Issho Kenmei:
Phrase from Samurai World


Some Japanese say, Isshou Kenmei and some say, Issho Kenmei. What are they anyway?

Isshou Kenmei is not a kendo term but more common in Japan.

Basically what they mean is "to work hard". But let's analyse the words more for us, kendoists.

Let me analyse the kanji (Japanese characters) for Isshou kenmei.


Isshou is a life time. Kenmei


is to devote one's life to accomplish something.

However, it is said that the origin of the phrase is Issho kenmei. The kanji for issho means one place.


The kanji for kenmei is the same as the previously mentioned. So what issho kenmei means is to devote one's life to protect a land inherited from ancestors.

It was considered to be a samurai term.

Both kanji are considered to be correct. However, I would like to see issho kenmei a bit differently. Issho is written as one place. It can also mean a moment as well.

I always tell my students to devote themselves into each cut.

What I mean is that they should execute each cut with all they have got without being afraid of getting hit or not hitting their opponent. I, myself, try to commit myself into each cut and each moment.

This can be applied to daily life too

When you are working, devote yourself into the work. When you are studying, devote yourself into the study.

When you are playing a game, you should devote yourself into the game.

Devote yourself into whatever you are doing at that moment.

Many kendo sensei also say that in a real battle situation, we don't have another moment.

Therefore, we should value each moment of our lives.

That is why we should work hard as if we devote our lives into whatever we want to accomplish.

Hope this helps you as well as it helps me.

› Issho Kenmei: Phrase from Samurai World