Seiza and Mokuso Manners

by Nicole

Question: As other kendo-ka are putting on bogu, do we look straight ahead or tilt our head and eyes down? I've seen it done both ways and don't know if there is a proper way.

Answer: I think that you are asking what you should do while waiting for others putting their bogu on. I don't think there is a proper way. Sit there quietly and maintain your body posture unless otherwise instructed.

Question: As well as when we rei, I see some people close their eyes, although I was taught to keep them open. Would it be disrespectful either way?

Answer: In zarei (sitting bow), your eyes should be open so you can see around you.

More information on rei, you can click here.

Question: During moukso: I see people close their eyes, although I was taught that we do not close our eyes. We leave them barely open so that if there was ever an instance of attack we would be ready. So it was to never let your guard down.

Answer: You are right. For kendo-ka, we should be aware of what's going on around us so we should not close our eyes all the way.

The status of the eyes that is open slightly is called hangan; the direct translation is "half eye". It means the eyes should open slightly.

But not only kendo-ka open their eyes slightly during mokuso. Actually anyone who does mokuso should have their eyes in "hangan". Why?

If our eyes are wide open, we get distracted easily. If our eyes are totally shut, we start thinking about a lot of things, i.e. again we get distracted.

Therefore, we should open our eyes slightly so we don't concentrate on the surroundings or things going on in our head. We should not get distracted by anything during mokuso.

If we concentrate on one thing, our mind stops its flow. In kendo, we call it shishin. It's not a good thing to do. That is also why we do not want to close our eyes all the way.

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