Techniques Needed to Win in Kendo (Translation of 勝つための必要な技術 by こごろ一様)

I translated this article in Japanese by Kogoro-Sama from Web-Kendo with his kind permission to post it (Thank you Kogoro-Sama).  However, as the link at http://www.web-kendo.com/002001/column04.php and website no longer seem to exist, I have appended the original article in Japanese below.


In many sports, winning or losing is very often attributed to differences in the physique or the physical ability of a person. In kendo, however, this is not necessarily the case.  Certainly, there are those in kendo who will strike often and indiscriminately as long as they have the strength.  However, this approach does not necessarily guarantee that they will win.  Furthermore, those dependent solely on physical strength or power will fare poorly against a strong kendo player.  In fact, this approach can have the opposite desired effect and can even be counter-effective.

In kendo, other important aspects are needed (for winning). Certainly, being fast and having a larger body type can be advantageous.  However, Miyamoto Musashi has written the following on this aspect in The Book of Five Rings.

In the art of war (fighting), the valuing of fast sword movement (or sword play) is not the right path. Sword movement labeled as slow or fast depends on whether one matches or does not match a rhythm (or beat).   . . .

The skilled swords man is one who indeed sees slowly and does not miss the distance (with another person). The person skilled in these aspects is one who sees without fuss (with calm).

From Translation notes by Kamata Shigeo (Kodansha) from Mushashi Miyamoto, The Book of Five Rings.

This is an extremely important point.  Winning is not guaranteed by having only speed or a big build.   It also involves quickly grasping the rhythm (of your opponent) and the opportunity to strike the opponent.  It is said that one cannot necessarily win against an opponent without knowing the opportunity to strike.

It is very important to understand the opportunity of when one should strike in kendo. It is not an exaggeration to go so far and say that winning depends on whether or not one takes the lead (先 saki) before the opponent does in kendo.

It is incorrect to wish to attack the opponent only when one feels like striking.  One cannot win unless one truly understands the condition of the opponent and oneself, and one seizes that must-strike opportunity.

At my dojo, we have witnessed on multiple occasions the spectacle of a 70+ year old sensei easily dodging a young high school student and easily striking the student when the sensei saw an opening.*

There is certainly something that the elder sensei could see that that the high school student could not see. Isn’t this the reason one can be active in kendo despite one’s age?

So, for these so called opportunities to strike, when do these occur?  And what identifies them?

I think I will write about this point next time.**


* Here’s another more detailed story of an 80 year old kendo teacher taking on high school kids: Peter Boylan, “When It Comes to Training, Fast is Slow and Slow is Fast,” The Budo Bum, July 30, 2014.

** Editor’s comment:   The opportunities to strike are described in Kogoro-Sama‘s follow-up article “How to See the Chance for an Ippon (Translation of 一本を取るチャンスの見つけ方 by こごろ一様)” and also in “Three Opportunities to Strike,” Kendo-Guide.com.  The ways to “create” such opportunities are addressed in  “Creating opportunities to strike,” KendoInfo.net.

 

The original article in Japanese follows.


勝つための必要な技術

 

多くのスポーツはその体格の差や身体能力の差で優劣がつく場合が多いのですが、剣道の場合は必ずしもそうではありません。力のある限りどんとんと打っていく剣士もいますが、それではなかなか勝負を決めることが出来ないんですね。

また、体力任せだけの剣道では相手が強者の場合は通用しなくなります。逆に不利にさえ働いてしまう場合があるのです。

剣道ではもっと他の重要な要素が必要なのです。

確かに剣道でも速くて身体が大きいことが有利に働く場合も多くあるのですが、宮本武蔵はこのことについて著作の五輪書で次のように書かれています。

「兵法にあって、剣さばきの速いことを尊ぶのは正しい道ではない。速いというのは、拍子に合っていたり、合っていなかったりすることによって、剣さばきの速い遅いということがあるのである。

 (中略)

 上手な人のすることは、いかにもゆっくりと見えて、しかも間がぬけていないものである。諸事に熟練した人のすることは、こせこせした(落ち着きが無い)ようには見えないものである。」

   五輪書 宮本武蔵著 鎌田茂雄全訳注(講談社)より

これは非常に重要なことです。ただ速いことや、身体が大きいことで、決して勝てるわけでないこと。そしてその速さも身体の大きさも相手に打ち込める拍子や機会を知ってこその速さであり、打つ機会を知らなければ決して相手に勝てないことを言ってます。

剣道では打つべき機会を知ることが非常に重要なのです。そして、剣道では相手より先を取れるかどうかで勝敗を決めると言っても過言ではありません。

ただ打ちたい気持ちだけで、相手に突っ込んでいくようではダメなんですよね。

相手や自分自身の状況をよく観て把握して、打つべき機会を掴まなくては勝てないのです。

僕の道場では、70歳を過ぎた年齢の先生が高校生の若者を軽くいなし、隙があればその高校生を簡単に打ち込んでいる光景を何度も見ることができました。全く無駄のない動きで「ポン」と一振りで。

高校生には見えないものがこのご高齢の先生には見えているんでしょう。そして、ここに剣道がどんな年齢でも活躍できる理由があるのではないでしょうか。

では、打つ機会というのはどんな時なのでしょうか?そして、その見極めとは?

そのポイントを次回に書いてみようと思います

 

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