Photography: Nishiguchi Kunihiko
Translation: Anne Zwart
Sword techniques, physical techniques, and mental techniques.
Kendo emphasizes these three principles.
To be mindful of sword techniques, one must value the effectiveness of the Hasuji (blade angle) and the Shinogi (ridges across the sides of the Katana). Let’s consider this in training methods to acquire a higher level of Kendo.
At Johoku Junior and Senior High School, students practice Kata with a Bokuto and Saya (sheath). This approach aims to increase concrete awareness of the concept of handling a Katana, as well as to treat Kata and Shinai Keiko as the same discipline. Kadono Masato, the Kendo instructor at Johoku Junior and Senior High School, explains the effectiveness of this method.
Learning how to be a Kata instructor through Kata Keiko with Komorizono Sensei
After finishing high school, I enrolled in International Budo University which had opened its doors recently. I picked Kendo as my academic field of study, and soon met the late Masao Komorizono Masao Sensei (Hanshi 9th Dan). Komorizono Sensei’s teaching was focused on the basics; I remember that in my first year we did not compete in any matches, but were made to practice Men-uchi from Kamae in Suriashi endlessly.
Komorizono Sensei kept a strict eye on us, even after we started competing. Even if we won, he would criticize us for how we won. I think his intention for us was to be leading figures in the future, so we had to practice correct Kendo.
When I graduated from university, I became an instructor at Johoku Junior and Senior High School. Now I teach Kendo at the Kendo club and in physical education classes. As a teacher, my desire is to pass on the Kendo that Komorizono Sensei taught me. I believe that understanding the classical swordsmanship within Kendo is crucial to passing on the ideal Kendo.
In my fourth year, Komorizono Sensei had all of his students practice Nihon Kendo Kata with him during a Kendo theory lecture. Komorizono Sensei practiced Kata with us in such earnest that I was overtaken by his enthusiasm; by the time practice was over, I was drenched in sweat. This showed me what it means (and takes) to be a teacher. At the same time, it taught me that Kata Keiko is not just about following the steps correctly, but also about the importance of things that cannot be seen, such as spirit, breathing, and Zanshin. This lecture was the moment I realized that Kata Keiko and Shinai Keiko must be treated as one and the same.
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