On “You Want to Strike Men? In Order to Win…” (面打ちたい?勝つために。。。) – A Video by Fuku-Sensei

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the 10:41 min video “You want to strike men?  In order to win…” by Fuku-sensei [Fuku] may be worth a thousand pictures.  Fuku-sensei examines in depth and with clarity a way to strike men first – using a mix of video footages of men strike examples amply repeated at slower speeds and explanations with text in Japanese.  I present a brief summary of the video below for those who may not be able to follow the Japanese text.

A few side comments before starting. In case you might know Fuku-sensei, I would appreciate it if you could send me his contact information.  I would like to request permission to post a full translation of his text in Japanese to English and thank him for creating and sharing his video.  And a ‘thank you’ to Susan Zau-san for sending [Fuku] to me.

A Brief Summary of the Video [Fuku]

From the time mark [0:03] to [1:14], sequences of a person striking men are shown where the opponent blocks and evades the men strikes.  Fuku-sensei poses the question at [1:14]:  Well then, when can (the men strike) not be evaded?  He answers:  It is when the opponent strikes men.

So, given that an opponent (X) is coming in to strike men on you, how can you strike first?  This is addressed from [2:12] to [8:04].  I found this extremely enlightening.

To reach you and strike men, person X would need to cover a potentially large ma-ai (or distance) and perform a large fumikomi.  Fuku-sensei refers to this fumikomi as “Strike while pushing your body forward” (体を送り打ち) – a literal translation.  Perhaps a more compact and conceptual translation would be “the big step strike” in contrast to a smaller type of fumikomi explained next.

You can instead perform a smaller fumikomi which Fuku-sensei refers to as “the one (small) step strike” (一歩の打ち) and can successfully strike X’s men beforehand.  An important aspect of this technique involves your recognizing the shorter ma-ai that arises as X comes in towards you.  That is, you need not aim to strike where X is currently standing in kamae but rather where X will soon be as X comes in to strike you.

Furthermore, as explained by Fuku-sensei, because the movement of the legs is slower than that of the hands, the larger distance that X needs to cover with the legs makes X’s time to strike slower than that of yours as your legs can instead cover a shorter distance.

The video from [8:04] to [8:20] examines what may transpire when person X may also aim for a smaller ma-ai and perform a small step strike.

The last part of the video from [9:20] shows what can happen if person X seems to perform a men strike initially but stops part way through. Such examples illustrate, for me, the richness of possibilities in kendo.

Indeed, as Fuku-sensei states in his last sentence: “Kendo is interesting” (剣道って面白い。kendoutte omoshiroi).

References

[Fuku]  FUKU先生, 面打ちたい?勝つために。。。, (You want to strike men?  In order to win…), Posted on “Kendo – Iaido – Munyukan 剣道 居合道 無入館” (10:41 mins) https://www.facebook.com/kendoiaidomunyukan/videos/520117361488337/

Also can found at:  剣道の基本 1.合い面1 (Basics of Kendo 1. ai-men 1) 4:56 mins by moketo mokomoko (not sure which is the original)

 

Copyright 2016 KendoNotes.com

How to See the Chance for an Ippon (Translation of 一本を取るチャンスの見つけ方 by こごろ一様)

This is an English translation of a second article in Japanese by Kogoro-Sama  from Web-Kendo at http://www.web-kendo.com/002001/column05.php with his kind permission to post it (Thank you Kogoro-Sama).   Translated by KendoNotes.

In kendo where winning or losing is decided in the blink of an instant, the one who strikes when one should strike to take advantage of an opportunity wins the ippon (point).

One cannot win in kendo by only striking blindly.

So, in kendo, securing the ippon in terms of timing is very difficult.

With regards to discovering and ascertaining this opportunity when one should strike, Takano Sasaburo (a swordsman of the highest level during the initial period of the Showa era (1926 to 1989) who developed the present Nippon Kendo Kata) described the “Seven Opportunities” in his literary work called “Kendo Teachings” which follows.

  1. Avoid the essence of the opponent and strike the emptiness.
    • Avoid where the opponent places his/her attention and strike where there is no attention or energy.
  2. Strike at a stiff head or a suspended mouth
    • A chance appears when the opponent expects something to happen or when the opponent is about to move.
  3. Strike if you see movement of kogishin (a confused mental state resulting in hesitation).
    • The term “movement of kogishin” (the state of doubt and hesitation) refers to when neither the intention of striking nor the spirit to defend functions.
  4. Strike when (the opponent is) at home.
    • At home (when tired or confused) refers to the state where the spirit and body does not move and there is no change.  This is a good opportunity.
  5. Strike when (the opponent) is rushed.
    • An opportunity arises for sure when the opponent is rushing or impatient.
  6. Strike when (the opponent) is exhausted.
    • Strike when the opponent has exhausted his/her energy or spirit.
  7. Strike when the sword tip (kensaki) drops
    • When the opponent is in chudan or jodan kamae, strike at the instant the sword tip drops.

To hit a point, one must judge these (opportunities) instantly and make a decision. As the ability (of the opponent) goes higher, such opportunities become rarer and finding such moments become more difficult.

This is not something that can be mastered overnight. However, major progress is possible by keeping these opportunities in mind while one practices keiko day to day.  Also, conversely for oneself, it is important to avoid succumbing to the same seven opportunities that the opponent is looking for.

In kendo, “seeing” is most important. In particular, in shiai (competitions), whether one can see the state of the opponent and oneself determines the match.

There are often times, when one thinks both people are quietly in kamae (the “on guard” position), that a match is determined by such moments (opportunities). It is imperative to react upon detecting such opportunities.  Conversely, one should not give such opportunities to the opponent.

Aren’t these things as described, which cannot be achieved or obtained by only speed or physical ability, needed in kendo?

In order to take advantage of these moments (opportunities) in kendo, apply seme (pressure) on an opponent during a shiai.  Moreover, if one sees things from an earlier perspective, the fight (shiai) starts from the day-to-day keiko practices (beforehand).

I believe that this concept of seizing such instantaneous moments is the way of the sword.  In this regard, doesn’t this seem to be a deep aspect of kendo?