Beginners Guide By, Mr T.O. Holt

Beginners Guide By, Mr T.O. Holt
By, Mr T.O. Holt
Kendo is the art of Japanese sword fighting that was practiced by the Samurai. The art of
combat was a very important part of their lives, so they trained their sword skills every day.
Kendo literally translated “Ken” sword and “Do” the way, together it means, “The Way of the
Sword”. In the past the Samurai practiced using real swords or wooden ones in prearranged
forms called Kata. Consequently injuries were high. These difficulties were overcome by the
wearing of protective pads on the head and forearms. These pads were gradually altered and
modified over many years to the armour that is worn today by people that practice Kendo.
The wooden sword used for practice also went through many changes. The sword used
today is called a Shinai and is made of four pieces of bamboo carefully shaped which
substitutes the real sword and allows true and accurate strikes to be made. Although the
sword and armour of the Samurai have changed, the spirit and fighting techniques have
remained virtually the same. While the Samurai's life depended upon his skill and speed
with the sword, the present day's form of Kendo is a sport and International & National
competitions are held where speed and skills with the Shinai are required. As with the
Samurai, true and accurate strikes have to be made to those parts of the opponent's body
which would quickly incapacitate them. The target areas of the body are protected by a
padded mask, with a metal grill to protect the face and head, called a “MEN”, a heavy breastplate of bamboo splints and rawhide to protect the trunk of the body “DO”, and padded
gauntlets for the hands and wrists “KOTE”, as well as a padded thigh protector “TARE”. This
equipment permits realistic full contact fencing matches that follow the rules and principals
of traditional Japanese swordsmanship. Students of kendo (kendoka) come from all walks
of life and of all ages, women train on equal terms with men. Kendo can be safely practised
by men, women and children of all ages, and the type and the level of practice may of
course be adjusted to suit everyone.
The Dojo
The hall used for Kendo is known as the
Dojo. The word Dojo has its origin in Buddhism
and means place where ascetic training in the
principles of Buddhism took place. Accordingly,
this area, was highly respected as a holy and
spiritual training place. Today a dojo is a place in
which the martial arts are taught and practised.
However strong links still exist binding today's
dojo to their predecessors. There are many
different dojo layouts, one feature often found in
some dojo is the Kamidana , a miniature shrine to the patron saint of the dojo. Some dojo
have a banner or writing describing the dojo name or policy. The place reserved for sensei
or respected guests is called the “Kamiza” or “Joseki” (high seat).
The traditions of Kendo require a strict observance of etiquette within the dojo by all. Kendo
starts with courtesy and finishes with courtesy. When compared with other sports it would be
easy for Kendo to degenerate into wild and uncontrolled aggression. By keeping to strict
codes of behaviour, students of Kendo keep the conflicting emotions generated by Kendo
under control.
Etiquette in the Dojo
Try not to arrive late at the dojo . Be at the dojo in plenty of time to change and warm up etc.
Remove shoes before entering the dojo, never walk to the dojo in bare feet
When entering or leaving the dojo, make a correct standing bow (rei) to the dojo honouring
the place of practice.
Carry your equipment and other bags into the dojo in a most respectful way and place them
on the floor in a safe and correct way.
Make sure the dojo floor is cleaned and safe before starting practice.
When in the dojo the armour should only be put on or adjusted from seiza position
(Kneeling down).
The sensei's of the dojo should be treated correctly and with respect at all times.
The sensei sits on the high side of the dojo which is called the “kamiza” (joseki), the senior
sensei sits furthest away from the door. All the others sit opposite the sensei; often the
senior grades are first in line with lower grades down the line but other factors such as age
can be taken into account.
Try not to walk in front of other kendoka sitting on the dojo floor. If this is unavoidable, bow
slightly and extend your right hand in front of you as you pass.
Do not step over a shinai or bokuto, but walk around it.
Do not move another player’s armour unless asked to or permission is given by the
Bow to your opponent at the start and finish of each practice.
During practice higher grades stand on the sensei side of the Dojo, facing the lower
If shinais or armour need to be adjusted during practice, you should indicate to your
partner by rising your right hand and then, both in standing position put your shinais
away (Osame-to) step back out of the way of others. You should sit in seiza and
make the necessary adjustments. The opponent waits until the adjustment is made,
then both bow and recommence practice.
If you have to leave the dojo during training for any reason please ask permission
from the dojo senior member (Senpai) or the sensei. It is good manners to let us
know also if you are not feeling well, you might need help .
During Kendo practice, there should be no talking between players. The training
session is a time of learning and not a time for discussion or gossip, there is time
enough for this afterwards.
Respect at all times should be shown to the sensei, dojo and fellow students.
Personal thanks are expressed with a kneeling rei between sensei and students,
and amongst fellow students.
The final rei marks the end of the training session and students are free to leave the
dojo. However bogu should be properly packed away before leaving the dojo.
If relaxed sitting is permitted sit with legs crossed and back straight. Ensure feet are
covered by hakama. This is the only other acceptable sitting position in the dojo
other than seiza. Do not allow yourself to slump.
Seiza (Formal sitting kneeling)
Seiza is the formal Japanese style of sitting (kneeling). Kneel with your knees about
20 cm apart, your feet should be slightly crossed, with the big toe of the right foot
resting on top of the left. Your hands should rest lightly on your thighs with fingers
extended and together. The back should be straight, with shoulders relaxed and
head looking directly forward with the mouth closed. The correct way to assume
seiza from a standing position is to lower your weight onto your left knee first, and
then your right. Once you have assumed seiza it is important that you carefully
adjust your position, so you are initially comfortable (this may take some practice) as
it is important, that once you are sitting in seiza you do not adjust your position.
The first reason for this is that it is impolite, from an etiquette point of view, to move
around whilst a senior person is speaking to you. The second is that whilst seiza is
uncomfortable because it restricts the flow of blood to the lower legs. The practice of
rocking the body weight from one leg to the other, whilst being rude, causes an
unnaturally high blood pressure in the lower legs, as it traps more blood in the lower
leg than would normally be there, which can cause nerve and blood vessel damage.
When rising to a standing position, the reverse process is used, place the right foot
on the floor first and stand up. Your hands should not touch the floor either in
kneeling or rising from seiza, and the back should remain straight at all times.
(formal sitting)
Diagram shows how to sit down and stand up and how to place your shinai, kote and
men in front of you
Mokuso (Meditation)
From seiza, lightly close your eyes and rest both hands palm
up in your lap. Place the fingers of either the left hand or the
fingers of the right hand on top. The thumbs should touch lightly
together. Quietly start breathing, slowly from the abdomen.
Now open your mind to the kendo practice and away from any
other thoughts
Rei (The bow) Zarei (Kneeling bow):
Keeping your eyes on your opponent and without
raising your hips or bending your neck, lean your body
forward. Advance your hands slightly in front of your knees,
placing both of them on the floor with finger tips just
touching slowly lowering your head. Hold this position for a
brief moment, then reverse the process to return to your
original position. Be careful not to stick your elbows out like
wings, and not to let your head touch the floor.
Ritsurei (Standing bow)
Keep eye contact with your opponent and without bending your neck or knees, bend
your upper body forward, at the hips, to an angle of about 15° to your opponent and
30° to Kamiza (Joseki) looking at the floor. Keep your arms at the side of your body
not letting them swing forward in front of you. Make sure the tip of your shinai does
not raise up, keep it pointing down. Hold this position for a short period and return
to a normal standing position.
It is often said that Kendo starts the moment you set foot within the Dojo. This is not however
entirely true, as before you enter the Dojo you must change into your Hakama and Keikogi,
and this is the point at which you must also slip into your Kendo mind. From the first moment
you set foot in a Dojo, like it or not, you and your Kendo are being judged. So it is important
to create a strong and positive first impression by showing that if you know nothing else, you
at least know enough to be able to dress yourself properly. This will mean that people will be
more willing to spend time with you on other areas of your Kendo. If however you enter the
Dojo poorly dressed, in a hakama or keikogi in bad condition or a hakama that has obviously
not been folded properly, you will instantly create a bad impression, that will be very hard to
overcome, no matter what standard of kendo you have. It is therefore important to learn how
to wear your hakama and keikogi correctly and also to learn how to fold your hakama, so it
always looks as good as the day you bought it. This will have a two fold effect, the first is that
you will look good when you enter the Dojo. If you look good you will therefore feel good
about what you are doing, things will become a little easier.
Folding the hakama
A hakama appears deceptively difficult to look after, but is in fact quite easy to maintain if you
spend five minutes after each time you wear it, by folding it. Washing is not a problem, just
make sure all the pleats are hanging in approximately the right place when you hang it out to
dry. Having dried your hakama you will want to fold your hakama properly, as there is no
point in putting on a hakama if it hasn't been folded properly.
A correctly folded hakama will never need ironing. First holding the front and the back
together at the top, shake the hakama out so that the pleats are sitting in about the right
place. Next make sure the inner middle pleat inside, is sitting to the right as shown in the
diagram. Now lay the hakama flat on the ground with the back up, make sure the pleats in
the back of the hakama are sitting properly, working from the inside to the outside. Grasp the
hakama at the top and bottom at the centre and holding it tight turn it over, being careful not
to disturb the pleats in the back. Now make sure the pleats in the front are sitting properly,
working from the middle to the edges. Once it is all lying smoothly, fold the sides of the
hakama in to form a neat rectangle. Finish by folding the hakama into thirds to form a neat
package, then following the diagram fold the himo (straps or ties) to complete the job.
Remember you haven’t really finished playing Kendo until you have packed your equipment
away properly.
Now with a properly folded hakama and
keikogi you are ready to learn how to wear
them correctly. The first step in the process
is to put on your keikogi, and here there is
little scope for error, so long as you
remember that the left side of the keikogi
crosses in front of the right, the himo
(tie) on the breast should be tied in a neat
reef knot that sits horizontally across the
chest. Next grasping your hakama evenly
by the front , step into it, and lift it to a position just above your hips. To ensure that the front
of your keikogi sits flat hold the hakama slightly off centre, to the left, then holding the
hakama against your stomach gently twist it into a central position. It is important that the
front of the hakama sits centrally on your body and is not twisted either to the left or right.
Once you are satisfied that your hakama is properly positioned, slide your hands along the
tapes and around your body to the middle of your back, being careful not to disturb the front.
At this stage the tapes should form a horizontal line around your body and sit just above your
hips. Now cross the tapes over at the back and bring them around to the front so that they
will cross again at the front about 5 cm below the top of the hakama. Bring the tapes around
to the back again, ensure that the tapes sit flat around your body, and tie them in bow or
knot. At this stage it is a good a idea to make sure that your keikogi is sitting properly on your
back. Do this by grasping it below the tapes and gently pulling both sides down and towards
the front, so that the cloth at the back of the keikogi sits flat against your back with no gathers
or excess, also make sure the front of the keikogi is sitting neatly across your chest. Now pick
up the back of your hakama. Some hakama have a small spoon shaped plastic tab attached
inside the back, slip this down between your back and the tapes, coming from the front of the
hakama. If your hakama doesn’t have this tab ignore this step. Holding the back of the
hakama slip the side tapes under the top
tapes coming from the front of the
hakama and pull them round to the front
following the line of the lower set of tapes.
Tie the tapes at the front in a reef knot in
such a way the knot holds together all the
tapes at the front of the hakama, now take
the loose ends of the tapes and tuck them
neatly under the other taps at the sides. If
you have a correctly fitting hakama, and
you have followed the instructions, your
hakama should hang so that it just clears
Plastic tab
the tops of your feet at the front and is slightly higher at
the back. Dressed properly you are now ready to enter
the Dojo. Of course there are many other important
things you must remember on entering the Dojo that will
help to make a good impression, each supporting the
other. Dressing properly is important, but taking the
opening idea to its logical conclusion, you will find that
everything you do outside the Dojo will have an effect
on your Kendo, and in turn Kendo will have a positive
effect on your life.
Shinai care and maintenance
As the shinai is one of the main pieces of equipment used in the practice of kendo and the
one with the greatest potential to inflict serious injury in the event of a component failure, it
is vital to carry out regular inspection and maintenance of your shinai. Whether you own a
traditional bamboo shinai or one of hi-tech carbon graphite it is your duty to your fellow
students to ensure that your equipment is in good condition. There is no excuse for causing
an injury through the neglect of maintenance of your shinai. If deterioration of your shinai is
detected during training, stop immediately, excuse yourself and change to another shinai.
Areas to check
Slats check for splinters, cracks, or break down of the bamboo itself. Repairs to minor
splinters can be made by sanding them out you can use WD40 or silicon spray or buy shinai
sprays from Japan. These provide a good protection for the bamboo slats . Store your
shinais in a cool humid environment. Taping of worn or damaged slats is unacceptable.
Carbon graphite, check for cracks, or areas where the carbon graphite core is exposed.
There is no way to repair a damage carbon graphite slat. If there is any doubt as to the
safety of a carbon slat do not use it. Store carbon shinais in cool place away from direct sun
light as they are susceptible to UV radiation. For both types of slats, remember, ‘when in
doubt throw it out”.
Sakigawa: check the top for signs of wear and loose stitching, if the slats or the
sakigomu can be seen through the sakigawa, replace it.
Sakigomu: check that the sakigomu is fitted in the end of the shinai correctly, and is
not damaged. This is particularly vital in the case of carbon graphite shinais, as a
damaged or incorrectly fitted sakigomu in these can lead to premature and, dramatic
destruction .
Good Sakigawa
Nakayui: check that it is tied tightly and in the right place at ¼ of the total length of the
shinai, replace it when it breaks see below for how to tie up.
Tsuru: (Cord) ensure that it is tight enough to hold the sakigawa in place, but not so
tight that it causes the shinai to bow. See bellow how to tie
Tsukagawa: (Handle) check for wear points on the leather handle and for breakdown
of the seam. Replace if the seam is splitting or there are any holes in it.
Ashi-Sabaki (Footwork)
Kendo footwork is designed to allow freedom of movement yet at the same time allow an
immediate response to any situation that may arise. Since the almost unlimited variety of
techniques require coordinated foot and shinai movement, footwork is considered the
foundation of kendo. Without a firm foundation of footwork on which to build, it will be difficult
to achieve effective kendo techniques. There are four main styles of footwork that provide the
necessary range of movement required for effective
Used in cuts and thrusts requiring fast, short range
movement in any direction. This kind of footwork can
be used with many techniques, since it is employed
to cover distances of one or two steps in any
direction. Begin by advancing the foot corresponding
to the direction in which you intend to move.
Immediately draw the other foot quickly to the one
you have just advanced.
For use in moving forward and backwards to cover
large distances quickly. In effect this type of footwork
is the same as natural walking
Is used in situations where it is necessary to move to
the side of your opponents yet still remain facing him
This style of footwork is used when you need to make
continuous attacks over a distance that cannot be
covered easily using okuri-ashi .
Do not lift your feet too high but slide them across
the floor as if you were on a sheet of paper .Think of
your hips as the centre of your body, and move so
that your hips travel in a horizontal line and do not move up and down.
Kendo no Shisei
Posture and balance are very important in how you can move and
react when you need to. Perfect posture is 50% of your body weight on
both feet but this is not possible. We should try not to let our weight go
higher than 58% on the front or back foot. If it goes to 60% on the front
foot you cannot lift it off the floor.60% on the back foot now you cannot
move forwards. Try to imagine a line running from the back of your neck
right down to your left heel, this should be no more that 5% forwards.
This is the perfect posture where you can move forward or backward.
Maintaining this posture at all times with good footwork you can react to
any situation instantly.
The kamae (the word can mean an attitude or a posture) falls into two categories; physical
positions and spiritual positions. Although in general usage the term refers to the physical
position of a player, it is important to realize that this is the outward manifestation of
that player’s spiritual or mental position, the one being determined by the other. In actual
practice, the position one assumes is determined by the relationship with the opponent. There
are five basic kamae, called goho-no kamae, which consist of Jodan, chudan, gedan, hasso,
and waki-gamae. Of these chudan, jodan and gedan-no-kamae are most common.
Chudan-no-kamae (central position) is the basis from which the four
other kamae come from. It is also considered the most effective
because it permits the most rapid response (either aggressive or
defensive) to any action made by the opponent. Standing with your
body weight evenly distributed over both feet. The right foot
should be slightly further forward than normal. The left foot should be
in a position with the toes in line with the back of the right heel
and about two fists distance apart with heel slightly raised .
The tsukagashira (handle of the shinai) should be nestled in the heel of
the left hand and be gripped firmly by the little and ring fingers, while
the other fingers and thumb provide a relaxed support. The right
hand should lightly grip the tsuka (handle) just below the tsuba
(guard). The left hand should be in a position about one fists distance from the navel, and
the kensen (point) should be directed at the opponents throat with the tsuru (string) on the
top of the shinai. Centre your gaze on the opponents eye, but watch his entire body. Your
elbows should be in a relaxed position neither locked nor bent too much.
This is the most aggressive of the five kamae and projects an aura of
total confidence. It is therefore important that anyone using this kamae be
very confident in themselves, otherwise they will be unable use this kamae
convincingly. There are many variations on this particular kamae, but the most
commonly encountered is that known as hidari Jodan. This kamae is most
effective in attack, as a very rapid attack can be made from this position in
response to any variation in the opponents kamae. Taking chudan-no-kamae
as your base, advance your left foot forward, whilst at the same time
raising your right hand to a position directly above your forehead. The
shinai should point up and back at an angle of about forty-five degrees,
while the left hand is directly above the left foot. The body weight should be
biased slightly forward onto the left foot.
This version of Jodan-no-kamae is infrequently used in modern kendo.
Hasso-no-kamae has it's origins on the battlefields where a soldier using
Jodan-no-kamae would risk fouling his hands or sword in the crest of his
helmet. This particular variation of jodan-no-kamae also has the advantage
that at no time do the arms pass in front of the face and thus obscuring the
opponent. It also allowed for the full weight of the body to be brought into play
during the cut. As with Jodan-no-kamae, Hasso-no-kamae also projects a
feeling of strength.
Gedan-no-kamae in modern kendo represents a defensive,
waiting position as it encourages an opponent to launch an attack
which can easily be countered with Oji waza.
Historically gedan-no-kamae allowed a swift upward cut into an
armored opponents unprotected under arm, with devastating effect.
Waki-gamae also represents a position developed in more
troubled times, but which no longer plays a great part in modern
kendo. The purpose of waki-gamae was to hide the length of the
weapon from ones opponent and lure him into your cutting range, by
showing him a number of unprotected targets. This was quite a
dangerous position as it left the body unprotected and provided only
one counter to an opponents attack. Waki-gamae like
Gedan-no-kamae is also a waiting posture.
In all kamae it is important to be aware of every detail of your opponent’s
actions, without letting your gaze fall on any one particular area. This concept is known as
metsuke, and is very important. When you attack the position of your gaze can easily betray
your intended action, leaving you open to easy counter attack. You should imagine you are
looking at a far mountain seeing every thing that is happening on that mountain.
Holding the Shinai correctly
Holding the shinai in your left hand at the bottom of the
handle with the string facing up, place the tip of your shinai
on the floor in the middle of your body, in this position your
hand has to wrap around the handle with the fingers all at a
different level just like a pointing hand forming a V shape
with your index finger and thumb. Now lift the shinai up to
middle of the stomach with your left hand about one fist
away from your stomach. Next find where you should put
your right hand, to find this out place the end of your shinai
handle in the bend of your right elbow, point the shinai
upwards, and then grip the handle with your right hand.
Wrap your fingers around the shinai in the same way as
your left hand was, this is where your right hand should
always be held, the tsuba guard should be about 2 cm
more forward from your right hand. Now holding your
shinai with both hands you can start to learn how to use
and move the shinai in a relaxed manner.
Maai (Distance)
The spatial distance between one's self and the opponent. The gap between two opponents.
The establishment of maai through the relationship with the opponent is a delicate and important
The distance which enables a player to strike his
opponent by taking one step forward and also to
evade the opponent by taking one step backward.
This one step distance in kendo is different for
everyone so you have to find out which is your
own one step distance.
Toma- maai
This distance is referred to as toma-maai.
A distance which is farther than issoku-ittou-nomaai. The distance from which the opponent's
strike cannot reach you, and, at the same time,
your strike cannot reach the opponent. There
are some kendoka that can make this distance
so never relax your mind.
This distance is called chika-maai (close distance). A smaller
distance than issoku-no-ma-ai. At this distance one's strike
can easily reach the opponent, but at the same time your
opponent has the same opportunity to strike you.
The practice of moving the shinai or bokuto through the air is called' suburi. Suburi
is an indispensable part of kendo training as it helps to build up strength and control.
It also helps to train the mind and muscles in the correct striking action, so that when it is
required a correct strike can be performed with little or no conscious effort.
The most important point in the basic motion is for the shinai to move in perfect coordination
with the body. All motions should be' performed so that the left hand always moves along
an imaginary vertical line in the centre of the body. The tip of the shinai should trace a large
circle through the air.
Joge-buri (vertical cuts)
From chudan-no-kamae, swing the shinai in a wide arc straight up, as far above your
head as possible. At the top of the arc do not let the motion stop but immediately reverse
the motion of the swing, and cut straight down until your left fist touches your abdomen.
During the down ward motion take one step forward using okuri-ashi, timing it so that
your front foot finishes its forward motion at the same time that the shinai ends its
downward movement.
To stop the shinai from touching the floor twist both hands inward on the tsuka (at the same
time putting more tension into your grip). Repeat this sequence but this time take one step
back using okuri-ashi on the downward motion. Repeat this sequence as many times as
instructed alternating between forward and backward cuts.
Do not alter the way you hold the shinai during the upward or downward section of the
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 is twisted in to
stop the movement.
As you become more experienced and more enthusiastic, vary the strength and
speed of your action.
Remember both hands and shinai should move along a vertical line in the centre of the
body deviating neither left nor right.
This exercise is basically the same as joge-buri except that the right hand is used to
guide the shinai on a diagonal right to left trajectory, of approximately forty-five
degrees, during the forward down stroke, and on a left to right diagonal path, also
of about forty-five degrees, during the backward downward stroke.
The angles of the right and left movements should be equal. Remember to use your
tenouchi grip on the shinai at the end of each movement.
Remember the right hand act only to guide the shinai through the strike whilst the
left hand provides the power in the strike.
Be aware of all the points outlined above for joge-buri.
As with all kendo techniques do not lift your feet too high but glide across the floor as if
you were gliding on a sheet of paper
Kihon Keiko Ho Basic Techniques with a bokuto (wooden sword)
This is a set of nine forms that covers all the different (waza) techniques that are used in Kendo
developed recently by senior sensei of AJKF, as another teaching aid to help you understand the
basics of kendo movements, of attacking and counterattacking (shikake and oji waza). The
purpose of the bokuto keiko ho is to give an introduction to these basic techniques of kendo, and
at the same time experience handling of the (bokuto) wooden sword. It has been formulated
especially for beginners so that they can practice fundamental movements before they are able to
wear (bogu) armour. Also it can be very useful for all kendoka to practice, to see how a technique
works etc. Kihon Keiko Ho is performed in pairs; the motodachi who has the role of the one creating the openings, and the Kakari-te who has the role of the attacker practicing the prescribed waza;
1. Ippon-uchi no Waza : Men - Kote - Do - Tsuki
1 Men strike to the centre of the Men from Issoku-itto-no-maai (one step distance) with one
step forward using (Okuri-ashi footwork).
2 Kote strike to the right Kote from Issoku-itto-no-maai (one step distance) one step forward.
3 Do strike to the right Do from Chika-maai (close distance) one step forward.
4 Tsuki thrust from issoku-itto-no-maai (one step distance) one step forward, in this form
Motodachi should step back one step at the same time .
2. Ni-san-dan no Waza : Kote - Men
Strike to Kote then Men from issoku-itto-no-maai (one step distance) with two steps forward
in this form, Motodachi should receive then step back once.
3. Harai waza : Harai - Men
Harai-men (Omote-harai-men) strike to the Men deflecting Motodachi Bokuto up to the right
side from Issoku-Itto-no-maai (one step distance) with one step.
4. Hiki-waza : Hiki - Do
At first, Kakari-te strikes Men from Issoku-Itto taking one step forward Then, Motodachi
defends the attack with (omote-suriage) technique without moving. Next, Kakari-te closes into
Motodachi and make Tsubazeri-ai position with one step forward. After that, Kakari-te pushes
down Motodachi Tsuba. Motodachi reacts raises up his/her hand and arms. Thereupon,
Kakari-te strikes to the right Do at the same time stepping back.
5. Nuki-waza : Men - Nuki - Do
Motodachi strikes Men from Issoku-Itto with one step forward. At that moment, Kakari-te
strikes Motodachi right Do avoiding the attack by stepping to the right side. After (Kakari-te
body and toes should face towards Motodachi) .
6. Suriage-waza : Kote - Suriage - Men
Moto-dachi strikes Kakari-te right Kote with one step forward. Then, Kakari-te deflects
Motodachi strike using the right side of Kakari-te own bokuto, swinging it upward from be low
as if drawing an arc (ura-suriage technique), stepping back. Next, Kakari-te strikes Men with
one step forward. The two actions of Kakari-te (suriage and striking) should not be separated.
7. Debana-waza : Debana - Kote
Moto-dachi raises up his/her bokuto a little as if he/she is going to strike. At that moment,
Kakari-te strikes Motodachi right Kote (small fast movement) with one step forward.
8. Kaeshi-waza : Men - Kaeshi - Do
Motodachi strikes Men from Issoku-Itto-no-maai taking one step. Then, Kakari-te defends the
attack over his/her head with (omote-suriage) technique and strikes Motodachi right Do
immediately, with a small step to right side (Kakari-te body and toes should face towards
9. Uchiotoshi-waza : Do - Uchiotshi - Men
Motodachi strikes to Kakari-te's right Do. Kakari-te see Motodachi move and strikes his
Bokuto diagonally downward to the right , stepping back to the left side. Then, Kakari-te
strikes Motodachi Men taking one step forward.
This is only an insight into the different forms, laying out the different movements in each of
them .There is still a lot more that we have not mentioned. Like Zanshin / Posture / Kensen / Maai /
Tenouchi/ etc. These are the points you have to ask your Sensei (teacher) to show you.
Putting on your Armour and Te-nugui
Wearing and removing bogu should always be done while seated in seiza. The first part of the
bogu to be put on is the tare. Rest it on your lap with the obi up against your abdomen. Wrap
the tare obi around your back, crossing them, and bring the ends back to the front. Lift up the
central flap and tie the obi in a bow. Tuck the ends of the knot underneath out of sight. Next, put
on the Do. Hold it in place with your arms while tying the himo. It should be a little higher than
where you want to be, as it will drop a little when you release it after tying the himo. First take
the left himo and cross it over your right shoulder. Tie it to the right loop as shown in the
diagram in a half-hitch knot. repeat the process with the other himo. The loops that are left after
tightening the knots should be pointing away from the centre. Tuck the loose end of the himo
behind the top of the do (mune). Bring both of the bottom do himo around to your back and tie
them in a bow. They do not need to be tight as they simply keep the do from flipping up.
Next comes the te-nugui. Hold it out in
front of you by the top comers. Keeping
the top edge relatively tight, pull the
te-nugui over your head, so that what was
the top edge now goes around the back
of your head. The bottom corners should
now hang to the sides of your head. Wrap
one of the back corners around front to the
other side of your head, keeping the
te-nugui tight. While holding that corner
No 1
with a finger or two, wrap the other corner around
and tuck it into the fold made by the first corner.
Fold the corners that are now in front of your face
up over your head. You may have to fold them in
half before doing so, so that the te-nugui does not
stick out the back of your men like a duck's tail.
Diagram 2 shows a pre folded te-nugui. This is very
good for children and beginners as it can be done at
home or before training starts.
Put on your Men as shown, pull the himo tight and tie them around the back in a bow, making sure
that the loops and bows are all the same length and no longer than 40cm. Make sure that the
himo wrapping around the sides of the men are next to each other and not twisted or crossing.
Finally, put on your kote. Put the left one on first. Avoid pulling on either the bottom of the open
end or the tip of the mitten, as doing so repeatedly will break down the material and weaken the
Taking off your Kote
Putting on your Kote
Put your left kote on first do not pull
your kote on push from the hand as
in the diagram then adjust, do not
pull the kote strings, as kote should
fit loosely around your arm
Always take off your right kote
first, do not pull your kote by the
hand part but pull from the back
as shown in the diagram
Removing your Men and Kote
When the command, ("men tore") is given to remove men and kote first remove the
right kote and place it on the floor in front and to your right, with the hand pointing to the
right. Then remove the left kote, and place it beside the right kote so that the
thumbs touch. Now, using your right hand, reach around and untie the men himo,
loosen the men and neatly collect both himo in your right hand. Then, holding the
(men gane) in your left hand, slip the men off and place it on top of the kote. Remove
the te-nugui and use it to wipe the sweat from your face, and then fold it neatly and
place it in the men. Once the training session is over you can remove your do and
tare by simply untying the himo.
Packing your Bogu up
Start by smoothing out the creases and wrinkles in the tare himo. Then, holding the
tare face up, wind the himo around the central (O-dare) . Once this is done, place
the tare face down on the front of the do. Using the longer of the do himo tie the tare
firmly to the outside of the do, then tie the ends of the tare to the ends of the do using
the shorter do himo Tying the tare to the do in this manner helps to preserve the
graceful curve of the O-dare. Now using your te-nugui, wipe the sweat from the
inside of the men and then place the men inside the do. Next smooth the wrinkles
and creases out of the palms of the kote. This will help to keep the palms supple
and smooth, and will also help prevent the palms from cracking or waxing. Place
the kote in the do ether side of the men. The regular use of an antifungal spray will
help to control the buildup of odour and mildew. It is also a good idea to thoroughly air
the bogu after each training session. Do not put in direct sunlight outside but
somewhere dry in the shade.
Kirikaeshi is probably one of the most important training exercises for kendoka of all
levels, as it help to develops good timing / footwork / body and hand control / breathing and
stamina plus a good warm-up exercise before basic kendo training or keiko starts .
Kirikaeshi is often compared to a large wave crashing against a rock and then retreating.
Starting in chudan from (issoku-itto-maai) Fig A, then take a small step (okuri-ashi)
forward, (semi).
Then make an attack to the centre of the motodachi men Fig B. Following the strike step
forward and make contact (tai atari) with motodachi Fig C .Then motodachi absorbs the
contact, and steps back to striking distance.
Then perform a series of sayu-men strikes beginning on your right side, first striking
the men above the opponent's left eye and alternating to the left Fig D . Attacker makes
four (sayu-men) strikes while moving forward, one step every strike, using okuri-ashi foot
After the fourth forward sayu-men is completed Fig E , the attacker then performs five
sayu-men strikes moving backward starting from the right side and finishing on the right Fig F.
making the total number of nine sayu-men strikes (right and left).
After the last (hike men) backward strike is delivered Fig G, then go to (issoku itto no
maai) Fig A. Then repeat the whole cycle again. You finish the second cycle with a strike
directly to the centre of the motodachi men Fig H. Then follow through after this last men
attack finishing with good (zanshin) spirit to counterattack.
Fig E
Fig A
Issoku-itto no-maai
Fig F
Fig B
Motodachi receives the
sayu-men strikes as shown
to the left and right and uses
ayumi-ashi foot work only
Fig G
Fig C
Fig D
Fig H
Types of Techniques (Waza)
Shikake waza
Attacking Techniques
Ippon waza
Nidan waza
one cut attack
two cut attack
Sandan waza
Debana waza
Harai waza
three cut attack
pre-emptive attack
breaking through the kensen with a side or upward sweeping motion
Hiki waza
attacking your opponent in a backward movement
Katsugi waza
attack coming from the shoulder
Maki waza
breaking the opponent's kensen by rolling his shinai with your own
Osae waza
pushing down on opponents shinai
Counter Attacks
Oji waza
Kaeshi waza
receiving the attack on your shinai with relaxed hands turn them
over and counterattack
Nuki waza
Suriage waza
avoid the attack and then counter attacking
using your shinai to deflect opponents shinai to make counter attack
Uchiotoshi waza
striking down the opponents shinai then counter attack
Shi or Yon
Nana or Shichi
Kendo Match (Shiai)
The strikes recognized in a kendo matches are
Figure 1- MEN, a strike to the crown of the head (A) or to either temple (B) (C)
Figure 2- KOTE, a strike to the right wrist when the hands are at waist level or to either wrist
when the hands are at or above chest height.
Figure 3- DO, a strike to either side of the trunk of the body.
Figure 4- TSUKI, a thrust with the tip of the Shinai to the throat
(These are the only valid points.)
A match is won either when one contestant scores two points, or if only one point has been scored
at the end of the match time they, win the match.
The diagrams shows the
court layout with all the court
officials and the three
referees on the court also
the match scoreboard laid out
for a team match
showing how the points are
made or lost in each match
Basic manners for competitors and spectators
One should be polite and friendly to the other competitors, of course friendly rivalry is
good and makes for a happy event, but do not over do.
No food to be taken in to the hall, only water for re-hydration of the body.
Please keep well back from the courts etc and do not cause any distraction in the hall.
Your equipment should be kept safely out of the way
When applauding do not shout, boo or whistle, please clap your hands In approval.
These points also apply too the spectators.
Shinai and clothing control and regulation
Shinai should be in good condition made of bamboo or synthetic
1 No broken splinter or taped slats any time
2 Saki-gawa should not be opening up, and tsuru at right tension
3 Tsuba should fit tight to the top of the Tsuka
4 The naka-yui should be tied in the right place at ¼ of the total length
5 Shinai should be of the right length and weight for the age and group
you are in.
6 No foreign bodies of any kind inside. Only the proper parts
7 Tsuba should not be bigger than 9 cm in diameter
Kendo-gi and Hakama
1 Hakama should be clean and tidy with good creases
2 Hakama tied right with the front lower than the back
kendo-gi can be white with blue pattern or blue or white, clean & tidy
4 Also you need a clean Te-nugui every time you practice
1 Men / Kote / Do / Tare should be well kept and in good condition
2 Men himo in good condition and at the right length when tied 40 cm
3 Kote himo should not be long and hanging out, cut off or tie inside
4 Do should be tied at right height and himo tied correctly.
1 Make sure your toenails are keep short so you do not hurt anyone
2 Make sure your personal hygiene is good
3 You are in good health before you start
4 Only wear foot supporters if you have medical problem and tell the
5 No necklaces or other jewellery to be worn, can be dangerous
How to enter and behave in the match area
1 Make sure you are ready to take part and you know what court you
will be fighting on and you have the right ribbon on (red/white), it is
bad manners not to be ready and slows down the event.
2 Do not walk across any courts, always walk around.
3 Walk to your starting position do not run. Go to the centre of the court in line
with the X and the two starting lines on the court floor, wait here outside the
court until you are both ready.
4 Both step in at the same time then bow at a position that is three steps from the
starting line. Move in draw your shinai and go down into sonkyo and wait
for the referee to call Hajime (start). If a team match, all step in at same time
1st and 2nd players in armour with shinai. At the end of the match only the last
player in armour with shinai .
5 Winning a point a call will be made. Men-ari Kote-ari Do-ari etc.
6 When Yame is called you must always go back to your start position. Maybe
you have won or lost a point or there was some infringement. If Wakare is
called you stop where you are and part and the referee will call Hajime.
7 To start the match after one point is called, the referee will call Nihon-me, if
both have a point each the referee will call Shobu and when you win, the
referee will call Shobu-ari. If a draw, the call is Hikiwake.
8 When Shobu-ari or Hikiwake is called you both go down in sonkyo. Put your
shinai away Osame-to stand up holding your shinai at your waist, step back five
small steps bow and leave the court smoothly without making any gesture to
oncoming players or spectators.
What is the basic rules of Hansoku in a match?
1 There are quite a number of fouls Hansoku in the rules of kendo
2 The most common is stepping out of the court, others are laying shinai on
your opponent shoulder / dropping your shinai / touching any shinai / pushing
out with out making a cut / tripping / bad tsuba-zeriai / wasting time/etc. These
only get one Hansoku against you and if you get another you lose a point.
3 Insulting or offensive behaviour/ drugs /prohibited equipment all carry the
maximum hansoku disqualification. Shobu-ari to the other player and you are
out of the championship.
How to react to the Shinpan
1 You must be very respectful to the shinpan referees on the court
2 If your opponent scored a point and you do not agree you must
never show any dissatisfaction in any way to the shinpan.
3 The decision of the Shinpan is final.
4 This is Kendo respect, manners, and tradition.
Some kendo words to help you
Arigato gozaimashita
Ashi gamae
Ashi sabaki
Ayumi ashi
Chudan (no kamae)
Domo arigato
Gedan (no kamae)
Hasso (no kamae)
thank you very much
foot, leg
foot position
foot work
walking footwork
drawing of a sword
kendo armor
wooden practice sword; used in kendo for kata and kihon
leather loop to which himo is tied
near interval
shinai is held in front with the tip at the level of the throat or chest
level, grade.
piece of kendo armor that protects the trunk also a cut to right or
place of practice (hall /room /etc) with wooden floor
thank you very much indeed
extra time in a kendo match
shinai is held in front with the tip at the knee level
traditional loose pleated shirt worn by kendoka
a penalty incurred during a kendo match
belly, stomach
holding the sword on the right side of the body with the tsuba at
mouth level and the blade facing back 45°
line of the cut.
string, lace, tie
Hiraki ashi
left, the left side
where it is necessary to move to right or left side of your opponents yet still
remain facing them.
Jodan (no kamae)
Kakari geiko
one step distance
high seat, see kamiza
general practice; in kendo, usually refers to sparring practice
high stance; the sword is held above one's head
continuous attacking practice, practice in which one person
continuously attacks
a shout or yell to generate power
stance, position
shrine, focus of dojo
special winter training
forms; in kendo, practice without bogu using bokuto in which two kendoka
practice prearranged sets of attack and defense
long sword
practice session
training jacket
practitioner of kendo
Otagai ni rei
sword point
short sword, wooden short sword used in kata
a exercise in which one cut to the right & left side of your opponent head
whilst moving forward and backwards
one's junior
hips, waist
glove, gauntlet; wrist; a cut or blow to the wrist
a cut or blow to the wrist
rank, grade. Kyu ranks are below dan ranks.
Interval between opponents, time and distance
metal grill on front of men
the helmet used in kendo; a cut or strike to the head
a cut or strike to the head
like looking at a far mountain see everything from top to bottom
right, the right side
quiet contemplation. The period of meditation at the beginning and end of each
practice session
the part of a sword blade used for cutting; approximately the quarter or third of a
sword blade nearest the tip
the receiving person during exercises (such as kirikaeshi or kihon ), the one who
receives the strikes of the other.
the chest
leather tied around a shinai tied one 1/4 of the way from the tip.
"the second (point)." The command to begin fighting for the second
point in a kendo match. Also, the second kata.
the basic footwork of kendo in which the lead foot is sent out, and the trailing foot
then moves. The feet do not cross
"please"; said when requesting something; usually said at the beginning of practice,
or when engaging a new partner
"bow to each other"
respect, bow, a command to bow
courtesy, etiquette
a standing bow
the leather covering the tip of a shinai
rubber plug inside sakigawa
the left and right sides of the face or head; cuts or blows to both sides of the head
one's senior
partner in kata student or winners side
Kote uchi
Men uchi
Okuri ashi
Onegai shimasu
Shitsurei shimashita I'm sorry
Shitsurei shimasu excuse me
natural standing position
Sensei ni rei
Shiai geiko
Shobu ari
"line up"; in an orderly line
formal sitting position
teacher, instructor;
"bow to the instructors"
match, a competitive bout between kendoka
match practice, practice in which the participants act as if in a tournament
or match; can have referees or be self-refereed
a match court.
a referee during a kendo match
bamboo practice sword
Shomen ni rei
Suri ashi
a real sword
a command given in a match when both have a point each to restart the match
"there is victory and defeat." The announcement that a kendo match is over.
ranks outside the kyu--dan structure. They are only available to those with high
front side or wall; the front of the face or head; a cut or blow to the front or top
of the head
“bow to Joseki /Kamiza”
repeated swinging of a sword against an imaginary target
sliding footwork; the general designation for the footwork used in kendo
a tournament
long sword; the long bokuto used in kendo kata
the apron equipment that protects the waist, hips, and thighs in kendo
carrying the shinai as if in the belt
body attack
Te no uchi
Tobi komi ashi
The correct way to grip the sword with your fingers
the towel worn on your head
leaping or springing footwork
long distance
Tsuba dome
sword guard
a piece of leather or rubber to stop the tsuba from slipping down
position where both opponents are face to face with tsubas touching
Tsugi ashi
footwork for continues cutting move forward
the hilt of a sword, the handle of a bokuto or shinai
a thrust
leather handle of shinai
string along back of shinai
teacher side or losing side
Uchikomi geiko
practice in which one gives openings opponent then responds by striking them
backward stride
state of alertness maintained after an attack
bow from seiza
Gorin Gojyo
The meaning of the pleats
1 Jin
1 Chu 忠 Faithfulness
2 Gi
2 Ko
3 Rei
3 Wa 和 Harmony
4 Chi
4 Ai
5 Shin 信 Loyalty
5 Shin 信
孝 Family
愛 Love
543 2 1
Makoto 誠 =忠孝 Sincerity
There used to be many types of Hakama, only two are still in common use. The top of the Hakama
worn against the lower back is called “Koshi-ita” it helps naturally good posture. Each of the six
pleats of the Hakama have a meaning from Confucianism, as described and shown in the diagrams.
5 original elements (chu, ko, wa, ai, shin) is also known as 'Gorin' or 'Filial piety' that teaches five
relationships or bonds such as Ruler and Leader (gi), father to son (ko), husband to wife (wa), elder brother
to younger brother (ai) and friend to friend (shin). ( ]in, gi, rei, chi, shin ) is known as 'Gojyo' or 'five virtues'
and was written by Confucius (551 - 479BC) 'Gorin' was written by his leading follower, Mencius (372 - 289BC)
Both together 'Gorin and Gojyo' is used in Kendo teaching as it had the largest influence of Confucianism
during Edo era.
The Concept of Kendo
The purpose of practicing Kendo is
To mould the mind and body.
To cultivate a vigorous spirit, through correct and rigid training.
To strive for improvement in the art of Kendo.
To hold in esteem human courtesy and honour.
To associate with others with sincerity, and to forever pursue the cultivation of
oneself. This will make one be able to love his/her country and society.
To contribute to the development of culture and to promote peace and prosperity
among all peoples.
The “Concept of Kendo” was established by the All Japan Kendo Federation in
The Spirit of
Mumeishi Kendo Club
Hira Kareta Kokoro
Manabu Kokoro
Tomo Wo Omou Kokoro
Open minds in learning
By, Mr T.O. Holt Kendo 7th Dan
Mumeishi Kendo Club International
London - Melbourne - Tel– Aviv
With thanks to
Alice Graham
Brent Gazzaniga
Emiko Yoshikawa
Yuki Ota
Mr Sapochnik
Mumeishi Melbourne Some parts taken from their basic notes for beginners
Japanese translation & editing
Japanese calligraphy
Cover picture
Plus members and my family for their input
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