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Posts Tagged ‘Inoue Shigeaki sensei’

Kirikaeshi smallInoue Shigeaki sensei has left the UK, leaving behind numerous exhausted but inspired kendoka.  During his seminar he focused on a number of relatively basic points including:

  • 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.

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Inoue keiko 3Inoue Shigeaki hanshi is currently visiting the UK and I have been fortunate enough to attend all of his keiko sessions and the weekend seminar. I have known Inoue sensei for some time and share some common ground in that I spent a comparatively brief period of time studying with Matsumoto Toshio sensei who was Inoue sensei’s teacher.

After training, Inoue sensei showed me an essay that he had written in English on the purpose of kendo and he explained that although he has been hachidan for over 20 years, he is only now reaching the point where he feels at ease putting his own thoughts forward rather than quoting the advice of his teachers. I will ask his permission to reproduce his essay in this blog sometime in the future, but the key point of his argument is that there is a current trend towards teaching kendo with an emphasis on how to win in shiai without taking into consideration the broader aspects of personal development based on the “Principles of the Sword”.

In his view the traditional pattern of finishing a hard day’s work, stopping at the dojo for an hour’s hard keiko and emerging feeling better and more determined to take on the next day’s challenges is losing ground to a more “train to win” approach. With this in mind he had reiterated the values of kendo that he has come to understand from his many years of shugyo.

In 2011 I posted a translation of an article by Matsumoto sensei on the “Aim of Kendo”, wherein he emphasised the positive values of kendo in a similar way. Interestingly the article was written over 35 years ago. In this post I had also included a photograph of Matsumoto sensei. I showed this to Inoue sensei who took off his dou to show me the writing inside. He was in fact wearing the same dou that Matsumoto sensei was wearing in the photograph. Obviously not only the dou had been passed down along with much of his physical kendo technique, but the philosophy of kendo and its impact on how we shape our lives was an equal part of the inheritance.

Of course we are all familiar with the concept of respect for those who taught us and those that taught them, but to see such a concrete example is a strong reminder that we never actually take possession of the values of kendo, we just keep them to pass on to the next generation.

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