Differences between Ai-gote and De-gote / Large and small Men

by Min Chih Wang
(Costa Rica)

Dear Sensei

I was told that the difference between ai and de gote relies on the position which the opponent´s kote is being struck. Ai gote is when the kote is struck when my opponent already raises his/her kote at the level of the head to attack Men, and De gote is when the kote is struck when my opponent just about to start his/her attack. In other word, de-gote is equivalent to Debana kote. Is that correct?

About the large and small Men attack, is there something between large and small Men ? Is small Men more practical for Shiai?

I saw this match on Youtube between Furukawa Sensei and Tani Sensei:


Is Fururkawa Sensei´s Ippon was a large or small Men? It looks like something in between. His hands were too close to his chest before he executed Men, is that correct?

Best Regard

Answer: Thank you for your question! It is a good question!

About Ai-gote and De-kote:

First off, yes, de-kote is short for debana kote. That is correct. But ai-gote and de-kote are two different techniques.

The definition of de-kote is correct. But ai-gote means your opponent and you strike kote at the same time so your kote and your opponent’s kote strikes are cancelled out.

About Men Strikes: Since there is no definitions on each size of any strikes, I would like to talk from the basics.

When we learn the basics of men, it is
big and your left hand should be at least above your eyes. In my case, I was told to lift my left hand up above the top of my head.

So that is the basic men strike. So that is the basic men strike then other strikes are all “applied techniques”. If we define that the basic men strike as a big men strike, then others are smaller men strikes.

Basically, in the modern kendo, we use smaller strikes. You probably don’t really see anyone strike anything like they execute the basic strikes.

But there is a technique called sashi, which doesn't involve much “cutting” motion. It is rather “hitting” than “striking” so it is a technique we should avoid. Nowadays, people use the term sashi-men as a small men but they are totally different techniques. It is actually sad that people don’t know the difference anymore.

Regarding Furukawa sensei’s men strike.

Yes, he brought up his hands up to the chest level. It is bigger than so-called small men but I am sure that people don’t call it a “big” men strike.

Many sensei in the past or the older sensei (in their 70s) use their elbows more to lift up their sword. The late Tsurumaru sensei used to say that we should lift up our left hand up to our mouth. And when he executes his men strikes, he did lift up his left hand really high with his elbows bent.

Hope this helps!

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