Shoulder Problem in Kendo

by Emilie

My shoulders hurt a lot, and I can't swing properly the shinai to make big men. Small men is bad too :(

Shinai seems to be very very heavy !!

My senpais told me that I’m too "contract" with my fingers on the shinai, and when I try to have the center, I use my force.

If you have an advice about this, or an exercise to do better, you can save me ;-) !!
Maybe next year I’ll try my shodan, I want to be relax with my shinai :-)

Answer:Tthere are two reasons why your shoulders hurt.

1. You are doing kendo too much.
2. You are using only shoulders when you strike.


1. If you are doing kendo too much, maybe you have to come up with training menu or schedule that fits you. Some people can train as hard as they want and they have no problems. However, some bodies cannot recover as fast or well as others do. So you just have to know how much your body can handle, and slowly build your muscles.

2. Some people use their arms to strike and others use their shoulders more to strike. If you are the latter, you have to start analysing how your strike is now and how you can fix it.

When you strike, the kensaki should start moving first. And your wrists start moving and elbows. Finally your shoulders start moving.

If you are using only shoulders, you skip all the moments in that process before the shoulder movement. So if you see your strike from the side, maybe it looks like your right arm is always straight (or stretched out).

So when you left your sword, the kensaki moves first, followed by wrists, elbows and shoulders. When you
swing down your sword, your shoulders start moving, and your elbows start going down and stretching out, and your wrists snapping forwards. Finally, the kensaki reaches a target.

So the movement itself is more like a whip.

It is very hard to do but you should keep this image of a whip when you strike.

When you do that, I want you to be careful with your elbow movement. When I tell people to use their elbows when they strike, they tend to drop their elbows from the position where their hands are above their head. This is very bad. This breaks your strike into two movements.

So you have to use the joints (of shoulders, elbows, wrists) smoothly like a "whip".

You do not want to make your shoulder pain worse because shoulders are very hard to recover once they get hurt. Trust me on this because my shoulders have been bad since 1988. I still suffer and have to skip some trainings after a bit of intense training.

If your shoulders hurt, try to do suburi very slowly and find out when your shoulders get pains. Is it when you lift your sword? Is it when your hands are above your head? Are there any ways that you don't feel pain? Change the way you lift and swing your sword and find a way that gives you less pain. Once you find it, tweak it and polish it up. Slowly though.

If you want to do kendo for a long time, take it easy and be patient. If you rush to fix everything at once in kendo, you will not fix anything. Sit back and have some time to analyse yourself. Work on one problem at a time and do it step by step.

Hope this helps.

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