Comments for Kendo and reality

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Feb 11, 2011
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reality of kendo
by: wall

I get this comment in kendo and in Olympic fencing. My response is one of 6.

1 is that we are here to practice swordsmanship not grappling or punching. If you want those then take a judo class and combine the two on your own time.

2 is that the rules are meant to teach common sense swordsmanship so that in a "real" sword fight you do not do something silly and die for a silly reason. You may still die but at least you died doing it right.

3 kendo, iaido, kenjutsu, and Olympic fencing all come from swordsmanship from many years ago, back when they used swords for real. If you consider the action that is being taught it will make sense in a "real" fight.

4 we are not here to hurt or insult each other, the rules protect us

5 we are trying to develop ourselves, our self-control not hurt others.

6 some people say this because they want to use new "skills" to attack or defend from others but it is all most always based off of what they see in movies.

I remind my students that what they see in movies is meant to tell a story and please the audience. It is not a real action at best it is a poorly done theatric version of the real thing. (Check out nevada tan'es ist vorbei" music video where their shinai are upside down and the tatami is bone dry.)

Remember that movies jump off sky scrapers and live. That is not real life.

Kendo-Guide.Com: Thanks for sharing your opinion!

Dec 20, 2010
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Kendo and reality: What reality? and When in Kendo practice?
by: Santiago B. Tejada

I had an earlier comment to this question that I believe it is not longer available. That comment was obviously within the limited context of the
question, which appears to deal with a "reality" limited to just the notion of effective applicability or usage of techniques for situations other than shiai and the apparent accommodations made to Kendo practice for the sake of shiai.

Deep in the bottom, the question is somehow intriguing and inquisitive and should make us all reflect and constantly evaluate our own practice of Kendo.

In particular so due to the fact that nowadays there are strong tendencies to emphasize jigeiko 'in the void' and shiai as any other regular
non-spiritual sport, setting far aside certain principles of practice to discipline kokoro (the spirit.)

Although I somehow agree with many comments herein and responses from Imafuji sensei, I consider it appropriate to evaluate how much time of regular dojo practice is dedicate to initiate the practitioners (kenshi) in the path of shugyo as there should be a conscious intention during practice for doing so (should we 'do it' without knowing we are doing it?, What am I supposed to pursuit with this? Why this way? etc.)

Maybe in Japan they regularly practice Kendo that way. Hopefully many dojos here in USA and everywhere else do it because otherwise we must have to wonder: when in Kendo practice?

If not, the question originally formulated is the "reality" non-Kendo practitioners as well as some kenshis will always perceive.

Kend-Guide.Com: Thank you for your post. You can't find your old post? Sorry about that. I don't know what happened to it. I might have accidentally deleted it. Really
sorry.

Many people practice kendo for their own reasons so we cannot tell others what they should do. It is very personal.

One thing I know and I want people to understand is that kendo is not to play with a stick or to learn how to beat others with a stick.

Some call kendo "active zen". Zen is very quiet and also their shugyo involves "daily tasks (sa-mu)" as well as zen. They train themselves through these quiet tasks but kendo practitioners train ourselves through the way of the sword.

Judo practitioners train themselves through the way of softness. Kyudo practitioners train themselves through the way of the bow. Calligraphy
practitioners train themselves through the way of writing. Sado (tea ceremony) practitioners train themselves through the way of tea.

I am sure this is an ongoing discussion and we will never have one correct answer for this. We must keep asking ourselves what kendo really is and what it gives us.

We all know the concept of kendo and its purposes. So?

I really think it is up to us to make kendo what it says it is and to learn what we should learn out of it.

Just my personal opinion.

Nov 18, 2010
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Flight from Reality
by: John M.


I can sympathize with Olga encountering students with views about the so-called  ‘non-reality’ of Kendo.  Basically all martial arts have some degree of rules and restrictions otherwise its complete mayhem with serious and lethal injuries or worst.   Even something like ‘mixed martial arts’ (which I deplore) must have rules.

One of the beautiful things about kendo is its Reigi, the cultivation of ethical conduct, and the Shugo, the spiritual training aspects.


Usually when I come across this ‘viewpoint’ and have some level of discussion, it becomes quite apparent that this desire for ‘real fighting’ reveals actually a flight from reality, an existential form of avoiding the real questions concerning life and oneself.

One should also keep in mind the actual history of kendo and its development.

In Don Draegger’s three volume history of Japanese Budo, he relates how the introduction of the shinai and shinai Kendo (late 16th and early 17th century) actually made the samurai training with shinai (instead of only using bokken) much superior over the non-shinai  trained samurai.

In a sense, training with shinai made it more ‘real’, since inhibitions were greatly reduced.  So we can ask, what is real versus what is not-real.

Kendo-Guide.Com: Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts with us.

"A flight from reality" is very interesting way of looking at "what is real?". I will keep that in mind for the future discussion.

It is true that the invention of shinai and bogu gave samurai more "practical (i.e. real)" taste to their kata based training.

I sometimes have my students to practice bokuto kihon-ho and kata with a bogu on.


Thank you for reminding us the important part of shinai and bobu.


A brief explanation of early shinai (hikihada) can be read at “Kendo Stick: Shinai”.

Nov 12, 2010
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kendo and reality response
by: Anonymous

When I read the question of "Kendo and Reality" I was reminded of so many discussions in our dojo about this kind of thinking.

I always tell people that in order to do a painting; the artist must have extreme discipline in order for the painting to be seen as artful. So to for the kendo artist.

If you think about it, anyone can take any paint and throw it on the canvas but it's not really art. Just like anyone can take a shinai and swing it around hitting others but that's not kendo.

We don't practice to go to war. We don't practice hoping to kill someone. We practice in order to someday have a full understanding of the "WAY" of KEN or the sword.

The added benefit of doing Kendo well is that in time we improve our speed and our reflexes so in a "real" situation, we will be able to respond well anyway. I hope this gives you some good food for thought.


Kendo-Guide.Com: Thank you for your post. Nicely explained. Your story reminds me to say that when we sense some kind of a danger, we should avoid it. This is the best response, I think. Thanks again for sharing your story!

Nov 12, 2010
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The Samurai Developed Themselves Spiritiually When They No Longer Fought Physically
by: Anonymous

While the physical aspect of Kendo has been modified, the mental and spiritual aspects have not.

The Samurai turned to this side of Kendo when they no longer had the battles to fight and the duals to engage in.

In the modern world, we are faced with the same dilemma. There are no sword duals and battles to engage in. So, what do we do with such skills if not to develop ourselves spiritually?

In this spirit, we are actually following the true, logical path that the Samurai would have followed had they not been abolished as a class.

They would have continued to use the Katana as a path to even greater spiritual enlightenment and self-development than was achieved in their own time, continuing to grow.

Kendo-Guide.Com: Thank you for your post. Nicely explained. Thanks!

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