If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the 10:41 min video “You want to strike men? In order to win…” by Fuku sensei [Fuku] may be worth a thousand pictures. Fuku sensei examines in depth and with clarity a way to strike men first – using a mix of video footages of men strikes (including slow motion replays) and text explanations in Japanese. I present a brief summary of the video below for those who may not be able to follow the Japanese text.
A few side comments before starting. In case you might know Fuku sensei, I would appreciate it if you could send me his contact information. I would like to request permission to post a full translation of his text in Japanese to English and thank him for creating and sharing his video. And a ‘thank you’ to Susan Zau sensei for sharing the video [Fuku] with me.
A Brief Summary of the Video [Fuku]
From the time mark [0:03] to [1:14], sequences of a person striking men are shown where the opponent blocks and evades the men strikes. Fuku sensei poses the question at [1:14]: Well then, when can (your men strike) not be evaded (by the opponent)? He answers: It is when the opponent strikes men.
So, given that an opponent (X) is coming in to strike men on you, how can you strike first? This is addressed from [2:12] to [8:04]. I found this part extremely enlightening.
To reach you and strike men, person X would need to cover a potentially large ma-ai (or distance) and perform a large fumikomi. Fuku sensei refers to this fumikomi as “Strike while pushing your body forward” (体を送り打ち) – a literal translation. Perhaps a more compact and conceptual translation would be “the big-step strike” in contrast to a smaller type of fumikomi explained next.
You can instead perform a smaller fumikomi which Fuku sensei refers to as “the one (small) step strike” (一歩の打ち) and can successfully strike X’s men beforehand. An important aspect of this technique involves your recognizing the shorter ma-ai that transpires as X comes in towards you. That is, you need not aim to strike where X is currently standing in kamae but rather where X will soon be as X comes in to strike you.
Furthermore, as explained by Fuku sensei, because the movement of the legs is slower than that of the hands, the larger distance that X needs to cover with the legs makes X’s time to strike slower than that of yours as your legs can instead cover a shorter distance.
Eureka! I had been baffled for a long time as to how a person who started moving later in ai-men or debana-men could hit earlier. His explanation clarified how this could be accomplished. It also shed light on comments, many years earlier, from a sensei who had described to me how he would aim his men-uchi in the air about six inches (15 cm) in front of his opponent’s men in ai-men or debana men.
The remainder of the video covers some alternate scenarios. The portion from [8:04] to [8:20] examines what may transpire when person X may also aim for a smaller ma-ai and perform a small step strike. The last portion from [9:20] shows what can happen if person X seems to perform a men strike initially but stops part way through. Such examples illustrate, for me, the richness of the possibilities in kendo.
Indeed, as Fuku sensei states in his last sentence: “Kendo is interesting” (剣道って面白い。kendoutte omoshiroi).
[Fuku] FUKU先生, 面打ちたい？勝つために。。。, (You want to strike men? In order to win…), Posted on “Kendo – Iaido – Munyukan 剣道 居合道 無入館” (10:41 mins) https://www.facebook.com/kendoiaidomunyukan/videos/520117361488337/
Also can found at: 剣道の基本 1.合い面1 (Basics of Kendo 1. ai-men 1) 4:56 mins by moketo mokomoko (not sure which is the original)
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