About Gyaku Jodan

by Felipe

I would like to know why is Gyaku Jodan (the jodan stance with the right hand at the bottom of tsuka) almost inexistent in modern Kendo.

I've seen this stance while watching a couple of old pictures and videos, and once I saw Chiba Masashi sensei (if I'm not wrong) using it as well.

The Jodan stance, in general, seems to have been more popular in the old times. Why did it change its popularity and nowadays it's not so common?

Thank you

Answer: Thank you for your question. The jōdan you are referring is called Migi Morote Migi Jōdan (according to Hakudo-an). I remember the late Kai sensei was taking this stance in shiai in one of the videos on Youtube. And I don't think this is very popular because it is hard to strike. There are no rules or regulations that prohibit this kamae but people don't use it because it is hard to get a valid cut in shiai.

Plus you need to switch your hands once you draw out the sword. It is not very practical.

Now in my personal opinion, it is very important to study jōdan as well as chūdan in keiko. Since jōdan requires a great deal of shinai control, beginners are not encouraged to take such stance. Plus jōdan requires the jōdan practitioner a great amount of ki energy since he/she cannot use their shinai to make an opening. You need to be very skillful.

In old days, we had many jōdan practitioners won championships. Jōdan was so strong so… They added another target called "muna- (or mune-) zuki". So you had men, kote, , tsuki (throat) and muna-zuki (tsuki to the chest) against jōdan. Due to this change of the shiai rules, people stopped taking jōdan. I think this was effective against nitō practitioners too.

Now muna-zuki is not effective in shiai, so I think jōdan population is coming back up. Or at least not as bad as before.

I feel very sad about this because the shiai rules should not change kendo itself. We change shiai rules and then we lose tradition. We really have to be careful about shiai rules.

Hope this helps!

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