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Hitting men-buton from behind the partner

by Olga
(Ukraine)

In one article, you have said that we can strike targets that are not considered to be valid in shiai, e.g. tsuki in Do (chest part).


Some people strike men-buton (the top of the helmet) when their partner is turned away from them while going through after striking do, for example.

Is that behavior correct in shiai? In jigeiko? Maybe when doing so people are showing that their partner goes through very slowly and has lost eye contact with them.

Is that in the network of kendo etiquette to hit men-buton from behind the partner?

Answer: Good question. Just in case if readers do not know what men-buton is. Men-buton is a part of a kendo helmet, which protects our head. The original form of buton is futon, which is a Japanese bed (and a blanket).

If you hit a person at the back of his/her head that is not covered by men-buton on purpose, you will be penalized in shiai (match) because it is considered as a dangerous behaviour.  Probably you will be given a warning first.

Let's think about why we train kendo.  We don't train kendo to hurt others.  Hitting an unprotected area on purpose is not considered to be a good behaviour anyway.

Now I think what you really want to know is "whether or not you can hit men from the sides (right or left)".

Many senseis probably tap a side of our men with their shinai to encourage us; "Come on! Turn around and keep striking". Or like you mentioned above, they're telling us something such as not to lose eye contact.

Yūkō-datotsu (strikes considered to be valid) of the men is shōmen (the front of men) and the right and left men. So the other parts of men should not be considered as valid strikes.

I personally think if our opponent/partner gets hurt due to a lack of our respect to them (e.g. trying to hurt), we are not doing kendo not matter what the rules say.

We can hurt others on purpose because we train to control a sword. We can strike anywhere on purpose and make them look like an accident.

But if we do that, we will lose the spirits of kendo

Did I answer the question?

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