Tsuki best time

by Olga

When is the best time for tsuki and when it is better to abstain from tsuki?

E.g. I heard we should not do tsuki when our opponent comes at us since it is dangerous and rude. Instead we should do tsuki when opponent steps backwards. Can you please comment?

Answer: Thank you for your question.

First of all, I must write this. If you cannot control your shinai, you should not do tsuki. Simply, it is too dangerous.

Now what do I mean by “control”?

You should be able to pull out your shinai when you think your tsuki will hurt your opponent. This sounds very doable but if you are not experienced, it is very hard to do.

>> I heard we should not do tsuki when our opponent comes at us since it is dangerous and rude.

This is called mukae-zuki (ts becomes z). It is certainly dangerous and if you cannot pull out your sword when you are going to hurt your opponent, then you should not do this.

Also you should not do this to your junior students if they are still learning “how to strike”. This will scare them. They will stop striking because of this tsuki. They cannot learn “correct” kendō if you do this when they are still at the early stage of kendō.

And if you do this a lot, your kendō stops improving. If you know that your opponent is coming, you should be striking. That is what I learned.

And also this means that you are telling your opponent that he/she did not kill your sword, i.e. your sword is still in the centre. In this sense, if you do this to people with higher grade than you, they may consider your action rude.

When to Execute

- When your opponent is stepping back
- When your opponent lowered his/her sword
- When your opponent is not doing anything against your seme
- When your opponent’s shinai is off the centre and you see tsuki is the best target

I think these are the basic timing to execute tsuki.

I do not encourage my students to do tsuki. I have them practice to take centre but that is all. Tsuki is something you will be able to do when your skills reach to certain level. I do not want to risk my students’ lives by teaching tsuki when they are not ready.

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