Posts Tagged ‘kan-kyu-kyo-jyaku’

M AliAnother great question! This time from Guiherme in Brazil, who asks how to vary his timing and mentions that as he becomes tired he operates at one speed. In kendo we hear the expression “ kan-kyu-kyo-jaku” , the approximate meaning of which is -kan (緩) slow, kyu (急) quick, kyo(強) strong, – jyaku (弱) weak/soft. To be honest we hear a lot more about this within Iai where it appears to be a requisite component of the 4th and 5th dan grading. In kendo, within my limited understanding, it is the change in pace and rhythm from keeping a strong deliberate kamae to exploding into action as soon as you make or see a chance to attack.
The late Kikuchi sensei talked about being “like a feather in a hurricane”, that is to say light and unfettered but then able to immediately change into explosive action. The great boxer Muhammed Ali described the process as “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”. However you describe it we need to change our timing to reflect circumstances and opportunities.
We practice kakarigeiko in order to be able to attack quickly. This does not mean that our jigeiko or shiai should be at a continuous flat-out pace from hajime, rather we should take our time to read and control the opponent, probe and push for an opportunity to attack and when we find it strike instantly. The point of attack is when we need maximum acceleration and this comes from the left foot, which is why hikitsuke or immediately bringing up the left foot after moving the right is so important.
After making a successful strike we again slow the rhythm by making strong, deliberate zanshin, whilst being ready to explode into action again if required. The only time when we keep the accelerator down is in renzoku waza, where we use continued speed of attack to keep the opponent under pressure unti we score a clear point.
In terms of the “hard” and “soft” elements, in my mind these could be better explained as “sharp” and “soft”. Our cutting action should be soft and fluid until the point of impact and beyond. Our arms and shoulders should still be relaxed when the shinai makes contact with the target. The only change is the impact added to the strike by our tenouchi when we squeeze the tsukagawa.
In some ways we are overly complicating what nature makes simple. If you watch heron fishing, or a snake stalking its prey, they stay perfectly still until the perfect time to attack and then grab their dinner in an instant, getting the maximum return for a minimal energy investment.

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