I have recently been re-reading an english translation of Yukio Mishima’s Runnaway Horses. Although I am sure that the translator must have done a grand job, there are a number of references to kendo that are pretty difficult to recognise. For example he writes about “kendo forms” , “without masks” and refers to “round one ending and round two beginning”. OK, so rough guess suggests Kendo no kata, ippon me and nihon me.
Mishima himself was an experienced kendoka, so it is likely that he used the original kendo terms. Obviously the translator tried to make Mishima’s description of kendo understandable to a wide audience, but in doing so, he made it harder for kendoka of any nationality to understand. Why? because we are used to Japanese terminology in kendo. Some time ago the ZNKR issued an english language video, where everything had been changed into English. We had “blows to the head” and the “forearm”, which we all had to mentally change back to men and kote.
Now I am not advocating the use of Japanese or English to describe kendo, but I suppose I am used to the status quo and find it easier to use Japanese, particulary for complex terms. Sen no sen still makes more sense to me than Mr Lidstone’s “forehand forestall”