Kendo-related Quotes

Here’s a collection of kendo-related quotes on Mechanics, Techniques, the Mind, Additional Topics, Quotes from Teachers and Quotes from other websites.  The detailed breakdown is as follows:

  • Mechanics
    • Kamae (Posture, Lower Torso, Upper Torso)
    • Breathing
    • Striking (datotsu)
    • Ouji-Waza
    • Fumikomi
    • Sae
    • On Taking the Center
  •  Techniques
    • Learning
    • The Fundamentals
    • When to Strike
    • Opportunities to Strike
    • Debana Waza
    • Practice in and out of the Dojo
    • When Practicing with Weaker or Young Opponents
  • The Mind
    • Seeing
    • Strategy and Mindset
    • Seme
    • Mushin
    • Sicknesses and Cures of the Mind
    • Journey and Spirit
    • Etiquette
    • Character, Wisdom
  • Additional Topics:
    • Shinsa
    • Aging in Kendo
  • Teachers:
    • Ogawa Chutaro (Hanshi 9 dan)
    • Matsumoto Toshio (Hanshi 9 dan)
    • Morishima Tateo (Hanshi 8 dan)
    • Inoue Yoshihiko (Hanshi, 8 dan)
  • Links to websites with more quotes

I plan to update this from time to time as I come across “new” ones.  Enjoy!

Updated:  Dec. 6, 2021, added a quote on the floating log (浮き木).  Nov. 17, 2021, added a quote from Yamada Hidenori (8 dan, Hanshi) on Nov 17, 2021.  On Nov. 2, 2021, added a quote from Matsuzaki Kenshiro Senshu.  On Oct 25, 2021, added a reference to quotes by Ogawa Chutaro Sensei from [Kenshi247_100Keiko].  On Oct. 24, 2021, added a quote on ouji-waza by Koda Kunihide Sensei. On Oct 3, 2021, added quotes from Moriyama Ryuusei [Moriyama_DebanaMen], Terry Holt sensei, p. 18 of [Holt_KendoGuide] and Koda Kunihide (Kyoshi 8 dan) [Koda_PostureKamae] [Koda_Grip].  On June 5, 2021, added quotes from Furusawa Nobuaki [Kendojidai_Furusawa]. On Apr 4, 2021, added a qoute from Inoue Yoshihiko sensei.  On Jan 16, 2020 with more quotes from Yamaoka Tesshu and Katsu Kaishu. On Nov 10, 2019 with quotes from Yagyu Munenori.  On Oct 23, 2019 with quotes from Muto Kazuhiro (Kyoshi 8 dan) and a link to  On May 29, 2019 with a new section of quotes on “Character, Wisdom”.


Kamae – Posture

  • 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]
  • In all bujutsu it is essential to make the everyday stance the combat stance and the combat stance the everyday stance. – Miyamoto Musashi [Noma, p. 14]
  • In actuality, “good posture” in budo (martial arts) is the “natural posture”. Rather than a (tight) posture of “At Attention!” it should be a posture from which one can move at any time [Hakudoh_Posture].
    • 実は、武道で言う「良い姿勢」というのは「自然体」のことです。これは、「気をつけの姿勢」とは反対に「いつでも動ける」姿勢でなくてはなりません。
  • 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).
  • Muto Kazuhiro (Kyoshi 8 dan) [Shudokai_2016]
    • Kendo starts and ends with kamae. 
    • Kakari-geiko and kirikaeshi are a tough part of kendo training, but doing it a lot gives you power in your tanden (lower abdominal region) and cultivates a strong kamae. …
    • It’s not only kakari-geiko or kirikaeshi, however, but all tough experiences in your life that help you nurture this power, or presence, in your kamae. 
    • You shouldn’t think of work and kendo as being separate things.  … Use the other experiences from your life to help bolster your kendo.
  • Higashi Yoshimi (Hanshi 8 dan) [KendoJidai_Higashi]
    • I think that I’d like to try a kamae that is centered on the left hand, left hip and left leg.
      • 構えは、左手、左腰、左足を中心とする、乗るという構えをやって見てと思います。

Kamae – Lower Torso

  • Furusawa Nobuaki [Kendojidai_Furusawa]
    • It is said that the height at which the heels float should be one toe on the left and as if stepping on a thin sheet of paper on the right.  When the heels touch the floor in competitive scenarios, there is a high risk of becoming immobile.
    • The heels of both feet should not rest on the floor and should be ready for use.

Kamae – Upper Torso

  • Remove the tension from your shoulders.
    • 肩の力を抜いて (katano chikarawo nuite) as Yokoyama Naoya (横山直也) sensei would often remind me many years ago.
  • Face the palms of your hands upwards.  As if you would scoop up water. – Koda Kunihide (Kyoshi 8 dan)  at 0:36 of At 1:32 of [Koda_Grip].  (Editor’s note:  explaining how to position the hands, elbow and arms in kamae.)
  • You hold with your left (hand) and hit with your left.  左で持つ、左で打つ– Kaku Sensei [KendoInfo_LeftHand]


  • Tsuchida Keisuke (Renshi 6th dan) [KendoJidai_Footwork]
    • After I became aware of fullness of my breathing through the lower abdomen (always maintaining a state of abdominal pressure), the rise and fall of my center of gravity subsided in my movements, and I was able to maintain a state of a relaxed upper body and solid lower body.  Until then, I had been breathing with my lungs, which raised my center of gravity…
    • I had been instructed by teachers before that “kamae is inherent to breathing.”

Striking (datotsu)

  • On using the left hand when striking
    • 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 of [Koda_PostureKamae]
    • Push the shinai up with your left hand, do not pull it up with the right. The right hand should be relaxed at all times except at the bottom of the swing when it twists in to stop the movement. – Terry Holt sensei, p. 18 of [Holt_KendoGuide]
  • On timing the strike with the hikitsuke
    • One strikes the men which is timed with the power of the left foot follow-up (hikitsuke)Yamada Hironori (Hanshi 8 dan), [KendoNihon_Yamada, p.39].  そうして、左足をつける力を合わせて面を打つ。
  • On using the back when striking:
    • It’s probably best to watch the video to understand this quote:
      • With a big movement, while keeping your shoulders loose, bring your hands together with the palms facing upward (in front of the body).  And go into kamae like this. While breathing in air and without spilling the water you collected, bring your hands up like this. By doing this, you can become aware of your back.  You can become conscious on your shoulder blades while moving your hands upward.  The same applies when you make a strike. – Koda Kunihide (Kyoshi 8 dan) at 1:02 of [Koda_Grip].
      • Don’t strike with your arms.  Instead, strike from your back using this (pointing to his left side rib area). – Koda Kunihide (Kyoshi 8 dan) at 1:32 of [Koda_Grip]. 腕で打つのじゃなくて、背中からこう使って打つわけですね。)
    • With regards to the upper torso, rather than hitting with the arms, I have the image of hitting strongly moving forward from the shoulder area, shoulder blades (scapula) and back (of the body). Matsuzaki Kenshiro Senshu at the 2:56 min mark of  [Matsuzaki_TobikomiMen]
      • 上半身に関しては、あんまりこう腕先でことぶかせようというふうにするよりは、肩あたり、肩甲骨、背中の方から しっかりこう前へ乗せて打つイメージ持ってやっています。
      • The subtitle displays the abbreviated translation:  I focus on using my back and shoulder muscles to hit from the top.
    • 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.
  • Slide the right foot forward and hold back until the last possible moment before the moving the hands. [Seiyukan_Hands]
    •  右足を滑らせ入り、ぎりぎりまで手の動きを我慢すること.
    • Koda Kunihide (Kyoshi 8 dan) teaches this, too, and advises holding the hands in place until the forward foot begins to go downwards during the fumikomi [Koda_ShinsaDVD].
  • 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.


  • Another important point is to release muscle power (tension) when receiving the opponent’s shinai. …  When we receive the opponent’s shinai, when we perform kaeshi or suri-age with the opponent’s shinai, the power (tension in the arms) must be absent.Koda Kunihide Sensei at 11:12 min of [Koda_KaeshiDou2]
    • そして号一つ注意したいのは,相手の竹刀を受ける場合も力を抜くということで. … 相手の竹刀を 受けたり返したりあるいは擦りあげる時も力は抜いていないといけない。よく見られますのが受け止める時に力が入っ昆布力が入っていません.


  • Rather than pushing the body forward quickly and strongly with the left leg, the sensation is a slight push where the extended right leg (at the instant it lands) 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 body – Alex Bennett sensei at  (5:10-5:16mins) in [KendoWorld_Fumikomi].
  • It’s not good to raise your front foot up too much when stamping.  Aim for your foot to skim across the floor. – Takano Shigeyoshi Hanshi, Pointer #14 from [Kenshi247_Takano50] (a must read article!).


  • Some think that when people make powerful strikes it is because they are physically strong.  This is not the reason.  It is because they are using their body efficiently, and making the wrist snap.  They have a good balance between the left and right arms.  Importantly, they only use the muscles that are needed while the other parts are relaxed.  There is no unnecessary power. – Muto Kazuhiro (Kyoshi 8 dan) [Shudokai_2016]

Kihaku, Kiai

  • If your opponent’s kihaku is at the level of 100, yours should be at 150.  If your opponent’s at 150, yours should be at 200. – Chiba Masashi (Hanshi 8 dan) [Shudokai_2016]

On Taking the Center

  • Try holding down a log floating on the surface of the water with a long pole.  Though the log sinks briefly, it quickly evades (the pole) and rises back to the surface of the water. The tip of the sword (kensaki) must also be like this floating log (浮き木). – Abeni1268 (アベニ1268) [Abeni_FloatingLog]
    • 水面に浮いた木片を長い棒で押さえてみる。木片は、一旦沈むがするりとかわして再び水面に浮かび上がる。剣先も、この浮き木のようでなければならない。
    • Thanks to Tamano sensei for pointing out this technique to me.
  • 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」



  • Train slow and work up to it.  It’s easy to practice things wrong.  The temptation is always there to start practicing harder, faster and more intensely than your technique is ready for.  Don’t give in.  Practice right so you truly learn how to do the techniques and master your art.Peter Boylan [Boylan_Slow]
  • The joy of kendo is not found in striking one’s opponent.  It is found in the complex and mutlifaceted process leading up to the execution of a technique. – Shigematsu Kimiaki (Kyoshi 8-dan) from [Shigematsu_KendoMind]

The Fundamentals

  • Muto Kazuhiro (Kyoshi 8 dan) [Shudokai_2016]
    • Straight kendo will eventually make you strong.  If you are doing wonky kendo when you are young, maybe you can strike a successful ippon, but if you carry on like this, you will eventually be unable to strike successfully and need to resort to using tricks to win.
    • Straight kendo trumps all, eventually.

When to Strike

  • Saburo Iwatate (8 dan Hanshi) [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. 
      • (That) 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.

Opportunities to Strike

  • Furusawa Nobuaki [Kendojidai_Furusawa]
    • There aren’t many chances to make a valid strike in a single Shiai.  The higher the level, the less chances you have.
    • It is important to make sure that those few chances are met with valid strikes, and I think that one of those opportunities is to accurately capture the Debana timing.

Debana Waza

  • I think one of the real thrills of Kendo is Debana timing.  If you can capture the moment when the other person tries to move, it will be an Ippon that everyone will recognize. – Furusawa Nobuaki [Kendojidai_Furusawa]
  • Moriyama Ryuusei [Moriyama_DebanaMen]
    • Closing the distance without your opponent noticing is the theme (in the context of Debana Men). – at the 2:44 min
      • 相手にばれずに距離を盗むと言うのがテーマです。
    • When I am pulling back (to draw the other in) or stepping forward, I look for micro-movements that my opponent makes just before he/she is about to execute a waza.  That’s when I hit.  3:05
    • (There is little risk of getting hit.)  It’s quite difficult for my opponent to dodge my strike when he/she is in the middle of executing a waza.  So I aim for the moment that the opponent tries to hit. 3:35

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]
  • Winning and losing is a game of a moment. Promotion is a sign of a temporary start. Plain practice is the bread of life.– Sumi Masatake (Hanshi 8 dan) [FLKWW_Sumi].
  • Under duress, we do not rise to our expectations, we fall to the level of our training. – Bruce Lee
  • More quotes related to “practice” are listed in the Section “On Practice” in [KendoNotes_ShinsaShiai].

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 (8 dan) [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.)

The Mind


  • If you are caught by a single leaf, you cannot see the tree.  If you are caught by a single tree, you cannot see the forest.  By seeing without fixing your attention anywhere, you can see everything. – Takuan Soho from [KendoChuudoku_Enzan]
    • 一枚の葉にとらわれては木は見えん 一本の木にとらわれては森は見えん。 どこにも心を留めず見るともなく全体を見る。- 沢庵和尚
  • There are two types of “Seeing”.  Strengthen the eyes for kan (intuition, seeing with the heart) and weaken the eyes for looking (vision).  See far-away things close and see close things far.  This is foremost in the art of war. – Miyamoto Musashi from the Book of Five Rings (Editor’s note:  This was a tough translation and may be off)
    • 観見の二つあり、観の目つよく、見の目よわく、遠き所を近く見、近き所を遠く見ること、兵法の専なりり。- 宮本武蔵「五輪書」水之巻より
  • 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. – Izawa Banryuo (Samurai from the Tokugawa period) [Noma, PDF p.36].

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.

  • Unless you can follow your opponent’s eye movement with absolute calm, whatever you may have learned about sword handling will be of no use. – Yagyu Munenori [Yagyu_SwordMind, p. 71]:
  • 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.
  • Don’t live for kendo or by kendo but with kendo. – Kiyoshi Hao (7 Dan)
  • Be brave but not stupid, be watchful but not passive.  – Susan Zau sensei.


Mushin (Mind of No Mind)

Sicknesses and Cures (of the Mind)

  • Yagyu Munenori (a Swordsman from the 16th Century):
    • From [Yagyu_SwordMind, p. 72]:
      • It is a disease to be obsessed by the thought of winning, …by the thought of employing your swordsmanship, … by the thought of using everything you have learned, and … by the thought of attacking. 
      • It is also a disease to be obsessed and stuck with the thought of ridding yourself of any of these diseases.  A disease here is an obsessed mind that dwells on one thing.
      • Because all these diseases are your mind, you must get rid of them to put your mind in order.
    • On Curing the Diseases from [Yagyu_SwordMind, p. 72]:
      • “Remove a wedge with a wedge.”
        • When a wedge cannot be pulled out, you can pull it out by hammering another alongside it, thereby loosening it (the first wedge).  When the first wedge is pulled out, the second one that was hammered in will not be left.
        • Similarly, when a disease is gotten rid of, the wish to get rid of the diease will not be left.
      • In the final stage, the state of having no thought whatsoever of ridding oneself a disease helps get rid of it.
    • Experts in various arts and skills may not be called masters (meijin) as long as they remain attached to what they do.
  • While batting away negative thoughts, hold on to the right thoughts.  Strike when an opportunity arises due to negative thoughts arising in the opponent (e.g. shikai: surprise, fear, doubt, confusion) or due to his/her inadequacies in the ways of the sword or body.  Or strike and receive to discover areas of inadequacies (in your own technique, in yourself) that you were not aware of.  Together, guiding ourselves in the right direction has to be the point of doing keiko in kendo. – Inoue Yoshinori (7 Dan)
    • 「邪念を打ち払いながら正念をもって、お相手の邪念をはたまた刀法、身法の未熟によって生ずる、隙を打突し、また打突して頂き自分では気がつかない未熟の点を知らめ合い、互いに正しい方向に導き合うことが剣道の稽古の状態ではなければならに」
  • The idea of victory or defeat must first be removed from your thoughts before you are able to perceive properly; therefore the more you become absorbed in victory the less chance you will be able to grasp it. Consequently, if you forget about winning, victory will come naturally. – Nakayama Hakudo from [Kenshi247_27sayings].

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?”
  • Yamaoka Tesshu (19th century swordsman)
    • 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. . . . [Noma, PDF p.9].
    • Yamaoka asserted … that improvement of the qualities of a swordsman required more than just a technical improvement but the cultivation of the mind  [Takemura_Yamaoka, PDF p. 9].
  • Katsu Kaishu
    • What I really practiced hard was the sword, nothing else.  I practiced swordsmanship everyday and every night at a near by shrine.  At night, I sat on the stone at the front of the shrine, closed my eyes and meditated to cultivate fortitude.  Then I stood up, wielded a wooden sword, and then sat down again to train my mind. Sword practice and meditation in turn, every night. [Takemura_Yamaoka, PDF p. 7]
  • The social roles of samurai and Zen priest alike are, for the sake of principle, to give relief to all living things. – Teruo Oboki, [Oboki Philosophy]

Etiquette (reigi)

  • I believe that all the world starts with love and ends with love. – Ota Hirotaka sensei (at the age of 102) [Mitsubushi_Hirotaka]
    • 私の考えは全ての世の中は愛に始まって愛に終わります。大田ひろたか先生 (102歳)
  • 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).
  • Any grain, as it grows and matures, bows its head.  – 벼는 익을수록 고개를 숙이다.  – Korean proverb

Character, Wisdom

  • Three of Nakayama Hakudo‘s twelve most important sayings (juni-kun)  [Dann, PDF p. 220] (The complete list can be found at[Kenshi247_27sayings]):
    • In kendo, if you know only your own strength but not that of the opponent, you cannot resolve to win. 
    • Also, if you know only the weakness of the opponent without knowing your own – you will certainly lose – this is fundamental.
    • If you win, it’s not because of your own strength but because of a weakness, an “opening” in the opponent.  If you lose, it’s not because of your opponent’s strength, it’s because of your own “opening or weakness”.
  • The sword itself is a teacher.  It is straight (masugu), sharp (surudoi), pure (kiyoi), and bright (akarui) – just the desired qualities of our mind and soul. – Nishino Shokichi, Mito, Ibaraki [Dann, PDF p. 227] with attribution via footnote 5 [Dann, PDF p. 257].
  • The sword follows the hand,  The hand follows the heart,  The heart follows the Law (Ho),  The Law follows God (kami).  If you neglect to practice, The sword forgets the hand, The hand forgets the heart, The heart forgets the Law and The Law forgets God. Nakayama Hakudo [Dann, PDF p. 228].
  • The budo are the most dangerous of the Japanese arts of self-cultivation.  They deal with potentially violent and primitive emotions which, although common to all humans, must be trained.  We all have the same instincts, but our potential becomes different through the degree and quality of our training. – Otake Ritsuke, Shihan of the Katori Shinto Ryu [Dann, PDF p. 238] with attribution via footnote 21 [Dann, PDF p. 257].

Additional Topics


  • Shigematsu Kimiaki (Kyoshi 8-dan)
    • From [Shudokai_2016]
      • The kendo that you show in a grading should be your normal kendo, not a type of kendo only for gradings. 
      • Practice makes perfect only practising things perfectly.  Attention to detail is vital.
      • (W)hen moving into the koha (where the shinai‘s are crossed from shokujin where they are not crossed), this is the distance at which you are likely to stiffen up and suffer from one of the “shikai”, or four sickenesses.

      • Perhaps the biggest “sickness” is “uchitai, uchitai” (I want to strike, I want to strike), and this is the most common problem in grading.
    • From [Shigematsu_KendoMind]
      • An examination is about seme – the process of applying pressure and controlling the opposition. – (Words intended for advanced level examinations, I believe)
      • (J)udges will evaluate your overall performmance.  This includes your attire, reiho (etiquette), posture, maai (distance and timing), seme (applying pressure to create openings), striking opportunities, zanshin (post-strike physical and psychological alertness), and so forth.
  • Grading is not about datotsu.  It’s about what happens until the strike is made, or until the waza is executed. – Tahara Hironori (Hanshi 8 dan)
  • Toshikhiko Kawaguchi (Kyoshi 7 dan, Iaido Hanshi 8 dan) [Kawaguchi]
    • 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.
  • In response to the question:  “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)

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]

Kendo Teachers

Ogawa Chutaro (Hanshi 9 dan)

For a treasure trove of kendo quotes from Ogawa Sensei and learning more about Ogawa Sensei, I’d highly recommend this article with quotes translated by George McCall Sensei [Kenshi247_100Keiko].

  • Here’s a couple of quotes from [Kenshi247_100Keiko]:
    • If you take uwadachi (a position where your shinai is above your opponents) and your opponents steps in, tsuki them. If they stop back, strike their men. If they raise their shinai up, strike their kote or dou. If they try to strike you, execute an oji-waza.  Study how to react to anything in an instant.
    • Whether facing someone more or less experienced than you, your feeling should be the same. … When facing a junior person don’t face them lightly, instead face them like you would in a real competition.
  • From the chapter titles of the book [Ogawa_HyakuKaiKeiko] referred to in [Kenshi247_100Keiko]:
    • The heart should be one and the same during usual times and during emergencies.
      • 常の時と非常の時とその心を一にすべし
    • The arch enemy of kendo is the self.   Translation from [Kenshi247_100Keiko]:
      • 剣道の大敵は自己也

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.

Inoue Yoshihiko (Hanshi 8 dan) 井上義彦 (範士 八段)

  • From the very beginning, from the time that we were born, we come to this “road” of life with a very pure heart, but in the process of growing up and coming of age, there are a lot of effects on our lives, things that we learn and the understanding that we come to have, and in this way, that pure heart of ours, we can say, becomes soiled or takes on some mistaken understanding about the meaning of life.  With time and the impact of the events that have occurred in our lives, some troubles accumulate in our hearts – some misunderstandings, confusion, illusions. However, we must have the desire and spirit to refresh ourselves, renew ourselves, and regain that purity: this is the meaning and purpose of our study of kendo. [Inoue_DojoMeaning].

Links to Additional Quotes (from External Sites)


[Abeni_FloatingLog] アベニ1268, “The Teaching of the Floating Log”  浮き木の教え, RakutenBlog, Sept 26, 2009.

[Boylan_Slow] Peter Boylan, “When It Comes to Training, Fast is Slow and Slow is Fast,” The Budo Bum, July 30, 2014.

[Dann] Jeffrey Lewis Dann, Kendo in Japanese Martial Culture: Swordsmanship as Self-Cultivation, Ph.D. Thesis, March 3, 1978, University of Washington. (PDF, 311 pages)

[FLKWW_Sumi] Sumi Masatake, “On the Occasion of the Publication” Fine Ladies Kendo Worldwide (FLKWW), 1st Article, Feb. 15, 2021.

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

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

[Hakudoh_Posture] Posture in Kendo (剣道の姿勢, はくどー庵)

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

[Holt_KendoGuide] Terry Holt, Kendo – Beginners Guide (PDF, 52 pages), 2014.

[Inoue_DojoMeaning] “The meaning of dojo – Inoue Yoshihiko hanshi,”, Posted by Sam Tsai on October 21, 2008

[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?”, 2010.

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

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

[KendoChuudoku_Enzan] “剣道の目付について考えよう!遠山(えんざん)の目付って何?”  剣道 中毒 (Let’s think about metsuke in kendo!  What is gazing at the far-away mountain?” Kendo Addiction)

[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_Shodachi] Geoff Salmon, “All together now,”, Dec 28, 2015.

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

[KendoJidai_Footwork] “Young Kendo professionals reveal their footwork,” Kendo Jidai International, Dec. 21, 2020.

[Kendojidai_Furusawa] Furusawa Nobuaki, “Full preparation of the left foot: Be aware of your right knee and master Seme-ashi,” Kendojidai, 10/12/2020.

[Kendojidai_Higashi] Higashi Yoshimi Sensei’s Kendo Lesson|東良美の剣道授業, KendoJidai [1/2] (8:01 mins and at the 2:54 min mark)

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

[KendoNihon_Yamada] 「山田範士の跳び込み面」、剣道日本, p。39、3、2020.

[KendoNotes_LargeStrongFastLight] “Kirikaeshi and “Large, Strong, Fast, Light (大強速軽)” – from a Seminar by Kamei Sensei,”, March 30, 2019. 

[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),”, Oct 2, 2018. 

[Kenshi247_100Keiko] George McCall, “One Hundred Keiko,”, Dec. 6, 2019.

[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.

[Kenshi247_Judan] George McCall, “Kendo judan 十段 ,”, July 3, 2015.

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

[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.

[Kenshi247_Takano50] George McCall, “Takano Shigeyoshi hanshi’s 50 pointers for kendo keiko,”, April 7, 2014.

[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)

[Koda_Grip] Kouda Kunide 8th Dan – Kendo Lessons, Basic Movements:  How to Grip the Shinai, Kendo Jidai International, Dec 8, 2019 (Second of Six Lessons).

[Koda_KaeshiDou2] 剣道指導法 すり上げ技、返し技、打ち落し技 (Koda Kunihide Sensei teaching Kaeshi-Dou at 9:26 to 13:48 mins of 22:02 mins)

[Koda_PostureKamae] Kouda Kunihide 8th Dan – Kendo Lessons, Basic Movements:  Posture and Kamae Kendo Jidai International, Dec. 4, 2019 (First of Six Lessons).

[Koda_ShinsaDVD] Koda Kunihide (Kyoshi 8 dan), “Kendo Promotion Shinsa – Program” (剣道昇段審査・対策プログラム【教士八段 香田郡秀監修】) (in Japanese with no subtitles)

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

[Matsuzaki_TobikomiMen] 【第68回 全日本剣道選手権出場記念】松﨑賢士郎選手の飛び込み面講座(茨城県代表)#10  (8:47 mins)

[Mitsubushi_Hirotaka] Henry Lu, “Kendo- Hirotaka – Mitsubishi Anniversary Film,” Vimeo (2:08 mins).

[Moriyama_DebanaMen] 第68回 全日本剣道選手権出場記念】森山竜成選手出ばな面講座(神奈川県代表)#2 All Japan Competitor Moriyama Ryuusei on Debana Men – YouTubえ、May 15, 2021 、(6:55 mins)

[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.

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

[Oboki_Philosophy] Teruo Oboki, “Philosophy of kendo: killing sword and life living sword. Reconsider the meaning of the culture of kendo in connection with the ideas of setsunintou and katsuninken,” Proceedings of the 1st World Congress on Health and Martial Arts in Interdisciplinary Approach, Poland, 2015 (PDF, 6 pages)

[Ogawa_HyakuKaiKeiko] 百回稽古 : 持田盛二範士十段-小川忠太郎範士九段 – Webcat Plus (

[Seiyukan_Hands]  “Kendo – My Recent Keiko 6 – Slip the Right Leg Forward and Wait Until the Last Possible Moment to Move the Hands.”, Feb. 14, 2017.  剣道 最近の自分の稽古6 右足を滑らせ入り、ぎりぎりまで手の動きを我慢すること

[Shigematsu_KendoMind] Shigematsu Kimiaki, The Kendo Mind:  A Guide to Grading Successfully, Bunkasha, 2016.

[Shudokai_2016] “The 2016 Shudokai Grading Gasshuku,” – Report and Translation by Michael Ishimatsu-Prime.

[Takemura_Yamaoka] Eiji, Takemura, “Yamaoka Tesshu:  A Swordsman for Peace―His deeds and the education of the samurai,” Lecture delivered at the Ashmolean, Oxford, Sept. 18, 2004 (PDF, 10 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.

[Yagyu_SwordMind] Yagyu Munenori, The Sword and the Mind (Heiho Kaden Sho), Translated by Hiroaki Sato, Fall River Press, 1985.

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