Kendo lessons of Iwatate Saburo

Iwatate Saburo Kendo Lecture Secrets of Shofukan 3 : Kensaki

10/14/2019

The strength of the kensaki is true strength
Stabilise the left side of the body and fight for the center by a shinai’s width

Profile

Iwatate Saburo 8th dan Hanshi
Born in 1939 in Chiba Prefecture. After graduating from Chiba Prefecture Narita High School, he got a job at Chiba Prefecture Police. After retiring from the Tokuren, Iwatate sensei served as a Kanto District Police School Instructor and Chiba Prefectural Police Kendo Head Teacher. Starting in 1978, Iwatate began teaching at the Shofukan dojo and a number of swordsmen from Japan as well as overseas have gathered to ask for the guidance of Iwatate Saburo.
Currently, he is the director of Shofukan dojo, Shobi Gakuen University Kendo head teacher, the All-Japan Kendo Federation councilor, All Japan Kendo Federation vice-president, and the All Japan Senior-Kenyukai chairman.

Kendo is to cultivate true strength
The pressure through kensaki is connected to true strength

In kendo, is said to be important to have a “conversation” with the sword tips. However, you can not “talk” if you don’t have an effective kamae. Furthermore, it is not always possible to have a “conversation” at all. When I am motodachi, on average I do jigeiko with about 20 people, but there are only a few of them that I can have a conversation with through my kensaki. As an instructor, I am just painfully aware of my lack of skill and the difficulty of it all.

I’m sure the readers have all had this experience, but there are people who can emanate tremendous pressure with their kamae when you face them. First of all, those who have such power in their kensaki are those who are doing a lot of keiko. There is a phenomenon that some people are weak in shiai but strong in keiko. The power of the kensaki is considered to be an indication of true strength. If you practice with such a person, the pressure will strain your limbs and stiffen your muscles.

In the past, there was a teacher who had a strong kensaki even if he did not use any techniques, and when requesting keiko with him, you would have to get your mindset in order. It was a teacher that makes you break out in cold sweat as soon as you face him. There are fewer teachers of this kind, including me, who can do such kendo but I think that kendo is about cultivating true strength. So what should we do? As I said before, the first step is to create a kamae which allows you to strike well.

In kamae, the important thing for the left hand is the distribution of strength over the little finger, ringfinger, and middle finger. The right hand grip should be the same, but it is well known that the left hand is particularly important. The strength of the kensaki will be lost by loosening the little finger and ring finger of the left hand. If the left hand grip is loose, your posture will be disturbed and the kensaki’s line of extension will come off the throat of the opponent, and it will tend to open diagonally upward to the right.

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