Zenshin Kotai Men Strike:
Men Strike with One Step Forward and One Step Backword

Zenshin Kotai Men Strike is a method of suburi (empty cut). I call this zenshin kotai shomen uchi but some people may call it zenshin kotai men uchi.

(I place this training under "nidan uchi section" but this is not probably seen as a nidan uchi. But it can be. It is a judgment call :) )

I would like to go with zenshin kotai shomen uchi since that is how I was taught as a kid.

Footwork we use here is okuri-ashi, the basic footwork.

Zenshin means "going forwards". Kotai means "going backwards".

This is how zenshin kotai shomen uchi is done.

Zenshin Kotai Shomen Uchi

  1. While lifting our sword up above our head, we take a step forwards onto the right foot. Just like we did in kyodo men. 
  2. As you strike men, snap up the left foot forward. Make sure that the left foot does not pass the right foot or get too close to the right foot. 
  3. Now we are going backwards. While lifting our sword up above our head, take a step backwards onto the left foot. 
  4. While striking men, snap the right foot backward. 

We keep doing 1. to 4. until we hear "Yame!". 

1. 2.
Sword up
when stepping forwards
Strike Men
when left foot comes forwards
3. 4.
Sword up
when stepping backwards
Strike Men
when right foot goes backwards


  1. Zenshin Kotai Shomen Uchi. Hajime!
  2. Ichi, Ni, San, Shi, Go, Roku, Shichi, Hachi, Kyu, Jyu
  3. Yame!

Repeat the count from 1 to 10 as many times as you want. Then, command "Yame!"

There are three ways.

1. After every time a commander counts, the practitioners shout, "Men!"

So it is done as following.

Commander: Ichi
Practitioners: Men

Commander: Ni
Practitioners: Men

Commander: San
Practitioners: Men


Commander: Jyu
Practitioners: Men

Commander: Ichi
Practitioners: Men

and continue until

Commander: Yame!

2. Everyone counts at the same time until they hear "Yame!" There is no shout of "Men!"

3. Everyone shouts men until they hear "Yame!" 

My way is 1. But you can choose one that suits you and your dojo. Knowing all of them is helpful, though.

Some Important Points

It is easy for beginners to strike men when going forwards but seems somehow difficult to coordinate sword and footwork when taking a step backwards.

Zenshin kotai shomen uchi should be practiced carefully, paying attention to the sword-footwork coordination.

If we do not thoroughly practice this movement, we will have a big problem in later practice with armour on.


In the footwork practice, we learned that we should not lift the toes up while moving.

However, people tend to lift their toes up in this exercise. It is simply because the practitioners concentrate on striking more than footwork.

Striking is the easy part so concentrate more on footwork.

No toes are up!

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