MEN strike

by Cris
(Monterey,California, USA)

My sensei tells me that when I hit men it seems as though I am making a chopping motion not a swinging motion. How can I fix this? I'm not really sure how to tell the difference.

Kendo-Guide.Com: Thank you for your question. This is a rather common issue, especially among males.

Quite often we describe painful strikes with tensed stiff arms and shoulders as "chopping motion".

Many people think that they have to have a lot of power in their strikes, when they strike. That is not true. You really have to relax when you strike.

You should focus on your footwork rather than striking. As long as your body moves forwards, all you have to do with your sword is to drop it on a target, in this case, men.

And then once you have learnt that, you have to start learning tenouchi, which increase sharpness of your strikes. This is not something you can just learn after a few years of learning kendo. But at least you should know how to do it.

1. Keep your posture nice and straight,

2. keep your shoulders down,

3. relax and

4. deliver your body forwards.

Practice this sequence of movements over and over. Your strikes will improve dramatically.

I hope this helps.

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Feb 23, 2012
Tameshigiri by an elementary school girl
by: Anonymous

I've been waiting for this to be relevant.

Look! No strength required! :D

Kendo-Guide.Com: Thanks for sharing! This is a great example that we don't need strength to cut. And it is very persuasive because the proof is right there! I don't see any “WANT” to cut. Just swinging her sword down. She did very very well :)

Feb 15, 2012
Not forcing your men strike
by: Chris G

When I tell people how to strike men, I tell them to extend their arms forward and use their wrists to whip the shinai tip to the spot where it needs to go.

The geometry track of the swing is already going to bring the tip around and down, so why force it to go in a direction it's already going? Of course, your sensei would be able to give a better idea as to how your arms are positioned at the end of the strike, but they do have a big effect on where the men is struck.

Here's another way to think about it. In Iaido, I was taught to swing the shinai forward, and then let gravity take care of the rest. If the sword is forced downward, it causes the blade to move in unintended directions which could cause problems when you're actually trying to cut something, as done in tameshigiri.

While the Kendo swing is abbreviated from the Iaido swing (full swing to the navel instead of just the head), the overall concept remains the same between the two which is that forcing it to go in the direction you want it to go tends to be counterproductive to what you intend on doing.

I hope this all makes sense!

When I tell people how to strike men, I tell them to just concentrate on extending the arms forward instead of forcing them down, which causes that chopping motion your sensei is talking about. The downward movement of the tip is going to happen anyways, so there isn't much of a need to force it to go in that direction.

Kendo-Guide.Com: Thanks for sharing, Chris! I have been telling my students to forget about striking but concentrating on delivering their body forward. Still hard to do because they WANT to hit a target. This “WANT” is the true problem :)

Feb 13, 2012
Another way to do it
by: Tanno

Since I'm deaf by birth, I developed my other senses to do so.

The only way to make a very good men striking is to raise your shinai with your left hand with a LESS support from your right.

Use your right hand, while it's relaxed and not tightened on the tsuka, to push your shinai to hit men.

The issue you see is based on your stiffness from your right arm and shoulder making it impossible to strike properly. Depend more to your left hand for power and weight, and your right to support the shinai by forcing it pressingly or turning it either for kote or dou.

You'll also need to train more your left hand to make it hit the men correctly. Your left hand needs to get used to its weight before striking properly.

Kendo-Guide.Com: Thanks for sharing!

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