Kendo, Aikido, martial art related

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Kendo Introduction II

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It is not thought necessary to describe equipment here, since this will be seen clearly enough once training is begun and the same applies to individual Dojo (training hall) regulations. The widespread attitude of behaviour and etiquette in the Budo arts derives from Kendo since it was foremost of such studies in former times. The only Budo are pre-dating Kendo is Kyudo (archery).

Philosophy and semi-religious attitudes, as a universal concept of swordsmanship, is regarded as dating from the sixteenth century although the broad field of techniques and movements can be traced to the ninth century and the introduction of the modern Japanese sword. The term Kendo (Sword-Way) has only been in general usage since 1895 and prior to this many terms were in use at various periods. Whilst Kendo derives directly from swordsmanship it must be understood that the wearing of padded armour and of the bamboo Shinai or practice sword changes many aspects, both physical and mental. Swords are still sometimes used in Kata or preset 'Forms' but the real appreciation of the 'heart' of Kendo is only gained in direct combat and is thus very difficult to understand in modern times.

Kyu (Student) and Dan (Step) grades are awarded in Kendo for proficiency and are the exact equivalent of other Budo art grades, except that no belt or distinguishing mark is worn. It is easy to assess a student's ability by the way he sits, stands or moves about the Dojo. Grading is a relatively modern idea and as a general rule not much attention is paid to this. It is normal fashion to ask the grade of a strange student prior to, or after, practice but a more common question is merely how long he has been training.

As a very broad guide to progress the grade of Sankyo (3rd Kyu) normally means the student has probably trained two or three evenings per week over about a year. The grade of Shodan (1st Dan) may take anything from three to five years and progress through the Dan ranks becomes progressively more difficult. The average European could expect to pass a number of years equivalent to the next Dan rank taken. Mastery is generally accepted as being 6th Dan or above and even in Japan may take from fifteen to twenty years unless the student is particularly brilliant. Only three or four Judan or 10th Dan exist at any one period and these are elderly gentlemen who display not only technical ability but possess very real human qualities as well. It has not been uncommon to find Kendo Masters in their nineties who train five hours every day retaining agility and skill.

Grade refers to a certain level of technical proficiency and is not necessarily relevant to ability or the understanding of Kendo. Since we have competition without any direct physical contact Kendo is predominantly psychological by necessity and since the full personality does not develop until about the age of forty there is no noticeable drop in ability with advancing age. In pre-war years, when a deeper study was made, the Champions were always at least in their fifties and Kenshiro Abbe Sensei tells of his own teacher at the Busen College, who, at the age of seventy-five, could not be touched on the body by any young students or even young teachers.

source : internet article


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