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)

I translated a second article in Japanese by Kogoro-Sama  from Web-Kendo with his kind permission to post it.  Thank you Kogoro-Sama.  As the link and website no longer seems to exist (as of Aug 2019) (http://www.web-kendo.com/002001/column05.php), I have appended the original article in Japanese below after the translation.


In kendo where winning or losing is decided in the blink of an instant, the one who strikes when one should strike to take advantage of an opportunity wins the ippon (point).

One cannot win in kendo by only striking blindly.

So, in kendo, securing the ippon in terms of timing is very difficult.

With regards to discovering and ascertaining this opportunity when one should strike, Takano Sasaburo (a swordsman of the highest level during the initial period of the Showa era (1926 to 1989) who developed the present Nippon Kendo Kata) described the “Seven Opportunities” in his literary work called “Kendo Teachings” which follows.

  1. Avoid the essence of the opponent and strike the emptiness.
    • Avoid where the opponent places his/her attention and strike where there is no attention or energy.
  2. Strike at a stiff head or a suspended mouth
    • A chance appears when the opponent expects something to happen or when the opponent is about to move.
  3. Strike if you see movement of kogishin (a confused mental state resulting in hesitation).
    • The term “movement of kogishin” (the state of doubt and hesitation) refers to when neither the intention of striking nor the spirit to defend functions.
  4. Strike when (the opponent is) at home.
    • At home (when tired or confused) refers to the state where the spirit and body does not move and there is no change.  This is a good opportunity.
  5. Strike when (the opponent) is rushed.
    • An opportunity arises for sure when the opponent is rushing or impatient.
  6. Strike when (the opponent) is exhausted.
    • Strike when the opponent has exhausted his/her energy or spirit.
  7. Strike when the sword tip (kensaki) drops
    • When the opponent is in chudan or jodan kamae, strike at the instant the sword tip drops.

To hit a point, one must judge these (opportunities) instantly and make a decision. As the ability (of the opponent) goes higher, such opportunities become rarer and finding such moments become more difficult.

This is not something that can be mastered overnight. However, major progress is possible by keeping these opportunities in mind while one practices keiko day to day.  Also, conversely for oneself, it is important to avoid succumbing to the same seven opportunities that the opponent is looking for.

In kendo, “seeing” is most important. In particular, in shiai (competitions), whether one can see the state of the opponent and oneself determines the match.

There are often times, when one thinks both people are quietly in kamae (the “on guard” position), that a match is determined by such moments (opportunities). It is imperative to react upon detecting such opportunities.  Conversely, one should not give such opportunities to the opponent.

Aren’t these things as described, which cannot be achieved or obtained by only speed or physical ability, needed in kendo?

In order to take advantage of these moments (opportunities) in kendo, apply seme (pressure) on an opponent during a shiai.  Moreover, if one sees things from an earlier perspective, the fight (shiai) starts from the day-to-day keiko practices (beforehand).

I believe that this concept of seizing such instantaneous moments is the way of the sword.  In this regard, doesn’t this seem to be a deep aspect of kendo?

Here is the original article in Japanese:


一本を取るチャンスの見つけ方

 一瞬の間が勝敗を決めてしまう剣道では、機会を掴んで打つべきところで打った者が一本を取れるのです。

 ただ闇雲に打っているだけでは剣道では勝てません。

    なので、剣道では一本を取ることは時として非常に難しくもあります。

この打つべき機会の見極め方として、現在の日本剣道形を作り昭和初期には最高峰の剣士と称された剣聖・高野佐三郎氏が、剣道教本という著書の中で「七つの好機」として次のように述べてます。

  1. 敵の実を避けて虚を打て
    (敵の注意がいっている所は避け、注意も力もいっていないところを打て)
  2. こり頭又は懸かり口を打つ
    (敵が何か起こそう、動こうとするときに隙ができる)
  3. 狐疑心の動くのを見たならば打つ
    (狐疑心の動く(疑いためらっている状態)では、打とうとする意思も防ごうとする心も働かない)
  4. 居付きたるを打つ
    (居付くとは、(疲れたり、戸惑ったりしたときなどで)心も身体ともに動かない・変化がない状態を言い、そこに好機がある)
  5. 急かせて打つ
    (急いだり、焦ったりするとき必ず隙が出来る)
  6. 尽きたるを打つ
    (敵の体力や気力が尽きたとき打て)
  7. 剣尖(剣先)の下がったところを打つ
    (敵が中段又は下段の構えでいるとき、剣尖(剣先)が下がった瞬間を打て)

一本を打つには、これらを一瞬で判断し決断をしなければなりません。実力が上がれば上がるほどこの機会が少なくなり一瞬の見極めが難しくなります。

 これは一朝一夕で会得できるものではありませんが、これらを意識しながら日々の稽古をすると大きく成長できるでしょう。また逆に自分自身が上の「7つの好機」を相手につかれないようにすることも大事ですね。

    剣道には『観る/見る』ことが最も重要とされ、特に試合では相手や自分の状況が観れるかどうかが勝敗を決めます。

 お互い静かに構えているかと思えば、ある一瞬で勝負が決まることはよくあります。剣道ではこの『一瞬』を見抜き反応しなければならなく、逆に『一瞬』でも相手に隙を与えてもいけません。

 こういったところに、速さや身体能力だけでは成し得ないものを剣道では必要とされるのではないでしょうか。

    剣道ではこの一瞬を取るのために、試合で相手と攻め合って、そしてもっと前から見れば日々の稽古から戦いが始まっているのですね。

    僕は一瞬をかけるこの想いに剣の道があるように思います。そして、ここに何か剣道の奥深さがあるのではないでしょうか

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