Posts Tagged ‘Okuri-ashi’

SevensKendo is unusual in that we use fumikomi-ashi, “stamping footwork” instead of a more natural walking gait as part of our technique. I don’t know how this developed. Older styles of kenjutsu take a more natural left-right approach, cutting on either foot, whereas modern kendoists believe that for an attack to succeed the right foot has to slap the floor at the exact moment of striking.

Followers of the many original ryuha explain that in a battle situation on rough ground, stable walking footwork is the only option and I would not for a moment disagree with them. Somehow as kendo moved onto wooden floors, we have adopted a stamping style which has become an integral part of the modern sport. Fumikomi-ashi dosa, or movement, is in essence okuri-ashi footwork with an added stamp. Okuri-ashi is the process of pushing the right foot forward using the power of your left leg and it is used for attacking movement. There are though other footwork options in kendo.

We use ayumi-ashi (walking footwork) to cover long distance outside of attacking maai. Tsugi ashi lets us bring the left foot closer to the right foot than in okuri-ashi to gain a more explosive forward movement and hiraki-ashi allows us to step diagonally to make oji-waza.

Many of us become addicted to okuri-ashi and fumikomi-ashi. Beginners find it almost impossible to do these correctly, but insist on using them for every circumstance. I have often seen okuri-ashi used to receive kirikaeshi whereas the natural way to do this is to use ayumi ashi.

Contrary to popular misconception, it is not mandatory to stamp to make a successful attack. Nippon kendo no kata does not use stamping footwork and any of the seven odachi techniques if done correctly, would score ippon in shiai. Ki-ken-tai-itchi does not always depend on your right foot slapping the ground. In fact in many oji-waza the cut is executed as the back foot moves into place.

Fumikomi-ashi is a key element of kendo, but it is reserved for making forward shikake attacks, so we can’t afford to ignore the other footwork variations. It is unlikely that many of us will get involved in a swordfight in a paddy-field, but were we to do so; the only value in fumikomi-ashi would be to splash your opponent. In the dojo we need to move at different speeds in different directions, so we should study and practice all the kendo footwork forms.

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