Essays from Kenkyukai meetings

Listed in order of posting:

1. Kendo with "Aloha" by Azamat Koumykov

2. Notes from Gedatsukai - 2001 Shimpan Class by Ando Sensei

3. Experience Achieved During the Gedatsu-kai training by By David Hilo Kikau, Jr.

4. Essay for Kenkyukai (July-August, 2001) By Takuma Hirako

5. May 4, 2001 By Lawrence Chun

6. Various others

7. October 2002 Kenkyukai by Akiko Furutani

8. September, 2003 by Akiko Furutani


Kendo with "Aloha"
by Azamat Koumykov

How it all started. In the beginning of August 2001 I arrived to Honolulu, Hawaii, where I was to spend a year of studies. I heard that Hawaii had a strong school of Kendo and was looking forward to practicing and learning from their kendoka. Prior year I had spent mostly in travels and under significant stress because of the nature of my job and often I was not really able to train full heartedly and most of the time had no partner. This upset me because I had a lot of homework left by Marsten Sensei to do. Never-the-less, with the help of the President of RKF Nikolai Petrovich Yakovlev, who left us so tragically that year and RKF Vice-President Rouslan Soultanovich Aloev, we managed to start Kendo clubs in Mineralnye Vody and Vladikavkaz, which will hopefully continue to thrive. I was able to leave my bogu and shinai for the Kabardino-Balkarian Kendo club, which still experiences a certain lack of equipment, thanks to the generosity of our dear teacher and friend Curtis Marsten Sensei, who presented me a brand new bogu and shinai, which arrived almost immediately after I found myself in Honolulu. I settled my academic and accommodation affairs and started looking for Kendo. I was lucky in that the first time I saw Hawaiian Kendo was at the Aiea Taiheiji Kendo Tournament, where all Sensei, most Dojos and the best Kendo players of the islands were represented. To my surprise I saw that many women were practicing Kendo in Hawaii, as opposed to our country where Kendo is stereotypically viewed as a brutal activity for masochistically inclined men who like to shout at each other and to hit each other with sticks. There was a significant number of kendoka of young age, who were quite good and had a strong spirit. I had the pleasure of watching the tournament and also approached Shigeo Yoshinaga Sensei who headed Kenshikan Dojo of Honolulu with a request to enroll. Yoshinaga Sensei was very kind and gave me permission immediately. Next week I was at my first keiko.

Several words on the history of Kendo in Hawaii. Kendo appeared on the islands when the first immigrants from Japan arrived in 1868, bringing with them fencing and Sumo. The first kendoka were either the real Samurai or the students of the Samurai teachers. In 1902 Japan has sent Furuyama Sensei to be the official Kendo teacher for the immigrants. In 1940 a Hawaiian branch of Dai Nippon Butoku Kai was opened and Kendo was taught in many Japanese schools and Dojo throughout the islands. In 1941 Kendo was banned at the onset of WWII but reopened in 1945. Such was the policy of the American government at that time which was afraid that Budo would contribute to the formation of anti-American sentiments, and radical pro-Japan nationalistic groups. This reminds me of when late Dr. Yanoushevski, founder of RKF, was reprimanded and ordered to seize all Kendo-related public activity in the middle of the 60-es, after he did a performance at the Moscow State University. The Soviet Government viewed Kendo as "an activity, full of the aggressive spirit of militarism and Samurai hood - the juggernaut of Japan, a spirit alien to the Soviet people". In 1959 Hawaii Kendo Federation became part of the ZNKR but in 1988 it became an independent member of IKF and is represented in the World championships as a separate team from the United States, although Hawaii is a state of the USA (I too didn't realize that until shortly before coming to Hawaii). Now there are many kendoists training in the Dojos of Hawaii Kendo Federation. Most of the Dojos are located on the island of Oahu, concentrated mostly in Honolulu - the capital of the state.

Keiko! I didn't quite know what to expect when I came to my first keiko at Kenshikan Dojo but it went very well. Yoshinaga Sensei introduced me to the class and everyone applauded to the new student. I was treated very well both by the Sensei and the students. The Sensei (and there are several other Sensei that teach at the Dojo with Yoshinaga Sensei - Furutani Sensei, Teshima Sensei, Yamada Sensei, Konishi Sensei) were kind enough to pay a lot of attention to correcting my numerous mistakes. Actually, I almost died during the first keiko because I haven't practiced for awhile and my lungs became weak. During jikeiko I got successfully beaten by everyone including the very youngest students. Then I had the pleasure of doing jikeiko with the Sensei. In the end of the keiko the teachers encouraged me by telling how good my Kendo was, although I did realize how horrible it really was. I recall that the first time late Nikolai Petrovich saw me do kirikaeshi with a bokuto, which I learned myself from a book on Kendo, he looked at me sadly, was silent for a moment, sighed and said, "This is very good! Really it's very good!" - at this moment I instantly felt that I had perhaps more potential than Miyamoto Musashi himself - "But this is not Kendo." - Ooops. So this was how I started regularly (or at least, when classes allowed) attending keiko at Kenshikan Dojo. Some time later I also started coming to Sunday general practice for all kendoists of Hawaii Kendo Federation. There I was invited to practice Iaido by Akagi Sensei - an opportunity I gladly accepted. I had some experience of swinging bokuto in an attempt to study several Seitei Iai forms wonderfully taught to us by Ide Katsuhiko Sensei, during his 3 day stay in Nalchik and this was a great chance to follow-up on our promise to Ide Sensei and late Nikolai Yakovlev to keep Iai alive in Kabardino-Balkaria.

Aloha Spirit. Aloha is the word one often hears in Hawaii. It literally means both "hallo" and "goodbye", but in my limited understanding represents far more than that. It represents the spirit of these beautiful island and the warm-hearted people that live on them. "Aloha" was what I encountered from all Sensei and fellow Kendo students in Hawaii: it is kindness, attention, patience, generosity, understanding and something indescribable, which is part of this land and which can be felt only when you are here: amid the blue waves, under the beautiful sky and among good people. And, of course, many, many hard "men" (Maeda Sensei, one of the Sensei with whom I have the honor to train during the Sunday general practice, excels in that, emphasizing the basics and correct strikes, which I enjoy immensely). Kendo in Hawaii is a live example of something directly opposite to the propaganda of "aggressive Japanese militarism", for which Kendo was viewed as a proxy by the Soviet functionaries and it is represents a lot for us to learn. Not only from a technical point of view, but about approaching life with "aloha" and a lot more. Because Kendo is about human life, it's not about battering people with a bamboo stick. As I was writing this article, I got an e-mail and was informed that one of the people I knew back home, a prominent business man in my native town in Nalchik, got blown up in his car, as he drove home. He survived but his legs were badly injured. Such is the nature of competition we still have to deal with in Russia. And I must admit for us it is often very difficult to approach the world with aloha and courtesy but we have to do so. Only then, moving beyond emotion and fear, we will be able to eliminate our suki, our weak spots and grow. For without victory over yourself, there may be not progress in Kendo and in life. And without our personal advancement there is no future for our country: and the battle for our future in new Russia is far more difficult than any of the shiai we may face. And for the person who suffered in the explosion, and for all of us, there is an example of Henry Smalls, a member of Hawaii Kendo Federation, who lost his legs but practices Kendo maybe with great vigor than most of us.

I plan to write more for the members in RKF about my experience of training in Hawaii, as time goes on. But so far my most sincere "Mahalo" (thanks) goes to my new friends at Hawaii Kendo Federation and to all readers. "Aloha!" and Kote-meeeenn!

This article is to be published in English and Russian on:

- official website of the Russian Kendo Federation (www.orgkendo.ru)
- official website of Kabardino-Balkarian Kendo Federation (www.kendokbr.da.ru).



Notes from Gedatsukai - 2001

Shimpan Class
Ando Sensei

Submitted by Lawrence Chun (ed. DYT)
September 20, 2001

1.Most important thing is to be aware of a good yuko-datotsu.

2.Yuko-datotsu, should decide the match.

3.KI-KEN-TAI no itchi is the most important factor in determining a yuko-datotsu. a.If a player stumbles on his hakama and delivers a strike he is missing the tai so no point should be awarded b.If a players hand slips off his shinai at the moment a strike is made the ken is missing so no point should be awarded. c.If an opponent destroys a players zanshin with a hard shove, the player who hit a good yuko-datotsu must be awarded the point. If not, players will use this strategy continuously and the match will end up a brawl instead of a Kendo shiai. Teachers were asked to stress this among their students.***

4.Shimpan should not debate the rules. If a referee is unfamiliar with the rules, not only it is embarrassing, it creates unnecessary problems for players, coaches and spectators.

5.Gogi is to clear up any uncertainty. It is not a time to discuss the rules.

6.It was stressed that may times the wrong player wins the match. a.Referees call was incorrect -- no yuko-datotsu was delivered. b.Shinai did not contact the datotsu-bui area, or worse, the referee does not the proper datotsu-bui area. c.Player did not strike with the monouchi (datotsu-bu). Special concern was given to the do strike. d.Referee saw the point but did not react and now cannot award a point without creating a controversy. Referee was not paying enough attention to see a quick waza and yuko-datotsu. e.Referee does not have enough experience and is unaware of a waza or is not comfortable with a particular yuko-datotsu. Specifically, hidari kote, hidari-do, tsuki. f.Referee does not have enough practical Kendo experience to recognize a good hit. Because the strike took place on the opposite side of his vantage point he constantly flags, I did not see. Ando Sensei stressed that one must identify simply by the position of the player and shinai, along with the sound of the strike whether the hit was a yuko datotsu or not. g.Referees become too preoccupied with their own prejudices that they fail to call the match properly. e.g. A Sensei who stresses zanshin may never award a point unless he is 100% satisfied. This is unrealistic. The sensei is judging a shiai, not conducting practice. h.Referees who raise flags too early to too late create confusion between the players. i.Referees who are not experienced enough to understand the level of the players they are watching. They must take into account the age and skill level of the players. Referees must consider this carefully.

7.Shimpan need to practice Kendo diligently in order to properly call a yuko-datotsu. Suriage waza is difficult to see because of the speed involved. Only experienced Kendoist can clearly see these techniques.

8.Experience is also important to anticipate the movements of the players. This is necessary when moving around the court. Before changing positions the referee must sense that there is no attempt at a waza being made.

9.Ando Sensei stressed that the appearance of impartiality is vital for a fair contest. Shimpan who are waiting to enter the court must not be cheering for their teammates or students. They must wait quietly and patiently on the sidelines. This also applies to the people on the scorers table.

10.Each shimpan should make a quick visual inspection of the player that is closest to him before the match begins. Check all ties, tasuki (mejirushi) color, and condition of the shinai.

11.Signals from all shimpan must be crisp and clear. The shushin must control the actions and calls of all situations on the court. If necessary he must stop the match to clear up any ambiguous calls. There must be no confusion.

12.When referees switch positions around the court it is not necessary to hold the red flag on the outside.

13.If a player holds his kamae in jodan the shimpan must adjust to the situation and move toward the player in chudan no kamae in order to obtain a clear view of the tsuki area of the jodan player. If both players are in jodan shimpan should take a step or two backward in order to see both players with a better perspective.

14.Moving around the court was discussed and the diagram that Ando Sensei used was different from what I was accustomed to seeing. [Diagram: diagonal lines from opposite corners divide the court into 4 right-triangles] Each fukushin is responsible for each diagonal half. The shushins movement can cover 3/4 of the court if necessary.

15.Tsubazeriai was discussed at length a.Proper tsubazeriai was the most significant topic. All referees must know the proper stance of each player as well as shinai position. The blade of your opponents sword must be over your left shoulder -- this will prevent your neck from being cut. Both players should not be shoving each other. A strong push to start hiki-waza is acceptable. b.Proper zanshin in hiki-waza is important to determine yuko-datotsu. c.After an attack, many players automatically go into tsubazeriai. This must be discouraged. The proper attitude is to attack until a definite yuko-datotsu is made. Taiatari, ni-dan and san-dan waza are the proper courses of action. This must be emphasized to students. d.Referees should temper the use of wakare. The shimpan must allow players to opportunity to set up a waza. Calling too quickly will discourage any attempts. Players will simply wait for the shushin to call wakare. If a player is deliberately trying to tie up the other or stalling, hansoku should be given instead of calling wakare.

**** Ando Sensei asked the foreign leaders to carefully consider what they were teaching. He mentioned that the future of Kendo would be determined by the teachers of today. If we stress winning shiai, Kendo will evolve into nothing more than a sport. Stretching the rules in order to win a match demeans the integrity of the Shimpan, players and Kendo.

He believes that shiai represents a duel between gentlemen. If a person imagines real swords being used, an insightful appreciation of Kendo can be realized. The rough style of Kendo, such as shoving your opponent after a hit to break his zanshin or charging into a smaller opponent in an attempt to intimidate him, is unrealistic in a real duel. There could be no shoving, as the man would be dead. Charging foolishly into an opponents sword will produce the same results.

He cautioned us by saying a teacher will influence their students with their own philosophies. We can continue to perpetuate productive ladies and gentlemen. Or, we can produce a competitive brute, who intentionally hurt people and bend the rules, all under the pretense of Kendo.



July 27 through August 3, 2001
A Report to the Hawaii Kendo Federation by David Hilo Kikau, Jr.

The purpose of this report is to share the experience I achieved during the Gedatsu-kai Summer Training, July 27 through August 3, 2001. First, I come to realize after training in Kendo for thirty-one years that training in Kendo must have clear goals. Second, to sustain the basics I experienced at Gedatsu-kai, the technique must be practiced over and over if I am to make the techniques, I learned, my own. Finally, defeating the opponent is not Kendo, defeating myself to achieve perfect kendo technique and being an accountable Kendo instructor and citizen is the essence of Kendo today.

Clear Goals:

Kendoist in Hawaii, as I myself, must have clear goals that are achievable and measurable. Why do I train in Kendo? I train in Kendo because I love it. I now realize that the movements required in Kendo are complicated because they must all conform to the actions of an opponent. I believe this means that Kendo demands a wide variety of kinds of training, which differ from each other in terms of technique and physical strength. I have always believed that the ultimate goal in Kendo is high. I was lead to believe having courage to defeat myself and an opponent was why I trained in Kendo. I have returned from Japan realizing that to achieve true Kendo, through proper practice and guidance by good to great instructors, requires overlapping goals. Personally I believed some of these overlapping goals were family, health, country, and God. At Gedatsu-kai, through outstanding Kendo Instructors such as Kudoshi Sensei, Tomita Sensei, and Okabe Sensei (excuse me if spelling is in error), I learn that overlapping goals are continuous training in the following areas:

Ippon-Uchi-No-Waza (Kihon-Uchi -- basic strikes and thrusts skills)
Harai Waza (warding off techniques)
Debana-Waza (techniques that exploit the advantage of the opponents
Hiki-Waza (step-back techniques)
Oji-Waza (parry and counterattack)
All Japan Kendo Kata
Shinpan practice

I realize to sustain 10% of what I have learned, I must make the above mentioned my present goals to be a better Kendoist and perhaps achieve my Roku-Dan in my next attempt.

Repeated Practice:

It was made clear that even a simple technique must be practiced over and over again if I want a technique to be my own. It was clear to me that even advanced techniques (Wazas) demand continuous training. The bottom line up front is that in order to master a technique, I have to practice it until it is a reflex. I feel comfortable to say I have mastered at least three Wazas over the years. To improve my Kendo to a Roku-Dan caliber, I must master at least ten Wazas.

Currently in Hawaii the Kendo instructors are doing what is right with the young Kendoist by practicing the basic Wazas and stressing the importance of repeated practice.

A Reality Check on My Kendo:

I did not achieve my Roku-Dan because I was not worthy of being promoted. During the practices I felt confident of my ability to attack, counter attack, parry attack and parry counter attack. After failing the Dan examination, I was approached by a number os Senseis who informed me that I was too aggressive in my technique and that I failed to demonstrate clean, controlled Sen Sen No Sen (win by anticipating the partners initiative) and I hit too many times.

Until this experience, I was lead to believe Kendo to be an aggressive art where initiative and Ki-Ken-Tai and Datotsu were required. I now realize that in order for me to achieve my Roku-Dan, I must improve in Sen Sen No Sen and avoid being too aggressive. I need to force myself to observe my opponent and to anticipate the opponents initiative so I can hit first, counter, or move and parry with a counter attack.

I look forward on continuing to improve my Kendo with the Hawaii Kendo Federation. As a leader, I realize that I must lead by an example through my Kendo Waza and my demeanor during practices and tournaments.

The greatest lesson learned at Gedatsu-kai has been the realization that it is vitally important to practice the basic movements and to develop the ability to alter my movements freely in conformity with the actions of the opponent without being too aggressive.

This report is submitted for the perusal by the Kendoist of Hawaii with hope that you learn from my experience.



Essay for Kenkyukai (July-August, 2001)
By Takuma Hirako

In Kenkyukai, for the last two months, I've learned some Kendo phrases and terms. most of them were very difficult to understand. However, most of the phrases were very interesting. Out of all the phrases, I am going to write about three phrases that were most interesting to me. They are "Sandan no Ma," "Gogyo no Kamae," and "Kou Ken Chi Ai."

First, "Sandan no Ma." I knew that there are three kinds of Ma, but I didn't know what Ge-dan no Kamae really looked like. Also, I always hit from Chikama so I'm trying to hit from Tooma. I think the distance is important, because when you stay in Tooma, usually they won't hit you, but it is harder for me to hit, too. However, although Chikama is easier to hit, it is also easier for your opponent to hit, too. Therefore I am trying to hit from Tooma.

Secondly, "Gogyo no Kamae" was very interesting to me. It is because I didn't know that there were symbols that represent each of the Kamae. I also learned that each Kamae has a weakness. I thought all the Kamae were the same. I also learned that Hassou and Waki Gamae were only for Kendo Kata. I knew that the Seigan no Kamae had five places to point. However I was also surprised that even those five directions also had symbols.

Lastly I thought "Kou Ken Chi Ai" was very important. Especially before and after Shiai or practicing. I think making friends with Kendo is important because I think it helps me to get better by thinking that I am going to get better than my friends or beat them in tournament even though I'd lost to them on the last tournament. Also when someone comes from Japan to practice, it's good to be friends with him or her. Also when I go back to Japan for vacation, I could go see them.

I had more things that were interesting to me. I also had a lot of things that I didn't know about. I will try to learn little by little and remember and understand all of the phrases/terms from the Kenkyukai in July and August.



May 4, 2001
By Lawrence Chun

Kenyukai practice on May 4, 2001 was conducted by both Teshima Sensei and Ueno Sensei. Shiai and Simpan scenarios were the main topic of discussion.

The main scenarios were as follows:

1. Regarding judging of different ranks from children to Yudansha. Although the rule book specifically states that a good Yuko-datotsu must be delivered for a point to be scored it is within each judge's discretion to allow a point depending on the age and ability of the players. Each judge should have enough sense as well as experience to make calls in relation to the players ability.

2. Unnecessary roughness-Boryoku-was also discussed. The most common scenario is when a player wrestles his opponent out of the Shiai-jo. The Shimpan must note if it was part of the normal course of events or not. If so then the player who stepped out is given a Hansoku. If a player is merely trying to push and shove his opponent out of the Shiai-jo with no intention of delivering a strike, Hansoku will be given to that player for unnecessary roughness.

3. Rule about injury was also brought up. Section 2 Article 30 of the IKF rule book (page 16) states: "In case Shiai-sha is unable to continue Shiai due to an injury, should the opponent be deemed responsible for the accident, whether intentionally or not, the opponent shall lose Shiai." According to Mr. Teshima this passage is incorrectly translated from Japanese. Its correct translation does not include the phrase "whether intentionally or not." This rule has been interpreted literally by HKF in its tournaments and I believe other English speaking countries have also interpreted this rule incorrectly. Perhaps this should be brought to the attention of the Shiai Rule's Committee for clarification.

[note from DYT: the intention of the rule here seems to be to penalize the offender of the injury. If the injury was caused intentionally or by negligence, the offender loses. The term Kashitsu is translated as accident, fault, mistake, blunder. But, it is also possible that the injured was actually negligent. For example, if an injury occured after a Taiatari, judges must determine if the Taiatari was done properly or if it was received properly. So, rather than "accident," terms like "mistake" or "blunder" might be a more accurate for this section. Second part of the rule states that if the cause cannot be assertained, then the Shiai Funo Sha (injured) will be the loser.]

4. Overwhelming an opponent because of size and strength was also discussed. Although no particular rule covers this area it is strongly recommended that Sensei's advise their players against deliberately trying to hurt their opponent by using their physical power.

5. During a Shiai, if a player is over exuberant and continually knocks down their opponent this may interpreted as unnecessary roughness. The player is within the rules but the judges may see it differently and all players must be sensitive to the situation of the moment.

6. Mr. Sato mentioned that the best Shiai's are usually determined by the performance of the judges. For example, all Shimpan moves in accordance with one another. When a point is scored all flags come up together and immediately. Finally all commands and instructions are clear and concise. The judges do not command the match, they command the respect of the players and spectators. By doing so, it allows the players to perform their best Kendo.


April 6, 2001

Mr. Carl Nakamura led the participants through Suriage Waza during the September 1 meeting. Proper use of Shinogi, Ashi Sabaki, Tenouchi were emphasized.



March 2, 2001
By Jack Yamada

On March 2nd, we had to learn about Miyamoto Musashi. (This session was led by Mr. Katsumi Yamada.) He had something like Earth, Sky, Wind, Water, and Fire (in the Book of Five Rings -- Gorin No Sho). We had to hear about the Earth part, and had to learn how to use one Katana and using the sword.



April 7, 2000
By the Chun family

Since April 2000, Teshima Sensei has been leading special sessions (approximately one-half hour in length) before regular practice on Sunday mornings at the Kaimuki gym. Sessions in April concentrated on the basics -- including Kendo etiquette (the Rei before entering the Dojo, Ritsurei, Zarei, how to sit and stand up properly) and footwork.

During the month of May, these sessions focused on Kata. The first three Ohdachi forms were reviewed and practiced on the first Sunday, followed by the remaining four forms the next week. The three Kodachi forms were also studied on the third Sunday, eliminating in the complete Nihon Kendo Kata on the last Sunday, as would be demonstrated during an actual Kyu/Dan examination. Also during the last Sunday of May was a very interesting and informative presentation of Japanese swords by Dr. Tokeshi. He explained in detail the various parts, the method in which one is made, the different types, maintenance and handling, as well as the historic background, of Japanese swords. Most impressive were the beautiful swords that he brought with him.

The Kyu/Dan examinations are rapidly approaching and as a result, on June 4th (the first session of the new month), Murakami Sensei graciously shared his thoughts on how to carry oneself during such an examination. He stressed arriving prepared with the proper attitude, which should continue throughout the entire testing period. Akagi Sensei also added insight when he highlighted what he looks for as one the examiners. In preparation for the upcoming tournaments during the next few months, attention then shifted to Shimpan practice for Kenshi 3-dan and up (Kenshi 2-dan and below provide the participants for the Shiai being judged), and will continue to do through the rest of June.



February 4, 2000
By Andy Fujimoto

Every first Friday of the month the yudansha kenshi get together and have practice among themselves at the Japanese Cultural Center. These practices are focused on helping younger, as well as older, kenshis to improve themselves, their kata and kendo. This past practice on February 4, was a very good practice. I got to learn and brush up on my kata (numbers 5-7) and had a very strenuous practice after the Kata. In the beginning of practice we got to ask questions, and I learn a lot through this question and answer time. Then we went over the kata. We take each kata step by step and brush up on the things we forget. After about thirty minutes of kata we put on our dogu and get into practice. During practice I also learn a lot such as trying to fight more like a yudansha. The practice lasts about thirty minutes. Every time I go home after practice I feel that I have learned something new after this practice so I could try to better myself.



October 2002 Kenkyukai
By Akiko Furutani

For this month's Kenkyukai, Mr. Seth Harris led a session on Fudochi Shimmyo Roku written by Takuan Soho. Although I must admit that a lot the things discussed were matters far beyond my knowledge, there were a few concepts that I understood a little and these left me to think about them.

The discussion about the Kannon Bosatsu, the Buddha with 1,000 arms was one of them. Mr. Harris pointed out that if the Buddha were to focus on just one arm, then the rest of the nine hundred ninety-nine of the arms would be useless and wasted. Another one was the passage about the leaf on the tree. If one focuses on just that one leaf, then one will fail to notice the rest of the leaves on the tree. I thought that these points were interesting because it is something that is seemingly simple, yet something that I think a lot of people take for granted.

Zengo Sai Dan, from what I understand is something that means to focus on the present and not the future or the past. When going against someone, it is important to focus on the "now" and not eh before or the after. In other words, thing only about what is happening at the moment and not who else you will be fighting next or what technique worked on the particular person before.

Ms. Akiko Furutani has graciously accepted a position as our HKF reporter. She regularly attends all of the HKF Keiko and functions (e.g., monthly Kenkyu Kai, Sunday General Keiko at Honbu, special Keiko with visitors) in her busy schedule as a student at the University of Hawaii. She participated at the recent World Kendo Championships at Glasgow as a member of Team Hawaii. Her monthly report summarizes the activities and lists visitors to HKF, in hope of increased participation by the HKF members in the future. [DYT]



September, 2003
By Akiko Furutani

In the beginning of this month, we were fortunate to have a group of students from Kokushikan University lead by Baba Kinji Sensei. During their stay they not only practiced with us but also demonstrated Sumo, Iai, and the Baba-ha Kumitachi, a form of Kata that Baba Sensei developed when he visited Brazil a few months ago.

At the end of the Kaimuki Honbu practice on Sunday, their last practice with us, Baba Sensei took the time to share his comments and advice with us. One of which was that in Kendo the left side of the body – mainly the left arm and the left leg—is vital. He advised us to be careful as some of us tended to have our left knees bent, thus causing our Fumikomi to be an up and down movement instead of forward movement.

On their last night in Hawaii, we had a barbeque party at the Fort DeRussy Park. For many of us, it was a bonding time with the Kokushikan students. The night was spent sharing stories, wrestling in the sand, and dunking each other into the water (including Furutani Sensei, Akiko’s father).

The Kenkyukai practice this month was held on September 5th and was led by Teshima Sensei. We learned the All Japan Kendo Federation’s Kihon Kendo Skills using the Bokuto. The purpose of this Kihon Kata is “to master the basic Kendo skills, remembering that the Shinai represents the Japanese sword, and to study the principles of the sword (Toho) and manners (Saho), and interactions with each other using the selected Waza using the Bokuto.”

The basic procedures of the Kihon Kata such as the footwork, Maai, Ritsurei, etc., all follow that of Nihon Kendo Kata. The two people involved in the Kihon Kata are the receiver called Motodachi and the trainee called the Kakarite. There are nine fundamental Waza in the Kihon Kendo Kata:

1. Ippon Uchi No Waza (single hit): Men, Kote, Do, Tsuki
2. Nidan No Waza (double hit): Kote-Men
3. Harai Waza (sweeping up): Harai Men
4. Hiki Waza (retreating): Men-Tsubazeriai-Hiki Do
5. Nuki Waza (dodging): Men, Nuki Do
6. Suriage Waza (brushing up): Kote, Suriage Men
7. Debana Waza (thwarting): Debana Kote
8. Kaeshi Waza (turning over): Men, Kaeshi Do
9. Uchiotoshi Waza (striking down): Do, Uchiotoshi Men

Going through the fundamental Kendo skills using the Bokuto makes it apparent when the Hasuji (blade) of the sword is incorrect. The Bokuto resembles more closely the shape of an actual sword while the Shinai is round in shape. Sometimes it is harder to grasp the actual concept of the idea that the Shinai represents a sword because of the difference in shape.

Although there are only nine fundamental Waza in the actual Kata, it can be applied to other higher technical Waza as student progresses. For example, for Nidan No Waza, the second one in the Kata, students who have advanced can apply it to Sandan No Waza (triple hits) such as Kote-Men-Do. In other words, based on this fundamental Kata, students and teachers can apply it to more Waza as they continue to advance and teach Kendo. It is very important to have a solid foundation of basics to develop upon and this Kihon Kata can be part of that.


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