Kendo lessons of Funatsu Shinji

Ai-men and Debana-Kote are Kendo necessities (Funatsu Shinji)


2023.1 KendoJIDAI

Planning: Teraoka Tomoyuki
Photography: Nishiguchi Kunihiko
Translation: Jouke van der Woude

“If you maintain contact with the opponent’s Shinai, you can control the center and kill the opponent’s Kensaki.” Funatsu Shinji, a Hanshi with two victories in the 8th Dan Kendo Championship, explains. How can you create opportunities to strike Ai-men or Debana-Kote? He talks about techniques to draw out the opponent, based on his experience in real fights and instruction.

Funatsu Shinji, Hanshi 8th Dan

Born in 1955 in Nagasaki Prefecture. After graduating from Saikai Gakuen High School, he joined the Osaka Prefectural Police. His major achievements include winning the All Japan Kendo Invitational 8th Dan Championship twice, winning the World Kendo Championship team title, and winning the National Police Kendo Championship team title. After retiring as the Chief Instructor of Kendo in the Osaka Prefectural Police, he currently coaches younger generations at Koshien Gakuin Junior and Senior High Schools and various locations nationwide.

The importance of approaching Kihon, Jigeiko, and Shiai as a trinity

First, I would like to talk about how to approach Keiko. Especially in adult Keiko sessions, I think it is common to move directly to Jigeiko after a little warm-up. I understand that everyone is trying to squeeze in Keiko time in their daily lives, but if possible, I would like you to incorporate Kihon Keiko as well.

To see the path of improvement, it is important to approach Kihon, Jigeiko, and Shiai as a Trinity. Test what you have learned in Kihon during Jigeiko. If it works well in Jigeiko, try using it in Shiai. Since you will face a serious opponent in Shiai, things may not go as easy as in Jigeiko. Therefore, you need to consider why it didn’t work during Shiai and continue to work on Jigeiko. I firmly believe that you cannot expect to improve in swordsmanship without this repetition.

As you age, I think most enthusiasts’ ultimate goal is to reach the 6th to 8th dan rank. During that time, the way you approach Kihon, Jigeiko, and Shiai will greatly affect your progress. I often hear the opinion that you have to change your Kendo for examinations. This is only the case if the approach to the three elements I mentioned earlier is different, and therefore such a necessity arises. If you consistently seek correct swordsmanship in your regular Jigeiko, you can approach the examination as yourself and I believe that you can also come closer to passing it.

Taking the center, Shinai contact, drawing out, and following through with strikes 

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