Relative Grip Strengths – in Brief (Part 2)

This is a brief summary of teachings and recommendations on the relative grip strengths for the hands and digits.

  • General comments first:
    • “The most important point to remember in chudan-no-kamae is that the left hand acts as the fulcrum” according to Hiroshi Ozawa (Kyoshi 8 dan)  [Ozawa, p. 27] as also illustrated earlier in [Sasakawa RightHandNG] – and not the right hand.*
    • “The shinai must be held neither too lightly (n)or too loosely.” [Noma, PDF p. 23].
      • “It is vital to hold the sword with ease though at all times be ready and able to dispatch an opponent in an instant [Noma, PDF p. 24].”
      • According to Miyamoto Musashi in The Book of Five Rings (Go-Rin-No-Sho), “I dislike rigidity(.) Rigidity means a dead hand and flexibility means a living hand. One must understand this fully [Noma, PDF p. 24].”
  • In kamae, the recommended power distribution between the two hands varies.
    • An equal distribution [Hakudoh_RightHand].
    • A distribution of 7 to 3 between the left and right hand as a counterbalance for those with stronger right hands and ultimately to realize an equal distribution [Kendo-Practice LeftHand].
    • “The left hand grip should be slightly firmer than the right hand.” [Noma, PDF p. 23].
      • “When clasping the right hand we are taught that it should be as though holding a hen’s egg, though it is difficult to discover the knack of this; the individual should find this for himself [Noma, PDF p. 23].”
  • With regards to the digits, power is placed in the last three to  two fingers.
    • “For both the right and the left hands, the little, ring, and middle finger(s) should clasp the sword with a little firmness while the index finger and thumb should simply be curled around the tsuka [Noma], PDF p. 23].”
    • Place power in the last three fingers of the hands and release power from the index finger and thumb [Chikamoto Lecture, 2:24min mark].
    • “As for the manner of holding the sword, hold it rather lightly with the thumb and index finger(,) neither firmly nor lightly with the middle finger, and firmly with the ring and little fingers. It is not good to have slackness in the hands.” according to Miyamoto Musashi in the Book of Five Rings [Noma, PDF p. 24].”
    • “Use just the ring and little finger to grip the shinai [KendoInfo Holding].”  “Chiba sensei teaches us to cut through the men to the level of the opponent’s chin and to gently squeeze with the little and ring fingers at this point [KendoInfo_Shibori].”
  • When switching from kamae to a strike,
    • The power in the left hand remains roughly the same whereas that in the right hand switches from 3 (out of 10) in kamae to the maximum level at the moment of impact [Chikamoto_Lecture, 2:08 min mark].
    • The thumb and index finger remain relaxed in the right hand (2:24).
    • “When you strike, push your right hand up with your left hand.  Do not pull it (the shinai) with your right hand.” – Koda Kunihide (Kyoshi 8 dan) at 5:35 min. mark of [Koda_PostureKamae].
    • “Correct cutting whether large or small relies on the left hand raising the shinai to a point where it can be brought down on the target. The right hand is very much the junior partner and follows the left hand on its upward path and only makes a real contribution by squeezing to make tenouchi after the point of impact.” [KendoInfo_LeftHand]

* Technically, in addition to the left hand, the left shoulder (rotator cuff), left elbow and the center of gravity of the shinai can also serve as the fulcrum – as described in [Hakudoh_ShinaiHandling] in Japanese and its translation in [Imoto ShinaiHandling].  However, I believe that the comments by Ozawa sensei and Sasakawa-sama were in the context of comparing the left and right hand.

Continue to Part 3 – Relative Grip Strengths – in Detail

Back to the Overview.

Copyright 2017

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