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Unnatural Kendo Movements

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  • Unnatural Kendo Movements

    I found this article, written by Takaoka Jiro.
    The actual article is very long, and so I only included the first segment of it.
    Wonder what everyone thinks?

    __________________________________________________ ________________

    The Unnatural Movements on (Modern) Kendo.

    When I (Author: Takaoka Jiro) was young, I enjoyed watching Samurai sword-fighting shows, and I wanted to be as cool, swinging those swords. This is why I joined a Kendo school. This was when I was still in primary school.

    When I was still a child, I thought of Kendo as a strange sports. I was taught that Kendo was practiced by Samurai who wanted to be strong in Kenjutsu (live-blade swordsmanship), using Shinai (bamboo sword) and Bogu (protective gear).
    I proudly thought to myself, "Oh, so this is the same kind of Kendo that Samurai used to practice in the past." when I was a primary school student, and my heart raced when I thought I was experiencing the same kind of real sword action as I've seen in the movies/TV.

    However when I was started Kendo, I couldn't hide the disappointment on my face. The movements in Kendo was clearly different from the sword-fights that I've seen on television. I couldn't see how Kendo was an accurate reflection of a real sword-fight, and I started to have many doubts.

    Firstly, when is that we must always move with our right-leg forward, left-leg backward?
    Why are we always making strikes while jumping forward and backward? (This was how I saw it at the time.)
    Secondly, when can we only strike at Men, Kote and Dou?
    Thirdly, even in cases where the strike leaves a swell/bruises, why doesn't it score a point sometimes?
    And there were still more doubts.

    Kendo movements only works in Kendo, and will not work in real sword-fights where people are running all over the place. When I attempted to use Kendo movements, it seemed like a ridiculous thing to me.

    As a sport, fighting for victory, is afterall fun to a kid. Before I knew it, the doubts that I originally had went to the back of my mind, and I didn't ask my Sensei about it.
    __________________________________________________ ______________

  • #2
    How dare he form his own opinion!


    • #3
      Can we have a link to the full article please?


      • #4
        This article is actually in the book "Nihon no Kenjutsu", Part 2.
        The overall title of this article is: "How did Kenjutsu become Kendo?"

        I believe a lot of people bought the "Nihon no Kenjutsu" book series.

        I just took the time to translate the article from Japanese to English.

        I'll translate another segment tomorrow.


        • #5
          cool.. I'd like to read more.



          • #6
            I don't know why this is in the flames section, it probably should be moved. I almost didn't read it but now I think it could be an interesting thread. If you're up to translating it, I'd like to see more of the article.


            • #7
              I was originally concerned that most people will react like b8amack did.
              But now I see that most didn't, I'll post a bit more.

              My many doubts with Kendo
              Then I (Author: Takaoka Jiro) went to High School, and had a discussion with the Kendo club members, our topic was "In a real sword fight, Sashi-men wouldn't have really cut someone, would it?". Now that I thought of it, I was really young and I asked that question with a pure mind. It was a question that was with me since Primary School, and I only recalled it in High School.

              Sashi-men, which is a small Men strike, was a popular move during my High School days. You strike at your opponent's Men without really raising your sword, more of making use of a snap with your wrist. It's a very light strike and it's clearly lying to your opponent, because you didn't really cut him. Speed became a big weapon for matches during my High School days.

              However, even if the judges raised their flags and declared it a point, the strike was clearly very light. I became more aware of the doubt that is this really true Kendo? And then the discussion became bigger and bigger.

              There were some who thought, "The sharpness of a Japanese sword one of the sharpest in the world, if it were Sashi-men and the cut was pressed down, the injuries will be severe".
              And there were others who thought, "If you do not pull-and-cut (Hiki-kiri), you won't be able to cut with a Katana, and modern Kendo is the reverse of this truth. Modern Kendo has detached itself from the world of real sword-fighting (Shinken Shobu)."

              The discussion didn't stop and questions started to get broader.

              Questions such as,
              - "The footwork of right-leg forward, left-leg backward is conflicting with the Kendo Kata."
              - "It's weird to limit the available striking portions to Men, Kote and Dou only. Hitting the shoulder and shin should score a point too, isn't it?"
              I allowed the freedom of thinking I had in my youth to come up with opinions.

              I believe those who had experienced Kendo, would have some point pondered about these doubts that I've raised. However, to try and ask such questions to Sensei or Sempai, would be an arrogant and audacious move. Everyone observed discretion and didn't asked in the end. Furthermore, if we appeared to have thoughtlessly ask these question, we would be scolded, "Instead of taking time to think about such pointless questions, you should be doing Kakari-Geiko and taking multiple Ippons!".

              There's still more to go, I'm not even half way through!


              • #8
                Hard to formulate an opinion on the first half of the essay. The author has so far only related how he initially felt disappointment as a child because kendo didn't resemble TV or movie chanbara. So far he hasn't really revealed what his current feeling is, or what conclusions he has drawn from what I assume is a life spent practising koryu kenjutsu. IOW, need more info. Who is he? What does the rest of the article say?

                The attitude to kendo of people who practice koryu bujutsu varies greatly. For example Otake Risuke sensei, Shihan of TSKSR is quite disparaging of kendo. OTOH Kato Takashi sensei, 21st Headmaster of Tatsumi Ryu Hyoho, believed that essentially there was no difference between what kendo was aiming to achieve and what koryu kenjutsu was aiming to achieve. Neither is 100% right or wrong, but of course I prefer Kato sensei's view! b
                Last edited by ben; 3rd May 2010, 10:59 AM. Reason: Oops! I see the OP just posted more... must read.


                • #9
                  OK, stlll the author hasn't declared his final opinion on the matter. Need more. b


                  • #10
                    Thank you for the translation, this is a very interesting article.


                    • #11
                      I'm enjoying this. Thanks a lot for taking the time to translate.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by jackchen View Post
                        I was originally concerned that most people will react like b8amack did.
                        But now I see that most didn't, I'll post a bit more.
                        The problem with only a partial translation is that the author's true insights are not realized and his thoughts can be too easily misinterpreted. This makes it unfair to the author if you can't provide the whole context to allow us to understand his meaning.

                        I'm pretty sure b8amack's post was sarcasm, and not really aimed you.

                        Even though I think I know now where this is going, it's still very interesting. Thanks for the work and please continue.


                        • #13
                          Continuing: My many doubts with Kendo
                          Let's now investigate these doubts of Kendo.

                          The modern Kendo that we see today is a result of evolution after evolution.
                          This is what think:
                          "Respectfully, even though I have to sound arrogant, I have to say that the Kendo that our Shihan, Sensei and the world is practicing, is not a reflection of the real sword-fight as experienced by the swordsmen during the Bakumatsu period who put their lives on the line. We come from a world who do not understand nor experience that. We come from a world where we try to hit each other, without getting hit ourselves, and being judged by others, rather than putting our lives on the line with the fear of losing it."

                          If I were from the past, always having a real sword sashed by my waist and I understood the fears involved in a real sword-fight, I will be different from modern people who are using Shinai and agreed to hit only Men, Kote and Dou.

                          In other words, people from the past (Samurai who had carried real swords), they will not be moving like how it's done in modern Kendo. They will definitely move in a manner more like how it's done in Kenjutsu. Today, we do not have an idea of a real sword-fight, and our movements become more sports-like.

                          That is to say: "The Kendo that we are doing is incorrect (with regards to a real sword-fight)".
                          The actual Japanese words are: "Sunawachi, ware ware no Kendo wa machigatteiru no da".

                          And thus, I looked for answers in ancient knowledge and scrolls before the war (WWII).
                          For example, Nakamura Hanjiro, a swordsman from Satsuma, who can draw and resheath his sword 3 times in the time it takes a droplet to fall from a house. And Sakakibara Kenkichi who successfully performed Kabuto-wari (splitting a Samurai helmet). And in more recent times, a sword-saint recognized by everyone from Meiji to Showa period, Nakayama Hakudo. No matter how the youngsters tried to run, he can use Ayumi-ashi (walking footwork) slowly and still manage to close the distance and catch his students.

                          In other words, I tried to assemble the knowledge from people who knew about the realities of a real sword fight, and I wanted to find out how did Kendo came into the picture during the evolution and progression of sword arts.

                          I'm not saying I will quit Kendo.
                          I look forward to some day where I can use Ayumi-Ashi (walking footwork), without jumping/leaping, to apply pressure on my opponent. And I want to make big true swings, using true pull-cuts (Hiki-kiri) and attack my opponent's Men, or even cut Kesa-giri (diagonal cut). I want to have the freedom to understand and comprehend my movements.

                          I'll continue later on, the next segment in the article is titled: Watching Kendo from the past from video

                          So far I'm only close to 1/3 in the whole article.

                          And perhaps these 2 links might be interesting to watch:


                          • #14
                            Hmm, reads like someone who should be doing some form of koryu instead of kendo.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by jackchen View Post
                              Continuing: My many doubts with Kendo
                              I'm not saying I will quit Kendo.
                              I look forward to some day where I can use Ayumi-Ashi (walking footwork), without jumping/leaping, to apply pressure on my opponent. And I want to make big true swings, using true pull-cuts (Hiki-kiri) and attack my opponent's Men, or even cut Kesa-giri (diagonal cut). I want to have the freedom to understand and comprehend my movements.
                              This is sort of the key for me. All those things could still be done in Kendo. You need to work hard to get your ayumi-ashi that great and own your opponent. And if you train hard you can make "big true swings" in the same amount of time someone else snaps a sashi men. Maybe you cannot "cut through" (maybe "do") but the intention should be there. If you want to stick with kendo instead of doing kenjutsu, you also kind of need to accept the limitations it has as compared to kenjutsu. But within those limitations you can make it as realistic and un-sportslike as you want. At least that's how I feel about.

                              Make those big swings, make it count as one cut, one kill. It's a mind set. And maybe one day, in the far, far future, I'll even get there myself

                              Thank you for translating all that, it's an interesting read!