Interview with German Team coach, Morisaki sensei


We asked participants of this year’s European Kendo Championships (EKC) about their Kendo history, the Kendo they are aiming for, and the challenges they face. For this article, we asked Morisaki, coach of the German national Kendo team, about his impressions of the tournament and the challenges he thinks European Kendo has to overcome. 

1. Please tell us about your Kendo career to date.

I was born in Fukuoka prefecture and started Kendo when I was 8 years old. I went to Chikushigaoka High School and Hiroshima University. Kendo was always my priority. As a student, I won the Chukoku Shikoku Student Kendo Championship. However, after university I took a break from Kendo for the remainder of my twenties. After turning thirty, I spent more than 10 years in Indonesia and Thailand. Through interacting with local and Japanese Kendoka, I learned about the fun of doing Kendo overseas. I was completely hooked.

My job has brought me to a lot of places, including Germany.

2. How did you end up being the coach of the German national team?

In Germany, I was a member of the Düsseldorf Japanese Club Kendo Club. At first, I just enjoyed training with everyone.

The turning point came when I was invited to join and teach at the North Rhine-Westphalia (the state where Düsseldorf is located) Keiko session. There, I met Robert Kumpf, the son of the current president of the German Kendo Federation. He also happens to be the coach of the German national team.

Apparently, Germany has what is called the federal trainer program. Before the Coronavirus pandemic, this program had Japanese police teachers, usually in their forties and around 7th Dan, come to Germany for two months to teach. As a part of this process, they also coached the national team at the EKC.

However, because of the Coronavirus pandemic, no teachers were able to come for about a year. I just happened to be in Germany during the Coronavirus pandemic, and my age and Dan grade were just right, so I was asked to be a sort of federal trainer for the time being. 

When I looked at the list of the previous federal trainers, all I saw was famous teachers. I am very grateful for being included among them.

3. What were your impressions of this year’s EKC?

France is the sole winner. They were strong last year as well, but I feel that the gap between France and other countries has widened, especially in the men’s competition. France is in a category of its own, followed by the likes of Poland, Belgium, Italy, the UK, and Germany. 

4. What kind of training do you plan to do in preparation of the World Kendo Championships?

I would like to train together with the top players from France. Perhaps due to its history, Germany had the opportunities to train with players from other countries. However, for some reason, it seems that Germany has not been able to train with France yet. At least not for the past few years.

I think that it would be good to practice with the French team in order to raise our level.

5. What do you feel needs to happen to strengthen Kendo in Europe (including Germany)?

At least as far as the German team is concerned, I think that they need to refine their striking opportunities. We still see a lot of players relying on physical speed, leaving a lot of matches up to luck. 

I think this may be due to the fact that although many of the top players in Germany have had the opportunity to study and train in Japan and thus are quite strong, they do not have many opportunities to train with people stronger than them in their own Dojo.

The German team members live all over the country, and not all regions have strong people for them to train with. As a result, even though they train their bodies, I feel that there is a lack of training to find striking opportunities through patience, Seme, and Sutemi.

6. Conversely, what are some good qualities of European Kendo?

Compared to Japan, I feel like players are less preoccupied with strategy. In a sense, I feel that players are more straightforward and fight fairly.

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