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Oct 03, 2009
Moving forward in kendo
by: aaron

Thank you for your response to my comment.  I am glad to contribute. 

I am sorry for some confusion on aggression. 

I was trying to state that the majority of new students want to go backward at first.  It seems natural to run away from danger. 

To teach someone to go forward, be aggressive, is hard. They resist it and when they are finally aggressive they over or under do it in going forward.  Teaching a non-aggressive person, i.e. someone whose natural instinct is to run away, to have controlled aggression is a hard task.

Kendo-Guide.Com: Thank you for your comment. I see. I now know why you mentioned aggression.

I would like to add some comments since some people may misunderstand or misinterpret the word, aggression.

To overcome fear, we have to use some other emotions, such as aggression, courage, calmness. Aggression is probably used for those who cannot control their emotions well. It is the first step to overcome fear, I should say.

Aggression should not be felt towards your opponent but yourself; otherwise, your aggression will take over and you may hurt him/her.

When people know that they can pull out their inner power by aggression, they should start learning how to control it.

They could pull out some internal power that they did not know they had by being aggressive.

They know they have the power now. So they should be able to pull that out without being aggressive.

This is the task we always confront. We want to have the state of mind that keeps us courageous without being aggressive towards our opponent.

It is said that we should look like a waterfowl. They look like swimming elegantly and calmly but their feet are moving crazy under the water to keep them going.

This is, of course, an analogy. So our kendo should be elegant and calm but inside body our ki should work very hard to keep us going.

We tend to imitate senseis with high grade. It is fine but what we do not really see is how hard their mind and ki are working for them.

To reach that level, we should learn how the inner power can be pulled out. Aggression towards others is the first step. But once you learn, be aggressive towards yourself. Then control aggression. Pull out the inner power without being aggressive towards anyone including yourself.

Hope this helps.

May 15, 2009
There is no waste in Kendo Practice
by: Santiago B Tejada

Many wonder why senseis say many times not to go/move backwards. It takes hard training to get used to keep moving forward whenever you strike but to make it easier we have "Kirikaeshi".

Kirikaeshi encompasses a series of stances and movements that are fundamental to Kendo practice. Among those movements you find 5 continuous repetitions of attack moving backwards.

You can rest assured the movements are there not for the sake of just only moving backward but because there is a chance you may need to move when necessary.

Answer: It is true that kirikaeshi has all the fundamental movements in kendo. That is why we practice kirikaeshi all the time. Also kirikaeshi gives motodachi (receivers) great benefits too. Actually we have the saying, ?10 benefits for strikers and 8 benefits for receivers? in kirikaeshi. I will go through the benefits in the future.

We do not have to strike when we go backwards. Of course, striking is one option but it is the nature of ?going backwards? that most of sensei try to fix.

By going backwards all the time, we do not learn much. Sure, it is a method to avoid being defeated. But ?not being defeated? is not the main purpose of kendo. That is why many senseis tell us not to go backwards all the time, but ?do something? about your opponent coming forwards.

In many occasion in our life, going backwards without fight is the best choice. However, in kendo, we want to fight our emotions such as fear, self-doubt, panic, ego and so on.

The question is, ?are you just scared or just don?t want to be hit??

We need to analyse the state of our mind when going backwards. We must face the fact. If you do not want to get hit, find out ways to stop your opponent coming towards you before they hit you. This part is what we really want to learn in kendo.

May 14, 2009
Moving forward in kendo
by: Anonymous

I would agree that it is not wrong to go backward. What has been said is great. I would like to add that adjusting distance is exactly what should be done.

But, distance can be adjusted in many ways and directions. For people just starting kendo they tend to adjust distance backwards. The problem with always adjusting backwards is that you eventually run out of anywhere "backwards" to go. By moving backwards when you do not need is to rob you of one of your defences.

Also, moving backwards without any thoughts of doing anything else shows that you are not thinking through what you are doing. This is not good. Do more than just going backward. For example, find a way to stop his forward movement.

Controlling aggression is hard to teach and to learn.

Kendo-Guide.Com: Thanks for your comment. I agree with you. Merely going backwards without any plans is not a good plan.

The more advanced we get, the more there are ways to prevent your opponent coming forwards and strike you. Again it is hard to do but without trying those methods, they never get easier to learn. That is why we have to stop going backwards all the time and try to do something else.

I don?t know why you mentioned about aggression here, but it is true that it's hard to teach or learn how to control aggression. That is why we have to try to control in kendo. If you cannot control it in kendo, it is very hard to control it in your life, I guess.

May 14, 2009
Cutting Forwards
by: Andrew Pardoe

I strongly recommend to always try to go forwards especially for beginners, myself included (5 yrs training) as this promotes strong kendo spirit and committed cuts.

I have seen some kohai (juniors: usually those who started kendo after you) get stuck in performing only defensive waza which tends to make their kendo "clever" instead of honest and sincere.

My Sensei certainly does not like to see "going backwards kendo" and at 70yrs old this year he still displays very powerful spirit.

Kendo-Guide.Com: Thank you for sharing your experience.

As in many other sports, martial arts or even academic fields, there are different phases at different levels.

At the beginning we learn the basics. Just like we learn 1+1= 2 at the beginning in math class. How to write alphabets or whatever your language is. In Japanese we learn hiragana first and katakara next. Finally we learn kanji (Chinese characters). We learn easier kanji first.

As we become more advanced, we learn many other techniques i.e. complicated stuff. However, the basics is never gone. It is always there. 70 years old 80 years old sensei still work on the basics but at their level.

If kendo was a just stick fighting, it would not matter if you go backwards or not. But since it is to train your emotions or feelings as well as your physical strength, kendo really care how we train it.

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