TIL: soft wood is not a valid target

2011-04-19 21:14:00

Oops! Sorry honey! I kind of... broke part of our fence. ^_^;

Tonight I was practicing men strikes. First as suburi, then using the top plank of our garden fence as a target. I'd done this before with little trouble. But I guess the men strikes were too much for the soft wood, because the plank gave way after a few hits. Oops... I'd better break out the hammer and nails tomorrow. =_=

On the upside of things: my raising motion with the shinai is definitely speeding up! And it seems I've got one half of kata #1 down :)


While I'm working on learning the physical movements of the kata I am also trying to come to grasp with the meaning behind it all. I mean, there's supposed to be a good reason for kendoka to have to learn all the kata, so I'd better find out what it is! On the one hand there's understanding the physical aspect of kendo, but on the other there's also the psychological and mental aspects. Researching the "riai" (theory / reason for movements) provides a whole new level of learning, for which one usually doesn't have time in the dojo. 

To quote Geoff Salmon, who is paraphrasing a research paper on kendo:

"In [kata 1], both the teacher and the student attack each other from the 'overhead' posture implying a clash of justice against justice. The first kata is meant to teach that one defeats the other with the difference of relative skill cultivation that corresponds to the laws of nature”. [...] The first lesson in kendo means training for the self acquirement of the physical movement and mental attitude, as well as the cultivation for the self-manifestation of justice. In addition to the self-manifestation, the first kata teaches the importance of repentance for the killing. In real combat, the loser dies and the winner who survives must have repentance. This mental attitude in part represents the assertion of zanshin.

The paper in question, "A breakthrough in the dilemma of war or peace – The teachings of kendo" by Kensei Hiwaki, can be found as part of this British Kendo Assoc. newsletter from 2000. It's not a very long read. Speaking of Geoff's blog, I'm digging a lot of his articles! I doubt there are many 7th dan kendoka keeping an active weblog in english. Another great read was his modernized translation of "The aim of kendo", by Matsumoto Toshio and Hanshi Kyudan.

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