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Posts Tagged ‘boryoku’

Good old days?

Good old days?

Many old timers speak fondly of the days when Kendoka took an “everything goes” approach to keiko. Mukaetsuki, leg sweeps; even following an opponent down to the ground and using kumiuchi techniques to gain a submission. I believe that most of these practices disappeared in Japan after the reintroduction of Kendo post-war. However you can see a good example of “all in” Kendo on Mori sensei’s demonstration for “You asked for it” on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWQlx6CZMOo

Because people knew no better; or because they just liked a scrap, boryoku Kendo survived in the UK through the sixties and seventies and like surviving soldiers on a desert island, whom nobody told the war was over; there are still one or two people who go for a crafty ankle sweep or elbow to the men.

I have to admit that there is something satisfying about taking your opponents feet from under them and I did not worry too much if it happened to me, but now I am older and a bit more brittle, I do not relish the idea of landing on my butt on a hardwood floor. Now as a referee, I would immediately award hansoku to anyone dishing out this sort of treatment in shiai, so it is hard to condone in practice. Defenders of this kind of Kendo make the point, that it fosters fighting spirit, but viewed that way, so does road rage and excessive alcohol.

I believe that one of the biggest reasons for refraining from violence in our practice is that in these days of “no win no fee” lawyers, increasingly stringent health and safety laws and rising insurance costs, we are frightened of the legal repercussions of rough play. Now perhaps I am being perverse, but it seems a shame that we have to modify our behaviour because of people who want to protect us from ourselves, or through the fear of opportunistic litigants.

In my own view, we should not do anything that spoils the flow of our own correct kendo. If you have to break your posture or sacrifice your balance for any technique, legal or illegal, it has to be wrong. Some sensei will occasionally resort to the odd trip or sweep, but that is normally a sign that kakarite is putting him or herself in an awkward situation. So, whilst I am a total believer in “full spirit” Kendo and of the value of the odd strategic push, if you really want to go for it, try Valle tudo.

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