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Tense Shoulders?

by Joe
(Chicago)

I've been involved with Kendo for about 8 months now. I took a 6 month break for my first semester in college, now I am coming back. I've been having one very consistent problem.


My Dojo is very kihon oriented. They tell us to squeeze our arms when we strike (so they are straight, with no bending at the elbow and parallel to the ground).

Since I first learned, I haven't been able to strike any target without tensing my shoulders. They usually pop up because of this, and my sensei and sempai tell me it's something I need to fix. I usually try to do an hour of work in Kendo a day, but I can't seem to fix this shoulder problem.Any advice?

Answer:  Probably you are squeezing your hands inwards too much. Probably the word, squeeze" is not that good to explain what we do with our grip. Please refer to "Tsuka is loose. What can I do about it?" for more information about how to have our grip when we strike.

There are many ways of teaching kendo so I do not want to confuse you with a different method. Also I do not want to disrespect your teachers/sempai,because of what I am going to say.

People tend to have tense shoulders when they stretch their arms forward too much(i.e. having their elbows too straight). This also results in rolling your shoulders forwards.

Since we have our right hand far out than our left hand, it is quite unnatural to have both elbows straight when striking. Also if you have your right hand at the same height as your shoulder (parallel to the floor), the kensaki stops way higher than your men height.

Fora men strike, please refer to "Men Strike: Basic Men Training for Beginners".

Hope this helps.

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Apr 14, 2010
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tense shoulders
by: Tony

8 months with a 6 months break?  That's the problem I think.

Do 100 haya suburis until you don't feel your shoulders...then they will be too tired to be tense and you'll use the proper technique.

Moriji Mochida said that for 50 years he learned to do kendo with his body, and only when 60 and 70 did he learn to use his mind as his body weakened.
With enough suburis you can be 80 years old in 45 minutes and start using your mind right away, why wait? :-)

My opinion coming from someone with the same problem after 2 years.

Kendo-Guide.Com:  Thanks for your comment. Mochida sensei was 10th dan and his saying, described here, is really famous in the kendo world.

I like the way you put it. After a lot of suburi, we become 80 years old. I'd never looked at it that way. It is true. Our body does not move as 19 years old when we get really tired :)

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