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My thoughts on positive kendo Pt3

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  • My thoughts on positive kendo Pt3


    Continuing my thoughts…one dimensional striking, what does this mean? To me this means your kamae is only in position to move one-way whether it is forward or backwards. You see, a sensei or a seasoned kenshi can tell if your kamae is in the state of readiness just by your actions of what you do or don’t do during tame.

    If your actions are in any way defensive, this is a very telling sign that can be exploited. It’s what they first look for, signs of weaknesses in your kamae, this is how I see it, the guy with the stronger kamae is going to win, and hence the you_ need_ to_ win_ first_ before you strike analogy: in other-words your kamae is your defense; it becomes stronger when it’s in the state of readiness to execute strikes, in this context a strong defensive kamae that’s in the state of readiness is what promotes a good offense. I hope this makes sense.

    A guy that has a good physical kamae that’s in the state of readiness has a very, very strong attacking mindset. You probably heard instructors tell you that a particular sensei possesses a kamae that’s unmovable like a mountain; this is what they mean by this. Your kendo needs to have some *game* for you to stand a chance, trying to steal points with speed or feints just doesn’t cut the mustard.

    More times than not, if you try to initiate random strikes against a guy like this, he’ll simply take the initiative right back and strike you. (oji waza) Simply put, he knows how to execute waza better than you, it doesn’t matter how fast you try to execute, his zanshin over-all is just better, not because he’s faster executing strikes. He has a better understanding how and when to use waza. He’s more mechanically in-tune with his body, his foundation for the basics is just stronger, that’s really it, there’s nothing mystical about it at all.

    With that said, if your mechanics aren’t quite efficient as it could be; what are the ways could waza be misinterpreted and misunderstood?

    First of all, when you hear sensei use words like control the opponent, lure or invite, they’re really just metaphors; it’s a way to describe to beginners what you should be trying to do during tame. It’s just to give you an idea, for example seme = pressure. At higher levels, trying to control an uncooperative kenshi by luring or inviting a kenshi whose kamae is in the state of readiness is really not possible. It’s possible for sempai to do to a kohai, but not against sensei or a seasoned kenshi. They can see what you’re trying to do; they’ll just execute a waza you won’t expect. (Osae, uchi-otoshi) They’ll just kill your sword and cut straight into your very center.

    The real challenge is to win first and kill their technique, if you kill their technique, you kill their spirit. This is pure kendo to me; to be able to do this you need to understand waza and how it’s used. You see, any waza can be countered, even hiki waza. There are a few waza in kendo that can be executed multiple ways in different situations such as suriage, harai, kaeshi, osae and even nuki. However, if you don’t know how to execute them properly, you won’t be able to see and identify the opportunities to seize.

    This inability to execute waza properly leads to misunderstandings and misinterpretations, for example, gyaku doh. When I competed, you never saw anyone ever execute gyaku doh, not because it was illegal, but because it was so far down everyone’s list of waza to execute, for me it just felt awkward…and to be honest, I didn’t really need it.
    My favorite ways to execute doh was through
    1. Nuki - shikake/oji, 2 ways of execution
    2. Kaeshi - shikake/oji, 2 ways of execution
    3. Diagonally backwards kaeshi doh - oji and finally
    4. Migi - Shikake
    That’s 6 different ways/opportunities to seize executing dohs. You see, if you learn how to execute waza correctly, the more opportunities there are to seize.

    For me anyway, gyaku doh was basically useless to me, I just didn’t need it. Here’s another thing, I was executing this as a teen, from at least the age of 15, maybe even 14. If I can learn to do this, anyone can. You see, I’m 5’9” (175.26 cm)tall today, however at 16 I was only maybe 5’3” (160 cm) most of the kids were taller than I was so I needed a defense against their men because they had a longer reach. Nuki doh for me was the equalizer. Nuki doh was my *defense* against their men, psychologically, it made it difficult to strike my men, the fact I could do it in multiple ways just made it even harder for them.

    I just didn’t learn this on my own; I had to be taught the waza in waza keiko first and then figure out how to use it in jigeiko. That’s how kendo works right? Simply put, if you can’t execute it in waza keiko, then you’re not going to do it in jigeiko or shiai, and then your sensei tells you not to execute it in shinsa. Why? Because you can’t physically execute it correctly, at higher levels this translate to in not so many words, you don’t fully understand how to use the waza either. You don’t need to be an 8dan to understand this.

    So, why is it you mostly see gyaku doh being executed today? Why is kaeshi doh misinterpreted? Well, the way I see it, gyaku doh is just a by-product of sanpo mamori in modern day shiai, you rarely see anyone_ initiate_ gyaku doh, in other words gyaku doh is primarily used only when opponents move into sanpo mamori. For every waza you execute in kendo, you’re supposed to initiate the attack this includes doh.

    You see, you don’t really invite, lure or trick an aite to attack you to execute oji, true oji is when the aite initiates an attack because he felt pressured by your kamae, you in turn take the initiative back and execute. What shikake waza really is at higher levels is when the aite has a brain malfunction and hesitates to execute because of doubt or confusion because he felt pressured from your kamae. This is what shikake and oji really is, it’s recognizing signs from the aites kamae and acting on them because_he_felt_pressured_by your kamae. (State of readiness) So at higher levels, this is how you really try to gain control of the aite by pressuring them to act one way by attacking you (oji) or the other by causing hesitation/confusion. Brain farts. (shikake)

    If the aite doesn’t budge from being pressured by you, this is a sign that he’s still in the state of readiness. In these situations I like to execute waza that suppresses the aites shinai such as kote-men, osae or uchi-otoshi or harai. However, this doesn’t mean he can’t execute a waza, I can still be countered.
    What I tried to describe here is all basic fundamental stuff for Ha phase. This is all dan level training…it’s not easy, this takes a lot of discipline and focus on your part.

    With that said, expanding my thoughts on kaeshi doh…why do I think there is a misunderstanding for kaeshi doh? Why is there a misinterpretation? This is what people generally think you need to do to execute kaeshi doh, parry the aites shinai before you strike the doh. This is not correct for this reason…you should initiate your execution for kaeshi doh the same way you should for migi and nuki doh. The basic fundamental mechanics for doh is migi doh, you should learn this first, mechanically speaking; it mirrors the mechanics for the basic men strike. (up and down motion) I tried to describe this motion in the *Move without the shinai* post.

    In other words you should learn to execute doh in this order, migi, nuki, kaeshi and finally gyaku. If you want to learn how to execute doh correctly, you must start with migi doh, it’s the basic fundamental mechanics for doh. It’s seems to me in kendo today, they got everything ass-backwards; you don’t start with gyaku and kaeshi.

    You see, most people I see don’t even parry when executing kaeshi doh, they tend to block. As I said, if you block first then strike, you already lost too much distance; that is the aite closed the distance for you to strike his doh. You end up striking the front of his doh. Look at it this way…if you wait to block the aites shinai first, the reality is your shinai should be striking the aites doh already.

    If this is difficult to wrap your mind around, it’s because you don’t understand nuki doh. If you can’t execute nuki doh, you’re going to misinterpret kaeshi doh. If you don’t understand the body mechanics for migi doh, you’ll have a difficult time executing nuki doh. That’s a fact. If you want to learn doh execution properly, you need to understand this fact, Migi before Nuki, Nuki before Kaeshi in this order; it’s not the other way around. It’s the same principle for suriage, you don’t block first when you suriage either, you parry, you see…the parry motion is built into the technique for kaeshi and suriage as one continuous motion; not two. That is you_ don’t_ block_ first_ then strike.

    To be continued