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Jun 21, 2012
Meaning of Marobashi
by: Anonymous

Being no means an expert on the subject, but having been the individual who initiated the Marobashi page on wikipedia, I can elaborate a bit upon it.

Marobashi is a philosophical concept that was developed during the 15th and 16th centuries in Japan.

The word does indeed literally imply "rolling down the mountain like a boulder" but the context in which it applies to swordsmanship and other martial arts is similar to Bruce Lee's motivation behind developing Jeet Kun Do, in that the way to move should arise in a natural way, not seeking the path downward, but having developed one's forms and movements to such a point that they are their own individual boulder of technique.

After having spent an appropriate amount of time practicing, every obstacle (opponent) one might encounter on the way down the mountainside (in combat) would not evoke a particular form or learned training in order to overcome it.

As a boulder, your method would be rigid and unyielding, but in rolling down the mountain, you might never need a particular technique in any number of situations in order to overcome a particular obstacle.

Your form - the learned technique - is essentially formless in the infinite variety of ways it can manage to "roll down the mountain".

This was the concept that lead to the creation of the Shinkage-Ryu school of swordsmanship. This was marobashi.

Kendo-Guide.Com: Thank you for your explanation.

All the articles that are related to Marobashi say "Your technique (what you do) must change depending on your opponent's technique (what he/she does)". Thus, it is formless.

Mar 16, 2011
Maybe I can shed some light.
by: Laurent

I had never heard the term, but it brings to mind a concept I have been taught, that a strike in kendo should be launched with no holding back, the result being an unstoppable force.

The image that was used to exemplify this was that of a wave that inexorably advances on the opponent. Even if you break it a little, it keeps advancing and submerges the opponent (my thoughts to all the tsunami victims in Japan).

Rocks, or a single big rock (or an avalanche) rolling down a hill is similar in that whatever force you can apply to it for a brief moment will not make it deviate from its course and it will hit with force.

I just found a wikipedia entry on that :

It says "The term can meaning to be "without form" in some contexts,[citation needed] or to follow "the way of nature, freedom and energy in life". My interpretation of it would be closer to the latter.

Hope this helps in some way,

Happy kendo !

Kendo-Guide.Com: Thank you for your post.  These things are hard to understand unless we really practice the style :)  I like the analogies of yours. That is what we call, sutemi in kend?. Once we execute a cut, we have no way back. Just proceed.

And there was an interview article with Shinkage-ry? master and he was using “rolling down a hill” analogy when explaining marobashi. However, I did not quite understand what he was trying to explain through the interview (in Japanese) I did not translate it here.

Mar 15, 2011
marubashi in aiki
by: Olga

I have heard from one kendo-ka that “kendo kata sense is marobashi, except the 1st one”. So I decided that is somehow connected with kendo. Thank you for your answer.

I only found about marobashi the following: “Marubashi is a borrowed term from the Yagyu Style of swordsmanship and is translated as "bridge of life." Aikido is heavily based on the sword arts and employs several or their concepts. While straight blocking a weapons attack may be possible, getting out of the way is always the best option in case the block is ineffective.* Sometimes getting out of the way isn't possible and we must face an attack head on, as if facing an enemy on a narrow log bridge high over a river. There is no left, right, back or even hesitation as the sword comes charging at you.” (that is from

Kendo-Guide.Com: Thank you for your input. As I said in the previous post, I don’t practice the style so I do not want to get into the detail by just translating what I read on the Internet.

However, the concept of marobashi is that “we should change our style as our opponent moves”. In Shinkage-ry?, they say, “there are no stance (no kamae), no style and no forms”.

As you can see, it must be studied to know what it really means. But as we practice kend? really well, we should be able to comprehend the concept of marobashi through kend?.

It also has somehting to do with seich?sen (centre line of the body). We are told to keep our hands and sword in the centre of our body in kend?, right? And most of the kenjutsu schools say the same thing.

Now I do not draw a conclusion for now but hope this input help you a bit.

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