The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Sunday, January 10, 2016

5 Points to Improve Your Martial Arts Practice

At Kenshi 24/7, there was an article which was a translation from a chapter of a book written by one of the highest ranked Kendo masters of his time. 

This was written for kendo students, but I think it applies to everyone trying to improve.

An excerpt is below. The whole article may be read here. Enjoy.


Takano Hiromasa (1900-1987), kendo hanshi and headmaster of Itto-ryu*, was the the second son of kendo legend Takano Sasaburo.

A brief bio:

Hiromasa began studying the sword when he was 6 years old in his fathers dojo, Meishinkan. He graduated from Tokyo Shihan Gakko in 1923 and, in 1927, took over the day-to-day running of Meishinkan. At the same time he started teaching kendo at various universities (Waseda, Tokyo Institute of Technology, etc). Between 1936-41 he lived in America and taught kendo at California State University. After returning to Japan he started becoming involved in kendo publications, first by producing a magazine called “Shin-budo” before authoring his own titles. After the war he continued writing kendo books, eventually writing a kenshi-inspired novel. This led to him becoming a budo (swordsmanship) advisor for various plays and movies.

1. Concentrate on developing willpower

The spiritual power of humans:

Horie Kenichi, a young 23 year old yachtsman, crossed the pacific on his own, from Nishinomiya to San Francisco, in 1963. It took him 94 days. Since his success there have been many other people attempting to copy him, however, it’s like tapping a stone bridge before crossing it (i.e. looking before leaping) their caution makes what they are doing valueless. Horie, on the other hand, dared to do what nobody had ever attempted before, and thus can be said to have great spiritual strength.


2. Keiko, keiko, keiko

Shut up and train:

If the first most important thing for improving your kendo is development of the spirit, then the second is to continually endure the hardships of repeated keiko sessions day-in-and-day-out in the dojo. This of course not limited to kendo, but various things in life: without practise you cannot improve.

3. Don’t put too much importance on winning or losing

The main point of beginners shugyo (pursuit of kendo):

It’s important that beginners throw out any thoughts about winning and losing. They should simply aim to execute the basic shape of kendo as they have been taught it.


4. Study under a teacher

Practise with your teacher and seniors:

It’s important that you learn under a good teacher(s) and good sempai. By practising hard with them and listening to their advice and direction, you cannot fail to improve. If you cannot patiently listen to their advice or endure hard keiko with them, then you will simply stop progressing.

5. Research (Kenkyu and kufu)

There are different opinions as to how to study kendo in the beginning. Some people believe it’s important to learn the theory first, whilst other believe physical practise is more important. Either way, both have the aim of Jiri-itchi (the unison of physical practise and theory, a term popularised by the famous kenshi Yamaoka Tesshu).

1 comment:

Compass Architect said...

Those five points are good reminders for everyone.