Thursday, July 23, 2009

Simple shiai guide

You've probably seen this video before, but pay attention to the first 10 seconds for a good example of shiai etiquette.

Some of you are new to shiai, so here is a basic guide to the main things you have to remember.

Reiho 礼法
  1. Start just outside the shiaijo (court). When the shinpan (referees) are standing ready, you must face your opponent and step into the shiaijo. You will not be given a command to do so because you must make a connection with your opponent. Do not be the last to step in, but neither be the first. Step in such a way as you make your opponent follow your lead.
  2. Come to a point about a metre inside the shiaijo. Bow silently to your opponent without taking your eyes off them. Do not say "onegaishimasu".
  3. Take three decisive steps forward to the shiaisen (white line) and draw your sword. Again do not race your opponent but move so that they follow you. Sonkyo so that they do it at the same time as you.
  4. Wait for the shushin (head referee) to call "hajime!"
  5. Stand up promptly but do not rush. Always step slightly forward into chudan-no-kamae, never backwards. Kiai strongly. Use your kiai to tell your opponent that you will never back down.
  6. Fight and take shodachi 初太刀 (the first point)
During the match
You already know that matches are the best of three points. Here's a reminder of the shushin's calls:
  • hajime! yame! These two are self-explanatory. They will be accompanied by strong flag movement by all shinpan.
  • men ari! do ari! kote ari! A point has been scored. You must stop fighting and return your shiaisen (white line).
  • nihonme! Begin! (fighting for the second point)
  • shobu! Begin! (fighting for the final point)
  • shobu ari! There is a winner! (the match is over). The shushin will call this after you are both returned to your shiaisen and waiting in chudan-no-kamae. As shushin calls it, s/he will lower the flag of the winning kendoka. You and your opponent must sonkyo together at the same time as the flag is lowered.
End of match
Do the normal movements: sonkyo, o-same-to, five small steps back, lower the sword and rei without saying "domo arigato...". Take a few steps backwards out of the shiaijo. Once you have crossed the line you can turn and walk away normally.

These are the basics aspects of shiai. There are many others, but if you can learn these, then you can participate in shiai.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

勝負 – Winning and losing

勝負 shobu refers to a match. It is also what the shushin calls out before the deciding point of a match. The word shobu is made up of the two characters sho 勝 (victory) and fu 負 (defeat).

In term 3 our focus will be on shiai, or competition. We will practice various waza, as well as how to enter and leave the shiaijo correctly.

We will also think about what winning and losing means in kendo. Often we are told that competition is not the main point of practising kendo, and this is true. But we still need a drive to win in order for there to be some point to our training. This is called a paradox, a situation where two opposites are true at the same time.

What is the difference between wanting to win and not wanting to lose? They are sort of similar aren't they?

This is what we will be investigating through practice in the coming term.