Why do we breathe in? It is because we need oxygen and probably we are out of air in our body. This is a good example and easy example of “kyo”, emptiness. So when we breathe in, we have almost no air in our body to supply oxygen. That is why we breathe in. Thus, this is the moment we strike or get struck.
What is jitsu?
Jitsu means “fullness” in this case. We are filled with ki or energy. We are fully concentrating and there is no openness in our kamae and mind. This is the state of jitsu.
It is said that we should not strike when our opponent is in the state of jitsu. What happens if we do? Either we get struck or we cannot even get in because our opponent’s shinai does not move.
The moment from jitsu to kyo
We want and try to be in the state of “jitsu”. Thus, usually when we take chudan, we fully concentrate on our opponent’s physical and mental movements. We are filled up with ki.
Now in kendo, we are trying to move the state of our opponent’s mind from jitsu to kyo. That is the process we see in kendo before striking. We try to make an opening (kyo) using our shinai, footwork and body movements.
What happens when our mind moves from jitsu to kyo?
I am going to talk about this through my experiences. This may apply to you, or may not.
When the state of my mind moves from jitsu to kyo, I probably want to
Go backwards: I probably want to take some distance from my opponent.
Defend myself: I probably move my shinai from chudan and prepare to defend myself.
Strike my opponent: I probably want to strike him/her before he/she gets me.
Or I cannot even do anything I mentioned above. That is called “itsuku”.