The importance of Kamae and Suburi


In 2019 from August 2 (Fri) to August 4 (Sun) the annual Amsterdam Kendo Summer Seminar was held. In this report, the contents of the seminar will be presented in text and video.
If you participated in the seminar, please remember to incorporate it into your regular practice.


Sakamoto Takashi 7th dan
All Japan Student Team Championships 1st
All Japan Student Championships Individual 3rd
All Japan Championships best 8
All Japan Teachers Championships 1st

The importance of Kamae and Suburi

Suburi is an important practice method which can be done at home. Sakamoto sensei instructed us on suburi, explaining that he was taught that every single suburi strike will have influence on your shiai.

It is very important to treat suburi as a valuable practice method rather than a mere warm-up. In Sakamoto sensei’s experience, students who are good at suburi become very strong swordsmen.

Tsuka length

Before checking your kamae, let’s check the length of our tsuka. To get the right place to grip the shinai for beginners, we put the bottom of the tsuka on the elbow cavity of the right arm, and grab the shinai. However, this is only a rule of thumb.

If your tsuka is long, your shinai will effectively be shorter and vice versa. However, if the tsuka is too short, your shinai will feel heavier which can limit your shinai handling. Try to thoroughly experiment with your tsuka, and find the ideal length for yourself.

Pointers for kamae

When swinging your shinai, make sure your left hand is diamond shaped. By doing so, your sword tip will have more reach. Your sword tip must be swung sharply in order to make effective strikes. The left hand grip is very important for snappy and fast strikes.

Grip the shinai with the left hand while covering the bottom of the tsuka with your little finger and ring finger. The middle finger, index finger and thumb should be placed alongside, and it is important to use all of your 10 fingers to swing your shinai.
The right hand should be gripping the shinai as if you were holding an egg or a little bird. Grab it too tight and you will crush it, grab too loose and you will drop it. Grab with your right hand with that feeling.

Pointers for suburi

It is important to do suburi as if you were to cut down your opponent’s head. Make a large upswing, and swing it down swiftly. Make sure your shoulder blades are participating in the movement.

Pointers for shomen suburi

There are many people who have their left hand out of center when doing shomen suburi so be careful. In order to make your sword tip reach maximum speed, it is important to use your left hand which creates most leverage. If it is out of center, you won’t be able to make a good swing. Try to stretch out your left arm as much as possible.

What is Furigoko?

When doing suburi, keep in mind Furigoko (不離五向). This means to point the following 5 things at your opponent at all time:

1: Eyes, observe your opponent.
2: Feet, make sure your toes are pointing towards your opponent.
3: Sword, make sure your sword tip is directed towards your opponent.
4: Belly button, your waist area should face your opponent
5: Soul, always direct your attention to your opponent with all your ability

When doing suburi, make a big step forward by pushing with your left foot. In shiai it is very important to strike with an undisturbed posture. With an undisturbed posture, it is harder for your opponent to get a sense of distance. When doing suburi, make sure you are swinging by making big steps and maintain your balance.

Pointers for sayu men suburi

In shiai, your opponent will try to avoid your strikes in all sorts of ways, so it is important to doing suburi while maintaining the correct blade angles. Make sure your left hand isn’t out of center.

Pointers for hayasuburi

Similar to other types of suburi, swing up large and use your shoulder blades. Keep in mind Furigoko (不離五向) as previously explained.

In shiai, explosive strength and speed are very important. To increase it, haya suburi is very effective. For example, you can do 5 sets of 30 swings. When doing this, make sure you are using your entire body and swing large with all your ability.

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