- Fast and accurate cutting in suburi.
- Keeping keiko short and intense.
- Including uchikomi-geiko, kakarigeiko and kirkaeshi in each and every keiko with motodachi.
For me however the one point that really stood out was his view of the importance of kirikaeshi. He believes that by just practising kirikaeshi you could develop you kendo to a level where you could win major shiai.
Obviously to be beneficial kirikaeshi training has to be done correctly. Inoue sensei’s approach is as follows:
- You start practising slowly and accurately ensuring that distance is correct.
- You do this by taking just one step forward from the starting position and strike shomen with one step, one cut.
- You make taiatari keeping your hands low and ensuring that motodachi provides suitable resistance. Neither of you should use your upper body power, but should push from the tanden.
- You then concentrate on striking yoko men accurately with correct hasuji.
- After the last yoko men strike you take only one step back (in tsugiashi) so that you are ready to make the next shomen attack in one step, one strike distance, pushing off from the left foot.
Once you can do this correctly you add speed, concentrating initially on the speed of each strike, rather than the tempo of the whole exercise. Finally you start to work on correct breathing and kiai; breathing in deeply before the first strike, holding the air in your abdomen as you release part of it in kakegoe and then completing the whole kirikaeshi sequence in one breath with continuous kiai.
Inoue sensei asserts that from training with kirikaeshi in this way you learn about correct posture and footwork, timing and opportunity, striking action and hasuji, correct breathing for kendo and the ability to easily and smoothly deliver continuous attack renzoku waza.
If you include this with every keiko and also add uchikomi-geiko and kakarigeiko, it mirrors the training undertaken by the Japanese National Team under Inoue sensei and Kato sensei’s direction for the 14WKC in Sao Paulo.
For us mere mortals, the intensity and duration of training should take our age and physical condition into account and depends on motodachi’s intuition. Sensei did however make the point that you should be able to train in this way well into your 50’s. Hopefully by the time we hit 60 we should be kicked across the dojo into a motodachi position.