Part 2 for Nidan & Sandan

In addition to all the points reviewed in the previous post, Nidan and Sandan level kendo should demonstrate a heightened sense of concentration and intensity while maintaining excellent control of the body (posture & movement), maai (distance) and understanding of the opponent.
What does this mean in practice? We start to feel the kensen (tip of the sword/shinai) becoming ever more live. Our body knows when to relax and tighten at the correct timing (becoming more energy efficient). And we start to understand the importance of initiating or proactively setting up an opportunity.
In other words, every attack is created with intention and never randomly or reactively. With these overarching goals in mind, let us look at the summary of Kendo Bu’s key points for Shinsa (BKA Coaching Programme, n.d.).


For Nidan


  • – Kirikaeshi follows a continuous flowing rhythm, with both sides of cutting and receiving correctly
  • – As motodachi, you control maai, which allows the kakari-te to cut in the correct distance and demonstrate kirikaeshi movements mutually


  • – Movements are balanced with fluid and coordinated footwork (be careful, if you fall during the geiko, you will fail)
  • – The application of ki-ken-tai-itchi (the unified action of the spirit, sword, and body, as one) is shown, but it is not expected to be fully developed at this level
  • – Effective use and acceleration of the wrists (sae) and hands (te-no-uchi) which transfer power to the kensen leads to a sharp impact upon landing at the intended targets (e.g. with the characteristic “pop” sound on the men)
  • – Attacks are continued from tai-atari using hiki-waza instead of always breaking away to issoku-itto-no-maai
  • – Do not try to block, but concentrate more on the correct performance of shikake-waza
  • – Effective nidan waza is executed fluently (e.g. successive combination of kotemen, mendo, etc.)

There is at least one good attack with strong spirit in each shinsa geiko and one good nidan attack.

For Sandan

All of the above, plus:

  • – Strikes are always delivered with the correct datotsu-bu and –bui (on target using the mono-uchi, the correct part of the shinai); i.e. zero tolerance for inaccuracy
  • – Every attack is built from toi-maai and incorporate strong seme and mental pressure that pushes the opponent to the brink of mistake or misjudged attacks
  • – Firm control of the centre
  • – The kensen is used to unsettle the opponent’s centre and composure, which leads to an effective opening and datotsu (strike/thrust)
  • – Attacks are attempted at various maai depending on your opponent’s speed, reaction time, kamae (fighting against jodan or nito for example), and launching distance, etc.
  • – After an attack, the cut-through distance is just enough to ensure safe turning around and stepping forward to toi-maai
  • – The application of ki-ken-tai-itchi is advanced and effective
  • – Ni– and sandan waza is applied with correct footwork (e.g. successive, multiple attacks with total commitment and spirit and oji-waza are expected)
  • – Never block and stop there, but only use blocking as a part of an oji-waza
  • – Effective zanshin is shown; literally, remaining mind, but in practice, it is the readiness and alertness of body and mind in an uninterrupted and sustained concentration

There are at least two effective attacks with strong spirit in each shinsa geiko.

16 Feb 2022 – Sung Kyu Kim