Kenshi Journal

kendo musings

Nihon Kendo Kata

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The is a quick summarization and development of a previous post of a lesson from Kendo Hanshi 8 dan, Inoue Yoshihiko Sensei. I strongly suggest that readers pick up Inoue sensei’s book Kendo Kata: Essence and Application edited by Dr. Alex Bennett.

Ipponme: The first kata of the Nihon Kendo kata has opponents facing each other with swords drawn in which both adopt a jodan kamae with the swords held above the heads. The waza of the kata involves men-nuki-men. The uchidachi attacks with a fully committed cut that is avoided by the shidachi by stepping backwards just enough to escape the maai, who then returns with a cut to the uchidachi’s men. This kata demonstrates the concepts of kenjutsu, the killing techniques with a sword. In this kata one works on acquiring the skills to smite an enemy with one blow.

Nihonme: The second kata demonstrates concepts in between kenjutsu and kendo, killing techniques with a sword and the way of the sword. The waza under study in nihonme is kote-nuki-kote, which involves a cut to the wrist by the uchidachi that is avoided and is followed by a cut to the uchidachi’s wrist executed by the shidachi. In the second kata, one develops the techniques to disarm the opponent without taking their life.

Sambonme: The third kata in the series illustrates the underlying concept of  kendo. Here the shidachi parries a thrust by the uchidachi and responds with a thrust, and then continues to advance with a resolute spirit until the uchidachi concedes. The third kata exemplifies the joy of life. The shidachi controls the enemy with a superior presence, but does not injure them in the process. Finally, by sensing the importance of life, both return unharmed.

Inoue sensei is known for stating the following about modern kendo. “Kendo is a way of life as opposed to techniques of death.”




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