April 17, 2005

>Kendo Hanshi OKUZONO KUNIYOSHI (8th Dan) Says…

Don’t strike with your hands, strike with your feet.
Don’t strike with your feet, strike with your hips.
Don’t strike with your hips, strike with your heart.

When I struck a wall trying to pass 7th dan, one sensei told me to “try and swing a light bokuto as heavily as possible.” I complied with this advice, but found it very difficult to do. I didn’t really understand the point. Instead, I thought that it would be far more beneficial to swing a heavy bokuto as if it were light, and this is precisely what I did. However, after about 6 months of training with a heavy bokuto, I sustained an injuty to my shoulder.I decided to try the light bokuto again, but still couldn’t grasp the point of swinging a light bokuto as if it were heavy. I started thinking about this while I practiced my suburi every day. I started to realize that if I swung the bokuto with my hande it felt very light. However, it felt a lot heavier when I concentrated on striking with my hips. At last I was striking to understand what he meant. However, if there was even the slightest element of confusion in my heart, no matter how much I tried to concentrate on striking from my hips, the kensen would wobble, and it would feel light again. I realized that to swing a light bokuto as if it were heavy required a balance of body an mind, and this was connected to the concept of heijoshin (placid or calm state of mind.) If you are able to maintain heijoshin, you will be able to react accordingly to anything that comes your way. This taught me the importance of the most fundamental concept in Kendo, kokoro (heart or soirit). Of course, this is easily put into words, but it has to be more then just understood on an intellectual level. In other words, it is extremely important that you make every effort to try and understand these concerts through mastery of technique.


Kendo World Magazine- Vol 3. NO 1. 2004 (pg19)

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