In order to stay ahead of their rivals, corporate Kendo practitioners have to be creative within the limited amount of Keiko they have. The powerful Fuji Xerox Kendo Club practices only once a week for two hours. The Keiko program is packed with exercises that are designed for actual competition.
In this article, we would like to share with you the Keiko that is guaranteed to be effective. There will surely be pointers on improvement here, so please try it.
Keiko where everything is directly related to Ippon: Devise it on your own and put it into practice
The Fuji Xerox Kendo Club is a powerful team with a history spanning almost half a century. The team has won numerous championships and prizes, from the All Japan Business Team Tournament and Kanto Business Team Tournament in 1988 onward. The team has won the All Japan business Team Tournament twice, and has won the Kanto business Team Tournament six times. Currently, there are about 75 members in the club from all over Japan, led by the general manager Ishikawa Fumio, director Miki Tsutomu, and captain Uehara Yuji.
Although the Kendo Club boasts of such achievements, it only does Keiko once a week for two hours every Saturday at the Ebina Office Gymnasium (Kanagawa). During three-day weekends, the club takes a break from Keiko for family time. The rest of the time is left to solo Keiko.
So, what exactly is the Keiko that the Fuji Xerox Kendo Club puts into practice? Successive generations of players have come up with Keiko content to maximize their effectiveness in order to improve within a limited amount of time.
The current Keiko program was developed mainly by Captain Uehara.
Keiko time is exactly two hours. It is never extended. The Keiko starts with Suburi and Kirikaeshi, followed by Kihon, continuous Uchikomi, Kakarigeiko, Ippon-shobu, and Jigeiko.
“Everything we do is directly related to securing Ippon”, he says. “We try to create a cycle of learning how to strike for Ippon in Kihon, attack without losing that form in Jigeiko and still be able to strike Ippon, try it in Shiai, review the progress of the Shiai, and readjust it in Jigeiko.”
We try to understand the conditions for valid strikes, which include striking the target area with full energy and proper posture, with the correct part of the Shinai and blade angle and showing Zanshin; correct bad habits, and think about the reasons why you are unable to get an Ippon.
Each member practises with a high level of focus, and the amount of time spent on each Keiko item is short because of the variety of Keiko in a two-hour period. Even though the items take little time, it is very physically demanding if you do everything to the best of your ability. For example, even if I do only 30 Suburi, you should start sweating. In fact, after two hours of Keiko, the members of the club looked exhausted.
“I thought about physical strength, technical ingenuity, and many other things, and came up with the current Keiko content. I think that if we take more time than this, we might lack concentration which would be counterproductive”, says Uehara.
The Fuji Xerox Kendo Club has developed a so-called “short-term intensive Keiko method for adults”. With this Keiko, they have set up an environment in which they can stay a step or two ahead of their rivals.
To become the best Kendo club in Japan: Aiming to be a strong and fun club
The motto of the Kendo Club is “Strong and Fun Kendo Club”. Here, “strong” means acquiring the ability to become the best in the business world. The “fun” part of the motto means that it is rewarding to engage in friendly rivalry and to genuinely enjoy the activities of the Kendo Club.
We always talk with the members of the club that if we were to win the All Japan Business Team Tournament, it would be without dispute, and that in our professional and personal lives, we would like to be known as the best Kendo club in Japan.
In 2014, Uehara’s slogan was 必勝 (Hissho: Sure Victory) In order to not let his goal of becoming the best in Japan end with just words, he focused on the following five points even while working: developing a winning habit, increasing the amount of Keiko, improving teamwork, creating the best conditions, and scouting.
The club does Keiko only once a week. The members make up for this by going to Keiko on their own, morning Keiko, and physical training. Outside of Keiko days, the members interact with each other for team building.
In addition, by compiling data on the amount of Keiko and the Shiai results, they can now objectively see winning percentages and training quantities, when they are losing and what techniques they are losing to. This made it easier to see what they needed to improve on.
By clearly setting out goals, slogans, and initiatives, they can clearly see what they need to do. And as they improve day by day, Kendo will become more interesting. This is why the members are actively practicing.
“I think the words ‘strong and fun’ can also be seen as ‘autonomy’. Rather than just accumulating knowledge, things will improve more if you enjoy working on them. Enjoying Kendo will make it more interesting”, said Miki.
It is not only the younger members who are energetic. Veterans who have retired from their active career also practise with the younger members, starting with Kihon, and they play a role of liveliness in the club. When the veterans do their best, the younger members are encouraged.
“We are on the side of backing up the members and we want to provide them with the things they need to become stronger”, said Miki.
The team is working as one to achieve their goal of becoming the best in Japan.
“If we always practice with a strong spirit, the results will naturally come. I hope that they will continue to work hard and produce results in both business and Kendo”, says General Manager Ishikawa.
Warm up and Suburi – following through with all your body strength
The rest of this article is only available for Kendo Jidai International subscribers!