Jodan as a solution to injured right wrist?

I've been practicing kendo for about 4 years now and currently in my ikkyu level.

Unfortunately, an old injury on my right wrist would come to haunt me every once in a while and prevent me from fully practicing kendo.

Apparently, I damaged the ligaments on my wrist and never let it fully heal.

I've been receiving treatments, but it appears that the progress is very slow. The only alternative I was able to come up with the jodan-no-kamae in order for me to continue practicing kendo.

Would it be reasonable to ask my sensai to see if I can learn the stance given my condition?

I am somewhat worried because I've been told that people usually pick up a difference stance (i.e. jodan or nito) when they reach sandan or higher. Would I sound impertinent or even rude to even ask if I can learn this stance given that I am only in ikkyu?

Thank you

Answer: Thank you for your question. I dont think it is rude to ask your sensei about you taking jōdan. I have my student taking nitō who is ikkyū but we have a sensei who can teach nitō.

This is my personal view and it is not what is a right or wrong type of a story.  

Everyone should learn different stances when they reach certain level. What is certain level? If we have to give
you a specific number, we have to choose 3-dan. But this is because people ask, right?

You should be dedicated to study and also you should have a good sensei. If you start something different without the solid chūdan basics and no one to show you, then you will develop bad habits.

I know how you feel because I have many injuries too. If you think you should give your right hand a rest, you should start learning how to strike with the left hand from hidari jōdan.

I think it is a good idea.

But as a kendoist, I will give you another advice. Find ways to strike without hurting your right hand from chūdan.

My left shoulder still hurts (had a surgery in August, 2010). I suffered from the pain more than 20 years. Still hurts. When I do basics, especially kirikaeshi, it just hurts. But I found a way to strike kirikaeshi without feeling much pain; pull back the left shoulder a bit when striking.

I do stop training when I think I should stop, because I do not want to make it worse. But when you have a pain, it is telling you that you should do it in a different way.

So find a way so it does not hurt as much. Take it easy. Kendō is a life time journey so you don't have to be in a hurry.
Hope this helps.

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May 15, 2011
by: Ron Fox

I agree with what Imafuji sensei says. I have also been privileged to practice with a few kenshi who have had handicaps that have forced them out of chudan almost from the start.

I was lucky to practice with a former ZNKR middle school women's champion who had lost her right hand prior to starting kendo in a childhood accident. She started with katate jodan from the very start.

The danger is that if your sensei does not know the principles of jodan; how to 'throw the men' how to move, you'll learn bad habits that haunt your jodan and haunt your chudan later.

I think you should examine what it is about your chudan that results in wrist pain. If it is something that happens regularly as a result of striking (as opposed to something that happens if your shinai is entangled or struck in some way) I you may have a problem with the mechanics of your strike.

I would tell your sensei that you are having problems and ask him for _his_ advice. He may suggest changes to your mechanics... in which case you should practice those changes. You may believe that you are doing what he asks but it is sometimes really hard to know exactly how our bodies move. Ask a friend to take video of your basics. Look at it normal speed, slow motion and even frame by frame to see how your right wrist is moving and what it does that causes pain. Explore the range of motion that is painless and the range of motion limits (where pain just starts)...and use that understanding to maintain your kendo with minimal or no pain.

Finally, the importance of rest and recover in a real injury (such as damaged ligaments) cannot be overstressed. As Imafuji sensei says, kendo is for life and (my addition) for your life. You gain nothing and lose much if your damage your wrist irreparably. My own students can say how hard it is for me to follow my own advice here. However as I grow older I'm smarter about that as well (even now I'm resting a strain to my right hamstring).

Finally resting an injury does not mean practice stops. There is so much you can practice even without suburi. Your ashi-sabaki can always be improved. Your fumikomi/fumikiri does not require a strike to practice and the most important practice: mitori geiko -- watching practice and practicing by watching.

See what others more advanced than you do that you don't do and make a practice plan to incorporate the differences in your kendo step by step.

Even if we are only able to make it to the dojo and not able to put on our gi and hakama we can still work to advance our kendo

Best wishes for a full recovery!


Kendo-Guide.Com: Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Fox sensei!

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