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Hidari jodan in Kata

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  • Hidari jodan in Kata

    In Nihon kendo kata, why is hidari-jodan at an angle while migi-jodan is straight? I've heard many explanations on why it is advantageous for hidari-jodan to be at an angle during shiai, but that doesn't really seem to translate to kata. It's also a little confusing that MJER, for example, has hidari-jodan either straight up or only a little off midline -- why the difference with kendo kata?

    So I guess the question is, from a philosophical or practical perspective, is there a reason why hidari-jodan is angled in ippon-me and gohon-me?

    Respectfully,

    Dan

  • #2
    To me the better question is why is it straight for migi-jodan? Anyone who has played with jodan feels more natural with the hands a bit apart, creating that angle.

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    • #3
      From my own research on that same topic here are a few things I've come across. Some from personal use (jodan player), some from books, and some from a few high ranking sensei.

      (1) Hidari jodan often employs hidari shizentai when assuming the kamae and this makes it much more comfortable and natural to angle the shinai (it keeps it inline with the opponent). Needless to say migi / hidari shizentai is used a lot in kata as it is more "natural" compared to shinai kendo where things stem more from the standardized position centre. Those who take chudan but point to the opponent's left eye as compared to the throat will often take a migi shizentai position as well; it's more natural, but not standard. Try it.

      (2) Taking migi shizentai with migi jodan is absolutely awkward with the standard grip of left hand at the bottom. It would be an awful way to attack your opponent from to say the least. Try it.

      (3) Kendo kata is a standardization / representation of many, many sword schools. Look at all the variants of hasso there are as an alternate example. They had to choose one way for their kata.

      (4) This is one from Masatake Sumi sensei specifically regarding kendo kata:

      In kata #5, if uchidachi assumes migi jodan against shidachi (hereafter uchidachi = U shidachi= S) then his center is protected from shidachi (Note: Who would remain in chudan v.s. taking seigan). Thus there is no opening for attack (Note: In a sense, U cannot attempt to use sen no sen, the basis for all U's attacks, and the kata would have to essentially alter from the one they chose). By taking hidari jodan, and hence forcing S to assume seigan, there is an obvious way for U to enter S's maai, take centre, and landing a proper strike through sen no sen.

      Hope that helps.

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      • #4
        Steve, when you refer to hidari/migi shizentai is that the same as hidari/migi ma-hanmi?

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        • #5
          Great thoughts, thanks guys! Great explanation for kata 5, too.

          Best regards,

          ~Dan

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          • #6
            Originally posted by dillon View Post
            Steve, when you refer to hidari/migi shizentai is that the same as hidari/migi ma-hanmi?
            Shizentai is used in judo to mean natural standing posture as opposed to a bent over defensive posture. I've never heard that term used in kendo before, I expect Steve was meaning just a normal stance with left or right foot forward.

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            • #7
              Neil,
              The term shizentai, natural standing posture _is_ used in kendo. In my dojo we use that as the starting point for establishing ashi-gamae (foot position of kamae in this case for Chudan no kamae). If there's interest I can describe the process but it off topic (not that that has stopped me in the past ;-) ). Your assumptions about meaning seem correc to met:

              Shizentai appears on pg. 36 of the ZNKR official guide to kendo instruction and is described (typos are mine):

              "Shizentai is the kendo posture which forms the basis for the fighting stances (kamae). From shizentai, one can respond to an opponent's moves quickly and freely. Shizentai corresponds to what is considered 'good posture'".

              A shorter, but substantially the same definition is given in the Kendo Japanese English dictionary (pg 95 of the "revised edition"). I won't quote that here.

              The guide does not specify a foot position and in this context I think is used to describe how to hold your body well and naturally. In this context _not_ to hold your body in shizentai is incorrect. Thus the use of 'shizentai' in Steve's post above is rather redundant as it would be incorrect to use anything but shizentai.

              I"ve also heard shizentai used ('oral transmission') to describe the position of the body and feet just prior to ritsu-rei. This is a subset of the meaning in the guide.

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