Why fumikomi-ashi in Kendo?

by Santiago B. Tejada
(Coconut Creek. FL USA)

I just posted the thread "Historical origin of Fumikomi-ashi" in the Kendo World magazine forum (You must be registered to read it), where I wondered about the ubiquitous origin of this popular foot work.

In search for answers, I would like to re-post the question here:

Fumikomi-ashi (or stomping step) is the one Kendo staple attack motion in which the attacker 'jumps' forward to quickly bridge the gap between him/her and the opponent. Although this foot movement is widely accepted as the main entry attack, it has been hard to gather an explanation for its historical inception into the practice of Kendo as 'the way of the sword'.

When looking at all the Nihon Kendo katas none of them has this attacking step. (Although, kata #7 (Nanahonme) is the only one that has an elongated (not a jumping step) foot motion slightly similar when shidachi moves at an angle for doing a do strike. But not quite the same.)

Iaido, and Battodo do not seem to have it and although some kenjutsu ryuha have stomping steps, they do not appear to be the same as kendo's fumikomi-ashi.

It is valid to note that fumikomi (as a stomping step) also exists in other martial arts, but the question to investigate is: how did fumikomi-ashi came to be in Kendo (its origin) and why it has become the predominant shiai & keiko foot work?

If any of you, the most advanced kenshis and
sensei, have good historical information about it we will surely be glad to read about it.

Answer: I am not sure this is already answered but I have a very good article about that. I will translate a part of this article “Golden Rules of Men Techniques (Men Waza no Dai-Gensoku)” written by NAGAO Susumu sensei (8-dan) from Kendo Nippon August (2010) issue.

According to his research, there were some techniques described using the word, fumikomi, in writing, CHIBA Shusaku sensei Jiki-den Kenjutsu Meijin-ho (Sophisticated Sword Techniques Directly Taught by CHIBA Shusaku sensei) by KŌSAKA Masataka(I think that’s how his name should pronounce).

This was written around the mid-19th century. Nagao sensei says that the techniques with fumikomi or jumping in were newly invented because of the invention of bogu.

The invention of bogu brought safety to kenjutsu practice, and these new techniques with jumping in were invented.

Updated Info I would like to add more to the sentence above.

Since the kenjutsu practitioners could practice even harder thanks to the invention of bogu, they could JUMP IN to attack their opponent.

And probably it was seen very effective at that time because there was no such technique in the traditional kenjutsu.

As we all know, without bogu, it would be far too dangerous to step in and strike like we do now in kendō. The safety that the bogu brought to kenjutsu back then made such techniques possible.

Hope this helps.

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