Kaeshi do

I recently came from a taikai and I was amazed at how some of the kendoka kaeshi dou looked so beautiful.

But I noticed that the way they were cutting dou was far different than kihon.

One, their left hand was not on the center-line. It was off to the right of center-line
Second, at the point of impact or even before, they would pull the shinai through with the right hand, completely letting go of the left hand.

The effect was beautiful. It looked like the shinai was actually slicing through the opponent.

I want to start practicing this way but I'm scared because it's so different than what I was taught in kihon. Do you have an advice for me? I've been doing kendo for almost 6 years now.

Answer: Very good observation!

I hate to say this but as you mentioned these do strikes are not following the basics. Since the modern kendō relies on speed, many techniques have to adjust to it; especially among young competitors.

If you see those advanced 7-dan and 8-dan sensei, they do not strike like you saw in shinai. Of course, we have to follow them.

Letting go your left hand before your shinai touches your opponent dō is not what we should be doing. We should strike with both hands and only when we cannot pull out our shinai with both hands we can let go our left hand.

And those who strike only with the right hand tend to lift their shinai up after striking. This is not following the principle of katana (Japanese sword).The basic dō strike is cutting into the trunk of the body diagonally and goes down to the left hip.

So lifting shinai up does not make sense, unless they are cutting diagonally down-up. And this is not what we do in kendō.

So even though they look good, you should stick to the basics. You may get too excited in shiai and do one handed dō strikes in shiai and get points. Then let’s say you are lucky. :)

My advice is to stick to the basics. Polish up your skill. Then you will be able to strike beautiful kaeshi dō with the beautiful kihon kendō.

Hope this helps.

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Jun 24, 2011
by: Chris

I noticed that sometimes instead of letting go, sometimes people slide their left hand up to the right hand just before hitting. I was told that this is also 'correct' and is for people who have more 'control' and 'flexibility' in their right (I forgot if it's left or right, but you get the idea, right?) wrist; striking with normal grip is when one has better flexibilty and control in left hand. I find that sliding the left hand up to the right helps a bit by restricting the amount of 'off-centredness' of the left hand and also stops lifting shinai in what is dubbed as 'scratching your nose' fashion (instead of lifting with arms, lift with wrist which is wrong)...though I am not sure how acceptable this is in a shiai (as I've only been in a couple and haven't had the courage to strike a do yet).

Jun 16, 2011
by: Anonymous

Nice post thank you

Jun 16, 2011
Kaeshi do.
by: RonFox

This is an unfortunate by-product of kendo being treated as sport and shinpan accepting those strikes which are invalid from the point of view of a katana.

Lifting up is sometimes a consequence of the fact that the shinai can't cut (thank goodness) and that while the cut should come from the principles of the katana it cannot go through the do in accordance with those principles because it has not cut and cannot follow the path a sword would follow. It is also a consequence of shinpan and sport kendo..where the competitor is 'selling' the ippon to the shinpan and the shinpan are 'buying' it.

I will be blunter than Imafuji sensei is: The fact that it was an ippon in a shiai does not mean it is correct kendo...and even more importantly does not mean it is something we should work to emulate.

Kendo-Guide.Com: Thank you for your post, Fox sensei. These things are very unfortunate in kend? nowadays. I agree with you.

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