How to build a strong team, Part 2: Shimabara High School, Nagasaki



Excellence in study and Kendo: Bunbu Ryodo (the two paths of pen and sword) is the path to victory

Shimabara shines bright in the world of Kendo. The school, which is usually ranked at the top of the national championships every year, has grown rapidly since the arrival of Watanabe Takatsune Sensei, who is currently serving as the principal of the school. The school’s members are committed to a two-way approach to learning. “Doing your best in everything you do will lead to victory”, says Watanabe. How does the Shimabara High School Kendo Club train to achieve results?

Not wasting any time: Working on core muscles as a warm up

Usually, Kendo Keiko begins with warming up and then Suburi, but Keiko at Shimabara High School starts with core training. There is a wide variety of training elements, but on the day of the interview, it included crawling and balancing exercises.

“Strengthening the core is the foundation whereupon basics rest. By strengthening the core, the students’ posture is less likely to get disrupted and strikes will be more sharp. However, since Shimabara High School does not have morning practice and does not have enough time for physical training, we try to do this at the beginning of Keiko as a warm up.”

Building a foundation for mastering the fundamentals by strengthening the core

Learn the correct striking and post-striking posture 

Following the core training, the next activity is Suburi. As with the core training, a variety of swings were prasticed here as well. There were three types of swords one needs for this training: a Shinai, a heavy Bokuto and a light Bokuto, used according to the type of the swing.

“The use of a Bokuto for Suburi is for awareness of the blade angles. The reason for the difference in weight is learning the correct form. Heavy Bokuto are effective at improving muscle strength and striking power, but they also cause a loss of form as the practitioner tends to swing with greater force. This is why a light wooden sword is used to check the form. There are many types of Suburi because each of the four striking targets in Kendo has its own form. I try to have the students confirm their forms while swinging, so that the swings are directly related to competitive scenarios.”

Swinging with three different types of swords: a Shinai, a heavy Bokuto and a light Bokuto

Striking tires to train Tenouchi and body movement

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