Rev. October, 2002



• KATA is the essence of a KENDO school, with all the techniques that have been tested in combat
• During TOKUGAWA period, there were over 200 schools of KENDO
• Major schools gathered for the first time to establish a 10form KATA for the Imperial Police in 1886 (KEISHI RYU)
• BUTOKU-KAI established the 3-form KATA in 1906 to promote KENDO in grade schools
• KENDO became part of requisite curriculum in intermediate and high schools in 1911
• A KATA Committee by BUTOKU-KAI in cooperation with the Tokyo Tertiary School of Education (Koutou Shihan) presented the 10-form Japan Imperial KENDO KATA in 1913
• In 1917, the KATA was revised with additional details
• After the World War II, the KATA was renamed NIHON KENDO KATA



• Etiquette and demeanor
• Proper posture always, not only at practice
• Observe opponent's movements and thought (KAN-KEN NO METSUKE)
• Become agile
• Correct bad habits and learn to handle KATANA
• Assume proper MAAI in various situations
• Build KIAI and develop concentration
• Learn not only the technique, but also reasons and logic of WAZA
• Develop poise and elegance associated with KENDO



• Practice predefined steps but perform with flexibility
• Maintain focus from the first REI to the last, especially when retreating after each KATA
• UCHITACHI is the senior and SHITACHI is the student, so UCHITACHI always leads and SHITACHI responds
• Learn not only the steps but also the reasons and logic of the WAZA (RIAI) and variation of speed and strength (EN-KYU-KYO-JAKU: slowfaststrongweak)



• Always look at each other's eyes and not at the DATOTSU point (exception: UCHITACHI in #7)
• Move forward from the front foot and retreat from the back foot
• TACHI NO KATA starts after UCHITACHI sees a proper opportunity to strike (KI WO MITE...); KODACHI NO KATA starts as SHITACHI tries to encroach into the MAAI (IRIMI); UCHITACHI and SHITACHI must remember this timing
• SHITACHI always shows ZANSHIN after each KATA, and UCHITACHI moves after seeing this
• Use SURIASHI quietly; beware especially in #2, #3 and #6
• After the DATOTSU bring the hind foot immediately up to the heel of the front foot to a proper gait, release shoulder tension, focus power to lower abdomen, and strike from the hip (whole body, not just arms)
• MONOUCHI must reach the DATOTSU point with force until the blade is about 10 cm away (with practice, at a paper's thickness)
• Coming into MAAI or retreating, hold breath to stabilize the body; inhale deeply before stepping forward, approach at once, then strike with KIAI (exhale) and power in the lower abdomen; while in MAAI, breath shallow, quietly, and naturally from the diaphragm so as not to let the opponent sense your breathing
• KIAI is "Yah!" for UCHITACHI and "Toh!" for SHITACHI, with distinct loud voice with power from the lower abdomen




• Both toes forward; width between feet 5-10 cm (or width of foot); left toe at the level of or slightly behind right heel; both knees naturally bent (or left knee straight but not locked)
• Left grip at end of the TSUKA (above the TSUKADOME knot with KATANA); lower part of the palm on top of TSUKA; grasp with last two fingers as holding an umbrella against the wind; fist at lower front of the navel with the first thumb joint in front of the navel
• Right hand near but not touching the TSUBA; the V formed by the thumb and index finger over the extension of MINE; both hands slightly twist inward as in preparing the CHAKIN in tea ceremony
• Both elbows naturally bent as if holding an egg under each arm
• KENSEN points to the opponent's face between the eyes or left eye (at the distance of ISSOKU ITTOH NO MAAI)
• Formerly various forms of SEIGAN were used with KENSEN to the left eye, between eyes, or forehead and HIRA SEIGAN was used for #5, but texts now use the term CHUDAN
• CHUDAN is the most fundamental of all KAMAE with versatility in attack and defence; "water" puts out the "fire" as in #5 and #6


• MOROTE (with both hands) HIDARI JODAN by stepping left foot forward, being alert; bring hands up without changing the TENOUCHI from CHUDAN
• Left fist is one fist away above/front of forehead (or above the left toe); sword 45-degrees with body slightly oblique; blade forward but KENSEN slightly to the right
• MOROTE MIGI JODAN is similar to HIDARI JODAN except right foot forward and body and KENSEN are straight
• "Fire" represents all consuming power; JODAN is primarily attacking KAMAE


• KENSEN 3-6 cm below the knee
• GEDAN is defensive; "earth" is able to cover "water" as in #6


• Start like HIDARI JODAN; TSUBA at the mouth level about one fist away; left fist in front of the chest; body slightly oblique
• HASSO means the KAMAE is able to strike eight different points (neck, shoulder, etc.), or eight transformations of Buddha


• Right foot to the rear, assume HIDARI HANMI (oblique) with KATANA in the back with blade towards lower right; KENSEN slightly lower than GEDAN; KATANA not visible from the front
• WAKIGAMAE is yang and HASSO is yin; "gold" wins against "wood" as in #4; "gold" represents hidden preciousness which can be utilized with versatility



• ZAREI: sit at SHIMOZA (usually in the center), KATANA to the right, three steps apart between UCHITACHI and SHITACHI, blade inward, TSUBA at the knee, KODACHI inside of TACHI
• Although not mandatory, the right side facing the KAMIZA is usually the UCHITACHI position
• When sitting at SEIZA lower the left knee down first; when standing up from SEIZA raise the right leg up first (SA-ZA U-KI). When kneeling to replace KATANA, the knee further from the KAMIZA is kneeled; when turning around, avoid showing the back towards KAMIZA
• KATANA in right TEITO (SAGETO), move to the TACHIAI NO MAAI (9 steps apart); KODACHI is placed 5 steps right-back of the SHITACHI's position with the blade inward and parallel to the performer; if KAMIZA is to the right of SHITACHI, place the KODACHI to the left-back
• RITSUREI to the KAMIZA (30-degrees eyes to the floor), then REI to each other (15-degrees looking at each other); place the KATANA in the OBI on the left side, with right thumb over the TSUBA; with BOKUTO (BOKKEN), move the BOKUTO from right TEITO to TAITO, close to the body; place left thumb over the TSUBA
• Step three large steps forward in SURIASHI from the right; assume SONKYO as left foot is pulled towards the right; the swords are drawn from the above-left without excessively swinging up overhead; tip (YOKOTE) of the KATANA should be crossing; SONKYO with right foot slightly forward and the body slightly angled
• Stand up to CHUDAN, naturally lower the KENSEN to 3-6 cm below the opponent's left knee (level of GEDAN NO KAMAE) with blade pointing left-down outside (looking from above) of the opponent's body width (KAMAE WO TOKU), retreat five steps from the left to the original position, assume CHUDAN then move to the next KATA; this is repeated at the end of TACHI #1 through #7
• KODACHI: left hand over the KURIGATA of the SAYA with thumb forward; with BOKUTO, left hand on the left hip with thumb back; when lowering the KODACHI (KAMAE WO TOKU), lower the left hand as well; this is done at the end of first SONKYO, KODACHI #1 and #2
• At the end, pull the KATANA from the OBI slightly to the right front with left hand (left thumb over the TSUBA), remove the KATANA from OBI with right hand (right index finger over the TSUBA) while left hand remains on the left hip; with BOKUTO, move BOKUTO from TAITO to right TEITO, close to the body; RITSUREI to each other, then to the KAMIZA; move to the SHIMOZA and perform a ZAREI to each other and retreat.


• UCHITACHI in MOROTE HIDARI JODAN and SHITACHI in MOROTE MIGI JODAN, move to MAAI, UCHITACHI from the left foot and SHITACHI from the right
• SHITACHI shows SEN (pressure), then, at the right opportunity, UCHITACHI strikes SHOMEN to overcome this pressure; "strike" means to "cut through"; UCHITACHI attempts to strike through the TSUKA all the way down (fast, strong, large arc); KENSEN may drop to below GEDAN at this time
• SHITACHI averts this by stepping back and extending the arms in the KENSEN's direction (KENSEN does not spring back down); UCHITACHI leans slightly forward at the end
• After SHITACHI strikes back (fast, strong) with GO NO SEN, immediately UCHITACHI steps one step back in OKURIASHI and SHITACHI lowers the KENSEN to the UCHITACHI's center of face (between eyes); then as UCHITACHI retreats another step, SHITACHI follows with HIDARI JODAN deliberately and shows ZANSHIN
• As UCHITACHI raises KATANA and straighten up, SHITACHI retreats to CHUDAN
• This KATA teaches SEN, power, courage, conviction, faith, justice, truth



• In MAAI (to KOUJIN NO MA, KATANA cross about three inches) with CHUYDAN, both sides endure the pressure until UCHITACHI can no longer withstand the SHITACHI's force
• At the right opportunity, UCHITACHI strikes the KOTE (fast, strong) with large technique until KENSEN is slightly below the fist
• SHITACHI averts this by stepping left back with KENSEN straight down to approximately GEDAN level, then (naturally drawing an arc under UCHITACHI's KATANA) with large swing and large step from the right strike UCHITACHI's KOTE straight from JODAN; show ZANSHIN (without bodily motion, so must show this in spirit)
• UCHITACHI's KENSEN goes under SHITACHI's when returning to CHUDAN
• This KATA teaches endurance, patience, thus WAZA is minimal and DATOTSU is not fatal



• Both sides in GEDAN, approach MAAI
• In MAAI, come to CHUDAN with SEN (being alert, KIARASOI); MAAI is slightly closer with KENSEN crossing; at the right opportunity, UCHITACHI thrusts towards the solar plexus with SHINOGI (blade slightly to the right)
• SHITACHI parries with MINE (with blade slightly to the right) to contain the force, then immediately thrusts back to the chest (blade down); UCHITACHI deflects by stepping right foot back using the right SHINOGI (blade to right down) with arms somewhat extended and KENSEN to the throat (HIDARI SHIZEN TAI)
• SHITACHI deliberately pressures further (KURAIZUME, not a thrust) with left foot, so UCHITACHI steps back and uses the left SHINOGI to restrain the KATANA (MIGI SHIZEN TAI), but unable to withstand, lowers the KATANA to the right and retreat 3 steps; SHITACHI quickly follows UCHITACHI raising the KENSEN gradually to center of face (between eyes)
• When UCHITACHI raises the KATANA, SHITACHI begins to retreat slowly back to the center
• This KATA teaches KIGURAI or KURAIZUME, commanding the opponent without injuring him



• UCHITACHI in HASSO and SHITACHI in WAKIGAMAE, approach in three steps; at the right opportunity, strike at each other's SHOMEN from HIDARI JODAN, stepping in with right foot; this is in large WAZA with both arms fully extended
• Return towards CHODAN carefully, slowly, deliberately; UCHITACHI retreats slightly to create distance
• At the right opportunity UCHITACHI thrusts (using left SHINOGI with blade to the right) at SHITACHI's right chest; SHITACHI parries by stepping left forward in HIRAKI ASHI and strikes the UCHITACHI in single motion; when parrying, rotate with blade to the back and hands overhead; UCHITACHI leans slightly forward with KENSEN slightly down
• SHITACHI shows ZANSHIN until UCHITACHI returns to CHUDAN (no extra ZANSHIN movement, so must show this in spirit)
• This KATA teaches the concept of TSUBA ZERIAI (SHINOGI WO KEZURU)



• Against UCHITACHI's HIDARI JODAN, SHITACHI holds a CHUDAN (or SEIGAN) with KENSEN to the left fist
• At the right opportunity, UCHITACHI strikes the SHOMEN (fast, strong) to the chin, then the KATANA deflects down to the right naturally; SHITACHI uses the SHINOGI to deflect UCHITACHI (SURIAGE, not HARAI WAZA) with KENSEN moving upwards (not down in the back) while stepping back from left, so KATANA should graze each other but not clash; SHITACHI strikes SHOMEN without pause (fast, strong) by stepping forward from right
• SHITACHI shows ZANSHIN by lowering the KENSEN to the center of face, being alert of the UCHITACHI's KATANA, then to HIDARI JODAN by stepping right foot back; when UCHITACHI raises KATANA, SHITACHI returns forward to CHUDAN; then three steps back towards the center



• Against UCHITACHI's CHUDAN (or SEIGAN), SHITACHI assumes GEDAN; UCHITACHI does not lower the KENSEN
• SHITACHI pressures the UCHITACHI's middle (fists) from below so UCHITACHI lowers the KENSEN then retreats to HIDARI JODAN (KATANA do not necessarily touch); SHITACHI immediately points KENSEN to the left fist, steps forward and show SEN; UCHITACHI retreats to CHUDAN
• SHITACHI continues to pressure forward (interpretations: with KENSEN still slightly high, or as if ready to strike at HIKIBANA), so UCHITACHI strikes small (OSHIGIRI) KOTE (an interpretation: DEBANA WAZA); SHITACHI uses the SURIAGE with SHINOGI (not HARAI) with KATANA in small arc by stepping to the left in HIRAKIASHI and strikes the KOTE (HIKIGIRI) with right foot forward, with left foot up to proper position (HIKITSUKE)
• UCHITACHI's KATANA is deflected to the lower left naturally; SHITACHI pressures forward to HIDARI JODAN and shows ZANSHIN so UCHITACHI lowers the KATANA completely to lower left and steps to the left; SHITACHI returns to CHUDAN when UCHITACHI raises the KATANA



• Both at CHUDAN (or SEIGAN)
• In MAAI, at the right opportunity, UCHITACHI thrusts the chest with blade slightly to the right; SHITACHI supports this by thrusting forward with blade slightly to the left and retreat according to UCHITACHI's stride; then return to CHUDAN
• UCHITACHI, at the right opportunity, strike the SHOMEN (fast, strong) in two steps (left then right); when the SHITACHI moves to the side, eye contact is momentarily lost; after the strike, quickly look at the SHITACHI; slightly lean forward
• SHITACHI steps to the right front; as the left foot moves forward, strike the right DO; then with the right knee on the floor to the right of left foot, stretch both arms with blade approximately at the extension of right arm, KENSEN slightly lower than horizontal; SHITACHI always keeps eyes on UCHITACHI; after a slight pause, when the eye contact reestablished, show ZANSHIN in WAKI; left foot on toes (not as in SEIZA)
• Swing KATANA overhead and come to CHUDAN (UCHITACHI straightens up but does not come to WAKIGAMAE); UCHITACHI steps back and SHITACHI steps up (interpretations: UCHITACHI pulls up SHITACHI, or as SHITACHI rises with vigor UCHITACHI retreats); return to the center carefully
• Come to SONKYO, resheath swords, stand up and retreat to the original position, remove swords to right TEITO by slightly pushing the KATANA to the right front and removing the KATANA from the OBI with right hand, then perform RITSUREI; with BOKKEN, exchange the BOKKEN to the right hand in front near the chest; SHITACHI retreats backwards to retrieve KODACHI while UCHITACHI waits in SONKYO



#1: against JODAN, pull the left shoulder back (HANMI) and extend the right arm so that the KENSEN is to the center of face (tip of KATANA is now extended to where TACHI's KENSEN would be in CHUDAN); with KATANA left hand is at the KURIGATA with thumb forward; with BOKKEN left hand is at the waist with thumb to the rear and four fingers forward
#2: against GEDAN, pull the left shoulder back (HANMI) and extend the right arm so that the KENSEN is to the chest
#3: GEDAN HANMI NO KAMAE with left shoulder back and KENSEN pointing to below the knee; described as MUGAMAE, SHITACHI shows confidence and command as if KATANA is not needed to respond to circumstances



• In MAAI, SHITACHI continues to pressure forward (IRIMI, body entering, encroaching), so UCHITACHI responds by striking SHOMEN (slow, strong) stepping forward with right foot
• SHITACHI moves slightly to the right (HIRAKI ASHI) in UKENAGASHI (grazing, counterflowing, blade back with left SHINOGI with TENOUCHI grip relaxed) up overhead to deflect the KATANA (not blocking), and immediately strike the SHOMEN with right foot forward; after a slight pause, step back to JODAN to show ZANSHIN
• Come to CHUDAN then move back to the center
• This KATA teaches the aggressiveness of SHITACHI against TACHI to quickly lunge in to win



• UCHITACHI is GEDAN, and SHITACHI is CHUDAN HANMI (KENSEN is to the chest height)
• In MAAI, as UCHITACHI comes to CHUDAN in defense, SHITACHI stifles the TACHI and presses forward with blade slightly to the right; UCHITACHI retreats quickly to the right down in WAKI, but SHITACHI continues to pressure forward (blade down, KENSEN to the throat), so immediately UCHITACHI comes to HIDARI JODAN and strikes the SHOMEN (slow, strong) stepping in with right foot without pause
• SHITACHI moves slightly to the left (rotate in HIRAKI ASHI) in UKENAGASHI up overhead (with right SHINOGI, blade back) to deflect the KATANA, and strikes the SHOMEN without pause; immediately seize the UCHITACHI's right arm above the elbow from the top with left arm (somewhat extended), hold the KODACHI at the right hip with blade to the down right and KENSEN towards the throat and show ZANSHIN without stepping up
• UCHITACHI from the left and SHITACHI from the right, move back to the center
• This KATA teaches how SHITACHI first seizes the UCHITACHI then wins



• Approaching MAAI, SHITACHI appears to continue encroaching, so UCHITACHI strikes the SHOMEN on the third step; SHITACHI parries this up in SURIAGE (not blocking or HARAI) using SHINOGI with right arm extended and right fist at the face level (not overhead)
• SHITACHI then parries down the TACHI towards the right-back of UCHITACHI (fist stops at chest level); with left foot UCHITACHI immediately strikes the right DO, so SHITACHI parries this with left SHINOGI as if cutting across UCHITACHI's chest (KENSEN slightly up to avoid injury) with HIRAKIASHI to the left
• Immediately SHITACHI brings the KODACHI's HABAKI perpendicular up to the UCHITACHI's TSUBA and seize the UCHITACHI's right arm above the elbow from the side with left hand (arm somewhat extended); proceed 2-3 steps then show ZANSHIN by holding the KODACHI at right hip with KENSEN to the throat (an interpretation: SHITACHI opens the stance slightly signifying that this KATA does not kill)
• This KATA shows how UCHITACHI is completely exhausted before SHITACHI seizes victory
• Back in the center, assume SONKYO, resheath KATANA, stand up and retreat to the original position, remove sword to right TEITO, RITSUREI to each other, then REI to the KAMIZA; SHITACHI retrieves the TACHI, then proceed to the SHIMOZA and do a ZAREI; exit



• N Shigeoka. Nihon Kendo Kata, 2nd ed. (1987) Ski Journal, Tokyo
• N Shigeoka. Nihon Kendo Kata Kaisetsu, 3rd ed. (1972) Toki Printing, Osaka
• S Uehara. Michi Shirube (1989) Physical Education and Sports Publishing, Tokyo
• J Tokeshi. Kendo: Hawaii Kendo Federation, Aiea Taiheiji Kendo Manual (1995)
• Mr. Masashi Chiba, personal communication


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