Kendo positions / posture

Kamae actually means ‘Posture’ but in context is more clearly expressed as ‘position’ since

it refers specifically to the position in which the Shinai or bamboo practice sword is held. The

height of blade is divided into three levels or Dan (steps) and designated as Jodan (high step),

Chudan (middle step), and Gedan (low step). ‘No-kamae’ means ‘posture of’, but the short form

as above is general.

Seigan-no-kamae (natural posture) Kendo positions / posture

Kamae actually means ‘Posture’ but in context is more clearly expressed as ‘position’ since

it refers specifically to the position in which the Shinai or bamboo practice sword is held. The

height of blade is divided into three levels or Dan (steps) and designated as Jodan (high step),

Chudan (middle step), and Gedan (low step). ‘No-kamae’ means ‘posture of’, but the short form

as above is general.

39

Seigan-no-kamae (natural posture) Kendo positions / posture

Seigan (natural step) is the more common name for Chudan. The right foot is advanced

with the knee slightly bent; the left leg is straight with the heel clear of the floor. The Shinai is

held in front of the body with both hands, in a natural manner that does not interfere with the

basic Shisei. The sword points directly at the opponent’s eyes and crosses his point about three

to four inches from the tip. This is at a distance of some seven to seven feet six inches and

defined as Ma-ai or the theoretical distance from which an attack can be launched with a single

step attack.

Seigan (or Chudan) is defined as when the blade points forward from the left hand, which

is held in line with the Chushin (body centre), at an angle above horizontal and below the

opponent’s eyes. A lower angle more completely covers the front attack line whilst a higher angle

to cover the eyes has more psychological effect on the opponent. Seigan is the most important

posture to study and understand. It is the only position which covers the front attack line and also

the only position to give equal facility for offence or defence as required. All variations are

virtually a weakening of this basic stance, used to deliberately provoke an attack by the opponent.

Judan-no-kamae (high posture) Kendo positions / posture

Jodan is the only important variation used today and is favoured in contests. Jodan has

a very strong character since it is very aggressive. ‘Jodan’ is universally taken to mean Migijodan-

no-kamae (with right foot advanced) unless otherwise specified. But the more common or

comfortable form is the Hidari Jodan (left foot advanced) this makes single handed cuts very

convenient as explained later. The angle shown is fairly conservative (about forty-five degrees)

but this can vary a good deal from almost perpendicular to nearly horizontal. Some schools

suggest that the arms be as shown – in a natural position – whilst others allow the elbows to

spring out. The body direction can be square or slightly turned to either side. Sometimes the

Shinai is held in this line whilst at others it may be canted over or held almost cross-wise. Much

of this variation is due to the particular techniques specialized in or according to personal taste.

At any rate the only classification made is left, or right foot advanced. An exception to this is

the radical Katate Jodan (single hand) postures in which either hand will release its grip on the

hilt and the blade is balanced back on this hand which supports the back edge of the blade.

Any form of Jodan completely opens the front attack line and the student must have a

good sense of timing and outmatch his opponent if he is to take any advantage.

Gedan-no-kamae (low posture) Kendo positions / posture

Gedan is still used to some extend and in this case the attack line is opened by dropping

the point. In some variations the Sinai may be turned off to either side and Gedan is in itself an

invitation to attack the head. The posture is defined as when the point drops below horizontal.

40

Waki-gamae (side posture) Kendo positions / posture

Waki-gamae has little use in modern Kendo apart from Kata (forms) in that it was

originally designed as a Sutemi Waza (sacrifice technique) and such techniques merely result in

Aiuchi (double hits) in modern Kendo.

Hasso-kamae (figure of eight posture) Kendo positions / posture

Hasso-kamae is not illustrated but the Shinai is carried almost vertically at either shoulder,

so that in combination the two complimentary sides are likened to the Japanese figure eight, or

Hachi. These are sometimes referred to as Yo-no-kamae and Inno-kamae, Yo-in being the

positive/negative principle (Yinyang in Chinese). Hasso has variations in the Jodan and Chudan

positions, the former high above the head and the latter low at the hip and canted backwards. As

a minor point Waki-gamae takes what would be the Gedan position of Hasso, except that the

blade is reversed.

Hasso-kamae is also a Sutemi Waza and has little use in modern Kendo but with Wakigamae,

Gedan, Chudan and Jodan, completes the five fundamental postures.

There are literally dozens of other postures – many very ancient. Some better known ones

are the Kasumi-kamae found in low, middle, and high positions in which the arms are crossed

over so as to partly conceal the technique; Kasumi means ‘mountain mist’. Another variation is

the Kongo-kamae in which the blade is held vertically in front of the face. There is a particular

phase during which such postures appear attractive to the student but he should not become

involved in them. It is, however, as well to learn by experience and it will soon be found that

such postures are too restrictive under modern conditions.

The essential posture to concentrate on is the Seigan (natural posture) and this is

absolutely essential as a basis for anything else. To enable the hands to grip as naturally as

possible it will be noted that the elbows are slightly sprung outwards. The Shinai is exactly in

the centre line and the posture should be relaxed and comfortable. An amount of stiffness and

awkwardness is inevitable at first but if no effort is made the position cannot be achieved with

ease at a later date.

Nigiri (the hand grip) Kendo positions / posture

The method of gripping the hilt is the foundation of the cut and the movement of the

Shinai. If the hands are incorrectly placed it is impossible to deliver a correct stroke, especially

with regard to the left hand. Because of the gloves, this is difficult to see clearly but the position

is the same as in the plate.

The left hand is always at the very end of the hilt, regardless of whether the student is

left, or right-handed. The hilt lies transversely across the palm of the hand along the line of life,

crossing under the base of the index finger and the butt lies in the heel of the hand. The three

smallest fingers curl back over the hilt to point back at an angle of forty-five degrees to its

length, and tighten firmly to pull the butt into the inner palm which we call Tenno-uchi (inside

hand). The fore-finger and thumb just curl about the hilt in a comfortable position.

The Tuska-gawa (hilt leather) of modern Shinai are constructed with more length and the

right hand is placed with an inch or so clearance below the guard. This is to avoid the excessive

wear of the glove constantly rubbing against the guard.

The wrists are snapped well inwards so the hands lie along the top of the hilt and the

knuckles of each fore-finger should be aligned with the edges. The Shinai should form a natural

extension of the arms and the hands be in the ideal position for maximum control. The correct

grip will only be possible if the wrists are supple and again this is a question of practice.

The Tenno-uchi (inner palm) of the left hand is the main cutting source and the placing

of the left hand most important. The right hand does almost nothing, merely supporting the

Shinai and guiding direction. Once the correct grip is understood the left hand is aligned with

the Chushin (body centre) and thrust about four inches forward.

Students should avoid grasping squarely since this stiffens the arms and shoulders, or

allowing the hands to slip around the sides of the hilt. In this case it is impossible to control the

cutting and movements of the Shinai.

Shintai Dosa (basic footwork) Kendo positions / posture

If it is understood that Shisei (fundamental posture) is the foundation of all techniques it

will be equally clear that the only way to preserve this position is by footwork. All footwork is

designed to preserve Shisei and generally speaking to maintain the advanced position of the right

foot to facilitate instant attack at any moment. The basic aim is to step forward and strike the

opponent in a special way and the only method of closing this distance without loss of Shisei or

balance is by the correct step.

In the basic waiting position the left heel is lifted clear of the floor and the right knee

slightly bent so that the body is inclined forward and some seventy per cent of the total body

weight falls on to the ball of the right foot. In Kendo we are not concerned with attacks from the

side or rear. There is only a single opponent who will always approach from the front. The basic

posture is rather weak to the sides and backward movement is also less efficient but the whole

body is poised for forward attack when required.

The right foot is advanced about the distance of its own length. There is just sufficient

room for the left leg to pass in front of the right if necessary and the toes of both feet point

directly forward. If the left toes are allowed to point sideways (a common fault) or if there is too

much lateral distance between the feet, the thrusting action of the left foot will tend to throw the

body over to the right and balance will be lost. The left foot should be as close to the centre-line

as possible, but not so much as to cause loss of balance or awkwardness. Balance is greatly aided

by turning the toes slightly inwards, which has the effect of steadying the body inwards to the

centre-line, rather similar to the result of Shibori, as will be seen later.

Fumikomi (diagram I) shows the actual attack step and in all illustrations the starting

position is shown as shaded whilst the number refers to the sequence of steps. Fumikomi means

‘jumping in’ and this is the only occasion when the feet leave the floor. By studying diagrams 1

and 2 this may be clearly followed. The left foot thrusts the body forward and the right knee

punches upwards, the right foot strikes vigorously into the floor as the cut lands. This is followed

almost simultaneously by the left foot, which is drawn up into its original position. As the cut

lands the body is virtually travelling forward in the original Shisei position. At this moment the

direction of body-weight is direct forwards and downwards at an angle of forty-five degrees to

assist balance. There is a very brief pause as the cut lands. Then a series of smaller steps are

made until the forward momentum is dissipated. This follow-through, or Tsuzukete, continues to

maintain the right foot in advance whilst the left foot constantly pushes. The result should be that

the feet slide smoothly across the floor in a fast ‘shuffling’ action.

As will be seen later, a full Fumikomi (attack step) means that some three feet to three

feet six inches must be covered and so the Tsuzukete not only aids balance but also gives a

smooth finish to the technique. It also has the extra function of avoiding any retaliation by the

opponent. For clarity the Tsuzukete is shown in a direct line but in actual fact it is necessary to

sidestep to avoid crashing into the opponent.

The method of keeping the right foot advanced is termed Tsugu-ashi (following feet) and

is the method of stepping employed at any time when the opponent is at Ma Ai distance or attack

range. When stepping backwards the right foot pushes back and is drawn back afterwards. A

single Tsugu-ashi step is two separate movements of the feet made almost simultaneously, ie,

‘one-two”, ‘one-two’ and so on.

Nami Ashi (diagram 2) are normal ‘pace’ steps in which one foot is advanced from the

rear. Nami-ashi means ‘succeeding feet’. As the left foot advances in Nami-ashi any attack action

is very difficult and because of this, Nami-ashi is avoided altogether except when well out of

range. In Nami-ashi the feet are still slid smoothly along the floor, without lifting up, so that

constant contact is maintained.

Diagram 3 shows a combination of Nami-ashi and Fumikomi in a method of attack from

long distance, often used in competition. To cover the extra distance the left foot comes forward

in advance of the right and the right foot is then advanced in normal Fumikomi style. In this

specific case the advance of the left foot does not inhibit the attack since it is contained within

the actual process of attack as the initial phase. With this type of attack it is possible to cover

double the distance or more.

Ugoki (side steps) are mainly employed to pass by the opponent after attack and normally

comprise the first of the Tsuzukete (follow through) steps. Diagram 4a shows the Mae-migi Ugoki

(forward right) and Ushiro-hidari-ugoki (rear left) diagonal and by definition these are Tsugu-ashi

(following feet). Diagram 4b shows the Mae-hidari-ugoki (forward left) and Ushiro-migi-ugoki

(rear right) and to prevent the feet crossing over and to avoid tripping, these are technically in

Nami-ashi (succeeding feet) style. Because of this, movement along this latter diagonal is avoided

where possible. The Ugoki step has the effect of taking the body out of line whilst maintaining

the shoulder and hips square to the direction of movement. If the body is allowed to swing

sideways in passing, balance will be very easily lost.

Mawashi (turning steps), mainly used when meeting an attack, shift the body out of the

attack line and turn the receiver’s own centre-line inwards, to allow for a counter stroke. Since

the opponent is attacking, the distance is rapidly decreasing and thus, although vigorous, the

Mawashi step is very short and balance to the side is not threatened. Diagram 5 shows merely

the basic side movements of Mawashi and in the case of movement along either diagonals the

sequence of steps will be as for Ugoki. Where possible it is better that the first foot be placed

directly in the new line to avoid spinning on the feet. Only a relatively short step is necessary

to clear the attack line and if the feet stamp down properly the balance is better preserved.

Almost any combination of step may be made, according to circumstance and diagram

6 shows one in which a Mae-hidari Ugoki (forward left) side-step is changed to a Migi-mawashi

(right) swinging step by turning on the sole of the foot. The circumstances in which this type of

step might occur would be in attacking the right wrist or Kote or in performing certain counter

techniques to this left hand side.

Generally speaking, footwork should be as smooth and precise as possible, so as to avoid

‘Rocking’ the body backwards and forwards. No mater what direction the step takes the action

is always that of thrusting with the rear foot; if retiring the right foot becomes the ‘rear’ foot in

the context. The Tsuzukete (follow-through) will be found difficult but must be concentrated

upon. The Fumikomi is very vigorous and all other steps smooth, so that the body glides over

the floor and the feet are constantly in contact, ready to leap forward as an opportunity occurs.

Another very important aspect of footwork is the distance factor, since only the top

portion of the blade is used to strike and thus the distance and range of each attack step must be

requlated with the appropriate footwork. As the opponent attacks the length of our own attack

step shortens proportionately. This is similar to the ‘deflection’ factor in shooting against a

moving target and whilst this stepping, in relation to where the opponent will be, is difficult, it

comes with experience.

It is necessary to make a definite step when cutting, or if the distance does happen to be

just correct, then the motion of a step or a stamp is made and co-ordinated precisely with the cut.

Cuts to the front are very much easier than cuts made whilst reversing and thus a forward sidestep

or diagonal will often provide just that little extra space necessary to cut forward rather than

backwards. Backward cuts are quite valid if correctly performed but the student should

concentrate on forward attacks as much as possible since constant retreating and backward

strokes result in a negative style and make it impossible to understand Kendo.

Seigan (natural step) is the more common name for Chudan. The right foot is advanced

with the knee slightly bent; the left leg is straight with the heel clear of the floor. The Shinai is

held in front of the body with both hands, in a natural manner that does not interfere with the

basic Shisei. The sword points directly at the opponent’s eyes and crosses his point about three

to four inches from the tip. This is at a distance of some seven to seven feet six inches and

defined as Ma-ai or the theoretical distance from which an attack can be launched with a single

step attack.

Seigan (or Chudan) is defined as when the blade points forward from the left hand, which

is held in line with the Chushin (body centre), at an angle above horizontal and below the

opponent’s eyes. A lower angle more completely covers the front attack line whilst a higher angle

to cover the eyes has more psychological effect on the opponent. Seigan is the most important

posture to study and understand. It is the only position which covers the front attack line and also

the only position to give equal facility for offence or defence as required. All variations are

virtually a weakening of this basic stance, used to deliberately provoke an attack by the opponent.

Judan-no-kamae (high posture) Kendo positions / posture

Jodan is the only important variation used today and is favoured in contests. Jodan has

a very strong character since it is very aggressive. ‘Jodan’ is universally taken to mean Migijodan-

no-kamae (with right foot advanced) unless otherwise specified. But the more common or

comfortable form is the Hidari Jodan (left foot advanced) this makes single handed cuts very

convenient as explained later. The angle shown is fairly conservative (about forty-five degrees)

but this can vary a good deal from almost perpendicular to nearly horizontal. Some schools

suggest that the arms be as shown – in a natural position – whilst others allow the elbows to

spring out. The body direction can be square or slightly turned to either side. Sometimes the

Shinai is held in this line whilst at others it may be canted over or held almost cross-wise. Much

of this variation is due to the particular techniques specialized in or according to personal taste.

At any rate the only classification made is left, or right foot advanced. An exception to this is

the radical Katate Jodan (single hand) postures in which either hand will release its grip on the

hilt and the blade is balanced back on this hand which supports the back edge of the blade.

Any form of Jodan completely opens the front attack line and the student must have a

good sense of timing and outmatch his opponent if he is to take any advantage.

Gedan-no-kamae (low posture) Kendo positions / posture

Gedan is still used to some extend and in this case the attack line is opened by dropping

the point. In some variations the Sinai may be turned off to either side and Gedan is in itself an

invitation to attack the head. The posture is defined as when the point drops below horizontal.

Waki-gamae (side posture) Kendo positions / posture

Waki-gamae has little use in modern Kendo apart from Kata (forms) in that it was

originally designed as a Sutemi Waza (sacrifice technique) and such techniques merely result in

Aiuchi (double hits) in modern Kendo.

Hasso-kamae (figure of eight posture) Kendo positions / posture

Hasso-kamae is not illustrated but the Shinai is carried almost vertically at either shoulder,

so that in combination the two complimentary sides are likened to the Japanese figure eight, or

Hachi. These are sometimes referred to as Yo-no-kamae and Inno-kamae, Yo-in being the

positive/negative principle (Yinyang in Chinese). Hasso has variations in the Jodan and Chudan

positions, the former high above the head and the latter low at the hip and canted backwards. As

a minor point Waki-gamae takes what would be the Gedan position of Hasso, except that the

blade is reversed.

Hasso-kamae is also a Sutemi Waza and has little use in modern Kendo but with Wakigamae,

Gedan, Chudan and Jodan, completes the five fundamental postures.

There are literally dozens of other postures – many very ancient. Some better known ones

are the Kasumi-kamae found in low, middle, and high positions in which the arms are crossed

over so as to partly conceal the technique; Kasumi means ‘mountain mist’. Another variation is

the Kongo-kamae in which the blade is held vertically in front of the face. There is a particular

phase during which such postures appear attractive to the student but he should not become

involved in them. It is, however, as well to learn by experience and it will soon be found that

such postures are too restrictive under modern conditions.

The essential posture to concentrate on is the Seigan (natural posture) and this is

absolutely essential as a basis for anything else. To enable the hands to grip as naturally as

possible it will be noted that the elbows are slightly sprung outwards. The Shinai is exactly in

the centre line and the posture should be relaxed and comfortable. An amount of stiffness and

awkwardness is inevitable at first but if no effort is made the position cannot be achieved with

ease at a later date.

Nigiri (the hand grip) Kendo positions / posture

The method of gripping the hilt is the foundation of the cut and the movement of the

Shinai. If the hands are incorrectly placed it is impossible to deliver a correct stroke, especially

with regard to the left hand. Because of the gloves, this is difficult to see clearly but the position

is the same as in the plate.

The left hand is always at the very end of the hilt, regardless of whether the student is

left, or right-handed. The hilt lies transversely across the palm of the hand along the line of life,

crossing under the base of the index finger and the butt lies in the heel of the hand. The three

smallest fingers curl back over the hilt to point back at an angle of forty-five degrees to its

length, and tighten firmly to pull the butt into the inner palm which we call Tenno-uchi (inside

hand). The fore-finger and thumb just curl about the hilt in a comfortable position.

The Tuska-gawa (hilt leather) of modern Shinai are constructed with more length and the

right hand is placed with an inch or so clearance below the guard. This is to avoid the excessive

wear of the glove constantly rubbing against the guard.

The wrists are snapped well inwards so the hands lie along the top of the hilt and the

knuckles of each fore-finger should be aligned with the edges. The Shinai should form a natural

extension of the arms and the hands be in the ideal position for maximum control. The correct

grip will only be possible if the wrists are supple and again this is a question of practice.

The Tenno-uchi (inner palm) of the left hand is the main cutting source and the placing

of the left hand most important. The right hand does almost nothing, merely supporting the

Shinai and guiding direction. Once the correct grip is understood the left hand is aligned with

the Chushin (body centre) and thrust about four inches forward.

Students should avoid grasping squarely since this stiffens the arms and shoulders, or

allowing the hands to slip around the sides of the hilt. In this case it is impossible to control the

cutting and movements of the Shinai.

Shintai Dosa (basic footwork) Kendo positions / posture

If it is understood that Shisei (fundamental posture) is the foundation of all techniques it

will be equally clear that the only way to preserve this position is by footwork. All footwork is

designed to preserve Shisei and generally speaking to maintain the advanced position of the right

foot to facilitate instant attack at any moment. The basic aim is to step forward and strike the

opponent in a special way and the only method of closing this distance without loss of Shisei or

balance is by the correct step.

In the basic waiting position the left heel is lifted clear of the floor and the right knee

slightly bent so that the body is inclined forward and some seventy per cent of the total body

weight falls on to the ball of the right foot. In Kendo we are not concerned with attacks from the

side or rear. There is only a single opponent who will always approach from the front. The basic

posture is rather weak to the sides and backward movement is also less efficient but the whole

body is poised for forward attack when required.

The right foot is advanced about the distance of its own length. There is just sufficient

room for the left leg to pass in front of the right if necessary and the toes of both feet point

directly forward. If the left toes are allowed to point sideways (a common fault) or if there is too

much lateral distance between the feet, the thrusting action of the left foot will tend to throw the

body over to the right and balance will be lost. The left foot should be as close to the centre-line

as possible, but not so much as to cause loss of balance or awkwardness. Balance is greatly aided

by turning the toes slightly inwards, which has the effect of steadying the body inwards to the

centre-line, rather similar to the result of Shibori, as will be seen later.

Fumikomi (diagram I) shows the actual attack step and in all illustrations the starting

position is shown as shaded whilst the number refers to the sequence of steps. Fumikomi means

‘jumping in’ and this is the only occasion when the feet leave the floor. By studying diagrams 1

and 2 this may be clearly followed. The left foot thrusts the body forward and the right knee

punches upwards, the right foot strikes vigorously into the floor as the cut lands. This is followed

almost simultaneously by the left foot, which is drawn up into its original position. As the cut

lands the body is virtually travelling forward in the original Shisei position. At this moment the

direction of body-weight is direct forwards and downwards at an angle of forty-five degrees to

assist balance. There is a very brief pause as the cut lands. Then a series of smaller steps are

made until the forward momentum is dissipated. This follow-through, or Tsuzukete, continues to

maintain the right foot in advance whilst the left foot constantly pushes. The result should be that

the feet slide smoothly across the floor in a fast ‘shuffling’ action.

As will be seen later, a full Fumikomi (attack step) means that some three feet to three

feet six inches must be covered and so the Tsuzukete not only aids balance but also gives a

smooth finish to the technique. It also has the extra function of avoiding any retaliation by the

opponent. For clarity the Tsuzukete is shown in a direct line but in actual fact it is necessary to

sidestep to avoid crashing into the opponent.

The method of keeping the right foot advanced is termed Tsugu-ashi (following feet) and

is the method of stepping employed at any time when the opponent is at Ma Ai distance or attack

range. When stepping backwards the right foot pushes back and is drawn back afterwards. A

single Tsugu-ashi step is two separate movements of the feet made almost simultaneously, ie,

‘one-two”, ‘one-two’ and so on.

Nami Ashi are normal ‘pace’ steps in which one foot is advanced from the

rear. Nami-ashi means ‘succeeding feet’. As the left foot advances in Nami-ashi any attack action

is very difficult and because of this, Nami-ashi is avoided altogether except when well out of

range. In Nami-ashi the feet are still slid smoothly along the floor, without lifting up, so that

constant contact is maintained.

Nami-ashi and Fumikomi in a method of attack from

long distance, often used in competition. To cover the extra distance the left foot comes forward

in advance of the right and the right foot is then advanced in normal Fumikomi style. In this

specific case the advance of the left foot does not inhibit the attack since it is contained within

the actual process of attack as the initial phase. With this type of attack it is possible to cover

double the distance or more.

Ugoki (side steps) are mainly employed to pass by the opponent after attack and normally

comprise the first of the Tsuzukete (follow through) steps. Diagram 4a shows the Mae-migi Ugoki

(forward right) and Ushiro-hidari-ugoki (rear left) diagonal and by definition these are Tsugu-ashi

(following feet). Diagram 4b shows the Mae-hidari-ugoki (forward left) and Ushiro-migi-ugoki

(rear right) and to prevent the feet crossing over and to avoid tripping, these are technically in

Nami-ashi (succeeding feet) style. Because of this, movement along this latter diagonal is avoided

where possible. The Ugoki step has the effect of taking the body out of line whilst maintaining

the shoulder and hips square to the direction of movement. If the body is allowed to swing

sideways in passing, balance will be very easily lost.

Mawashi (turning steps), mainly used when meeting an attack, shift the body out of the

attack line and turn the receiver’s own centre-line inwards, to allow for a counter stroke. Since

the opponent is attacking, the distance is rapidly decreasing and thus, although vigorous, the

Mawashi step is very short and balance to the side is not threatened. Diagram 5 shows merely

the basic side movements of Mawashi and in the case of movement along either diagonals the

sequence of steps will be as for Ugoki. Where possible it is better that the first foot be placed

directly in the new line to avoid spinning on the feet. Only a relatively short step is necessary

to clear the attack line and if the feet stamp down properly the balance is better preserved.

Almost any combination of step may be made, according to circumstance and diagram

6 shows one in which a Mae-hidari Ugoki (forward left) side-step is changed to a Migi-mawashi

(right) swinging step by turning on the sole of the foot. The circumstances in which this type of

step might occur would be in attacking the right wrist or Kote or in performing certain counter

techniques to this left hand side.

Generally speaking, footwork should be as smooth and precise as possible, so as to avoid

‘Rocking’ the body backwards and forwards. No mater what direction the step takes the action

is always that of thrusting with the rear foot; if retiring the right foot becomes the ‘rear’ foot in

the context. The Tsuzukete (follow-through) will be found difficult but must be concentrated

upon. The Fumikomi is very vigorous and all other steps smooth, so that the body glides over

the floor and the feet are constantly in contact, ready to leap forward as an opportunity occurs.

Another very important aspect of footwork is the distance factor, since only the top

portion of the blade is used to strike and thus the distance and range of each attack step must be

requlated with the appropriate footwork. As the opponent attacks the length of our own attack

step shortens proportionately. This is similar to the ‘deflection’ factor in shooting against a

moving target and whilst this stepping, in relation to where the opponent will be, is difficult, it

comes with experience.

It is necessary to make a definite step when cutting, or if the distance does happen to be

just correct, then the motion of a step or a stamp is made and co-ordinated precisely with the cut.

Cuts to the front are very much easier than cuts made whilst reversing and thus a forward sidestep

or diagonal will often provide just that little extra space necessary to cut forward rather than

backwards. Backward cuts are quite valid if correctly performed but the student should

concentrate on forward attacks as much as possible since constant retreating and backward

strokes result in a negative style and make it impossible to understand Kendo.

Kendo positions / posture

Kamae actually means 'Posture' but in context is more clearly expressed as 'position' since

it refers specifically to the position in which the Shinai or bamboo practice sword is held. The

height of blade is divided into three levels or Dan (steps) and designated as Jodan (high step),

Chudan (middle step), and Gedan (low step). 'No-kamae' means 'posture of', but the short form

as above is general.

Seigan-no-kamae (natural posture) Kendo positions / posture

Kamae actually means 'Posture' but in context is more clearly expressed as 'position' since

it refers specifically to the position in which the Shinai or bamboo practice sword is held. The

height of blade is divided into three levels or Dan (steps) and designated as Jodan (high step),

Chudan (middle step), and Gedan (low step). 'No-kamae' means 'posture of', but the short form

as above is general.

39

Seigan-no-kamae (natural posture) Kendo positions / posture

Seigan (natural step) is the more common name for Chudan. The right foot is advanced

with the knee slightly bent; the left leg is straight with the heel clear of the floor. The Shinai is

held in front of the body with both hands, in a natural manner that does not interfere with the

basic Shisei. The sword points directly at the opponent's eyes and crosses his point about three

to four inches from the tip. This is at a distance of some seven to seven feet six inches and

defined as Ma-ai or the theoretical distance from which an attack can be launched with a single

step attack.

Seigan (or Chudan) is defined as when the blade points forward from the left hand, which

is held in line with the Chushin (body centre), at an angle above horizontal and below the

opponent's eyes. A lower angle more completely covers the front attack line whilst a higher angle

to cover the eyes has more psychological effect on the opponent. Seigan is the most important

posture to study and understand. It is the only position which covers the front attack line and also

the only position to give equal facility for offence or defence as required. All variations are

virtually a weakening of this basic stance, used to deliberately provoke an attack by the opponent.

Judan-no-kamae (high posture) Kendo positions / posture

Jodan is the only important variation used today and is favoured in contests. Jodan has

a very strong character since it is very aggressive. 'Jodan' is universally taken to mean Migijodan-

no-kamae (with right foot advanced) unless otherwise specified. But the more common or

comfortable form is the Hidari Jodan (left foot advanced) this makes single handed cuts very

convenient as explained later. The angle shown is fairly conservative (about forty-five degrees)

but this can vary a good deal from almost perpendicular to nearly horizontal. Some schools

suggest that the arms be as shown - in a natural position - whilst others allow the elbows to

spring out. The body direction can be square or slightly turned to either side. Sometimes the

Shinai is held in this line whilst at others it may be canted over or held almost cross-wise. Much

of this variation is due to the particular techniques specialized in or according to personal taste.

At any rate the only classification made is left, or right foot advanced. An exception to this is

the radical Katate Jodan (single hand) postures in which either hand will release its grip on the

hilt and the blade is balanced back on this hand which supports the back edge of the blade.

Any form of Jodan completely opens the front attack line and the student must have a

good sense of timing and outmatch his opponent if he is to take any advantage.

Gedan-no-kamae (low posture) Kendo positions / posture

Gedan is still used to some extend and in this case the attack line is opened by dropping

the point. In some variations the Sinai may be turned off to either side and Gedan is in itself an

invitation to attack the head. The posture is defined as when the point drops below horizontal.

40

Waki-gamae (side posture) Kendo positions / posture

Waki-gamae has little use in modern Kendo apart from Kata (forms) in that it was

originally designed as a Sutemi Waza (sacrifice technique) and such techniques merely result in

Aiuchi (double hits) in modern Kendo.

Hasso-kamae (figure of eight posture) Kendo positions / posture

Hasso-kamae is not illustrated but the Shinai is carried almost vertically at either shoulder,

so that in combination the two complimentary sides are likened to the Japanese figure eight, or

Hachi. These are sometimes referred to as Yo-no-kamae and Inno-kamae, Yo-in being the

positive/negative principle (Yinyang in Chinese). Hasso has variations in the Jodan and Chudan

positions, the former high above the head and the latter low at the hip and canted backwards. As

a minor point Waki-gamae takes what would be the Gedan position of Hasso, except that the

blade is reversed.

Hasso-kamae is also a Sutemi Waza and has little use in modern Kendo but with Wakigamae,

Gedan, Chudan and Jodan, completes the five fundamental postures.

There are literally dozens of other postures - many very ancient. Some better known ones

are the Kasumi-kamae found in low, middle, and high positions in which the arms are crossed

over so as to partly conceal the technique; Kasumi means 'mountain mist'. Another variation is

the Kongo-kamae in which the blade is held vertically in front of the face. There is a particular

phase during which such postures appear attractive to the student but he should not become

involved in them. It is, however, as well to learn by experience and it will soon be found that

such postures are too restrictive under modern conditions.

The essential posture to concentrate on is the Seigan (natural posture) and this is

absolutely essential as a basis for anything else. To enable the hands to grip as naturally as

possible it will be noted that the elbows are slightly sprung outwards. The Shinai is exactly in

the centre line and the posture should be relaxed and comfortable. An amount of stiffness and

awkwardness is inevitable at first but if no effort is made the position cannot be achieved with

ease at a later date.

Nigiri (the hand grip) Kendo positions / posture

The method of gripping the hilt is the foundation of the cut and the movement of the

Shinai. If the hands are incorrectly placed it is impossible to deliver a correct stroke, especially

with regard to the left hand. Because of the gloves, this is difficult to see clearly but the position

is the same as in the plate.

The left hand is always at the very end of the hilt, regardless of whether the student is

left, or right-handed. The hilt lies transversely across the palm of the hand along the line of life,

crossing under the base of the index finger and the butt lies in the heel of the hand. The three

smallest fingers curl back over the hilt to point back at an angle of forty-five degrees to its

length, and tighten firmly to pull the butt into the inner palm which we call Tenno-uchi (inside

hand). The fore-finger and thumb just curl about the hilt in a comfortable position.

The Tuska-gawa (hilt leather) of modern Shinai are constructed with more length and the

right hand is placed with an inch or so clearance below the guard. This is to avoid the excessive

wear of the glove constantly rubbing against the guard.

The wrists are snapped well inwards so the hands lie along the top of the hilt and the

knuckles of each fore-finger should be aligned with the edges. The Shinai should form a natural

extension of the arms and the hands be in the ideal position for maximum control. The correct

grip will only be possible if the wrists are supple and again this is a question of practice.

The Tenno-uchi (inner palm) of the left hand is the main cutting source and the placing

of the left hand most important. The right hand does almost nothing, merely supporting the

Shinai and guiding direction. Once the correct grip is understood the left hand is aligned with

the Chushin (body centre) and thrust about four inches forward.

Students should avoid grasping squarely since this stiffens the arms and shoulders, or

allowing the hands to slip around the sides of the hilt. In this case it is impossible to control the

cutting and movements of the Shinai.

Shintai Dosa (basic footwork) Kendo positions / posture

If it is understood that Shisei (fundamental posture) is the foundation of all techniques it

will be equally clear that the only way to preserve this position is by footwork. All footwork is

designed to preserve Shisei and generally speaking to maintain the advanced position of the right

foot to facilitate instant attack at any moment. The basic aim is to step forward and strike the

opponent in a special way and the only method of closing this distance without loss of Shisei or

balance is by the correct step.

In the basic waiting position the left heel is lifted clear of the floor and the right knee

slightly bent so that the body is inclined forward and some seventy per cent of the total body

weight falls on to the ball of the right foot. In Kendo we are not concerned with attacks from the

side or rear. There is only a single opponent who will always approach from the front. The basic

posture is rather weak to the sides and backward movement is also less efficient but the whole

body is poised for forward attack when required.

The right foot is advanced about the distance of its own length. There is just sufficient

room for the left leg to pass in front of the right if necessary and the toes of both feet point

directly forward. If the left toes are allowed to point sideways (a common fault) or if there is too

much lateral distance between the feet, the thrusting action of the left foot will tend to throw the

body over to the right and balance will be lost. The left foot should be as close to the centre-line

as possible, but not so much as to cause loss of balance or awkwardness. Balance is greatly aided

by turning the toes slightly inwards, which has the effect of steadying the body inwards to the

centre-line, rather similar to the result of Shibori, as will be seen later.

Fumikomi (diagram I) shows the actual attack step and in all illustrations the starting

position is shown as shaded whilst the number refers to the sequence of steps. Fumikomi means

'jumping in' and this is the only occasion when the feet leave the floor. By studying diagrams 1

and 2 this may be clearly followed. The left foot thrusts the body forward and the right knee

punches upwards, the right foot strikes vigorously into the floor as the cut lands. This is followed

almost simultaneously by the left foot, which is drawn up into its original position. As the cut

lands the body is virtually travelling forward in the original Shisei position. At this moment the

direction of body-weight is direct forwards and downwards at an angle of forty-five degrees to

assist balance. There is a very brief pause as the cut lands. Then a series of smaller steps are

made until the forward momentum is dissipated. This follow-through, or Tsuzukete, continues to

maintain the right foot in advance whilst the left foot constantly pushes. The result should be that

the feet slide smoothly across the floor in a fast 'shuffling' action.

As will be seen later, a full Fumikomi (attack step) means that some three feet to three

feet six inches must be covered and so the Tsuzukete not only aids balance but also gives a

smooth finish to the technique. It also has the extra function of avoiding any retaliation by the

opponent. For clarity the Tsuzukete is shown in a direct line but in actual fact it is necessary to

sidestep to avoid crashing into the opponent.

The method of keeping the right foot advanced is termed Tsugu-ashi (following feet) and

is the method of stepping employed at any time when the opponent is at Ma Ai distance or attack

range. When stepping backwards the right foot pushes back and is drawn back afterwards. A

single Tsugu-ashi step is two separate movements of the feet made almost simultaneously, ie,

'one-two", 'one-two' and so on.

Nami Ashi (diagram 2) are normal 'pace' steps in which one foot is advanced from the

rear. Nami-ashi means 'succeeding feet'. As the left foot advances in Nami-ashi any attack action

is very difficult and because of this, Nami-ashi is avoided altogether except when well out of

range. In Nami-ashi the feet are still slid smoothly along the floor, without lifting up, so that

constant contact is maintained.

Diagram 3 shows a combination of Nami-ashi and Fumikomi in a method of attack from

long distance, often used in competition. To cover the extra distance the left foot comes forward

in advance of the right and the right foot is then advanced in normal Fumikomi style. In this

specific case the advance of the left foot does not inhibit the attack since it is contained within

the actual process of attack as the initial phase. With this type of attack it is possible to cover

double the distance or more.

Ugoki (side steps) are mainly employed to pass by the opponent after attack and normally

comprise the first of the Tsuzukete (follow through) steps. Diagram 4a shows the Mae-migi Ugoki

(forward right) and Ushiro-hidari-ugoki (rear left) diagonal and by definition these are Tsugu-ashi

(following feet). Diagram 4b shows the Mae-hidari-ugoki (forward left) and Ushiro-migi-ugoki

(rear right) and to prevent the feet crossing over and to avoid tripping, these are technically in

Nami-ashi (succeeding feet) style. Because of this, movement along this latter diagonal is avoided

where possible. The Ugoki step has the effect of taking the body out of line whilst maintaining

the shoulder and hips square to the direction of movement. If the body is allowed to swing

sideways in passing, balance will be very easily lost.

Mawashi (turning steps), mainly used when meeting an attack, shift the body out of the

attack line and turn the receiver's own centre-line inwards, to allow for a counter stroke. Since

the opponent is attacking, the distance is rapidly decreasing and thus, although vigorous, the

Mawashi step is very short and balance to the side is not threatened. Diagram 5 shows merely

the basic side movements of Mawashi and in the case of movement along either diagonals the

sequence of steps will be as for Ugoki. Where possible it is better that the first foot be placed

directly in the new line to avoid spinning on the feet. Only a relatively short step is necessary

to clear the attack line and if the feet stamp down properly the balance is better preserved.

Almost any combination of step may be made, according to circumstance and diagram

6 shows one in which a Mae-hidari Ugoki (forward left) side-step is changed to a Migi-mawashi

(right) swinging step by turning on the sole of the foot. The circumstances in which this type of

step might occur would be in attacking the right wrist or Kote or in performing certain counter

techniques to this left hand side.

Generally speaking, footwork should be as smooth and precise as possible, so as to avoid

'Rocking' the body backwards and forwards. No mater what direction the step takes the action

is always that of thrusting with the rear foot; if retiring the right foot becomes the 'rear' foot in

the context. The Tsuzukete (follow-through) will be found difficult but must be concentrated

upon. The Fumikomi is very vigorous and all other steps smooth, so that the body glides over

the floor and the feet are constantly in contact, ready to leap forward as an opportunity occurs.

Another very important aspect of footwork is the distance factor, since only the top

portion of the blade is used to strike and thus the distance and range of each attack step must be

requlated with the appropriate footwork. As the opponent attacks the length of our own attack

step shortens proportionately. This is similar to the 'deflection' factor in shooting against a

moving target and whilst this stepping, in relation to where the opponent will be, is difficult, it

comes with experience.

It is necessary to make a definite step when cutting, or if the distance does happen to be

just correct, then the motion of a step or a stamp is made and co-ordinated precisely with the cut.

Cuts to the front are very much easier than cuts made whilst reversing and thus a forward sidestep

or diagonal will often provide just that little extra space necessary to cut forward rather than

backwards. Backward cuts are quite valid if correctly performed but the student should

concentrate on forward attacks as much as possible since constant retreating and backward

strokes result in a negative style and make it impossible to understand Kendo.

Seigan (natural step) is the more common name for Chudan. The right foot is advanced

with the knee slightly bent; the left leg is straight with the heel clear of the floor. The Shinai is

held in front of the body with both hands, in a natural manner that does not interfere with the

basic Shisei. The sword points directly at the opponent's eyes and crosses his point about three

to four inches from the tip. This is at a distance of some seven to seven feet six inches and

defined as Ma-ai or the theoretical distance from which an attack can be launched with a single

step attack.

Seigan (or Chudan) is defined as when the blade points forward from the left hand, which

is held in line with the Chushin (body centre), at an angle above horizontal and below the

opponent's eyes. A lower angle more completely covers the front attack line whilst a higher angle

to cover the eyes has more psychological effect on the opponent. Seigan is the most important

posture to study and understand. It is the only position which covers the front attack line and also

the only position to give equal facility for offence or defence as required. All variations are

virtually a weakening of this basic stance, used to deliberately provoke an attack by the opponent.

Judan-no-kamae (high posture) Kendo positions / posture

Jodan is the only important variation used today and is favoured in contests. Jodan has

a very strong character since it is very aggressive. 'Jodan' is universally taken to mean Migijodan-

no-kamae (with right foot advanced) unless otherwise specified. But the more common or

comfortable form is the Hidari Jodan (left foot advanced) this makes single handed cuts very

convenient as explained later. The angle shown is fairly conservative (about forty-five degrees)

but this can vary a good deal from almost perpendicular to nearly horizontal. Some schools

suggest that the arms be as shown - in a natural position - whilst others allow the elbows to

spring out. The body direction can be square or slightly turned to either side. Sometimes the

Shinai is held in this line whilst at others it may be canted over or held almost cross-wise. Much

of this variation is due to the particular techniques specialized in or according to personal taste.

At any rate the only classification made is left, or right foot advanced. An exception to this is

the radical Katate Jodan (single hand) postures in which either hand will release its grip on the

hilt and the blade is balanced back on this hand which supports the back edge of the blade.

Any form of Jodan completely opens the front attack line and the student must have a

good sense of timing and outmatch his opponent if he is to take any advantage.

Gedan-no-kamae (low posture) Kendo positions / posture

Gedan is still used to some extend and in this case the attack line is opened by dropping

the point. In some variations the Sinai may be turned off to either side and Gedan is in itself an

invitation to attack the head. The posture is defined as when the point drops below horizontal.

Waki-gamae (side posture) Kendo positions / posture

Waki-gamae has little use in modern Kendo apart from Kata (forms) in that it was

originally designed as a Sutemi Waza (sacrifice technique) and such techniques merely result in

Aiuchi (double hits) in modern Kendo.

Hasso-kamae (figure of eight posture) Kendo positions / posture

Hasso-kamae is not illustrated but the Shinai is carried almost vertically at either shoulder,

so that in combination the two complimentary sides are likened to the Japanese figure eight, or

Hachi. These are sometimes referred to as Yo-no-kamae and Inno-kamae, Yo-in being the

positive/negative principle (Yinyang in Chinese). Hasso has variations in the Jodan and Chudan

positions, the former high above the head and the latter low at the hip and canted backwards. As

a minor point Waki-gamae takes what would be the Gedan position of Hasso, except that the

blade is reversed.

Hasso-kamae is also a Sutemi Waza and has little use in modern Kendo but with Wakigamae,

Gedan, Chudan and Jodan, completes the five fundamental postures.

There are literally dozens of other postures - many very ancient. Some better known ones

are the Kasumi-kamae found in low, middle, and high positions in which the arms are crossed

over so as to partly conceal the technique; Kasumi means 'mountain mist'. Another variation is

the Kongo-kamae in which the blade is held vertically in front of the face. There is a particular

phase during which such postures appear attractive to the student but he should not become

involved in them. It is, however, as well to learn by experience and it will soon be found that

such postures are too restrictive under modern conditions.

The essential posture to concentrate on is the Seigan (natural posture) and this is

absolutely essential as a basis for anything else. To enable the hands to grip as naturally as

possible it will be noted that the elbows are slightly sprung outwards. The Shinai is exactly in

the centre line and the posture should be relaxed and comfortable. An amount of stiffness and

awkwardness is inevitable at first but if no effort is made the position cannot be achieved with

ease at a later date.

Nigiri (the hand grip) Kendo positions / posture

The method of gripping the hilt is the foundation of the cut and the movement of the

Shinai. If the hands are incorrectly placed it is impossible to deliver a correct stroke, especially

with regard to the left hand. Because of the gloves, this is difficult to see clearly but the position

is the same as in the plate.

The left hand is always at the very end of the hilt, regardless of whether the student is

left, or right-handed. The hilt lies transversely across the palm of the hand along the line of life,

crossing under the base of the index finger and the butt lies in the heel of the hand. The three

smallest fingers curl back over the hilt to point back at an angle of forty-five degrees to its

length, and tighten firmly to pull the butt into the inner palm which we call Tenno-uchi (inside

hand). The fore-finger and thumb just curl about the hilt in a comfortable position.

The Tuska-gawa (hilt leather) of modern Shinai are constructed with more length and the

right hand is placed with an inch or so clearance below the guard. This is to avoid the excessive

wear of the glove constantly rubbing against the guard.

The wrists are snapped well inwards so the hands lie along the top of the hilt and the

knuckles of each fore-finger should be aligned with the edges. The Shinai should form a natural

extension of the arms and the hands be in the ideal position for maximum control. The correct

grip will only be possible if the wrists are supple and again this is a question of practice.

The Tenno-uchi (inner palm) of the left hand is the main cutting source and the placing

of the left hand most important. The right hand does almost nothing, merely supporting the

Shinai and guiding direction. Once the correct grip is understood the left hand is aligned with

the Chushin (body centre) and thrust about four inches forward.

Students should avoid grasping squarely since this stiffens the arms and shoulders, or

allowing the hands to slip around the sides of the hilt. In this case it is impossible to control the

cutting and movements of the Shinai.

Shintai Dosa (basic footwork) Kendo positions / posture

If it is understood that Shisei (fundamental posture) is the foundation of all techniques it

will be equally clear that the only way to preserve this position is by footwork. All footwork is

designed to preserve Shisei and generally speaking to maintain the advanced position of the right

foot to facilitate instant attack at any moment. The basic aim is to step forward and strike the

opponent in a special way and the only method of closing this distance without loss of Shisei or

balance is by the correct step.

In the basic waiting position the left heel is lifted clear of the floor and the right knee

slightly bent so that the body is inclined forward and some seventy per cent of the total body

weight falls on to the ball of the right foot. In Kendo we are not concerned with attacks from the

side or rear. There is only a single opponent who will always approach from the front. The basic

posture is rather weak to the sides and backward movement is also less efficient but the whole

body is poised for forward attack when required.

The right foot is advanced about the distance of its own length. There is just sufficient

room for the left leg to pass in front of the right if necessary and the toes of both feet point

directly forward. If the left toes are allowed to point sideways (a common fault) or if there is too

much lateral distance between the feet, the thrusting action of the left foot will tend to throw the

body over to the right and balance will be lost. The left foot should be as close to the centre-line

as possible, but not so much as to cause loss of balance or awkwardness. Balance is greatly aided

by turning the toes slightly inwards, which has the effect of steadying the body inwards to the

centre-line, rather similar to the result of Shibori, as will be seen later.

Fumikomi (diagram I) shows the actual attack step and in all illustrations the starting

position is shown as shaded whilst the number refers to the sequence of steps. Fumikomi means

'jumping in' and this is the only occasion when the feet leave the floor. By studying diagrams 1

and 2 this may be clearly followed. The left foot thrusts the body forward and the right knee

punches upwards, the right foot strikes vigorously into the floor as the cut lands. This is followed

almost simultaneously by the left foot, which is drawn up into its original position. As the cut

lands the body is virtually travelling forward in the original Shisei position. At this moment the

direction of body-weight is direct forwards and downwards at an angle of forty-five degrees to

assist balance. There is a very brief pause as the cut lands. Then a series of smaller steps are

made until the forward momentum is dissipated. This follow-through, or Tsuzukete, continues to

maintain the right foot in advance whilst the left foot constantly pushes. The result should be that

the feet slide smoothly across the floor in a fast 'shuffling' action.

As will be seen later, a full Fumikomi (attack step) means that some three feet to three

feet six inches must be covered and so the Tsuzukete not only aids balance but also gives a

smooth finish to the technique. It also has the extra function of avoiding any retaliation by the

opponent. For clarity the Tsuzukete is shown in a direct line but in actual fact it is necessary to

sidestep to avoid crashing into the opponent.

The method of keeping the right foot advanced is termed Tsugu-ashi (following feet) and

is the method of stepping employed at any time when the opponent is at Ma Ai distance or attack

range. When stepping backwards the right foot pushes back and is drawn back afterwards. A

single Tsugu-ashi step is two separate movements of the feet made almost simultaneously, ie,

'one-two", 'one-two' and so on.

Nami Ashi are normal 'pace' steps in which one foot is advanced from the

rear. Nami-ashi means 'succeeding feet'. As the left foot advances in Nami-ashi any attack action

is very difficult and because of this, Nami-ashi is avoided altogether except when well out of

range. In Nami-ashi the feet are still slid smoothly along the floor, without lifting up, so that

constant contact is maintained.

Nami-ashi and Fumikomi in a method of attack from

long distance, often used in competition. To cover the extra distance the left foot comes forward

in advance of the right and the right foot is then advanced in normal Fumikomi style. In this

specific case the advance of the left foot does not inhibit the attack since it is contained within

the actual process of attack as the initial phase. With this type of attack it is possible to cover

double the distance or more.

Ugoki (side steps) are mainly employed to pass by the opponent after attack and normally

comprise the first of the Tsuzukete (follow through) steps. Diagram 4a shows the Mae-migi Ugoki

(forward right) and Ushiro-hidari-ugoki (rear left) diagonal and by definition these are Tsugu-ashi

(following feet). Diagram 4b shows the Mae-hidari-ugoki (forward left) and Ushiro-migi-ugoki

(rear right) and to prevent the feet crossing over and to avoid tripping, these are technically in

Nami-ashi (succeeding feet) style. Because of this, movement along this latter diagonal is avoided

where possible. The Ugoki step has the effect of taking the body out of line whilst maintaining

the shoulder and hips square to the direction of movement. If the body is allowed to swing

sideways in passing, balance will be very easily lost.

Mawashi (turning steps), mainly used when meeting an attack, shift the body out of the

attack line and turn the receiver's own centre-line inwards, to allow for a counter stroke. Since

the opponent is attacking, the distance is rapidly decreasing and thus, although vigorous, the

Mawashi step is very short and balance to the side is not threatened. Diagram 5 shows merely

the basic side movements of Mawashi and in the case of movement along either diagonals the

sequence of steps will be as for Ugoki. Where possible it is better that the first foot be placed

directly in the new line to avoid spinning on the feet. Only a relatively short step is necessary

to clear the attack line and if the feet stamp down properly the balance is better preserved.

Almost any combination of step may be made, according to circumstance and diagram

6 shows one in which a Mae-hidari Ugoki (forward left) side-step is changed to a Migi-mawashi

(right) swinging step by turning on the sole of the foot. The circumstances in which this type of

step might occur would be in attacking the right wrist or Kote or in performing certain counter

techniques to this left hand side.

Generally speaking, footwork should be as smooth and precise as possible, so as to avoid

'Rocking' the body backwards and forwards. No mater what direction the step takes the action

is always that of thrusting with the rear foot; if retiring the right foot becomes the 'rear' foot in

the context. The Tsuzukete (follow-through) will be found difficult but must be concentrated

upon. The Fumikomi is very vigorous and all other steps smooth, so that the body glides over

the floor and the feet are constantly in contact, ready to leap forward as an opportunity occurs.

Another very important aspect of footwork is the distance factor, since only the top

portion of the blade is used to strike and thus the distance and range of each attack step must be

requlated with the appropriate footwork. As the opponent attacks the length of our own attack

step shortens proportionately. This is similar to the 'deflection' factor in shooting against a

moving target and whilst this stepping, in relation to where the opponent will be, is difficult, it

comes with experience.

It is necessary to make a definite step when cutting, or if the distance does happen to be

just correct, then the motion of a step or a stamp is made and co-ordinated precisely with the cut.

Cuts to the front are very much easier than cuts made whilst reversing and thus a forward sidestep

or diagonal will often provide just that little extra space necessary to cut forward rather than

backwards. Backward cuts are quite valid if correctly performed but the student should

concentrate on forward attacks as much as possible since constant retreating and backward

strokes result in a negative style and make it impossible to understand Kendo.
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