Kendo Practise to Contest
Keiko means ‘practice’ or ‘training’ and can take various forms. The normal type of
instruction consists of one or two techniques, exercises and various types of Keiko for
application. Keiko is normally preceded by Kirikaeshi (cut and return) or exercise to develop the
stroke in which one student will take the teacher’s action and accept or defend against attacks
according to a pre-set pattern. The most common forms are an initial Shomen-uchi (striking the
front mask) followed by a series of Yoko-men-uchi (side mask attacks), delivered in rapid
succession to alternate sides whilst moving forward and backwards. The teacher normally parries
the side cuts and then allows the student to strike a final Shomen-uchi and dash past, to complete
the exercise. The style of Kirikaeshi may vary from place to place but follows this universal
Kakari-geiko (teaching practice)
In Kakari-geiko the teacher opens the attack line and indicates various attacks or
combinations and yells encouragement as the student dashes in, cuts, dashes past and turns to cut
again without pause or rest. This style of practice is very exhausting and the teacher will often
take a rough attitude and strike the student if he pauses or even hit his legs or back if he does
not dash past. Two or three minutes at a time is normally quite sufficient if the student is
expelling his full effort and shouting loudly.
Kakari-geiko is often sub-divided into Dai Ichi, Ni, or San Kyoshu (first, second, or third
teaching action) according to the complexity of attacks indicated. This training builds up stamina
and gives full facility in delivery of blows. Sometimes the student holds his breath for a full
minute or so of vigorous action. Nobody enjoys Kakari-geiko but it builds up spirit and tenacity.
Ji-geiko (level practice)
In Ji-geiko a more level aspect is taken and neither side is committed to initiate the attack
although the student has not much chance other than to keep attacking. It is rather difficult to
practise freely if too wide a grade space separates the two participants since the timing sense is
different. A more normal form is Hiki-tate-geiko in which the senior grade will assist the junior,
either by deflecting incorrect blows or by allowing some opportunities for the junior to take and
adjusting a certain level of technique for the junior to match himself against. If we practise with
a novice at our own level it will merely consist in him being beaten about. Therefore adopt a
level just about a grade above his own and he can then work directly to some end and take an
Shiai-geiko (contest practice) Kendo practise to contest
This is a form of simulating contest conditions. In normal Keiko points are acknowledged
in passing but often the loss of a point occurs whilst developing a specific technique. In Shiai
Geiko a more serious concentration is maintained and this is the time for practice of techniques
Shiai Kite (Contest Rules) Kendo practise to contest
Contest is normally performed under the eye of one or more referees depending on senior
grades available. The contest Ma Ai (fighting distance) is greater, with a good twelve inches
between the points.
There is an Omote Shinban (front referee) and one, or two Ura Shinban (rear judges) and
contestants normally have coloured sashes on their backs and flags are employed to indicate
scoring. Two simultaneous decisions are required for the cut to score, according to complex rules.
A good understanding of technique is necessary to properly understand scoring but the following
will give a rough idea.
1. The technique must originate from at least full Ma-ai (distance) unless composite.
2. The Shisei (posture) and balance must be maintained throughout the action.
3. The blow must strike accurately and be delivered with the cutting edge of the point
4. The blow must be properly controlled and taken off.
5. There must be no contact between the opponents Shinai, the cut must be clear.
6. The opponent’s Shinai must not be in contact with the attacker’s body as the cut falls.
7. The cut must be delivered with spirit and declared loudly by name.
A scoring point normally gives an impression of fluidity and hits the opponent’s body
quite naturally. Awkward or uncontrolled blows are not counted as valid. If two blows land
together this is taken as Aiuchi (double hit) and no score. If a time lag can be seen the first blow
to hit takes the point. After three contacts of the blade the Shinban will normally halt the match
and restart from the centre.
Properly marked out Shiaijo (contest areas) are not available in Britain but a rectangular
area of at least 15 by 20 feet is necessary. After each score both the contestants return to their
original position since the point is declared to this side regardless of whether or not the
contestants have changed sides during the match. Some referees words are given below.
Ippon Shobu or Sanbon Shobu – Match for one point, or match for the best of three.
Hajime – Begin. Yame – Finish. Men Ari – A Men has been scored (or Kote Ari, etc). Wakarete –
Break. Moto Ni Kaeru – Return to your original positions. Nihon Me – For the second point.
Ippon Shobu – One each, for the final point.
A normal contest lasts five minutes but many extensions are allowed and often the
championship matches will last half an hour or more before a single cut is made and the point
taken. Hiki-waki or ‘drawn matches’ rarely occur and contest is not normally required for grading
until 3rd Kyu.
This section gives you an introduction to Kendo but many advanced aspects have been
ignored. The student is advised to begin training and see whether or not he enjoys it. Kendo is
utterly absorbing and fascinating to those who practise and a new field of technique or different
aspect of thought is always beginning. The basic conception of cutting is very simple and the
main study is in co-ordination, timing and the mental aspects of training.