Is a song used to educate young skiers on the body part positions required to give the balance to ski correctly. In kendo we have no similar prompts, but we definitely need them. Skiers who get it wrong, learn quickly by falling over, whereas in kendo you can continue to make the same mistakes for years.
Most students lack the ability to think holistically, which is not surprising, as kendo requires a range of movements which seem totally unnatural and unconnected. The ability to move hands, feet and body together and to merge this with breathing and kiai are essential to achieving ki-ken-tai-ichi. Furthermore incorrect balance and posture make it almost impossible to hit with relaxed hands to the detriment of hasuji and tenouchi. Even relatively seasoned kendoka suffer from thinking sequentially. I regularly remind a third dan club member that his hand and foot timing is out and that he is using too much upper body strength. He regularly counters by explaining that “today I am working on my feet, or hands”, or whatever his current preoccupation happens to be.
Even after you have all the basics working correctly, it is easy to change the whole picture. When people change one element of their kendo, everything else is affected. A slight change of balance alters the timing of your footwork and the amount of upper versus lower body strength that is used in a technique. So you start by making a small correction and find you have to overhaul your whole kendo style.
How to avoid this? Why kihon of course. But, you need to ensure that you think “big picture “. With suburi, you should concentrate on achieving ki-ken-tai-ichi as you make each strike. For kirikaeshi and uchikomigeiko, you should ensure that you finish each cut correctly and that your timing is spot on. You also need to ensure that all of these exercises are carried out with a feeling of ichibyoshi, the timing of one, where you raise the shinai and strike in the same movement. Of course, correct breathing will help you achieve this.
The other thing to keep in mind is that you should keep the speed of kihon practise to a level where you are in control. Do not race ahead of yourself just to do it quickly. Of course speed is important, but get it right first and then make it faster.
So as far as I can see there are no real short cuts, or we maybe we could borrow the skiing memory aids “Atama kata hiza ashiyubi”, but it does not quite fit the tune.