As most people who practice with me know, I like kaeshi dou. Trying to teach it though, is not a simple matter. To be honest, I have not seen many kendoka below 4th dan attempt is successfully.
Dou generally is a difficult technique. Against correct chudan, there is rarely an opportunitiy for tobikomi dou. Hiki dou works if your opponent is intent on covering his or her men; some younger competitors do a good job with gyaku dou, but the most common successful application of dou is as an oji technique; either nuki or kaeshi dou.
The two are not dissimilar but I much prefer kaeshi dou as the blocking and returning motion allow you to hit dou whilst you are directly in front of your opponent. In my view, there are a number of factors that are key to making a successful kaeshi dou:-
- Make sure that you approach the technique with an attacking mind! Do not wait for your opponent to strike men and then react.
- Ensure your posture is correct but with your balance just slightly forward.
- The block and strike should be one smooth, continuous movement.
- As with all oji waza, make sure the point of your shinai is going forward rather than lifting up and back.
- Hit dou whilst you are in front of your opponent and then move diagonally for your zanshin, do not hit after you have moved.
- Keep your left hand in the centre and only break your right hand grip as you move diagonally.
- Make sure you hit the side of the dou and do not just scrape across the front.
- Have correct hasuji, the bottom take and string should be at 45% to the dou.
- Keep correct distance so that you hit with the datotsu bu.
All of these elements are important, but in my view, attacking mind is the most significant, pull you opponent in and make him attack in your space and timing.
Successful kaeshi dou takes a lot of work, but it is great when it comes off!
The picture shows Honda Sotaro former British Coach showing how to finish dou.