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Training Different Cut Sizes and Styles

Hi there and thank you for offering your knowledge through this site!


I am very confused about the different sizes and styles of cuts and how to train them. We have big kihon cuts, small kihon cuts, and variations of cuts during waza and jigeiko.

Overall advice to learn by cutting big and relaxed, and that speed will come. But I feel lost in how to transmit the kihon to learning to cut into jigeiko and shiai. They seem so different that it’s hard to imagine or trust that big kihon cutting is the 'correct' way.

An example would be a classic kihon kote, such as shidachi in kata 2, where the arms are raised almost to the point like a kihon men cut, compared with something like a shiai kote where instead you don't even raise the left at all, but instead use it to pivot the tsuka against the right hand, which raises a little bit.

Can you help me understand the differences and the relationship between kihon cuts and 'live' cuts?

For reference I am shodan working on nidan.

Thanks very much.

Answer: Thank you for your kind words and question! I understand how you feel. People do go through that.

The big cuts and small cuts. They are all correct. So you can relax now.

Like samurai invented many techniques including big cuts and small cuts, diagonal cuts and so on. In kendo too, kendo practitioners studied and improved their techniques. That is why we have many different techniques. And also kendo is now amazingly fast now.

We really should mix up big, small, fast and slow cuts in our kendo so we can confuse our opponents.

It is true that kendo has become very fast so we don’t get to see big cuts in shiai often. But trust me, there are many techniques which do not rely on the speed and how big or small our swinging motion is.

Kihon is to Make the Core of Our Kendo and Characteristics

Kihon is the foundation of your kendo, i.e. you. When we talk about kendo, we are talking about ourselves. That is why if our kendo becomes better it should mean we as people should also get better too.

Kihon is our core. And I see kirikaeshi is the best way to train ourselves. We should do it nice and big. We should take it seriously and put everything we have in the kirikaeshi. We should not cheat here. It is tiring and it is boring. But that is why we should take it seriously and do it with everything we have.

Motodachi is Important too: Not only strikers should do this with their best. The receivers or motodachi also should receive with the best they can. They should control the distance well. They should receive the diagonal cuts or sayu-men well. We should do our best to receive our partner’s kirikaeshi well.

This is how we train ourselves; otherwise, kendo will become just an exercise method.

You should be able to strike big and small, fast and slow, strong and light. You should be able to control your sword. In order to do so, you should be able to control yourself.

Hope this helps! If not, please do not hesitate to ask!

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