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Kendo Kata: Sanbon-me

Kendo Kata Sanbon-me is not as easy as Kata No.1 and No.2.

First, I will explain the meaning of Kata No.3. Knowing the meaning may help you to remember what's going on.

Meaning of Kata No3

In Kata No.1, shitachi kills uchitachi and in Kata No.2 shitachi cuts off the right wrist of uchitachi. But in Kata No.3, shitachi doesn't kill uchitachi or doesn't hurt uchitachi at all.

In Kata No.3 no one gets killed or hurt, but uchitachi and shitachi live together without hurting each other. Shitachi doesn't even have intention to kill or hurt uchitachi.

According to Inoue sensei,

"No one gets struck or strikes. Even though there are obvious victory and loss, the winner doesn't brag about his/her victory and both winner and loser take care of their lives and live together. This is kendo and the goal of training kendo. That is why kendo is different from sport" (1993, p. 199).

Obviously this is a combat. This is a fight. But you don't have to kill or hurt others, if you are strong enough. This is Kata No.3 and the goal of kendo.

Here is what happens

  1. Uchitachi takes gedan and shitachi takes gedan.
  2. Both take three big steps forwards onto the front foot.
  3. Shitachi and uchitachi start moving their swords up.
    The sword of shitachi is slightly under the sword of uchitachi.

    This indicates that shitachi's ki is stronger than that of uchitachi, so uchitachi can stand the pressure of shitachi.

    That is why uchitachi has to move his sword up. Uchitachi and shitachi lift their swords up and both take chudan.
  4. Uchitachi excuses a thrust into suigetsu (solar plexus) of shitachi turning the sword of uchitachi counter clockwise, (i.e. the blade of the sword is facing to the right).

    Uchitachi moves before shitachi because uchitachi is scared of shitachi moving before uchitachi (Ki of uchitachi is weaker than that of shitachi). 
  5. Shitachi executes nayashi taking a step backwards onto the left foot to parry the thrust of uchitachi.
    * You do not want to push down the sword of uchitachi when you excute nayashi.
  6. Shitachi executes a thrust aiming at the chest area taking a step onto the right foot.
  7. Uchitachi, taking a step backwards onto the right foot, lowers the uchitachi's sword and lifts it up around the sword of shitachi to block the thrust of shitachi. The blade of uchitachi's sword is slightly facing down to the right when blocking the thrust of shitachi.
  8. Shitachi takes another step forwards onto the left foot. This is not another thrust. Keep the sword where it is and push uchitachi back.
  9. Uchitachi, taking a step backwards onto the left foot, lowers the uchitachi's sword and lifts it up around the sword of shitachi to block the thrust of shitachi.

    The blade of uchitachi's sword is slightly facing down to the left when blocking the thrust of shitachi.
  10. Shitachi takes another 3 steps forwards onto the right foot after pushing uchitachi back at the second step.  This is called "kurai-zeme", attacking your opponent without executing strikes but with putting pressure on your opponent.

    Shitachi elevates his/her sword gradually.

    On the first step of the last three steps (i.e. The thrid step from the very first thrust that shitachi executes), the sword is still pointing at around the chest area of uchitachi.

    On the second step, the tip of the sword is pointing at around the throat area of uchitachi.

    On the third step, the tip of the sword is pointing at around the bridge of uchitachi's nose. 

    Shitachi shows zanshin.
  11. Uchitachi takes another three steps backwards onto the left foot. Lower the sword to the right to show the loss of uchitachi after the second block.

    On the first block, uchitachi took a step backwards onto the right foot.

    On the second block, uchitachi took a step backwards on to the left foot.

    On the 3rd step backwards, uchitachi takes a step backwards onto the left foot.

    From there, uchitachi takes two more back steps onto the right and the left foot.
  12. Uchitachi starts moving the sword up after shitachi shows zanshin.
  13. When uchitachi starts moving the sword up, shitachi carefully starts taking five steps backwards onto the left foot.
  14. Uchitachi starts moving forwards to follow shitachi onto the right foot, when shitachi takes the third step backwards.
  15. Uchitachi and shitachi are back to the centre in chudan.
  16. Both lower their swords turning own sword to the right so the kensaki of your swords is approximately in front of your right knee.
  17. After the five steps, take chudan and ready for Kata No.4.
> > Sanbon-me: Tsuki Kaeshi Tsuki

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