Meaning of Uchikiru

Do you know the word, Uchikiru? In Japanese, it is written as 打ち切る. Hope you can read Japanese there. It is usually translated as "close" or "end" as in "end a discussion". But in kendo we use it differently.

In kendo, it means "complete your strike". But I would like to add more because, as most of the time, the nuance of meaning is lost in translation. 

Utsu + Kiru, calligraphyUtsu + Kiru

Utsu means to strike. Kiru means to cut. But together with Utsu it means "complete your strike without regret". So once you execute your strike, you should focus on "completing your strike" without considering its result.

The best example of this is that you end your strike without zanshin. Or your zanshin is not completed because you think your strike is not valid. Whatever the reason, your strike is incomplete. 

In such case, we say "you must Uchikiru!". ​​​​​​​

Why Not Complete?

So what is the reason not to complete the strike you executed?

Possible answers to that are... 

  • Not knowing what ippon is
  • Lack of confidence
  • Focusing too much on "hitting a target"

Maybe all of these reasons are present in your strike. Whatever the reason that one's strike is not complete we must do something about it.

Firstly we must understand what makes our strikes ippon. This must be learned through the basics and an instructor must be there to tell them what's lacking or what's ippon. 

Secondly, to me many people are lacking confidence big time. Maybe only my students... How do I know they are a lack of confidence or what does make me think they are?​​​​​​​

  • They stop their strike on a half way through, i.e. they give up before their shinai lands on a target 
  • It is because of the above, their zanshin is not incomplete
  • Their kiai level drops down immediately after hitting a target
  • Their kiai level is very low in their entire striking process
  • Their strike is very weak (related to their kiai level)

All these are factors that will not let you do "uchikiru". 

If Not a Professional, Be a Specialist

Unless you work for the police force or teaching at school in Japan, it is almost impossible to live through teaching kendo. Even 8-dan sensei  cannot devote their lives into kendo until they are retired if they are working for a company.

Most of people are not professional kendoists. I really wish there were people who can devote their lives in instructing kendo so we can have more people who can learn PROPER kendo. But this is another issue.

Even if we are not a professional, it is OK. But it you see and practice kendo as a way of life, then we need to be a specialist of kendo.

We are specialised in kendo. We need to strive to improve our kendo techniques at the same time we enjoy it. And if we don't know how to complete our strikes then we are not really doing kendo. This is a serious issue as a way of life. 

Through kendo, we must improve our lives so that means if we cannot do proper kendo we cannot learn how to apply kendo to our daily life. And what it really means is that...

we cannot deliver the true meanings of kendo to the next generations.

Proper = Commitment = Complete

So your strike must be completed with 100% of your abilities all the time without lacking all the elements required to make your strike valid.

In the basics, you must "uchikiru" your strikes no matter what. That is how you can build up the strength of the foundation of your kendo.

And please remember. In daily life, this means you do your best at your work and at your school. You must complete your work, study or whatever you have to do with everything you have. 

This is how we train our character in kendo, daily life and how we can gain trust from others.

This process we learn in kendo is very important for us to pass on to the next generation. 

Doing things properly means committing ourselves to complete the things towards perfection. We might not be able to achieve "perfect" strike or work but it doesn't mean we give up on it. We always strive for it!

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