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  • #16
    Originally posted by tyler View Post
    I think the short answer to your initial question is: the sportification of kendo coincided with and was a pre-requisite of its reinstation in American occupied Japan after the war.
    I think the sportification really started earlier. In my opinion the ban on swords in the Meiji-era was the point in time when people had to abandon the thought of kendo (or kenjutsu, if you like) as training for a real fight.
    The main changes of kendo might have occured after WWII, though.
    Here an interesting fact: On the 9th of November 1961 Moriji Mochida (Kendo Judan) got the Japanese medal of culture (He supported Goro Saimura and Kinnosuke Ogawa in the sportification of kendo). (Took that from "This Is Kendo" by Junzo Sasamori and Gordon Warner)

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    • #17
      Kendo in Post War Japan from someone who knows firsthand...

      Dr. Benjamin Hazard learned kendo in Japan while stationed there as a military intelligence officer from 1948 to 1952. Some of you may know that upon returning to the United States Hazard-sensei started teaching kendo in early 1953 as a graduate student along with Gordon Warner at UC Berkeley's physical education department. Those two and four others, including Yoshinari Miyata-sensei, founded the Oakland Kendo Dojo later that same year.

      In the summer of 2000 the FIK bestowed the title of Hanshi to Hazard-sensei and Miyata-sensei of the Oakland Dojo, as well as to Bunden-sensei of the Salinas Dojo.

      Here is an excerpt of Dr. Hazard's kendo experiences in Japan from May of 1948 to June of 1952:

      "Upon returning to active military duty, I was assigned in May of 1948 to the Translator 2nd Interpreter Section of General Headquarters in Tokyo and then subsequently to the Central Interrogation Center, where I met Maki Miyahara Sensei, a yudansha kendoist from the Los Angeles area. He one day invited me to accompany him to the nearby Tsukiji Police Station to observe kendo practice. By 1948, SCAP had reversed a ban of martial arts that had been imposed three years earlier, and allowed the Japanese police to reinstate kendo and judo as a part of their physical and self-defense training. The dojo at the Tsukiji station was in the charge of Tanaya Masami Renshi, a cavalry veteran of the 1st Imperial Guards Division. Tanaya Sensei allowed me to participate in practice, using loaned equipment that included shinken [live blade]. The police were familiar with its combat usage as most had served in the Imperial Japanese Armed Forces through the end of the war. Miyahara Sensei was soon to return to America, but he had set me upon a path that would remain a lifelong endeavor.

      I practiced every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon that I wasn't on duty. Kuroshima Kazue Sensei of the Nippon-bashi Police Station and Abe Yasuji Renshi from the Keishicho (Tokyo Metropolitan Police) were frequent visitors. Kuroshima Renshi, a former infantry sergeant, was a close friend of Tanaya Sensei and the two often shared a game of go. In my second month at the dojo, Abe Yasuji Sensei gave me a copy of Ozawa Aijiro's Kendo Shinan [Guide to Kendo, 1938], which I still treasure. Late in the following year, Tanaya Sensei gave me a copy of Ota Tatsumine's Iai Tokuhon [Iai Textbook, 1934], an introduction to iai which described seven different schools and included step-by-step photographs of Omori-ryu and Hasegawa Eishin-ryu. I was very fortunate to also learn from many other distinguished sensei that visited, including Ono Tomoki Kyoshi, Horiguchi Kiyoshi Kyoshi, Okada Morihiro Kyoshi and Nakano Yasuji Kyoshi.

      The infamous May Day demonstrations of 1949 were to result in a grim period for kendo in Japan. When the Communist-inspired crowd in Tokyo turned violent, they overwhelmed police officers, disarming some of them of their jo [short hardwood staff] and turning its use against them. Kendo training was subsequently characterized by the Tokyo provost marshall as being outdated and inadequate to the task of effective crowd control. The result was that General Headquarters again banned kendo for police training and New York police instructors were instead brought in to teach truncheon techniques. I remember the pain with which Tanaya Sensei informed me that kendo practices at Tsukiji were suspended.

      I became anxious at this setback to further training until Tanaya Sensei and Kuroshima Sensei remembered that Okada Morihiro Kyoshi had a private dojo nearby in Shimotakaido which was converted to a ballet studio when kendo had first been banned in December of 1945. Practices started up again there on Saturday afternoons and initially involved only the three sensei and their lone student. The other sensei soon learned of the weekly practice, however, and began dropping by as they had done at the Tsukiji station dojo. I soon found I was no longer the center of the weekly practice. I was aware that as time passed, SCAP had become increasingly wary of growing Marxist sentiments in Japan, reviewing the prohibition on kendo and eventually deciding it was in SCAP's best interest, as well as the country's, to permit private clubs to openly practice kendo and other traditional martial arts. When I informed him of this, Tanaya Sensei became enthusiastic at the propect. Two years after having started in kendo, the sensei awarded me the rank of ni-dan on May 5, 1950.

      The Army relocated me to Korea from August 5 to November 17, 1950. By the time I returned to Tokyo, as many as thirty sensei were now practicing at Okada Sensei's dojo, which now included Goro Saimura Sensei. I don't know what Tanaya Sensei had told him, but I was impressed with the time he spent instructing me.

      On January 10, 1951, I married Sumie Chikamori. Most of the sensei attended our reception at the Alaska restaurant in the Ginza. As a wedding gift, they kindly presented me with a yoroi-doshi [armour-piercing dagger].

      The war in Korea galvanized SCAP into improving relations with the Japanese population. When restrictions were lifted, even the Butokukai was permitted to be re-established, and kendo and judo were resumed as the primary means of physical education for all police. The Tsukiji Police Station dojo reopened and in March 1951, Tanaya Sensei began to teach me Omori-ryu iai.

      My remaining months in Japan, from early November through June of 1952, were spent as an instructor of combat intelligence at the Far East Command Intelligence School which occupied the former Imperial Army Cavalry School in Narashino, Chiba Prefecture. I traveled Saturdays to Tsukiji for practice, but twice each week I also assisted the Kokugo instructor of the Narashino High School kendo club. He invited me to participate in Chiba Prefecture's first post-war kendo tournament held in Narita at the shrine of Sakura Soguro. I won my match there, much to my surprise, and although my registration there had listed me as ni-dan, I had actually been promoted to the rank of san-dan only days before in Tokyo on May 3, 1952. At the end of June, after I was ordered back to the United States for discharge, I boarded a troop transport in Yokohama along with many other military personnel, many of whom threw paper steamers to their friends below seeing them off. Most of my sensei, my friends of the last four years, were among those at dockside - Tanaya Sensei, Kuroshima Sensei, Horiguchi Sensei, Abe Sensei, Ono Sensei and others. I was honored by their prescence and was deeply moved as Kuroshima Sensei, the tallest among them, caught my streamer which was the last to maintain contact with the ship as it pulled away."

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      • #18
        Originally posted by yoda-waza View Post
        What doesn't "change with time"? If you go back far enough in time, legs sweeps and the ripping off of helmets was preliminary stuff. The "understanding" and "rules" were neither profound nor difficult to grasp: you either lived to fight another day or you lost your head. Honestly, I don't understand the angst some express over the absence of combat techniques. Is that what kendo is to you?
        I just found this while looking for something else, sorry I didn't follow and respond to this earlier.

        Admittedly the statement that kendo changes with time is an obvious one that didn't need to be there. I'm a bit surprised though, that you interpret me as lamenting kendo's shedding of 'combat techniques' like the ones mentioned above.

        The tallying of score in shiai isn't difficult to grasp, but I was referring to the concept of yuko datotsu, which I think does take time to understand and appreciate, and which has obviously changed over time since bogu was introduced. Exactly what counts as 'leaving the other guy dead on the ground', something which used to be quite plain and clear, has been fluid since the introduction of bogu.

        Re-reading my previous post, I can see it isn't very clear so thanks for the remarks, but to be clear now, I am not one of those who goes on about how effective kendo might be in 'actual combat'. Please see my article in the magazine (3.4-"Kendo in Context" about exactly this issue for any further clarification as to my opinions.

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        • #19
          Its interesting that nobody has mentioned Shinai Kyogi. Not that I am particularly clued up on this area, but it does seem like an important, and often ignored part in the re-establishment of kendo post WW2. It obviously played a large part in the "sportification" of kendo, so it shouldnt be cast aside.

          Mind you, even the ZNKR seem to sweep it under the carpet...

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          • #20
            Originally posted by tyler View Post
            The tallying of score in shiai isn't difficult to grasp, but I was referring to the concept of yuko datotsu, which I think does take time to understand and appreciate, and which has obviously changed over time since bogu was introduced. Exactly what counts as 'leaving the other guy dead on the ground', something which used to be quite plain and clear, has been fluid since the introduction of bogu.
            This point was striking to me when I first started kendo as well. My impression was that since kendo is primarily about self improvement (albeit through the sword) that the four acceptable targets were defined as such for being noble targets (and as I understand it, tsuki to the doh was removed for being too dangerous).

            The change in what constitutes yuko datotsu, I believe, changed even before bogu. For example TSKR kenjutsu, being based on armored techniques, target weak points in armor (which are largely not on the menu for kendo). Itto-ryu on the other hand is based on un-armored duelling techniques however I've read that Ono-ha Itto-ryu (and possibly the other branches) can be adapted to armored fighting.

            With kendo I guess we can spend a lifetime just trying to master the four targets available to us. Also given that kenjutsu evolved according to real combat needs as Japanese society changed, it's rather moot to discuss what techniques would be more effective than those taught to us in kendo for fighting with shinken. We live in an age when our real combat needs revolve around firearms (or tanks, grenades, etc.) or unarmed street fighting techniques for potential civilian conflicts (unless you fancy jail time for using a weapon to assault or kill someone). As mentioned somewhere on KWF, if you want to learn to kill, join the army. Having said that, I always try to practice kendo with the spirit of learning to use a live blade.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by yoda-waza View Post
              What doesn't "change with time"? If you go back far enough in time, legs sweeps and the ripping off of helmets was preliminary stuff. The "understanding" and "rules" were neither profound nor difficult to grasp: you either lived to fight another day or you lost your head. Honestly, I don't understand the angst some express over the absence of combat techniques. Is that what kendo is to you?
              Well, let me provide a somewhat different perspective. I practice a koryu. It, like kendo, is all about self-improvement rather than purely effective combat techniques, given today's environment. And yet, combat efficiency plays an integral part of what we do. Nothing we do should go against "toho", the principles of the sword, everything is a target and so we must be accordingly aware, and while it's a kenjutsu school, certain jujutsu-like elements are also present because they are necessary. In as much as we are training in the ways of the katana to make ourselves better people, there's a particular requirement that we have to go whole hog, and learn the use of the katana as close as we can get it to when people did it for real.

              One might say, well, that's koryu, and this is kendo. And maybe that's a valid argument. But OTOH, I don't think it's so strange to question if that's how it should be, and really up until relatively recently koryu and modern kendo weren't all that far apart in outlook and practice.

              All of which is to say that interest in practical combat techniques within the kendo idiom doesn't necessarily equal an un-kendo-like desire to become a bad-ass "real swordsman".

              Comment


              • #22
                No, I didn't mean to infer an interest in combat techniques equates to having a bad-ass "real swordsman" attitude. I just don't think some of the older combat-derived techniques have a place today in the tenets of modern kendo, except as historic context, nor do I feel the potential for serious injury/lethality in kendo is necessary to promote self-improvement. If I understand your implication, koryu is more true to "toho", the principles of the sword (in your words), than kendo because it brings us "as close as we can get it to when people did it for real" and requires going more "whole hog" than the practice of kendo may. If the mutual goal of both kendo and koryu really is self-improvement can this sort of view promote that common ideal if it draws upon such an egotistic distinction? In my view, it's not about combat or koryu or kendo - the goal is "no sword".
                Last edited by yoda-waza; 10th September 2008, 02:46 PM.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by yoda-waza View Post
                  If I understand your implication, koryu is more true to "toho", the principles of the sword (in your words), than kendo because it brings us "as close as we can get it to when people did it for real" and requires going more "whole hog" than the practice of kendo may. If the mutual goal of both kendo and koryu really is self-improvement can this sort of view promote that common ideal if it draws upon such an egotistic distinction? In my view, it's not about combat or koryu or kendo - the goal is "no sword".
                  Um, I don't think you understood my implication. I'm not talking koryu vs. kendo. Koryu being so varied I wouldn't want to speak for all of it, and as for kendo, I respect the hell out of it. And I'm not making an egotistical distinction, I'm making a technical distinction. One that I don't think is up for debate, is the basis of this thread, and appeared clearly acknowledged by you in the previous posts.

                  You said:
                  Honestly, I don't understand the angst some express over the absence of combat techniques. Is that what kendo is to you?
                  I'm trying to address this question and its implication that "kendo" shouldn't be concerned with lost combat techniques. My point is that kendo does not exist in a vacuum, and it's current form with very limited targets and lack of grappling was not an inevitable consequence of time. Even today, with the sword no longer a viable or likely weapon, there are men and women "[disciplining their] human character through the application of the principles of the Katana" in traditions even more pragmatic than pre-war kendo. Given that fact, it doesn't seem, in my opinion, unusual, angsty, or wrongheaded to be interested in a rougher, older form of kendo. If someone says, "I like kendo the way it is now; I think I can get so much from it as it is," I think that's great. But if another guy says, "I prefer the form of modern kendo to the older traditions, but I think I could get even more out of kendo if it was even rougher and technically more pragmatic," I can understand that, too. It's not a case of trying to graft on something incongruent to kendo, but simply going back to its roots. At the least, I think it's an interesting discussion, worth having.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Okay, fair enough. My apologies if I misconstrued your meaning or that of others. Yes, it is an interesting subject. Has anyone had an opportunity to interview sources - i.e., those who trained in Japan with persons like Goro Saimura or other pre-war sensei?

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by yoda-waza View Post
                      Has anyone had an opportunity to interview sources - i.e., those who trained in Japan with persons like Goro Saimura or other pre-war sensei?
                      Takano died in 1950
                      Nakayama in 58
                      Saimura in 69
                      Mochida in 74
                      (to name a few of the top of my head)

                      I have someone in my dojo whos over 80, and ive another sensei who started kendo in Pyonyang when he was a primary school kid. The eldest person ive fought was 90ish (or so someone told me at the time). There is a shiai over here for people over 100. The shihan of my dojo was in the last class to graduate Busen.

                      So.... there are plenty of people still kicking around that have not only experience in pre-war kendo life, but have trained with the big boys. There is also quite a bit of literature (in Japanese) kicking about.

                      There are almost certainly people abroad that have met and practised with some of the pre-war famous sensei too... like Mochida and Nakakura, to name a couple.
                      (amongst people who post on KWF, my money is on Jeff and Curtis M!)

                      Its an interesting topic.

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                      • #26
                        Let me clarify: interviews in English. I'm sure there is plenty of literature in Japanese on the subject. I guess most of the sources must be quite old as the sensei themselves have all passed away, as you have pointed out.
                        Last edited by yoda-waza; 11th September 2008, 11:06 AM.

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                        • #27
                          Cant recall having seen one. Maybe something with Nakakura online somewhere?

                          This is an interesting piece.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by yoda-waza View Post

                            "Upon returning to active military duty, I was assigned in May of 1948 to the Translator 2nd Interpreter Section of General Headquarters in Tokyo and then subsequently to the Central Interrogation Center, where I met Maki Miyahara Sensei, a yudansha kendoist from the Los Angeles area. He one day invited me to accompany him to the nearby Tsukiji Police Station to observe kendo practice.
                            This is most serendipitous.
                            In my ongoing interviews with Miyahara Sensei, he had relayed to the backstory on this particular era involving how he came to study Kendo that same Police station.

                            I am slowly putting together a collection of interviews from him.
                            All of it is audio, and there's so much of it, that it will take a very long time to transcribe.

                            Very interesting stuff indeed~!
                            Last edited by Kenzan; 11th September 2008, 12:50 PM.

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                            • #29
                              Thanks to the spammer for putting this excelent thread in the limelight, I've missed it.

                              To return the favour, I reported the post. No need to thank me, I did it four you.

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