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Hit them while they are down?

by Bryan
(Fukushima, Japan)

I started kendo a few months ago, and yesterday I watched a junior high school tournament for the first time.


There was something that happened that really surprised me. When someone fell over, the refs didn't immediately stop the match, but the other person continued to hit the downed player.

The refs stopped it after he made one hit, but not before. I saw this happen two times during the day (interestingly enough, it was the same kid hitting the downed kid).

I couldn't believe it, but I was told it is ok to make one cut on someone after they fall. That seems to go against a lot of what I've learned so far about kendo. I know this site doesn't worry too much about tournament performance, but what is the point of that rule? How does that fit into the etiquette of kendo?

Answer: Thank you for your comment! Rule wise, it is okay to execute one cut against a person who fell down. The philosophy behind it is a battle. You should not fall down while you're fighting. If you fall down you have to come right back up.

Whether you would do it is up to you. It's not against rule and it is not against the philosophy. In training, I do pin down my students to teach them they should not stay in a close distance for a long time. Of course, safely. If you do that in shiai, you will be penalised.

Also we do have a technique called, taiatari (body check). It had been mortified so we can hurt each other. But we use it to lose our opponent’s balance so we can strike them. And of course sometimes our opponent falls down. As soon as he or she falls down, you should strike because that is an opportunity to strike.

What this tells us is we should train our body strong enough so we don’t fall down easily.
Kendo stars with respect and ends with respect. While fighting, you have to do your best with everything you have learnt. By doing that, your opponent can learn a lot of things through the fight with you.

Again it is up to you if you want to strike them not when they fall down.

Hope this helps.

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