Kendo-related Quotes

Here’s a collection of kendo-related quotes from or on the topics of:  Mechanics, Strategy and Mindset, When to Strike, Mushin, Journey and Spirit, Shinsa, Practice in and out of the Dojo, Etiquette, Aging in Kendo, Matsumoto Toshio (Hanshi 9 dan), Morishima Tateo (Hanshi 8 dan) and Links to websites with more.  I plan to update this from time to time as I come across “new” ones.  Enjoy!


Mechanics

  • Kamae
    • One must achieve a posture free from tension and strain and one from which complete freedom of movement is possible. Noma Hisashi [Noma, p. 14]
    • Remove the tension from your shoulders.
      • 肩に力を抜いて (katani chikarawo nuite) as Yokoyama Naoya (横山直也) sensei would often remind me many years ago.
    • George McCall sensei [Kenshi247_Kamae]
      • The prerequisite of beautiful kendo is a beautiful kamae.
      • Only once your kamae is correct can this lead to execution of correct technique (and thus “beautiful” kendo).
  • 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].
    • Nishimura Hidehisa (Multiple-time AJKF Champion) [Tozando_Nishimura2]
      • The fastest men can be done only if you can close in the distance without getting your move noticed. at 3:11 min
        • … he (Takanabe sensei) doesn’t get his move noticed easily when he hits men and so you feel it’s fast. at 3:35 min
      • At the instant of striking, do not put any power in, relax your upper body.
        • 打つ瞬間に、力を入らないで… at 3:43 min
      • Focus on your feet (legs).  Drive yourself forward with your feet (legs)! at 3:50 min.
    • 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]
    • …feel the tension in your lower abdomen.  … you don’t want the tension to come into your shoulders.  You want to be striking with your lower bodyAlex Bennett sensei at  (5:10-5:16mins) in [KendoWorld_Fumikomi].
  • 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」

Strategy and Mindset

  • Miyamoto Musashi [Goodreads_Miyamoto Quotes]
    • Do nothing which is of no use.
    • When your opponent is hurrying recklessly, you must act contrarily and keep calm.  You must not be influenced by the opponent.

    • The important thing in strategy is to suppress the enemy’s useful actions but allow his useless actions.
    • In the strategy of my school, keep your body and mind straight and make your opponent go through contortions and twist about.  The essence is to defeat him in the moment when, in his mind, he is pivoting and twisting.

    • When you and your opponent are fighting and nothing is going right, nor is there progress, be of a mind to throw off your former intention and start entirely anew.  Take on another rhythm and see your way to victory. … you should change your mind on the spot and take the victory by using another tactic.

  • 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.
  • When Practicing with Weaker or Young Opponents

    • Schoolboys and girls have not yet established physical strength so there is no point in using power. It is important to strike in the perfect moment and strike without power – however this is not easy – Kobayashi Hideo [Kendojidai_Iwao]
    • When practicing with weaker opponents, take that opportunity to practice seme, creating opportunities to strike and striking at the right time. – Shoraku Takao sensei (7 Dan Kyoshi) (My translation and recollection of his advice to me.)

When to Strike

  • Saburo Iwatate (8 dan) [Whitebelt_8DanExam].
    • When you put pressure on an opponent, they get scared and negative emotions well up – the four obstacles of surprise, fear, doubt and indecision.  When those four appear in your opponent, that’s the best time to strike. – at 7:53 min.
    • The judges won’t be impressed if you strike at the wrong time no matter what you do.  There are specific opportunities to strike such as catching the opponent as they come forward or forcing an attack as they drop back. – at 10:49 min.
  • Using Kan (Intuitive Perception) by Noma Hisashi [Noma, pp. 50-51]
    • At the moment  of  a  bolt  of  lightening,  the  thunder  is released;  at  the  moment  of  seeing  an  opportunity  to  strike,  already  the  opportunity  no  longer  exists. 
    • Therefore at  the moment  of  being  aware  of  the  existence of  an  opportunity  one  must  already  have launched in to attack it. 
      • One must strike on the T of There and upon the H of here is what we are taught. 
    • How are we to manage this?  The answer lies ultimately in the use of  Kan. 
      • When  one  possesses  Kan,  chances  for  attack  project  themselves  as  though they were reflected in a mirror.
      • An important condition for developing and sustaining Kan is the possession of a clear and unsullied mind, uninhibited by unnecessary thoughts and intentions that will only mar its effect and its magical  power  will be lost.
    • The  conditions  necessary  for  the fostering of Kan are long experience and a clear and serene frame of mind.

Mushin (Mind of No Mind)

On the Journey and Spirit (心 kokoro)

  • The concept of Kendo is to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the sword.All-Japan Kendo Federation
  • 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. . . .

Shinsa

  • Try to not mix up your reasons/goal (Mokuteki) with objectives (Mokuhyô). The reason/goal of your practice is “The evolution of your human behaviour through the practice (Shûren) and respect of the sword principles”.  The final goal should not be replaced by objectives like passing an examination or winning a competition.  All those objectives are only steps you have to go through (milestones) to reach the bigger goal/reason. – Toshikhiko Kawaguchi (Kyoshi 7 dan, Iaido Hanshi 8 dan) [Kawaguchi]
  • What was the key … in your daily practice (to pass the 8 dan shinsa)?  A lot of people say this but I also practiced Shodachi during normal practice, with everyone. – Iwao Yukuo (8 dan) (Shodachi is the first strike 初太刀)

The Practice in and out of the Dojo

  • Many people think that they cannot practise if they do not go to the Dojo, but this is incorrect.  Even during everyday conversations you can practise breathing methods. … Holding the strap (of your bag or sword case) while on the train is a way to practise Tenouchi. …  plant your feet down and utilize your Koshi in such a way that you have a stable posture even if the train shakes.  Devising such small ways to practise transforms your everyday lifestyle into a Dojo. – Chihiro Kishimoto (Iaido Hanshi 8 dan) [Kishimoto]
  • I firmly believe that the way that you behave and move in Iai does not specially change from the way that you behave and move in your daily life.  This applies to when you sit down, stand up, change direction, walk and anything else that you do when a guest comes to your house – the only difference is that you have a sword in your belt and that you draw and re-sheathe your sword.Shizufumi Ishido (Kendo Kyoshi 7 dan, Iaido Hanshi 8 dan, Jodo Kyoshi 8 dan) [Ishido]

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).

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]

Matsumoto Toshio, (Hanshi 9 dan) [KendoInfo_Matsumoto]

  • … kendo must be practised with the extreme instability of mind that would occur if you were facing life or death.
  • …in order to be always ready to give an instant strike without missing any proper chances to attack whilst still keeping a perfect defence position, you must master the techniques and skills of kendo.  These however, can only be well performed when you maintain a calmness of mind which enables you to fully display your trained technique.
  • Therefore, it is the true aim of kendo practise not only to try to improve your technique, but also to train your mind and spirit to find the rightness of mind (“no mind” / mushin), so that your mind, which is the source of the technique; will not be bound by anything.
  • A strike should not be made recklessly, but you should strike when the opponent’s mind is disturbed.
  • Unless you are constantly in full spirit, keeping your mind calm and open you cannot instantly strike your opponent off-guard, even when his spirit is no longer alert.
  • If your mind is innocent (free of preconception), you can see through all your opponents actions and strike freely without any hesitation, catching every available chance.

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.

Additional Quotes (from External Sites)


References

[Goodreads_MiyamotoQuotes] “A Book of Five Ring Quotes.”

[Kishimoto] Chihiro Kishimoto, ” Do you embody the meaning of the Waza (technique / form)?” Article taken from the book The Eyes of the Iaido Grading Panelist (Iaido Shinsa-in no Me)

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

[Hakudoh_Sae] “The Principle of the sae in datotsu,” 打突の冴えの原理, Hakudoh.com.

[Ishido] Shizufumi Ishido “Can you perform “Ni-ku, San-ke”? Devote yourself to acquiring Shu,” Article taken from the book The Eyes of the Iaido Grading Panelist (Iaido Shinsa-in no Me).

[Kawaguchi] Toshikhiko Kawaguchi (Hanshi), “Is the Kokoro (Spirit) of the candidate as strong as the one of the shinsain (Judge)?”  Article taken from the book The Eyes of the Iaido Grading Panelist (Iaido Shinsa-in no Me), British Kendo Association.

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

[KendoInfo_Shodachi] Geoff Salmon, “All together now,” Kendoinfo.net, Dec 28, 2015.

[KendoWorld_Fumikomi] KendoWorld, “Tip of the Week – Fumikomi,” March 18, 2012 (6:37mins).

[Kenshi247_27sayings] George MCcall,27 teachings from past masters (訓導二十七ヶ条:内藤・高野・中山),” Kenshi247.net, Oct 2, 2018. 

[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」, Kenshi247.net, Dec 11, 2015.

[Kensh247_Judan] George McCall, “Kendo judan 十段 ,” Kenshi247.net, July 3, 2015.

[Kenshi247_Kamae] George McCall, “Kamae equation,” Kenshi247.net, Nov 2011.

[Kenshi247_Morishima5] George McCall, “From “Pursuing the spirit and modern kendo (part 5),” Kenshi247.net, March 30, 2011.

[Kenshi247_Rei] George McCall, “The kendo practitioner and rei (etiquette),” Kenshi247.net, May 21, 2018.

[KendoInfo_Matsumoto] Geoff Salmon, “The Aim of Kendo – by Matsumoto Toshio, Hanshi Kyudan,” Kendoinfo.net, Feb 3, 2011.

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

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

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

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

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

[Kendojidai_Iwao] “Interview with Yukuo Iwao sensei on Passing 8th Dan,” By Kobayashi Hideo (translated by Kazuyo Matsuda), Kendojidai 3.2010.

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

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

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

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

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

[Tozando_Nishimura2] Tozando Int’l, “Rensei Taikai 2 – Nishimura Teaches & Talks – Tozando Inside News #16,” Dec 26, 2017.

[Whitebelt_8DanExam] White belt, “剣道八段の世界①~Kendo 8th dan Examination~,” (14:13 mins), Mar. 11, 2018.

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