Notes from the journey

The author and Ozawa Hiroshi sensei at his Kobukan Dojo,
Tokyo c. 2009
I recently found an old notebook with things written down from attending seminars over the years. There are also things I've written down after conversations with senior kenshi. Much of it was for the purpose of achieving sixth dan, which in my case took four attempts over seven years; plenty of time for reflection!

Here then are some of these thoughts, sayings and instructions. Most are Kendo-related, some are from Zen Buddhism. They are not in any order and I've chosen them because they still speak to me. In some cases they are attributed and in some cases not. But all have come from my study with those who were further along the path than myself.

I hope they are useful for you.




Realisation makes every place a temple.   
                                                                                               Daikaku
     

Chudan no kamae is gassho (namaste/prayer/greeting).
                                                                                            Makoto Tajima


No self therefore no enemy. 
                                                                                            Yamaoka Tesshu
                 

Remember how the feeling of soft hands leads directly to a soft lower back. Relaxation.



On dealing with an overwhelming opponent in shiai or shinsa
Ki-atari 氣当たり. Meet the opponent's mental attack with your own. Kata no.7


Expand into the possibilities of the present moment. Understand the possibilities of repleteness.
                                                                                                         Fujiwara Hironobu 


Create seme with your front foot or your men in order to create change in your opponent's mind and posture. Then attack with the whole body.

                                                                                                          Sumi Masatake 




On the process of attacking
seme 攻め--->  kuzushii 崩し--->  sutemi 捨て身--->  zanshin 残心 
(attack ---> unbalance ---> commit ---> remain alert)
                                                                                               Sumi Masatake 




On posture
Standing in migi-jodan helps to set your hips. Hold jodan position without raising the shoulders. Then return to chudan and you find that your hips are engaged. The repetition of the sayumen in kirikaeshi helps to develop this hip engagement and creates the foundation of the pole that runs through your body: in other words, correct, straight, indomitable posture.
                                                                                               Okada Morimasa


 
Good keiko is maintaining posture that allows you to strike correctly at anytime. Use your five senses to focus on your opponent's every move. Use your sixth sense to strike your opponent with 100% commitment (sutemi).
Sonkyo should be... when going down, like a pebble sinking to the bottom of a still pond, when standing up, like smoke rising from a stick of incense.
After standing up from sonkyo:
  1. Take kamae
  2. seme-ai 攻め合あい assail your opponent
  3. seme-katsu  攻め勝つ assail and win
  4. datotsu 打突 strike correctly
  5. zanshin 残心 follow through
This is the process for one cut.
The difficulty is between (2) and (3), The difficulty with the semekatsu stage is to gauge whether you have, in fact, won. You must imbalance (kuzushii) your opponent's kamae. To do this you must first get information through the kensen. If your hands are soft you give no information to your opponent. It should be possible to pull the shinai from your grasp because your grip is so soft and relaxed.
This is the meaning of a position you can always cut from. 

                                                                                                 Ozawa Hiroshi

You're too concerned with my shinai, you should be aiming for my body!

                                                                                                 Arimitsu Masaaki 


No strategy. No feint at this or aiming for that. Just "come on m*****f*****, I'm going to run you through!"

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