Kendo-related Quotes

Here’s a collection of kendo-related quotes and links to websites with more.  I plan to update this from time to time as I come across “new” ones.  Enjoy!


  • Just forget your arms and strike with the foot, then forget your foot and strike with the hips. Then forget the hips and strike with your Heart.
    • From an 8th dan sensei as recorded by Markus in his comments “Forget your arms!” in [Kendo-Guide_Muscles].
  • With regards to pressuring each other (seme-ai) at the sword tips, rather than taking the center and then striking, it is important to take the center when you strike.
    • Translation of 「剣先の攻め合いというのは、中心を取って打ち込むのではなく、打ち込むときに中心を取っていることが大事です」 from [Hakudoh_Center] .

Mushin (Mind of No Mind)

  • Chiba Masashi sensei used to practice a continuous set of 3000 suburi every day. . . .  but if we do aspire to reach a state of no-mind (mushin) in our keiko, the answer lies in constant repetition of the basics.
  • In that world of no thought or intention there is neither sound nor smell, neither gods nor devils. Take for example the mirror, as the mirror reflects what is before it, so does the heart, and thus it is known as the heart-mirror. When the heart of the opponent is observed in the mirror of ones own heart, one cannot be struck, however when ones own heart releases its image it ceases to be the true heart-mirror.
  • Robert Greene: [Mastery_Greene]
    • The end point of mastery is an intuitive feel for what you are doing where you no longer have to think.
    • You’ve got muscle memory, you’ve mastered the craft, but the thinking will mess you up every single time.
    • The most powerful point you can reach in sports and in any kind of endeavor is when you’re one with the moment.
  • Takuan Soho:
    • The Right Mind is the mind that does not remain in one place. It is the mind that stretches throughout the entire body and self.  The Confused Mind is the mind that, thinking something over, congeals in one place [Takuan, p.12].
    • Make it a secret principle in either seeing or hearing not to detain the mind in one place [Takuan, p.14].

On the Mind

  • An old teaching says that as soon as you open your eyes you begin to err. This means that you become attached to where you focus your gaze. For example  . . .  If you look at the opponent’s hands your attention will be directed to his hands and if you look to his feet, you(r) attention will be drawn to his feet. In this situation you resemble an empty house. A thief could steal into an empty house, as there is no master at home to prevent it.  Therefore keep a broad view and avoid fixated vision.
  • When trying to beat the opponent by attacking him at the left side of his sword (ura), cast your eyes on the right side of his sword (omote). If you do the opponent will defend his right side and leave his left side undefended.

On the “Journey”

  • Takano Hiromasa (Hanshi) in “Keys to improvement in kendo” from [Kenshi247 _Hiromasa]:
    • The first and most essential thing you must develop to improve your kendo is your emotional strength, that is, to have an indomitable spirit.
    • Don’t put too much importance on winning or losing.
    • Like the well known phrase “turn a failure into a success” suggests, being struck is a chance to learn: “why was I strike(d) then?”
  • People believe that the reason for mastering swordsmanship is to be able to cut down one’s enemies. For myself, however I seek to master swordsmanship because through it I seek divine principle. If once I attain this, my heart will be as still water, calm and quite, like a clear mirror lucid and bright, able to cope instantly with any situation. . . .

Additional Quotes (from External Sites)


[Hisashi] Noma Hisashi (1910-1939), The Kendo Reader (PDF, 55 pages)

[Hakudoh_Center] “How to take the center,” 中心の取り方, はくどー庵,

[Kendo-Guide_Muscles] Comments for “Which muscles are used primarily in kendo, and can they be trained through isolation exercises in a gym?”, 2010.

[Kenshi247_Hiromasa] George McCall, Translation of “Takano Hiromasa’s keys to improvement in kendo,” 高野弘正先生の「上達の秘訣」,, Dec 11, 2015.

[KendoInfo_Moment] Geoff Salmon, “Getting lost in the moment,”, May 12, 2014.

[Kendoinfo_utarete-kanshya] Geoff Salmon, “Utarete Kanshya,”, June 23, 2014.

[Mastery_Greene]  “Robert Greene:  Mastery & Research,”, Jan 25, 2017.

[Takuan]  Takuan Soho, “The Unfettered Mind:  Writings of the Zen Master to the Sword Master,” (Translated by William Scott Wilson).



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