Translation: Pepijn Boomgaard
In Kendo, there is something called the three unforgivable opportunities. The first one of these is the start of someone’s attack. Apply Seme, lure out your opponent, seize your opponent’s movement and strike. Let’s learn about how to seize Okori and increase the number of Ippon.
It’s important to talk with your opponent’s heart
Move your opponent intentionally, you won’t get an opportunity by accident
When asked what Okori is in Kendo, many of us might think that it is the start of a movement. There are many ways to aim for Debana1, but in order to not let it happen by accident and move the opponent intentionally to seize Okori, it is important to focus on the stage before your opponent makes their move. In other words, it is important to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your opponent as you pressure each other and move into striking distance.
Okori as a young boy
I loved Kendo. I remember watching videos of famous Kenshi and imitating them over and over until the videotape wore out. I was fortunate enough to win the All Japan as a kid. At tournaments, I would watch my opponent’s matches and look for their habits. I think that before facing my opponent, I imagined the match and built up the composition of the match in my head. For young children, it is difficult to apply Riai (rationality and purpose) to their Seme. but I think that observing your opponent carefully is the first step in grasping Okori. By watching your opponent, you will be able to practice Kendo based on thinking, rather than self-indulgent Kendo, from a young age.
The real pleasure of Kendo
After becoming a Tokuren member, whenever I did Keiko with my teachers and seniors, there were many moments when I thought I could strike, but was instead struck myself. I think this is something we have all experienced. It is not by accident. My teachers and seniors intentionally manipulated me and drew me out. One top of the difference in experience and skill, it is only natural that there is also a big difference between people who think and people who don’t think. In fact, training with teachers is scary. The Ki radiating from their Kensen is so great that it makes you want to run away. If you neglect the process of attacking and defending, and instead run away by attacking aimlessly, you will be struck. This cannot even be called attack or defense, it is simply wasted time. However, in order to understand what lies beyond that and grasp what Riai is, we must feel our teachers Ki head-on and resist launching mindless attacks. We must compete with our Kensen. By doing this, I gradually became able to grasp the momentary feelings of uneasiness as well as the difference that circulates throughout the air. Even though at first glance it might seem like there are no differences at all, we can know about small set-ups from the Ki that is emitted from the Kensen. I think that teachers use these subtle and fine set-ups to intentionally manipulate and draw out their opponents in order to capture Okori. Once you get to know this real joy of Kendo, it becomes impossible to escape from its charm. When I try to use these tricks against my Sensei, I am met with a smirk as they read my movements, leaving me unable to strike. Even though I try to set up my attacks, I am instead struck at my Okori. There is nothing more fascinating than having a heart-to-heart conversation in the middle of a fight.
Moving the left foot. Making your opponent uncomfortable.
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