March 17, 2005

>The Heart of Kendo

The aim of Kendo, and all Japanese martial arts ( Budo ), is not the perfection of a physical technique but the development of a flowing, flexible mind – a mind that is able to react to anything it confronts, instinctively, fearlessly, and without hesitation, regardless of the situation.

Harutane Chiba Sensei ( Hokushin Itto Ryu ) had a parable about water as it relates to training. “When you practice kata (forms) or shiai (free fight), the mind should always be the same: calm as a pond of water. Still water is like a mirror: it gives a picture of everything that is around it. But when the pound is disturbed, it reflects only the turmoil within its depts. One should always approach shiai with a composure like the reflection on water in a pond, so the mind is relaxed, ready to see the slightest movment of your opponent.”

To understand Budo properly you must coordinate your mental spirit with your physical body. The smallest movement in Kendo requires this coordination of body and mind. The body has no feeling without the five senses of the mind, yet the mind cannot exist without the presence of the physical body. If you do not coordinate these two elements, it would be like one hand trying to clap. Only when you both palms together will you produce the sound you seek. Only when you learn, through constant practice, to coordinate the body and the mind will you be able to realize their true function.

“The Heart of Kendo”
-Darrell Max Craig with /qv. of Chiba Sensei

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