A thread on Linkedin’s kendo group forum somehow slipped from seme into nidan waza. This made me reflect on why many people see nidan waza in a class of its own.
I suppose it is because nidan waza is stated as a requirement for the second dan grading examination, but it seems to me that too much emphasis is placed on nidan waza as a separate group of techniques. Kendoka often take the view that in nidan techniques such as kote men, the first kote attack is not meant to succeed; but rather is intended to set up your opponent for the following men-strike. I, perhaps simplistically, believe that you should try to hit kote and if you miss, then should continue to strike men. If the first kote is successful then job done.
Whilst nidan waza is a requirement for nidan grading it does not follow that you need sandan waza for sandan and then continue to count up through the grades. Nidan waza is one element of renzoku waza or continuous attacking. So if your opponent is going backwards and breaking under the pressure of your attack, but you are unable to make a clear point then you continue to push forward striking continually until you succeed. Kote, men, dou, tsuki – all can be put together in any combination, but to work they require perfect ki-ken-tai-ichi and one step per cut.
You can train to achieve this in a number of ways:
- Renzoku waza suburi, where you continue forward with each attack and then count the number of steps back to the starting spot.
- Uchikomi geiko where a people take turns to space themselves out at intervals and receive strikes on their shinai before joining the queue to attack.
- Uchikomi geiko against motodachi in bogu.
- And of course kakarigeiko.
Like most techniques in kendo, successful renzoku waza depends on good footwork, balance and control. It is equally important to be able to stop after a successful strike as to continue after an unsuccessful one. So, lots of hard kihon practice is required.