Nearly all kendo teachers include renzoku waza in their training sessions. We are told that ni-dan and san-dan waza should be demonstrated by second and third dan candidates in examination and no kakarigeiko practice would be complete without a few attempts at kote-men.
Thinking it through however, kendo focuses on ippon – one point for one successful attack. Modern day shiai is decided on the best of three points, but these are nevertheless scored by single decisive cuts. If you hit continuously, only the final strike is counted, so if you make a successful kote attack and go on to hit men, only the men will be counted and that is provided that the elements of timing, distance, power, sharpness, intention and zanshin are present. If you make a great kote attack followed by an ineffective men strike then you get nothing.
In my personal view, kendo is different to many other sports and martial arts in its simplicity. Whereas judo has a vast range of set piece combination techniques, kendo has only men, kote, dou and tsuki. The variety and creativity in kendo comes from how and when we deploy those techniques in terms of timing, distance and opportunity.
The reason for practicing renzoku waza is to be able to hit continuously and fluidly when circumstances warrant, but in kendo less is more and if you can make a clear point in a split second or avoid unnecessary movement when there is no opportunity you should save your energy. Where renzoku waza counts is when you attack kote and miss and you opponent’s kamae is unsettled as he moves back – bingo! perfect men attack chance. You try for tsuki and miss but you are moving forward with a strong mind and chudan and you opponent is momentarily out of position – perfect opportunity and likely to result in a successful attack.
Again we come back to the principle that the more you practice any technique in kihon-geiko, the more likely you are to “find it” when it is most needed in jigeiko or shiai. So keep the drills going, kote-men, tsuki-men, kote-dou, men-hiki men, ai kote men. You may never use any of them in shiai, but the more you practice them, the more likely you are to pull out that winning ippon when it is most needed.