Strategy application 3 Qs

by kynes
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)

I've achieved my first kyu rank and am starting to work on the long road to becoming a good kenshi in combat.

I've always been a student of Musashi prior to learning kendo.  Now I study the actual techniques more intently.


I would like a page of general advice for techniques.  I'm paired off with other kyu levels during practice and as you know, they often can’t control themselves, or throw their body weight, etc. variations as they are learning also.  I'd like to overcome the obstacles of their bad kendo.

For instance: I've learned that when facing someone tall, I generally should concentrate on kote and do being mindful of their men strikes.

The other day I faced a body builder who overpowered me and we were constantly in tsubazeri-ai with no hope for me. I've decided that thrusting to the neck and following up with an angled men cut will be my strategy w/ someone bigger/stronger.

Are there other words of general wisdom such as these to 'help my learning along'?


Also I've bought a book called The Sword and The Mind containing old crude drawings of sword techniques and their application. I would like someone to describe them in modern terms.


In many cases, there is not an opening when they attack, my senseis always say not to block but to instead strike first.  But much of my training is with older students who leave me no room to train - I’m like a punching bag for them. 

I do often block their sword and see an opening. Is there somewhere I can go which will show proper techniques for a parry and attack?

ex. is it more beneficial to block w/ tip to the right or to the left?  I generally react w/ a rt-tip block leaving me to wheel around my head and strike men on their right. (or do) but I would rather have it the other way around. 

I want to block in a way that is correct and efficient - as of now - I have no training yet I do it - I want to do it correct. "strike first" is not proper instruction on blocking - though I fully understand the intent of that advice.

Answer: Thank you for your questions and congratulations for your kyu. Did you get 1st kyu or this is your first time to get a rank?

Since we have limited space here, I will post my answers in the comment area.

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Mar 30, 2015
by: annamariapeter

The three Q’s are awesome and I love to know more about these three strategies. As I discontinued the Kendo class because of a migration issue I had missed so many so many key strategies related to the Kendo practice. But I am getting a lot from reading your site.

Dec 15, 2009
Listen to your sensei
by: Matt

You are only ikkyu and should focus on attacking men. Listen to your sensei.

If you are blocking you really have no hope of executing oji waza (parry in english) oji waza is executed from attacking. There is no 'correct and efficient' way to block. You can counter by attacking.

As I have heard one sensei says "no one is ever well known because they are good at blocking".

There is a method of learning in kendo called shu-ha-ri. You are still at the 'shu' or imitation phase, and should focus on replicating your sensei.

You seem to be too focused on 'beating' your opponents, including students with much more experience. This kind of attitude will severely limit your potential and learning opportunities in kendo.

Kendo-Guide.Com: Thanks for your post. Very true about shu-ha-ri. Through my experience, I can also tell the readers this.

Techniques can give you satisfaction of "hitting others" in kendo but it does not train your mind.

The scariest thing in kendo is to get into our own distance by taking the centre of our opponent and strike.

This simple process is the most difficult thing and scariest thing. We can do this only when we beat our own little self who are afraid of getting struck. 

But once we overcome this fear and strike our opponent, we can really start talking about kendo, I think.

In order to learn techniques, we have to know the concept of sen. To know the concept of the sen, we have to implement it in training.

I know it is not fun to be hit by your senpai, but that is a part of learning. So learn what sen is through training. If you can take "sen", it is much easier for you to learn techniques.

Be careful with learning techniques. Learning techniques without the firm basics will give you a bad habit and eventually you will find it very difficult to improve your kendo.

Dec 15, 2009
Answers to Strategy application 3 Qs
by: Kendo-Guide.Com

1. You are learning quite well. Learning through experiences is very beneficial. However, if you are still kyu level, do not execute a thrust to your opponent.

You may be better than other beginners but I don't think you have a good control to pull out your shinai if the thrust goes wrong. You may have a good control but still it is a dangerous technique.

Instead, learn some body control in tsubazeri-ai. If one overpowers you in tsubazeri-ai, you should use your footwork and move your body around so your opponent starts losing balance.

Now, if you know your opponent overpowers you in tsubazeri-ai, do not stay in tsubazeri. As soon as you get close, execute hiki waza.

2. I am not familiar with the book, The Sword and the Mind. But it is Yagyu Shinkage Ryu so you should be able to find more books.

However, you should be careful with translations. You never know how accurate these translations are and how authentic their contents are. That is why we have to read more than one book on the same subject.

There are some videos I found on youtube.

Yagyu Shinkage Ryu Heiho: Sangakuen no tachi, Koden Enbu
Shinkageryu Iai

3. Any beginners know "how to block" so we do not have to learn/teach it.

The easiest technique is to strike before they strike and keep striking. The most important thing is "when" you strike. You have to learn opportunities and timing to execute your strike first.

That is why we say, "Don't block! Strike!"

As you referred, we have techniques using ura (the right side) and omote (the left side) of our shinai.

Usually, techniques using omote is easier. But kote suriage men is usually done by ura of your shinai because it is easier.

These techniques are "easier" than kaeshi waza. However, depending on people some like suriage and some are good at kaeshi.

Anyway, you should execute suriage with the part no lower than nakajime. You want to deal with your opponent's strike as quickly as possible. But of course, the timing is very important.

You cannot really execute these techniques if you are waiting. You have to have a sense of sen. To train sen, we have to know when and how to strike.

Again that is why we have to learn striking before our opponent strikes us.

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