of consternation about the future of kendo because so many Asian martial arts have been corrupted by their spread to the west. Sad but true. Karate and tae kwon do are in a mess, and judo/jujutsu isn't what it used to be, they have all lost some of their authenticity, and the biggest problem is that there are now competing organizations with different criterion for rank, etc. Suffice it to say that in these areas, many charlatans abound, the fighting spirits of the arts have been diluted.

    For many, the fear that kendo may head this way is of glaring importance, and when folks start screwing around with the uniform, that's just an outward symbol. I have a little faith that kendo will remain true to itself, though. The reason for that is because judo, for example, is a grappling art, and every country has its grappling arts; therefore judo may take on the coloring of that country. With kendo, however, it is a very specific weapon and a very specific set of circumstances for using it. I don't think anyone anytime soon will start adding western sabre techniques to kendo!

    Regardless, I think it's also important that kendo have ONE GOVERNING INTERNATIONAL BODY (sorry for screaming) and that we all adhere to its rules. Look what's happened to judo (another sport I play and love); there are four or five different orgs, and they don't agree on rules and ranks, and cetera.

    Now, if the one intntn'l body - the ZNKR - says blue or white and that's it, I'm okay with that! An unspoken value of kendo is that unspoken value of the Japanese society, that special kind of conformity.

  • #2
    I understand what you're saying Charlie, but that "unspoken value" that translates into a "special kind of conformity" is often at the expense of creativty and freedom.

    I'm not Japanese, I'm American. I don't feel a special "unspoken value" that compels me to conform. Conformity and mindless rule following can only breed stagnation. That's not what I want to see happen in kendo.

    It's all well and good to propose ONE GOVERNING INTERNATIONAL BODY (sorry for screaming), but what do you do when that body is wrong? What do you do when you disagree with its policies and decisions?

    Comment


    • #3
      Hmmm. Well, you got me there. I think its quite possible to be creative within the context imposed by the GOVERNING - okay, no more screaming - by the governing body. After all, kendo becomes "ones own," it's just very subtle. But I see what you're saying.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Achilles
        I understand what you're saying Charlie, but that "unspoken value" that translates into a "special kind of conformity" is often at the expense of creativty and freedom.

        I'm not Japanese, I'm American. I don't feel a special "unspoken value" that compels me to conform. Conformity and mindless rule following can only breed stagnation. That's not what I want to see happen in kendo.

        It's all well and good to propose ONE GOVERNING INTERNATIONAL BODY (sorry for screaming), but what do you do when that body is wrong? What do you do when you disagree with its policies and decisions?
        Yes, but if everyone can set their own rules, style and format, how is it still Kendo? What if I decide that at my own dojo (yeah, right), that strikes to the knee are valid. Or Meng's allows groin kicks ;-) .That dayglo orange is the only colour for bogu. That...etc etc. Would it still be right to call it Kendo?

        Surely a large part of Kendo is the respect for tradition - otherwise why not go make up your own martial art? (you might even think of a better one...). Why should Kendo evolve? It is a martial art, not freeform expression afterall.

        Or am I missing the point?

        <rei>

        Dave

        Comment


        • #5
          Well this thread has come a long way since "what do you have on your zekken" - but I like that - just like in the pub!

          It seems a lot of this talk comes down to 'Traditional Japanese' v 'Nike Logo'.
          I would just like to make the observation that Japanese 'Traditional' budo is evolving - putting a ceiling on the dan grade at 8th dan, and introducing new kata to iaido recently seem like the Japanese are 'okay slowly' shaping kendo in some significant ways.
          I wonder what people think about these developments, okay that's another thread, but it seems to tack onto this meandering thread. What happens in the future when Japanese have only 8dans and other countries (okay Koreans ) decide to keep 9dans.

          oops didn't just start something did I?
          james

          Comment


          • #6
            Personally, I would be horrified if kendo started behaving the way other martial arts have. If there were two or more competing kendo orgs that disagreed on some of the rules (like knee strikes or whatever). If rank were such an ambiguous thing that you could effectively buy whatever rank you wanted (karate, judo). Uniforms I'm not so concerned about, but I really think they are an outward manifestation of the important issue of changes within kendo.

            How can something evolve which reached its pinnacle in the 1800s? Why does it need to "evolve"? It's sword combat - sword combat has hit the ceiling! It's not like judo where, for example, judo meets western wrestling, sees that western wrestling has a cool technique (like single or double leg takedowns) and adopts them (true story). A sword is a sword is a sword (in this case, a specific type of sword, a katana is a katana...); it doesn't need to be messed with, IMO.

            Granted, kendo is very restrictive, there's a very clear-cut and rigid hierarchy, and bending rules is very rare. But I think that's too its credit, in the long run.

            Comment


            • #7
              How could it evolve? Well, here are some suggestions. . . (let me just caveat by saying I do NOT necessarily agree with all of these, but they are examples of what some people would like to see change):

              - electronic scoring as in western fencing. In present kendo, so much is up to the whim of the shimpan, who are frequently wrong. Matches can thus wind up as popularity contests. I always here kenshi (even high ranked Japanese kenshi) complain "that shimpan is blind!" or "I didn't get the point because I'm white" or "The head shimpan was an important man, and the other two didn't want to disagree with him, so they went along with a bad call." We always make fun of the weeble-woble shimpan who raises each arm half way a dozen times while he waits to see what the other shimpan are doing and then goes along with them. Electronic scoring would eliminate this, BUT it would also detract from concepts like zanshin and reduce the sport to the act of merely hitting. However, this could be remedied by making an electronically tracked hit the MINIMUM requirement for a point, and leaving the subjective questions up to the shimpan.

              - Getting rid of sankyo during matches. Bowing is enough. Sankyo is redundant.

              - Allowing cheering as in other sports. This makes it better for spectators and for some competitors.

              - Allowing more diversity in color and decoration in uniforms and equipment.

              - Allowing the use of local language in both court commands and zekken/myong-pan identification. There's no objection reason why "hajime" is somehow superior to "begin" or whatever the Spanish equivalent is for Mexican players, etc. . .

              Again, these aren't necessarily things that I advocate, just ideas that buddies of mine have kicked my way. The idea that anything reaches a penultimate pinnacle is off. Nothing is ever "perfect".

              Comment


              • #8
                Posted by Achilles

                - Getting rid of sankyo during matches. Bowing is enough. Sankyo is redundant.

                - Allowing cheering as in other sports. This makes it better for spectators and for some competitors.

                - Allowing more diversity in color and decoration in uniforms and equipment.

                - Allowing the use of local language in both court commands and zekken/myong-pan identification. There's no objection reason why "hajime" is somehow superior to "begin" or whatever the Spanish equivalent is for Mexican players, etc. . .

                Hmmnnn....

                Ettiqutte is part of the refinement of Kendo. It's like how fencers salute each other with the foil raised to the face.

                Cheering...kendo, like tennis, golf, etc requires concentration during shia...people do cheer but only after a good cut or score. If you look at the last hole in the first MAsters that tiger woods won you will notice after his drive he looks back at the crowd in anger. This was because someone had shouted during his swing. Concentration is important.

                colour, decoration? Hmmnn...are we allowed to wear coloured do in shia? Hmnnn...or are we talking about coloured hakama and kendogi? Well, the nightmare I have with this is that one day we will see a kendoka in the National Champs with a pink kendogi with the Nike logo splashed on the back.

                Language- Kendo is a japanese art that should retain some of its culture, its like taking away thebrazilian music in capoera and replacing it with local music.

                Meng

                Comment


                • #9
                  Heh, it's weird.
                  I personally disagree with all of them.

                  Electro scoring would eliminate the need for ki-ken-tai and most waza in general, since it's all about reaching the target with force. it'd become a brawl with bamboo sticks.

                  Sonkyo is beautiful. I like it. The more respect the better.

                  Cheering is okay after the match has ended, but it would not enhance kendo in any way. If you watched the 11 WKC official tape, you'll hear a lot of cheering in portuguese in the brazilian matches

                  Colors and such are a completely irrelevant subject IMO.

                  The language factor is interesting, but to keep a recognizable pattern everwhere there has to be a common tongue. Else if I was to travel to, say, Sweden, I wouldn't understand anything at all.

                  By the tone of some of these ideas i can see you advocate for them Achilles, such as the sonkyo one and the colors, which you like so much to mention in other threads.

                  I'm ok with your views, since you apparently have this sympathy for the korean ways, I just don't think so, because there are no clear reasons to do so.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Evolution of Kendo

                    I believe the evolution should be in the kendo-ka and not in kendo.....training methods and individuals can always evolve as part of your evolution as an individual....what is your reason for practicing kendo....to score points....to win tournaments.....or to become a better person and contribute to others....as far as using Japanese language in matches that is the easiest way to conduct matches......if one competitior is from Spain and one from the United States.....both should know Japanese commands from the shimpan....the next match may be a Russian and a German....it is logical to use Japanese....those of you who have never refereed in a martial art need to ....it will give you a greater appreciation of the dedication and effort that those individuals give to the art......do we make mistakes...yes....is there not just as much if not more to learn from not winning ( and I emphasize not winning vs loosing) than there is from always winning....kendo has evolved greatly over the years....swordsman no longer use shinken or bokken for matches....can you imagine a match without bogu....do you not win by points instead of who lives.....I think there has been much evolution but lets not forget that we are talking about the oldest and most traditional of Japanese Martial Arts....

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      It is not fair to say that kendo is unchanging. A good book to see the evolution of Kendo is "Modern Bujutsu and Budo" by Donn F. Draeger. Kendo has changed since it's conception in the 1700's. However, most of these changes have been done out of safetly and through evolution of techniques. It is interesting that through the changes, it has one eye always looking at the past remembering it's origins. I believe that this is one of the greatest strengths of Kendo.

                      Plus, Alex has brought up an excellent point that I have never thought of: having one language ensures universal comprehension.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        As far as cheering goes, at Shoryuhai at Harvard it was rampant. I didn't know what to think......

                        I wasn't used to the concept of 20 people screaming gambatte and Harvard in almost constant intervals, but I can say it was cool for spectators.

                        When I faced 2 different harvard teams (home court advantage for the cheering) I can say that the cheering was blocked out in my mind. You can hear it, but you aren't listening to it if you know what I mean.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          "- electronic scoring as in western fencing. In present kendo, so much is up to the whim of the shimpan, who are frequently wrong"

                          I think it was Sumi Masatake sensei (http://www.kendo.org.uk/people/sumimasatake.shtml) who - when asked about the Miyazaki Vs Eiga match a couple of years ago (the one where M gets Men-ari without touching E.. who replied with a great Kaeshi-Do) - said (I paraphrase not wordage but content) "if the shimpan said it was a point then then it was a point."

                          I compete internationally and have "lost" points .... and have "won" others. It happens, get on with it. If part of kendo is to teach humility, then situations like these should be seen as opportunities to better ones-self, not be bitter. If I "win" a dodgy cut, I apologise to my opponent afterwards.

                          Modern-day electrified fencing is shocking (in a bad way + no pun intended!) to watch. I am sure the modern day fencers predecessors would not be happy that their tradition, in a popular context, has almost faded.

                          Language - you *must* have a common language (or Jargon)... I would have thought that obvious.

                          "Sonkyo is beautiful. I like it. The more respect the better."

                          Nicely put! Alex - I hope you are going to the WKC next year ... I think we have a few points in common! I may even buy you some scottish beer........
                          Last edited by Kenshi; 1st August 2002, 05:17 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Hey fellas - as someone noted earlier, I too am in favor or permitting cheering during matches. Kendo shiai, after all, has acquired a certain spectator element to it.

                            In the case of the that tetsuoxb (JP) noted, cheering may have been unusually rowdy, but it's somewhat expected, no? A bunch of college buddies cheering each other one is only a natural part of any game/competition setting.

                            My take is: as long as the cheering was limited to actual "cheers" (gambatte, go Gator Kendo Club, etc.), so be it. As long as spectators or (especially) teammates do not resort to advice or coaching, as in, "JP - go for that open kote shot!", then it shouldn't ruin the spirit of the game in any way.

                            Perhaps one can even think of the cheering as creating a more comfortable atmosphere for both competitors, even if one has home-court advantage and a cheerleading squad. (!) Don't you think it's much more nervous and tense when you're in a formal, traditional dojo setting, competing in shiai with another person while everyone just sits on the sidelines staring intensely?

                            I certainly prefer a more dynamic, energetic setting, even if people are cheering primarily for my opponent. At least there is some sense of vitality in the air, and not some somber cloud of dread looming above your head!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              George,

                              If it does not coincide with the Brazilian champ, which I think not, I'm in for scotland for sure. Gotta see those castles you got up there.

                              Not fighting in the Brazilian team though
                              The guys there are out of my league for now, if you know what I mean.

                              I hope that there'll be an 1,80m x 1m vacant space in your dojo floor for me to sleep in

                              Comment

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