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Kendo-Guide.Com Newsletter, Issue #013 - View of Shiai: Referees and Competitors
March 18, 2009

Kendo for LIFE

Kendo-Guide.Com Newsletter, Issue #013 - View of Shiai: Referees and Competitors


Thank you for reading the Kendo-Guide.Com Newsletter, Issue #013.

This issue contains updates and an article, "View of Shiai: Referees and Competitors".

This article tells you how the Japanese kendo world is now concerning about shiai (matches). Now they are trying to change shiai rules in university, high school and junior high school tournaments. I would like to talk about it a little bit in the this issue.

Now enjoy the updates!

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What we have in this issue is shown below. Enjoy this Newsletter!

Table of Content

- News -

- Looking for Kendo Mates -

- Kendo Q & A -

- Kendo Online Workshop -

- Articles Since the Last Issue -

- Comments or Questions -

There are links to change your email address for the newsletter or unsubscribe at the bottom of every newsletter. Thanks!

- News -

- Gotokukan Imafuji Dojo: Kendo Dojo in Indiana

Finally, I got a name for my dojo!! I was a bit embarrassed to use my name as well, but my sensei put it there so I sincerely accepted it.

- Looking for Kendo Mates -

There are two people who are looking for kendo mates or a kendo club around their areas. If you know anyone who does kendo or are in search of kendo mates in the areas below, please email me. I will pass the info to the guys.

This guy is looking for kendo mates in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Even though this guy is studying kendo at Washington University and Saint Louis University in Saint Louis, he is hoping to get more people to start a club.

Here is another guy who is looking for a kendo instruction in North Oxford. He is looking for a kendo instructor around that area.

If you guys know any instructors or kendo mates around those areas, please contact me at http://www.kendo-guide.com/contact.html .

- Kendo Q & A -

- All the proper and allowed Do strikes

- Obi Belt Usage

- How do I know if my suburi is becoming right handed?

- What am I doing wrong when striking with shinai

- Problem with first Men

- Pump Aerobics

- Kendo Online Workshop -

- Suggesting Kendo Summer Training in Philippines

- Articles Since the Last Issue -

- Kendo Equipment Shop: Buying Kendo Stuff Online

- View of Shiai: Referees and Competitors -

Shiai to discipline the human character

There is an article called "Shiai to discipline the human character" by SUMI Masatake sensei (Hanshi 8th dan) in Kendo Nippon Magazine (March, 2009). Sumi sensei served as Chief Referee of All Japan University Students Kendo Federation in 2007 and 2008. He was a professor at Fukuoka University of Education and trained many students there too.

He points out that it is only students but also instructors and referees who must reconsider how kendo shiai should be based on the principle of katana (sword).

In shiai, no one wants to lose. Especially in Japan, if you win a title, you will be able to get a job if you are a university student. If you are a high school, you can get kendo scholarship. Under such circumstance, who wants to lose?

So many students, in this case university students, fight not to loose. They do not fight to win. It is not the same thing. It is totally different.

Fight with an Attitude of Koumei Seidai

I am not sure what Kendo Shimpan Regulations say in English but in Japanese it says, we have to fight "with an attitude of Koumei Seidai following the principle of the sword".

What is Koumei Seidai? Koumei (pronounced as "kohmei") means "fair and nothing hidden" and seidai means "correct and proud".

So we should not fight in sneaky ways or dirty ways so that we don't lose. For example, it is possible for us to stay in tsubazeri-ai while doing some very close to something illegal so we can win the match.

We may not be disqualified because it is not “illegal”, but Sumi sensei argues it is not a shiai to discipline the human character.

He also explains the principle of the sword. It is much easier to think this principle as how we should fight in kendo in order for us to understand what Sumi sensei means here.

1. Tameru 2. Kuzusu 3. Suteru

Actually this is what we all want to do ALL THE TIME not just in shiai.

Tameru means probably " to charge your energy". Have a good structured kamae (stance) and charge your ki (internal energy) and store that energy in you.

2. Kuzusu means "Make your opponent move mentally and physically". In other words, we create openings for us to strike our opponent. How? Seme and san sappo may be helpful.

3. Suteru means "throw yourself away". It does not make sense, does it? Probably "commit yourself into your strike" is a better translation. Once you set your mind to strike your opponent's men, go for it no matter what. In other words, do not stop striking once you start striking.

Hit Vs. Cut

He also mentions the importance of the direction of the blade. Since we use our shinai as a sword, the direction of the blade is important. Our strike should be a cut not a hit.

Therefore, if one strikes a target with the side of the shinai, he/she must not get a point. Shimpan should be very careful with the angle of competitors’ shinai and should not give any points to those strikes with the side of the sword (it is called hira-uchi).

Shimpan has to give points to all the good strikes. There are many points missed by shimpan in shiai. It is very shocking actually. There are many times that shimpan gives points to wired strikes but not the good ones.

Why do I know that? It is because I often do shimpan and almost all the time I regret my judgement as shimpan.

Shimpan also needs to practice refereeing for obvious reasons. If shimpan misjudge and give points to those techniques that ignore the attitude of Koumei Seidai without following the principle of the sword, shimpans, then, are promoting shiai-oriented kendo.

No one, by the way, disagrees shiai anymore. We all know that shiai is an important part of kendo improvement. Yes. It is only a part of kendo.

However, since shiai, of course, is fun to do and people want to win, many tend to learn or want to learn techniques that can bring them "points".

I think that the Japanese kendo world wants to tell us the importance of the process of strikes. We tend to concentrate more on the result i.e. hit or not hit.

I think Sumi sensei is trying to tell us, "The important thing is how we approach our opponent." He says, "tameru, kuzusu, suteru". He does not say anything about how we should control our sword. He is telling us what we should do before we execute our strike and after we execute strike.

Suteru is what we should do when we decide to strike. Basically he is saying, "Don't hesitate, don't stop once you execute your strike".

Now many Kendo Federations such as University Students Kendo Federation and All Japan High School Athletic Federation KENDO Section are changing their shiai regulations in order to keep kendo match with more Koumei Seidai attitudes.

That indicates current kendo tends to focus more on shiai not on disciplining the human character.

Also we all know that not all the 8th dan sensei were All Japan Kendo champions even though they are amazingly strong.

Winning is not everything. "How to fight" counts, I think. This is also separate kendo from being a mere sport.

If we could win shiai with the attitude of Koumei Seidai, that is the best!

I really need to work on my kendo...So see you in the next issue!


- Comments or Questions -

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