Kendo-related Quotes

Here’s a collection of kendo-related quotes from or on the topics of:  Technique, Mushin, Morishima Tateo, Gaze, Journey and Spirit, Etiquette, Aging in Kendo and Links to websites with more.  I plan to update this from time to time as I come across “new” ones.  Enjoy!


  • Mechanics of Striking (datotsu)
    • 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].
    • So, for initiating the shinai swing, first use the hip as the fulcrum (rotational axis), then the shoulder, elbow, wrist and finally the center of gravity of the shinai.  That is, when the whole body is used as a whip and the final power is injected into the shinai tip, a very powerful datotsu (strike) can be made [Hakudoh_Sae].
      • Editor’s translation of ですから、竹刀の振り出しはまずは腰を最初の回転軸とし、そこから回転軸を肩に移し、次に肘へ手首へと移して、最後は竹刀の重心点を中心に振るように、すなわち身体全体をムチのように使って最終の力を竹刀の剣先に加えてゆくと、非常に威力のある打突が可能になります.
  • Fumikomi
    • Rather than kicking off strongly from the left leg, the sensation is one of pushing off a little where the advanced right leg pulls the body’s center of gravity forward. The point is, rather than jumping to strike at the instant to strike, the feeling is as if the right leg pulls the body forward.  With this approach, the Achilles tendon is unburdened. – Nakamura sensei [Nakamura_HealingKendo]
  • The Center
    • 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 [Hakudoh_Center].
      • Editor’s 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」

Mushin (Mind of No Mind)

Morishima Tateo (Hanshi 8 dan)[Kenshi247_Morishima5]

  • First, “if there is no opening, don’t attack.”  If there is no opening and you attack, you are opening yourself up and may be struck yourself. … Next, if there is no opening, you must make an opening by breaking them (kuzushi), then attack.
  • Do “rational kendo” and “kendo without waste.” … and bit-by-bit remove needless attacks. … By removing needless attacks from your kendo bit-by-bit your kendo will grow.
  • are you putting KIAI (i.e. your full effort) into your daily pursuit?  If you do your utmost at all times then the mirror in your heart will surely open.

On the Gaze

  • 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 and Spirit (心 kokoro)

  • The primary secret to reaching the inner depths of swordsmanship is found in the cultivation of the soul and the spirit. – Mochida Seiji (10th dan) [Kensh247_Judan]
  • 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. . . .

Etiquette (reigi)

  • Geoff Salmon (7 dan)
    • It (reigi) is a fundamental expression of our regard for others and without it kendo turns into a brawl with sticks. – Geoff Salmon [Kendoinfo_Reiho]
    • Reigi, however accurate, is useless unless it is sincere. [Kendoinfo_Reigi]
    • Reigi is not a one way street. We should show equal respect to seniors and juniors because we learn from our practice with both. [Kendoinfo_Reigi]
  • If you keiko with compassion and gratitude at all times then once keiko is finished you will naturally say ‘thank you.’ – Ota Tadanori (Hanshi, 8 dan) [Kenshi247_Rei]
  • When doing sonkyo,… imagine that you are dropping down into still water and don’t want to cause a splash or lots of waves. – Yukiko Takami (6 dan) at the 3rd AUSKF Women’s Seminar, July 14-15, 2018 (Thanks to Susan Zau sensei).

Related to Aging in Kendo

  • As I become older I move more slowly, but I also see my opponent’s movement more slowly. – Kikuchi Koichi sensei from [KendoInfo_Older].
  • As you age you will lose to those more physically powerful than you. Use your partners power against them, and win through technique. – Ogawa Kinosuke (10th dan) [Kensh247_Judan]

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, (Note: has shut down)

[Hakudoh_Sae] “The Principle of the sae in datotsu,” 打突の冴えの原理, (Note: has shut down)

[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.

[Kensh247_Judan] George McCall, “Kendo judan 十段 ,”, July 3, 2015.

[Kenshi247_Morishima5] George McCall, “From “Pursuing the spirit and modern kendo (part 5),”, March 30, 2011.

[Kenshi247_Rei] George McCall, “The kendo practitioner and rei (etiquette),”, May 21, 2018.

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

[KendoInfo_Older] Geoff Salmon, “Grading examinations for older kendoka,”, Feb 11, 2013.

[Kendoinfo_Reigi] Geoff Salmon, “Reigi,”, July 8, 2008.

[Kendoinfo_Reiho] Geoff Salmon, “Repetitive Reiho,”, Nov 2, 2015.

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

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

[Musashi] Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings (五輪書 Go-Rin-no-Sho), Translation by, 1644.

[Nakamura_HealingKendo] Healing Kendo (癒しの剣道) by Nakamura Sensei – Part 3,, Oct 9, 2016.

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



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