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  • Tsuki

    I am interested in knowing at what level should the
    tsuki thrust be practiced and executed?? I have been told
    shodan and above, is this correct?
    John W

  • #2
    A beautiful tsuki is more devastaing to an opponent than a beautiful men strike. It is the ultimate attack, simple but extremely effective, and will be remembered! When I say simple, actually tsuki is one of the most difficult techniques to pull off. Not only is it difficult, but it is also dangerous! That is why opinion as to who and when you should start doing tsuki is so divided. so many people will tell you different things.

    One line of thought is that you should avoid it altogether, which I think is just plain wrong. It is a bonafide and very pure technique, and should be respected as such.

    Conversely, Tsuki forms the basis for all other techniques with not only its movement (powerful movement from the lower body), but also the fact that to execute tsuki successfully, you have to have full control of your opponent's centreline. In this respect, some would say that it actually offers the ideal base for kendo beginners to perfect other waza as well. In other words, it is the most basic of the basics, and should be practised a lot from the start rather than a little as your kendo progresses.

    Having said that, a certain amount of discretion is required due to the possible dangers of the technique. That is why it is prohibited up until 16 years of age in Japan.

    However, it is only dangerous if you are not doing it correcty. (especially too much upper body strength, and no recourse to pull back etc. etc.) The only way to fix this is to practise it over and over.

    Basically, I don't that being Shodan or not should dictate who should and shouldn't do tsuki. Obviously, a big 6 ft hulk shouldn't go for an all out tsuki against a kid. Common sense. Also tsuki should never be done in ager or desperation against someone, because this is likely to start a tsuki fest...Someone is going to get hurt. To do tsuki properly requires complete control, and angry tsukis are not very controlled. Unfortunately, this is something you see a lot of.

    Any way, it's funny you should ask that question, because I have just translated a major article on Tsuki written by Baba Sensei of Kokushikan University. It will be featured in the next issue of KW.

    Check it out.



    • #3
      I must say that I'm in agreement with Dr. A here. Tsuki is a very difficult technique to master and we don't see it being executed often in shiai for a reason. There is no doubt that when it is executed, it must be properly done. Not too much arm strength, pulling back at the right time, etc. Having reiterated what Dr. A has said, I think a good guidance can come from your sensei. I have seen people who is as low-ranked as ikkyu or shodan who is ready to practice it and I also have seen people who is ranked as high as yondan who shouldn't be doing it at all.

      When I wasn't sure, I asked my sensei. In addition, I started with a target on a wall as opposed to a live opponent. Lastly, part of the rule at my dojo also was 'if you do it, be prepared to receive it tenfold.'
      Last edited by sminki; 15th February 2002, 12:35 AM.


      • #4
        The only real injury ive seen during keiko/taikai (I can feel another thread coming from this) was via a tsuki ... it wasnt a malicious one, and it was on target ....... the guy was coughing up blood ... he finished his match though (and was spotted washing down his blood with some beer later) !

        I am part of the 'if you do it, be prepared to receive it' brigade, I guess.



        • #5

          Thanks for the info about tsuki. I have heard some horror stories about
          some kendoka who have attempted tsuki on a sensei and have paid dearly for it. I have been subjected to a tsuki once or twice and like you said Alex it is never forgotten!
          John W


          • #6

            I think that not to be afraid nor to hesitate is vital for a successful tsuki.


            • #7
              Ive never been told that tsuki is forbidden until a specific dan/kyu. I live in Sweden, but Ive heard that in Canada you have to be shodan.
              A couple of months ago I talked to a kendoka who got ikkyu. At the jigeiko at the promotion test he did tsuki. Afterwards he was told that he wasnt ready yet so I guess that tsuki in general is for the guys at dan level.

              In northern Sweden though every 3-2 kyu is crazy about tsuki and do it all the time without any seniors telling them to stop. They always tsuki me att the shoulders or worse - hitting the troat but missing the throat protection. Still nobody tells them to stop.
              Guess its just because the senseis in northern Sweden is just shodan-nidan...


              • #8
                I'm in agreement with Supernils on this one. I think that perhaps the best mesure for knowing when you are able to pracice and execute tsuki is when you are able to confidently recieve a tsuki. Being able to stay poised and in control under such presure is a fair indicator that your kendo is of a maturity that would allow you to start practicing tsuki in your kendo.
                A good topic. I'm looking forward to reading others opinions on this one!


                • #9
                  I've been shodan for a little over a year now and I was just taught the basics for it. Obviously, I'm not confident enough to do it in shiai, but I've tried it in jigeiko a few times - only against another shodan, who is also experimenting with it. We also only pull it when the opponent is backing away. Anybody hear of anything like this?


                  • #10
                    About northern sweden

                    The problem with the people of northern Sweden (so called lappdjaevlar) is that they only drink moonshine and do knife fights. So they dont really consider a shinai poke in the throat a very big deal.


                    • #11
                      Thats right Nils!

                      Another reason why we dont bother so much about tsuki at the throat is because we do kendo to learn how to defend ourselfes agains polarbears! We have to train hard to be able to fight them big not so cuddly bears.

                      Guns you say? Yes but a shotgun (here called "hakkelpssa" takes to long time to reload.

                      Plenty of vodka and no tsuki in the world can stop you!



                      • #12
                        I love tsuki!!

                        I really like to use tsuki. At my dojo in Colorado the rule is that you can't use it till shodan. I was fortunate enough to get to practice at the Shubukan dojo in Itami 2 yrs back just prior to my shodan test. It was there that I started to learn the fine art of tsuki. I do think that if one can make a good tsuki strike it means that you indeed have complete control of the center. How many times I have noticed the slightest movement and made one nice step in to hit the target!! I also like to receive Shubukan I noticed that the general way peoplle received the tsuki was to put the chin down as if to hold the shinai with it and walk forward, smiling of course yet showing strength and conviction....To me it showed that the way of kendo is not caring if you are hit. Stepping into the thrust aknowledged the attack AND showed character.
                        Now back in Colorado I use it with the dan ranks and ikkyu. It is truly the most basic and dificult attack in zen is that?


                        • #13
                          Well, I guess even if I was told to, I wouldn't strike tsuki... I'm just too afraid of hurting the opponent and I guess this isn't going to change with the years. As for myself, I was prepeared to all kinds of injuries when I started kendo, but it's enough if I accidently miss a do strike... And tsuki DOES hurt, if not preferred properly. Just look at my collarbone ("Hey, you're a kyuu or something! Watch what I can!"), which's green right now...


                          • #14
                            Tsuki is fun-da-mental

                            Over the years I have been practicing Kendo Ive noticed that the majority of kenshi (usually below 2D) have some hang-up about tsuki. Either they are afraid to receive it or they tend to practice it very tentatively. This leads to big problems when they find themselves in a match where their opponent does tsuki. In this setting not understanding tsuki tend to lead to a "poke" fest with little or no intention to score the tsuki more to punish the person for the initial tsuki. With out an understanding of tsuki you can never truly understand seme.