Healing Kendo (癒しの剣道) by Nakamura Sensei – Foreword and Part 1

This is Part 1 and the Foreword of a seven-part English translation of an article by Nakamura Sensei, 7th Dan.   I thank Nakamura Sensei for his kind permission to post this translation.  Translated by KendoNotes.

(Back to the Overview)


In my kendo, I keep in mind the fun of doing it.  When I strike, I aim for the feeling of a good men, the feeling of a good kote, the feeling of a good do, the feeling of a good tsuki.  Accordingly, this differs slightly from regular keiko as well as basic keiko.

Stated simply, it is “Healing Kendo.”

Since passing the age of 50 perhaps, I have lost confidence in my physical strength.  My shoulders hurt and my arms hurt when I extend them.  When doing kirikaeshi, my back muscles hurt.  When doing hayasuburi, my calf muscles get pulled.  A variety of problems arise.  From such conditions, I believe that this is how my present day kendo was born.   I practice the fundamentals for 30 to 40 mins in front of a mirror and practice basic strikes with my men on for another 30 minutes –  not even this if there is no partner.  I practice these on days outside of those days for regular keiko.  Though I say I am doing this, it is only once a week.  There are no hundreds of hayasuburi, not even uchikomi, kakarigeiko nor kirikaeshi.  Only a relaxed and efficient (non-excessive) kendo that I refer to as Healing Kendo.

In this page, I introduce a part of my approach to seme in kendo.

Part 1

First of all, though I shall write about how to do seme, please think about your present men-uchi.

From issoku-ittouno-mai, are you not striking by performing seme starting with your right foot and then pulling in your left foot for tsugi-ashi?  At the moment of striking, are your right foot and hands not starting to move at the same time?  Usually, this is how most people strike.  With this, one succumbs to a perfectly timed kaeshi-waza [1] from an opponent.

Now please think back to the fundamentals.  I think one is taught that issoku-ittouno-ma-ai is the ma-ai from where one can strike with a single fumikomi using the right foot. From this ma-ai, one can strike a men even without a tsugi-ashi [2].

Please think on this a bit more.  Older folks like myself cannot reach the men by striking with only (a single step with) the right foot from issoku-ittouno-ma-ai which is too far.  Well, then how do you think can we strike?

The 8th Dan Senseis at their age can very easily strike men.  They draw out the opponent by applying seme with their right foot (hikidasu).  They strike at the moment the opponent comes forward by half a head-length.  The opponent is coming in to get hit.  When I tested for 7th Dan, I was able to pass with kote and men strikes as my opponent came in – drawn out by a seme with my right foot (of course, a seme starting from my hips).  Now I can perform seme much better compared to that time.

I would like to take good care of what I have acquired and mastered thus far.

And I shall share and explain seme.  I write this with the thought that it will help instruct myself, too.  Although you may already be at a level to pass (shinsa), please read this while thinking “Heh” (as in ‘Oh’).  In my present day kendo, I strike men from a ma-ai where the sword tips meet.  At times, from closer distances, too.  Of course, it is with one step.

Though this became a little bit long, I shall write on how to seme and enter.  If it is ok with you, let’s continue this journey.

(Continue to Part 2)

[1] Translation note:  I believe 技 (waza) instead of  業 (waza) in 「返し業」 was intended in the original article due to the context and the same kun-yomi.

[2] Translation note: I believe this is in reference to an initial small step (tsugi-ashi) which can precede the fumikomi and men-uchi needed especially from touma.

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