What does it take to practice Nito Kendo?

by Kiefer S.

What does it take to practice Nito Kendo?

I was wondering if you could give me your opinion on a few things.

The requirements for nito kendo are very vague and I do not see any official kyu or dan level where one would be allowed to use nito. I have asked a few people who say to wait until san dan (3rd dan) to start but I am not sure whether such a thing would be smart.

They say that learning both will end up confusing my understanding of maai which I do not believe will happen at all. I am generally open to actively pursuing venues of interest to me and I am a strong believer of being well-rounded.

I think that practicing both itto and nito would be extremely beneficial. I am actively pursuing kendo right now and I am very interested in nito. I have read The Book of Five Rings numerous times and know all the basics of nito kendo. But I want to practice the waza but am unable to do so effectively by myself.

So long story short:

1) When can I, according to the rules of kendo, officially practice nito during keiko?

2) How 'exactly' do other people start nito kendo? (utter confusion here)

I don't expect any miracle answers, please do not feel pressured. Your help would be much appreciated.

Thank you very much.

Answer: Thank you for your post. In general, those stances other than chudan are learned when your teacher suggested practicing those stances. In other words, you need permission from your
teacher. Therefore, your kyu and dan are irrelevant.

I, personally, disagree with kyu holders take a jodan or nito. They still have a lot to learn such as, hasuji (the direction of the blade), tai-sabaki, ashi-sabaki and so on.

Now having said that, I am going to share my personal opinion.

Personally I think it is a good idea to learn more stances other than chudan under your teacher’s supervision. You can learn more about kendo. Once people reach at certain level, I think they should experiment jodan and nito as well.

In Gorin-no-Sho (the Book of the Five Rings), Musashi also mentions

“if what you do is not what you are supposed to do, even though you think you are on the right track (when learning something),  that is not the true way”. In the book, if you are not on the true path, Musashi called it “ge-do”.

I do not know how a copy of the book you have translated this. Hopefully, the translation is similar to the one I translated.

If you do not have anyone to teach nito at your dōjō, chudan is the only stance that can teach you what you need for nito.  If you learn chudan thoroughly, you can learn nito very easily.

I have Japanese Gorin-no-Sho but it does not give enough information such as how you actually use two swords. Probably you have to get detailed information about actual techniques from somewhere. You do not want to walk on the path of “ge-do”.

Kendo-World magazine have a series on nito (They just issued Volume4.4 as of September 2009 and the article about nito is their fifth article).

Hope this helps.

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Starting nito at an early stage.

by Tony

I'd like to share my situation and receive feedback.

I am 1st dan Kendo, and I practise 2 sessions of 2 hours each a week.  I will be 40 this year and have been at this rhythm for 2 years and expect to maintain or increase intensity.

I always wanted to do nito because it seems so natural to have a sword in each hand, like having a ski on each leg instead of a mono-ski or swimming front crawl instead of butterfly style.  It's also a cause for exploration and enjoyment.

I know I am not ready for nito, I must improve my chudan kamae and maai, as well as develop everything else, however by the time I am ready (5th dan?) I will probably be over 50 and not interested in shaking my zone of comfort, so I decided "it's now or never".  I got my shoto, dayto and basic DVD last week and went for it.

At first it's fascinating and fills you with energy, I get hit less and find it easier to do seme.  But arms hurt, I am not yet strong enough and I get tired after a minute of each keiko and my kirikaeshi sucks (although I am proud of lasting the full 2 hours nonstop). 

I plan to do 100% nito for a month or so and then do 50% nito and chudan knowing it will delay my overall progression (now is May, and in Dec 2010 I am taking my 2nd Dan exam and plan on using chudan).

So my questions are:

- What injuries are common and how do I prevent them?

- Any recommendations on how to balance both styles?

- Should I include jodan no kamae style in my practise?

- Any general feedback on this odd route I have chosen?

Any constructive feedback is appreciated (i.e. advice on dropping nito will be disregarded :-) ).

Answer: OK. We cannot tell you not to do nitō, huh? :)

  1. Common injuries. Please refer to Can kendo make me healthy or Does it hurt me? .

  2. Do chūdan little more than nitō. But learn how to move sideways in chūdan. So you have to learn ashi-sabaki (especially hiraki-ashi) and tai-sabaki (body movements).  

  3. Instead of taking jōdan, learn how to use your elbow for one-handed men.

I am not an expert in one-handed men but you need to use your elbow effectively to strike with one hand.

Change the direction of your elbow (in and out) and twist your wrist in and out when you strike.

These must be studied well. However, it is very hard to learn on your own.

4. Nitō is advanced but it may fit you because you started learning kendō late. Recent trend of kendō involves more straight movement (forwards and backwards) than side movement.  

So if you start kendō late, it is probably super difficult to catch up with this straight movement kendō.

So I advise many people to learn more of side movements than straight movements that involve speed and power. (I am not encouraging to take nitō at early stage even though you started kendō late. :))

Remember, if you cannot use a sword with two hands, it is very very hard to use a sword with one hand. You have to train a lot harder than those who use chūdan.

Hope this helps.

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Why switching hands in nito-ryu

Why do nito-ryu players reverse grips from traditional Nito-ryu?


Dave Wood
Kendo-Guide.Com: Thank you for your post. When they revere their hands i.e. the left hand has a longer sword, it is called “Gyaku Nitō”, which means “reversed (opposite)” nitō.  The transitional nitō is called “Sei Nitō”, which means “correct (normal) nitō”.

The advantages of gyaku nitō  in kendō are:

  • Easier for jōdan people to adopt it

  • Easier to strike the right kote

  • Easier to strike the right

  • Easier to control the shōtō (short sword) if you are right-handed.

On the other hand, with sei nitō, we have to swing the daitō (longer sword) across the opponent’s sword to strike the right kote and , which is harder for many.

So gyaku nitō is more suitable for kendo, especially in shiai (match) because it is very hard to get points by striking your opponent’s left kote and

Hope this helps.

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