Friday, February 6, 2009

Bokuto training sequence

image from Mushinkan Kendo and Iaido Dojo

The bokuto ni yoru kihon waza keiko ho is a set of 9 "kata" designed recently by the All Japan Kendo Federation to help teach kendo basics. At Nanseikan we have practiced these for a period of time every year for the last three years or so. Still, we do not practice them all the time, so a little reminder in black and white will be handy.

Purpose
The purpose of the bokuto keiko ho is to give an introduction to the basic techniques of kendo, both shikake and oji waza, and at the same time an experience of handling the bokuto. It has been formulated especially for beginners so that they can practice something fundamental even before they are able to wear bogu. And it is a sequence that can be useful for all kendoka to practice from time to time.

Roles
In the bokuto keiko ho, there are two roles. They are the kakarite: the person who is practicing the techniques, the attacker, and the motodachi: the person receiving the techniques. The role of the kakarite is a bit like the role of the uchidachi in kata, only much less active. For all of the shikake waza, the motodachi just shows the correct opening and receives.

Order
The order of the keiko ho is this:
  1. kihon ichi: kihon men, kote, do, tsuki
  2. kihon ni: ni dan waza, kote-men
  3. kihon san: harai waza, harai-men (from omote)
  4. kihon yon: hiki waza, men-tsubazeriai-hiki-do
  5. kihon go: nuki waza, men-nuki-do
  6. kihon roku: suriage waza, kote-suriage-men (from ura)
  7. kihon nana: debana waza, debana-kote (also called degote)
  8. kihon hachi: kaeshi waza, men kaeshi do
  9. kihon kyu: uchiotoshi waza, do-uchiotoshi-men
There is a little rhyme in Japanese for remembering the order. It goes:
  • ichi, ni, hari, hiki, nuki, sure, ba, kaeshi, uchi
A detailed description of the actions, as well as video for the entire sequence are readily available on the net. Just google "bokuto ni yoru" (or click on the photo above).

Zanshin
Zanshin is particularly important in the keiko ho. For example, in the four kihon waza contained in kihon ichi, there are two steps back by the kakarite after every technique. At the first step back the kakarite must be aware of demonstrating zanshin by pausing for a brief moment to hold centre and threaten the motodachi's throat. The helps to prevent the keiko ho from becoming just an empty set of movements. Like kata they must be performed with the feeling that you are actually using these techniques to defeat the motodachi.

Distance
Like kata, the distance is very important. When you perform a technique, it should reach the target area so that if you wished you could physically strike the correct part of your opponent's body. Naturally your well-practiced tenouchi stops this!

The only exception to this is the fourth part of kihon ichi - tsuki. In this case, as you know, the motodachi takes a step back at the moment kakarite delivers the tsuki in order to guard against accidents.

Format
The way the keiko ho is perfomed is very like kata, with largely the same reigi saho (performance of etiquette) as kata, the same starting from kyu ho no maai (9 steps distance), taking three steps in, etc. When using the bokuto it should be performed with the same feeling as kata.

The keiko ho can also be run as a sequence where both sides are wearing bogu and using shinai. In this case, full contact can be made and the instructor may decided that you not perform all of the reigi saho each time but instead use it as the basis of training drills at full-speed.

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