Part 1 for Ikkyu & Shodan.

As some of us are preparing for the upcoming grading, it is a good time to refresh and remember the essential points of Kendo that we must all strive to perfect. The basics (Kihon and correct etiquette) are the foundation upon which our Kendo skills and spirit become grounded and rooted. Therefore, a good kendo-ka should demonstrate the following key points both on and off dojo, and especially in examination.

(Adapted from Kendo Bu Key Points for Shinsa: BKA Coaching programme, n.d.)

Image from kendoinfo.net

For Ikkyu

Correct etiquette on and off court

  • – Be tidily dressed. Clothing should be clean and correctly folded
  • Tenugui should not be flapping or sticking out of place
  • – The feet should be clean and the toenails trimmed
  • Rei with the left arm extended (teito)
  • – After rei, assume taito placing the thumb onto the tsuba
  • – Reach the correct sonkyo position in three steps
  • – The men himo should be tied and untied properly (with himo hanging in even length)
  • – The men should be removed in a controlled manner, and tenugui is placed neatly inside of the men

Practical aspects

  • – Step forward when standing from sonkyo and carefully take the advantageous distance that is conducive to making an attack
  • – Have a correctly raised left heel, both when in kamae and moving
  • – Have a straight and parallel left foot when holding kamae and preparing to attack
  • – Ensure that the left foot is the motive force behind every attack (as opposed to the shinai or upper body leading the attack)
  • – Hold the shinai correctly, as well as maintain the correct position of the elbows and wrists (e.g. the left hand is on the end of the tsuka and the right hand near/touching the tsuba domo)
  • – Cut with control and cut straight on target
  • – Be careful of the position of the right arm and relax the grip and shoulders (symptoms include “axing down” and hitting the men gane)
  • – Eagerly initiate attacks, and oji waza is not necessary at Ikkyu level

For Shodan

Correct etiquette on and off court

  • – The keikogi is tidy at the back and correctly tied with the yoko musubi
  • – Do himo are correctly tied at the back with the yoko musubi
  • – Men himo are the correct length, are evenly tied and are not trapping the ears
  • Kote himo are correctly tied

Practical aspects

  • – Correct chudan no kamae and issoku itto no maai (the kensen is kept in the centre and directed at the opponent’s tsuki)
  • – Techniques are developed from toi maai and executed from issoku itto no maai

Correct cutting

  • – The left hand must come above eye level when raising the shinai for men cuts
  • – The left hand is in the centre and at the right height for each cut (e.g. slightly below the height of the target and below the right hand for do cuts)
  • – The elbows are extended on kote and do cuts

Good kiai, posture and ki ken tai ichi

  • – Powerful kiai should be used for building energy and confidence both prior to and at the making of a strike or thrust
  • – Stand straight and in correct form, presenting a dignified demeanour
  • – Keep calm and in control, project confidence and fearlessness
  • – Smooth and efficient changes in direction indicate good balance and timing (e.g. when starting to cut in kirikaeshi from tai-atari and backwards)

Show effective zanshin

  • – When turning after a men attack, keep constant eye contact with the opponent
  • – Always turn towards the opponent and ready to attack at any moment
  • – Direct the kensen at the opponent after a men or do cut and always step forward to complete the turn
  • – After a kote attack, close to tsubazeriai with the hands in the centre

In shinsa (examination), there is at least one good attack with strong spirit in each shinsa keiko.

6 Feb 2022 – Sung Kyu Kim