training at Nittaidai's Kendo Dojo in Tokyo
As promised, here are some of my notes* on the lecture given by Okada Morimasa sensei of Nittaidai on 16 February at the Kenshikan Dojo, on the topic of kirikaeshi. These notes are to be thought of as a number of points, each of which you should, in the words of Musashi, "study well".
"A big thing can encapsulate a small thing but small cannot encapsulate big."
- Kirikaeshi was originally performed against the teacher only, so the motodachi's role is very important and requires effort.
- The first men cut is extremely important as it sets up the rest of the kirikaeshi. Taiatari should not be included at first so as to avoid ingraining the "taiatari pose" (the reflex of bringing the hands down in front of the body after the attack). Taiatari is taught later at Nittaidai when the skill level is high.
- Motodachi should receive with a vertical shinai.
- Motodachi should harmonise their mind with kakarite (attacker). This can be done by saying "men, men, men" in time with kakarite.
- Take care with the footwork for each cut. Don't bring feet together (i.e. make sure left foot stays behind right foot) especially when you go faster. Each cut should have kikentaiitchi.
- One breath kirikaeshi should have each "men!" punctuating the kirikaeshi; not "me~~~~~~~~n!" but "me~~~, me~~~, me~~~n!"
- Avoid shinitai (dead body). Shinitai is a posture when your left knee flexes and you lean backwards.
- For the final cut of kirikaeshi, ride over the top of the motodachi's men. Don't let it slip off to the side nor bounce too high. Cut and follow through straight ahead with the feeling of slicing.
- Standing in migi jodan (right foot forward jodan) helps to set your hips; belly button points to the ceiling. (!) Hold jodan position without raising the shoulders. Then return to chudan and you will find that your hips are engaged. The repetition of the sayu-men cuts in kirikaeshi helps to develop this hip engagement and creates the foundation of correct, straight, indomitable posture.
- When receiving kihon (basics), be alive.Give the opening and welcome the cut. Watch the tachisuji (the path of the cut) right onto your men. This develops your ability to perform ojiwaza (counter-attacking techniques) later on. Be alive when receiving, not a dead dummy.
- A big thing can encapsulate a small thing but small cannot encapsulate big: large waza will lead to small waza but small waza will not lead to large. In other words, perfect your large waza first and it will enable you to perform both large and small. But fall into the trap of only training in small waza and it will limit your Kendo to only small waza.
*Any faults or omissions are my own. Thanks to Maksay sensei for providing the translation.