January - February
March - April
After we return, we will hold a debriefing to discuss our activities (team selection, preparation, Taikai).
Congratulations to those who were selected to represent HKF at the 12 WKC. We have just a few more months to make this a team we can be proud of and hopefully impress others.
Members are (alpha):
In order to achieve our goals, everyone must work together as a team, as well as do the best he/she can do at all times. The coaches have high standards, and we think you can achieve this.
Team members should have received a copy of Zen and Budo by Ohmori Sogen (trans. Tenshin Tanoue). It is being circulated, so please be sure to read it. We hope this short booklet will give you a hint as to why we struggle with Kendo in this day and age. Those of us approaching higher rank in Kendo must deal with this issue in order to rise to a higher level of training, study, discipline, Shugyo.
The month of January was mainly to elevate the levels of Ki, energy, focus. To do this we emphasized loud, sustaining Kakegoe. Did you notice it takes a lot of energy to do this? This helps one to focus on task at hand, while removing other unnecessary thoughts (Kyo, Ku, Gi, Waku) - but it's not easy. Concentrated, concerted energy is more effective (like laser beam).
Last week, we added the element of not moving the left fist at Kamae. Left fist is your center. If it's unstable, your heart is unstable. Your Kensen becomes ineffective and weak. So, try to keep the good Kamae with attention to the left fist. Enter the striking distance (Uchi-ma) while maintaining your Kensen in the center (Chushin) and making your opponent's Kensen move away from the center (Ken wo Korosu). If at the same time you are highly focused, you can kill his/her spirit (Ki wo Korosu). So, for Shomen Uchi, your Motodachi should feel as if your energy is aiming at his/her Tsuki, then as he/she moves his/her Kensen, strike the Men as quickly, sharply, crisply as possible. Then, follow through swiftly and be alert (Zanshin).
Photo: K Iho. Kendo Hisshou Kouza. Ski J (1987).
We have all heard over and over again how important Ki Ken Tai Itchi is. This refers to the coming together of your strong will power (Ki), skills (Ken, Datotsu in Kendo terms), and bodily balance (Tai) in order to make any effort (even outside Kendo) effective.
Many of us in Hawaii have difficulties with this, particularly with footwork (Fumikomi, Fumikiri), because our Dojo floors are concrete. But with proper training, you can still achieve Ki Ken Tai Itchi. Nozawa Sensei gave us some very useful tips.
First, when you commence a Datotsu, you should already be at your own striking distance (Uchi Ma), and have killed your opponent's Ki, Ken and Waza (San Sappo).
Second, step forward with your right foot as your hand comes down from (NOT up to) Furikaburi. Important: do not raise your right foot as you swing up like a puppet -- right foot moves forward as your Shinai moves toward your opponent. Also important: do not raise the right foot high, just move forward. Land on the ball of your right foot, not the toes or heel. You can do this even on concrete floor.
Third, immediately after the Datotsu, bring your left foot up to the correct position (Hikitsuke) and make your body vertical.
The photo below shows that the right foot lands slightly after the Shinai hits the opponent. That is the correct timing. Also note that the right foot moves forward while the left foot pushes the body in motion. We will focus on Ki Ken Tai Itchi over the next few weeks (in addition to Ki and centering of left hand).
Kendo Jidai, Jan 2003
Examine the photo sequence below closely. See the left and right right fist motions, foot work, posture, distance. The demonstrator is Tsuneharu Someya, a graduate of Kokushikan University. He entered the All Japan Championship 9 times (champion when he was still a university student), World Championship (3rd place), police championships, etc. 36 years old.
Kendo Nippon. May 2003
I would like to invite members of the Team Hawaii to participate in Zazen training at Chozenji on Saturday mornings. Zazen helps you build concentration and increase self-awareness. Breathing (Kokyu) and Hara exercises help you overcome anxiety and become more stable. We will also have Kendo at the end -- the idea is to translate Zen training to Kendo, and ultimately to daily life.
Sitting begins promptly at 9:00 am. You must be there early. If you are late, you may not be allowed to enter the Dojo. Car pool is recommended as there are not many parking space. You must come in long pants (sweat pants is OK) or come in Kendo Gi and Hakama. NO SHORTS OR SKIRT. The session concludes around 11:00 am.
Please let me know ahead if you plan to attend so that I can inform the Roshi (Zen master) about your attendance. By mid June, I would like each Team Hawaii member to have attended at least two sessions.
The location is 3565 Kalihi Street, near the end of the street.
Kendo Jidai, Oct 2000
Elite Japanese male Kenshi's (about 50 of them) gathered for general betterment of Kendo last April, October, and December. They will hold their next one in March this year. Each event is about 4 days long.
At these sessions they go through Kihon Waza and practice Shiai. It was stressed that Suburi should be accurate each time, and Kihon Waza should be accurate and powerful, rather than speedy. They also viewed videos of other teams. Out of these people, sixteen are candidates for the 12WKC who met in a special training camp in January (age mid-20's to mid-30's, 5-7 Dan).
Below are some pictures from Kendo Jidai (March 2003). You can see their sincere attitude towards Keiko.
Each of us must try to be at the top physical condition by the time we get to Glasgow. Be careful about injuries. If you are injured in some way, take care of it properly. For minor things, we (coaches and your instructors) should be able to give you advices. More serious ones will need medical attention.
Take daily vitamin/mineral supplements, if you are not already doing so. Especially if you do not have a balanced regular diet, you should take double dose. They will not only help with nutrition, but also with building energy, stamina, healing of injuries, and sleep.
In the month of June, try to increase vegetable/fuits in your diet. This will help with cleaning up your system -- you will be more alert and agile. Just before the Shiai, don't eat too much. Better to be a little lean and hungry. If you are full, your senses will be dull.
Kendo-gu is our armor. It should look good, be functional, and protective. Using the proper Kendo-gu properly makes you feel right and helps improve your Kendo.
Here are some key points in properly wearing your Kendo-gi, Hakama, and Kendo-gu.
Think positively, take control: many Sensei's said that, even someone who is an All Japan champion or Kyoshi 8-Dan, we don't differ that much in physical ability. What makes the difference when it really counts is your state of mind. Think positively, don't give up. Be active, not passive. Imagine all the good possibilities, not the bad things. If you are always in control, your opponent will be at a loss and s/he will begin to doubt and become indecisive. You create the chances; don't wait for it to happen. Do you see when your opponent is in control, you get tired faster and your breathing becomes erratic (e.g., when you Keiko with a high ranking Sensei)? Turn the table around. You can do it.
Kendo Nippon, Nov 1997
The Concept of Kendo says "Kendo is a way to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the Katana."
Therefore, what we are trying achieve in our Dojo's is something much more important than learning how to hit someone on the head quicker than the next person. That kind of skill may be important when we are young and enjoy the sports of Kendo, but it's useless as we grow older and want to practice the art of Kendo.
As we grow, we try to develop in knowledge (cognitive), skills (psychomotor), and attitude (affective) - those in the field of education know this as the learning domains. Missing one of the three makes us incomplete. How do you feel about someone who is smart but can't to do the work; or someone who is skillful but no one wants to work with him/her; or someone very nice but doesn't know anything? Not complete.
In Kendo, you gain knowledge of the principles, theories, history, philosophy, concepts, ideas, etc. through reading texts and journals (unfortunately not many are in English), analyzing, watching videos, listening to teachers and elders (you must listen carefully or you may never hear it again!) and watching others (steal from them by watching carefully - Mitori Geiko). You develop skills by drills, Keiko, experiment, trial and error, repeating. Practice makes perfect. Keep trying until you get it right. But you must do these properly or you develop bad habits that are much harder to break. Real experts practice when no one is watching - maybe because it's personal and they also want to keep some secrets. Attitude comes from within. Your ability to face problems head on, willingness to work hard, knowing right from wrong, having the courage to do the right thing and not do the wrong thing, not cause inconvenience to others... This is not measurable in the usual sense - but you are on the Team Hawaii this year because we thought you showed potentials in all three domains, not just skills.
By studying Kendo like this, you will develop as a person as a whole because you will sooner or later realize that you must learn about things other than Kendo to know somethings about Kendo. You keep on learning until the day you die. Who said "I think, therefore, I am -- cogito ergo sum"?
The word Keiko comes from Kei meaning "to consider, think about, study," and Ko meaning "the past." There are lots of great teachings from the past we can learn from. It is not supposed to be easy. It takes energy to create order (a law of physics!).
Everyone has experienced periods when things are not going well. We suffer and struggle to get out of it.
Katsuya Nomura, the famous general manager of the Yakult Swallows baseball team in Japan, writes:
"From experience... most of the affected batters are hooked on 'narcotics.' By 'narcotics' I mean the homeruns (i.e., an ideal, appealing, fantastic result)... Body is honest. Regardless of where the ball is, because of this greed, body shifts unconsciously towards where you want to hit the homerun... It's clear that every player, when he if off, tends to go only after technique. He seeks advices from everyone, gets confused, lose confidence, and things get worse."
Kendo Hanshi Kiyotsugu Iho wrote that when you are in slump, you must return to Kihon (fundamentals). Nomura offers similar advices with practical hints:
Practice (Renshu) is not the same as Keiko, but it is part of it. It is obvious you must practice if you are to excel in anything. Practice makes perfect.
As I mentioned before, most people don't differ that much in physical abilities. That's why we are mostly so-so, average, OK. If you are to be better than that you have to practice - not just repetition, but figure out what needs to be changed, then repeat it until you get it right.
Nomura (ex-general manager of a baseball team) says, "Batting practice (Suburi) is one of the Kiso (foun dations). Young players nowadays may do Kihon (basics) but not Kiso (foundation building). Some only do Ouyou (applications). While in Junior High School, Ichiro went to the batting center to practice hitting every day of the year except the New Years Day (364 days). That's why he has a solid foundation. Only those who understand this can make impossible become possible through practice."
He also goes on to say that "those who do not progress/improve cannot win... One must try many many times and think hard and figure things out..." If you win in Shiai, you have to think how it was possible. More importantly, if you lose, you must figure out what caused it. Chinese saying: "There may be mysterious victories, but there is no mysterious losses." Continue to ask "why" and you will progress, improve. There is no limit to possibilities; there is no limit to challenges.
Of course when we do Shiai, it is usually only one-on-one. Even in a team match (Dantai Sen), each match is fought by individuals. Does that mean Kendo is an individual activity?
Bushido, the origin of Kendo, has three principles: Gi, Jin, and Yu. Gi roughly means righteous, moral, correct, ethical, honorable. Jin means humane, compassionate, considerate, courteous. Yu means courage, heroic, daring. (Did you know that the Nihon Kendo Kata Tachi 1-3 teaches these exactly in this order?)
Simply stated, Kendo teaches us to know the right from wrong, be harmonious with others, and have the guts to do the right thing. We now see how Kendo Keiko (including Shiai) links to our everyday lives. Kendo is, therefore, not just training to be more skillful in Shiai or enduring in Keiko.
We can train Gi in the Dojo by:
We train Jin by:
We train Yu by:
So, I think even though each Shiai is fought individually, Kendo Keiko is a group activity. You cannot train alone.
Then, why not help each other a little more. Give each other critiques or suggestions, encourage others to do good Kendo, praise them when they do something good. Let's do this with the Team -- then you can do this with your Dojo members, others in HKF, all the Kenshi in the world, all the people in the world... Remember, you must have all three -- having only Jin may be nice and comfortable, but it's not complete. You must also have the strictness of Gi and courage of Yu.
These are some important terms you should be familiar with as you develop into higher ranking Kendoists.
Here are some Shiai tips I heard from others and read in books. If you have others, please share.
When you are about to do a Datotsu, if you are thinking "he might do a Kaeshi Waza," "I might miss it," "he might move," "he will do a Debana Waza if I move," etc., you are not likely to succeed. Reasons:
Japanese term used to describe it is Sutemi, literally meaning throwing away the body; if you don't let go, then you are stuck with it. How do you let it go? There are may ways, and yet they are the same. Sounds like a Zen talk? May be the following examples might help you understand it. More important, you should do it...
Three weeks to go!
Please take care of your health and don't get injured. Try to increase vegetable consumption (yes, you too, Andy). Take daily vitamin and mineral supplements. Get enough sleep.
Please bring your own water bottle to Glasgow. We can fill it with water and lemon wedge or other "sports" drinks when we get there.
If you are on any medication, please don't forget to bring the medicine with you. Before the Shiai (the Taikai day and the day before), do not over eat. It is better if you are a little bit hungry. You can eat all you want after the Taikai.
Remember: as we have said many times, you should focus on doing the best Kendo you can during the Shiai. You should not think about the results -- it will follow regardless. If you are preoccupied with irrelevant unnecessary thoughts, the result will not be good and you will regret it. But, if you try your very best at what ever you are doing at the moment, you would see a fair result and you will be satifsifed. Trust yourslef -- you have worked hard to get here, so be confident and proud of your achievement.
When we say "win or lose doesn't matter," we don't mean we don't care about the Shiai. WE DO CARE ABOUT THE SHIAI! You must think about how you are going to improve your skills by analyzing your losses (and wins) completely. Figure out how you are going to better yourself. This is what you should be doing now. But, once the Shiai begins, you should turn your focus to the Shiai at hand, and not think about "what might be," "what if," "may be I should." etc., etc...
--Written by Mr. Ueno--
Miyamoto Musashi wrote "Dokkoudo" about a week before his death. It is written as his own self-discipline. This is somewhat similar to our situation: just two weeks before our Shiai. Teshima-sensei asked me to mention to you some of this article, which is the right time for reminding about what you have been told since this training started in October of 2001. Perhaps this Dokkoudo which consists of 21 articles is a combination of Musashi's beliefs from "Goryin no Sho" and "Hyohou 35 Articles".
Article 3. "During my life time, I shall not be greedy." Human beings live daily with a million desire of wants and greed -- want a better car, want an easy way, not want to see you leave, want to WIN, etc..... Because of this desire, we suffer (Shiku Hakku). For Bushidou, abandon your desire to save yourself (Mi wo Sutete...) so that you will be eased and you can focus better. At Shiai, do not only focus on winning by getting points, yet win with your Kurai (dignity).
Article 13. "I shall not keep old things." Any article that you have now, do they really belong to you? It is yours for now, however, not forever. And not to have sentiment to old things. This article tells us about sentimental value. Also, by old things, he means useless defective tools which cannot be used in combat. At WKC, do your best and regardless of the result -- no REGRET. This brings us to Article 5.
Article 5. "I shall have no regrets." This is not to mean that he has never done things that he regrets. But it reminds him that he should always do his best so he will not have regrets; and once he has determined to do something, he will carry it out completely.
Article 18. "I shall revere deities, but I shall not depend on them." He realized that he has only himself to rely on at critical moments.
Article 19. "At all time, my heart shall live with Bushidou." This is self-explanatory.
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