- Ki Ken Tai no Ichi
Literally, spirit-sword-body as one. This seemingly simple
statement takes many years of diligent effort to achieve.
- Gan Soku Tan Riki
The four key elements of kendo:
- Gan (sight): the ability to see your opponents, not just
their physical presence but also their character, feelings,
- 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.
- Kyo Ku Gi Waku
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
Literally, to attack. Seme means to apply pressure to your
opponent. There are three basic kinds of seme.
- Ki o korosu: break the opponent's spirit
- 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.
- Datotsu no Kikai
Literally, chance to strike. The five most important chances
- 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 settled. Observe patterns
of breathing or movement.
- Uke tometa toki: after a block or parry.
- Mato toki: when the opponent is uncertain.
- Mittsu no Sen
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 kinds of maai are:
- To ma: far distance (shinai tips apart)
- Issoku itto 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)
Good kendo builds upon fundamental kendo techniques. The beginning
student must concentrate on the basics; letting the basics lapse
or jumping too quickly into advanced techniques will lead to bad
habits which may be extremely difficult to correct. The advanced
student must also constantly review the fundamentals, in order to
be able to properly execute the advanced techniques.
There are two broad categories of waza, shikake waza and oji waza.
All waza starts with seme.
- Shikake Waza (Offensive Techniques)
- Ippon uchi (single hit technique), includes men, do, kote,
- Nidan waza, sandan waza (two and three-step techniques)
and renzoku waza (multi-step techniques),
includes: kote-men, kote-do, kote-men-do, etc.
- Harai waza (warding off technique), includes harai-men,
- Debana waza (attack-at-the-start technique), includes
debana men, debana kote
- Hiki waza (stepping back technique), includes
hiki men, hiki kote, hiki do
- Katsugi waza (shouldering-the-sword technique)
- Maki waza (rolling-the-shinai technique)
- Katate waza (single-hand technique)
- Oji Waza (Receiving Techniques)
- Suriage uchi (sliding upward technique), includes
men-suriage men, kote-suriage kote, kote-suriage men
- Kaeshi waza (block-counter technique), includes
men-kaeshi do, men-kaeshi men, kote-kaeshi kote
- Uchiotoshi waza (striking-down technique), includes
- Nuki waza (avoiding technique), includes
kote-nuki men, men-nuki do
- waza can also be classified according to the type of attack
addressed, such as men ni taisuru waza (techniques against men
strikes), kote ni taisuru waza (techniques against kote strikes)