a MMB! Kendo Blog: Hanshi Says: Don't Move. Don't Cut.

MMB! Kendo Blog

Thursday, November 23, 2006

忍耐 + 掌握人生
Hanshi Says: Don't Move. Don't Cut.

Sumi Sensei, Kendo Hanshi 8th Dan, and Terry Holt Sensei, Kendo 7th Dan, visited Sydney Kendo Club last Thursday. This special Sensei-visit training was scheduled at 5:30pm - 7:30pm, so I had to leave work early to get to the training on time.

About 40 people turned up to this special training.

I led the class to warm-up and suburi, and then Sumi Sensei led the class from there on.

For an hour or so, Sumi Sensei gave us tips and advices on the cutting basics according to what he saw during our suburi session.

Hand Movement:

  • Swing in an arc - When swinging the shinai, the motion should be in a way such that the kensen draws an arc in the air. Not straight up and down.

  • Keep same wrist angle during up-swing - No need to flex the wrist during up-swing. Any wrist movement here is a wasted movement. Only when swinging down, give the wrist a snap.

  • Hand Position - Right hand is always further from the body than the left.
Body Movement:

  • One motion - When seme in and go for cut, it must be in one motion. Don't stop after seme and then cut. One motion, as fast as you can.

  • Seme with straight posture - When seme in, don't lean forward. If you lean forward, it is very hard to bring the left foot forward.

  • Try to push your stomach in front.


  • Movements of Right and Left foot. Looooong then short. Slow then fast. Seme then power. Just like waltzing.

  • One-step one-cut - must not allow left foot to creep up to the right foot for momentum. That's cheating, and it won't help your kendo development.
Practicing Methods:

  • Motodachi's to keep strong centre during men-uchi keiko - In men-uchi, the motodachi has a very important role to make the practice more realistic and meaningful. The motodachi opens up the target just before he/she get hit - don't open up too early. As the goal here is try to make the kakari feels the strong kensen from the motodachi. The kakari must learn to suppress the fear of running into the kensen.


  • 100% committed cut. - To become stronger in kendo, we must learn to suppress the fear of being hit and stab.

  • Enjoy being tsuki'ed - Remove the fear of getting tsuki. Learn to love being tsuki'ed, to the point where you can fully commit to execute your own cut even when you see the tsuki coming directly towards you. When you can reach such a stage, you can become strong in kendo. 'C'mon. C'mon! Tsuki me!'

Feedback from Sumi Sensei:
I am using too much right arm to swing my shinai and so the shinai is not swinging vertically up and down.

Left Foot
Right Foot
Chikara ashi
(Power foot)
Seme ashi
(Pressure foot)
Must be fast at all time
Can be slow
Stride Length
In two-step one-cut situation, left foot does not need to come up to equal distance as the right foot. Left foot can take a smaller step than the right. This is left foot is the power foot and can propel from a further distance because the time to come up to the right foot takes time, and left foot is the power foot, and should propel the body further than the right. However, left foot MUST be quick.

Sorry UnWaki Sama, but I just couldn't stop laugh'in when I see you in the clip.

As soon as Sumi Sensei declared "Hai... Jigeiko desu!", I did a record-breaking sprint from the far corner of the dojo towards Sumi Sensei, and quickly zarei in front of Sensei to secure my position, beating off the whole class to be the first to "Onegaishimasu" Sensei for jigeiko. What a great effort, I thought, to have the opportunity and be the first to jigeiko Sensei. I felt especially happy when I looked back and saw the mile-long queue behind me. There were so many people queuing up that I think there must be quite a few who queue up and never got the chance to do any jigeiko in that session.

My jigeiko with Sumi Sensei was timed to exactly one minute. I went mostly for men cuts and then taitari into Sumi Sensei, where he would stand his ground firmly and taitari back on me every time, except the last one when he side-stepped to signal the end of the jigeiko.

During the whole jigeiko, he only executed two men-cuts, one in an ai-men situation and the other as debana-men. Like what he taught the class about men-cut earlier in the seminar, Sumi Sensei's shinai movement was much smaller than mine and so it only took half the time for him to complete the men-cut.

It was definitely good to jigeiko with Sumi Sensei. But I must say, one minute is just TOO SHORT! I want more!!!

I also had jigeiko with Holt Sensei (Mumeishi, UK) and Gazziniga Sensei (Mumeishi, Melbourne) before the end of the training.

The most interesting part of the night, however, was during dinner time. I was sitting next to Fukuda Sensei, who was sitting directly opposite to Sumi Sensei. Fukuda Sensei was the only other person who speaks fluent Japanese at the dinner, so he was able to have some nice kendo discussions with Sumi Sensei. I tried to listen as closely as possible on what the Sensei were discussing in the hope that I would be able to pick up some good knowledge from the conversation. Also, the fact that Sumi Sensei could speak relatively good English and Fukuda Sensei who ever so kindly tried to involve me in the conversation, allowed me to receive some good feedbacks and insights from Sumi Sensei.

Hanshi's Wisdom

During the dinner, I asked Sumi Sensei a question that I like to ask 8th Dan Sensei whenever I have the opportunity to talk to them.

"What are you working on in your kendo at the moment?"

"Don't move. Don't hit." replied Sumi Sensei.


At first, I was thinking.... WHAT!?!?! I was totally lost.

"Muzukashii ne!" Totally confused and astounded by his reply, I didn't know what else to say.

"Soo desu ne." Sumi Sensei then told me two stories.

The Emperor's Fighting Cock
The first one was a fighting-cock story from the ancient Chinese philosopher Kong Fu Zi.

In the story, there was this Chinese emperor who had a fighting-cock. He wanted to train up this fighting-cock, and so he handed it to a trainer.

"Please train up this fighting-cock for me", the Emperor said.

One month later, the Emperor asked the trainer, "How is my fighting-cock?"

The trainer replied, "The cock is very musclely built now."

Another month has gone, and the Emperor asked the trainer about his fighting-cock.

The trainer replied, "The cock is technically-sound now."

Third month, the Emperor asked the same question again.

The trainer replied, "The cock is ready now, he will stand tall and high, and his opponent will turn away."

So the Emperor took the fighting-cock to a fighting-cock tournament.

There, the Emperor's cock just stood proudly there with lots of spirit and as soon as the opponent saw the Emperor's cock, it quickly turned around and ran away.

So Sumi Sensei said, "I want to be the fighting-cock in the story."

(Of course the winning one, I assume.)

The Cats and Mouse Story
He went on and gave me another old Japanese cat and mouse story.

There were 3 cats facing a mouse.

The first cat, who possesses very fine technique, tried to catch the mouse. However, the mouse was equally skillfully and dodged all the attacks that the cat made.

The second cat, who possesses power and speed, then took up the challenge to chase down the mouse. However, the mouse was even faster. And in the end, the second cat ran out of breath and gave up.

The first two cat turned to the third cat, who was an old but experienced veteran, and said 'why don't you try catching the mouse?'

The veteran said, 'alright, I will have a try.' So he walked up slowly, with a powerful aura generating from his confident composure and spirit. This spirit startled and frozen the mouse on the spot. And all the veteran had to do was just to grab the mouse, and there he got it.

The Hanshi
Sumi Sensei also told me another thing that he is striving to achieve at every keiko.

No matter who he is playing, where he is playing, at all time, his goal is to have the other person wanting to jigeiko with him again as soon as they finished a keiko and went into sonkyo. The best thing is to play in a way such that the other person wants to practice with you again and again.

Wow, the Hanshi.

Sore wa saikou desu!!!


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