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Feints in kendo

by Jeong

Feints in kendo


Higher ranked people in my dōjō seemed to use feints in their shiai matches. So, exactly how could I do that?

Answer: In kendo, especially, high ranked people (7th and 9th dan) do not want to use the word, feint. It is because you are “faking” your movements.  Here is why.

Feints are easy to do and effective to get a point but it is not the goal of kendo.

You may be able to “hit” a target you want, but you cannot impress your opponent or cannot train your mental strength, if you use feints too much.


But I know how you feel because I was there once. So learn feints by watching others. it is the best way.


Having said that, I would like to tell you what really you should work on.

You have to learn how to execute seme effectively. In seme, we say, “execute seme up or down”. That means we execute seme as we make our opponent think that we are going to strike their upper body (men or tsuki) or lower body (kote or do).

Once you learn that, you can execute a good seme up and make your opponent think that you are going for his/her men or tsuki.  He/she now pays less attention to their kote or do. Now you know what to do.

That is how you control the situation, i.e. make an opening for you to strike.

So please learn this. Once you learn this, you don’t have to learn feints.

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Oct 02, 2009
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feints, european fencing and kendo
by: aaron

If I may be bold, I think that a look at European fencing where feints are the bread and butter of swordsmanship may add some light on this subject. In fact a European master once said that if all your fake attacks looked real and all your real attacks looked fake you would never lose. I will try to summarize the concept and hope that it will not confuse matters. European fencing places all attacks into 2 broad categories with 6 sub categories collectively known as the tactical wheel. The first category is called first intent attacks and defenses. With this category you don't care what your opponent does, you just want to hit him. The second category is called second intent attack and defenses. With this category you want to prepare your opponent so that you may either get information to use against them later or so that you may hit them at your leisure. Feints are merely one action of many that belong to this category. The key word here is preparation. The most common way to prepare an opponent is to use invitations. An invitation is literally anything you do in order to get a specific response from your opponent upon which you may act such as: presenting your blade, being patent, exposing an area, setting and breaking routines. Desired responses are incredibly varied and may include things such as: attacking you, exposing an area, showing you their default action, backing up etc.. Swordmanship then becomes an art where you promote your threats and traps while denying your opponent his traps and plans. As this concept is studied some things become clear. 1. With out a solid foundation of technical skills and at least a year of experience you will not be able to effectively use second intent attacks. 2. One of the many errors people commit is to prepare and invite to close to their opponent thus provoking an attack they are not ready to defend against. 3 People create a second intent attack but fail to prepare their opponent or to check if their invitation got the desired response. In other words they execute a second intent attack as if it were a first intent attack. The difficulty here is that one effective way to defeat a second intent attack is with an attack into preparation (attacking the moment just before of shortly after the start of your opponents attack but landing first with perhaps the movement of target area, kendo loves this type of action, in fact allot of kendos' preparation involves seme as stated in the article). I know that this in not the place for a lengthy discussion of a topic that can take years but I hope that it sheds some light on the matter.

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