Kendo teaches art to Martial

by RT

Kendo at its core carries with it much within its training that is not understood by most and never realized by the uninitiated.

There is a real life-hand2hand combat application in everything that takes place when 2 Kendoka dominate a dojo men2men, when Shinai's touch tip to tip and battle’s just that few people realize what is actually taking place past the sound of bambo splintering as it bounces off nickel plating at 120plus mph.

To throw a punch the shoulder must first rise-for a shinai to strike the same thing occurs-one strives to have as little perceivable movement in the shoulder as the shinia rises for a men strike-even the wrist movement for a kote strike will see slight movement intimate from the shoulder first.

To throw a kick-the hip must Kendo before a strike takes place-the hips too will move-but footwork is disguised by the hakama.

Before a punch occurs in western boxing-in striking martial arts-breath is held and to the advanced in training released-but it is initially held-as it is impossible to strike or move quickly breathing in.

Kendokas learn to pick up on this with enough time spent men2men in full-out sparring with a superior kendoka.

Before a punch is thrown-or before a blow from a shinai is rendered-very often one will blink-when you start to understand this-you can be pre-emptive in your attack starting first as in just prior.

When you are face to face with a Kendoka of great fighting spirit and skill as in men2men and your shinias are crossed and you can hear and feel on your face your opponents breath-when you can feel the power in their body as they jockey for position with you thru the crossing of your shinai at close proximity-pushing you slightly trying to find your balance proximity and upset it and then attack-or to get below your center of gravity and upset you with upward movement and cut across under your raised arms with a do strike as if cutting your torso in half with a live blade-these are all basic kendo techniques but in an advanced kendoka's application-how it applies to real life is not understood by all-even the advanced-but for those that can get to this state of awareness thru Kendo-they can see the parallels to being at the striking to grappling range-countering your opponents balance and exploiting it-throwing an uppercut to the liver at close proximity with an instances worth of decision making...even the feints in Kendo mimic the jab in western boxing-so is the head movement in dodging the shina strike to the men-I have seen my 83 old sensei since deceased...Sensei Amadatsu make no use of his shinai in training at all when engaging/training new to intermediate students and merely move his head a slight direction to the left or to the right and slip a shinai from its target and this is at speeds twice the limit a car should travel on the highway...he would offer out his do lead hand-unprotected and not holding the shinai and taunt students to strike it-they could not unless he allowed them,...this was at 83yrs of age! And in some cases in advanced hands-shinais can travel at speeds faster than that...I could go on but less one is willing to open their mind to see what I am communicating here.

I have studied and been a competitive Judoka-winning several tournaments in my time-I have studied WadoRyu Karate as a teenager-and several years training in Escrima/Arnis-tho similar in some respects the mental training/discipline from Kendo is only rivaled from high end Judoka's in my experience-primarily because the
physical release from all out contact the two allow students regardless of age/weight or overall condition to participate and undertake is similar-in that the release one feels in the period following a match is the same-it is at that point in kendo one is in the zone of heightened mental awareness-a higher plane of consciousness-just everything is brighter-clearer-about one’s life-their struggles-obstacles-and the path around it seems easier to formulate-these things actually stay with you on the ride home as well-inwards reflection-assessment-direction-all of it.

It is hard to explain unless one actually fights hard enough against a tough opponent and by that I have fought 60yr old Kendokas with 30yrs in the art and been given all I could handle and then some-but it is this ability for Kendo to take the practitioners to that higher level of inward understanding-spatial awareness-calmness under extreme physical pressure-that makes the art addictive.

I have seen an entire dojo and its activity actually stop when two kendokas eventually wind up sparring with each other that are of a very high level of skill-the energy becomes electric and all that would be found on the battle field of war or the battle field of life can be found right then and there-it is something to behold when it occurs.

In kendo it also teaches you early even in the beginner stage-that it is dishonorable to turn down a challenge.

When you are sitting in silence with bogu on-as a junior practitioner it is required that you sit and wait for a challenge-it will come with the customary etiquette with the bow-but if challenged one must respond if the bogu has been is custom to not refuse a challenge.

What Kendo has taught me-is an end point. Most Kendokas you will find have studied martial arts from other disciplines. I never studied the martial arts to learn how to fight-I came to learn how not to fight as I had encountered many-and I say many physical altercations in the prime years of my life when hormones over ride reason-that I never learned in a dojo but thru hard and real life lethal application-that I longed for something deeper-to quiet my warrior spirit within-to tame the beast-to get the inner gorilla under other words to understand self-to find mastery of self-because understandings others is easy by comparison.

The study of kendo allowed that-to a degree I had not found in other disciplines...I do not doubt others can and have reached that desired level of higher consciousness-I only found it in Kendo and Judo to a large extent-and unlike Judo in Kendoka you can still go all out into your 70's full contact and in the rare cases like Sensei Amadatsu who I trained under-into your 80's as well.

In judo if you been highly competitive you’re pretty busted up by your mid 30's and training recreationally if you can find a club that caters to that aspect of the sport that it has become.

That's what Kendo did for me-and I hope that is what I brought to Kendo as well...respect for the art and self-respect in the end.

I have been out of training for several decades-due to career-family-two kids in high level hockey and travel-but now as the kids are entering the latter years of their teenage period-I find myself inquiring again the activity of my club with a yearning again to don the bogu-and look deep into the soul of my opponent who represents the struggle of life itself-man2man and men2men.

The addiction of the art can be that strong.


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