Ki-Ken-Tai no Ichi
Literally, spirit-sword-body as one. This seemingly simple statement takes many years of diligent effort to achieve.
The four key elements of kendo:
Kyo Ku Gi Waku
- Gan (sight): the ability to see your opponents, not just their physical presence but also their character, feelings, and intentions.
- Soku (footwork): the movement of the body.
- Tan (courage): one's spirit and attitude toward one's self and fellow human beings.
- Riki (power): the ability to put into practice ki-ken-tai no ichi to produce powerful strikes and a powerful presence.
The four things you must conquer:
- Kyo (surprise): do not be startled or taken by surprise.
- Ku (fear): do not let awe of your opponent or fear of failure overcome you.
- Gi (doubt): do not hesitate or enter into half-hearted action.
- Waku (confusion): do not let your mind wander and become disordered.
Literally, to attack. Seme means to apply pressure to your opponent. There are three basic kinds of seme.
Datotsu no Kikai
- Ki o korosu: break the opponent's will.
- Waza o korosu: kill the opponent's technique, for example, by changing the distance.
- Ken o korosu: kill the sword, for example, by knocking the shinai to the side.
Literally, chance to strike. The five most important chances are:
Mittsu no Sen
- Debana: as your opponent's attack is beginning.
- Waza ga owaru toki: when the opponent's attack is finished.
- Itsuka toki: when the opponent has settledd. Observe patterns of breathing or movement.
- Uketometa toki: after a block or parry.
- Matou-toki: when the opponent is uncertain.
The three basic categories of counter-attack (see also the section on Techniques (Waza):
- Sen sen no sen: before the opponent attacks (e.g. debana waza).
- Sen zen no sen: when the opponent's attack has begun but can be avoided (e.g. nuki waza).
- Sen go no sen: when the opponent's attack has begun but can be countered with a parry (e.g. suriage waza, kaeshi waza, or uchi otoshi waza).
The distance between one and the opponent. The ability to control this distance, and to apply techniques appropriate to a particular distance, is a measure of the maturity of the kenshi. The basic kines of maai are:
Other Fundamental Concepts
- Tou ma: far distance (shinai tips apart).
- Issoku ittou no ma: the distance from which one can strike the opponent with one motion (shinai tips slightly crossed).
- Chika ma: close distance (shinai tips deeply crossed).
There are many other important points in kendo, including the ones below. Their last placement in this list is not a indication of lesser importance; rather, these points are so fundamental that they are difficult to elaborate upon.
- Kiai: more than just loudly shouting, kiai means the showing of your spirit and courage through your voice.
- Zanshin: alertness, especially after completing an attack.
- Kime: literally, to decide. Kime means to strike without hesitation and, more importantly, to finish the strike with decisiveness and conviction.
- Shisei: posture.
- Taisabaki: body movement.
- Kigurai: poise.
- Kensen: presence and power in the sword tip.