Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

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 ~

Thursday, May 07, 2020

The Importance of Stance Training in Martial Arts

Below is an excerpt from a post that appeared at Kenshi 24/7, on the importance of stance training in Kendo, which in my opinion extends to every martial arts practice. The full post may be read here.

A few weeks ago, a guest of one of the young kendo teachers at my workplace was standing in front of the dojo mirror kamae-ing and looking at himself from different angles. I guess it is quite a common scene in many dojo with a mirror, be it Japan or elsewhere, but what got me interested was that this particular guest – already a quite young 5th dan – was someone who I had already read to be more serious than most are for his age kendo-wise. My interest piqued, I asked him what he was working on.

He admitted that he was having doubts about the super-straight kamae that he had been taught since he was a primary school student, and had decided to change it to a more “open” type, the type – which just so happens – I changed to myself a good 15-or-so years ago.

This topic, one I have briefly chatted about before, is about to get more detailed.

Yamaoka Tesshu (1836-88), was a kind of rennaisance man during his short lifetime: samurai, revolutionary, stateseman, artist, and of-course, swordsman… he was a man of many skills. Many books have been written about him and I am sure he needs no in-depth introduction here.

Kempo Sankaku-ku

Sankaku-ku, the triangular  relationship between the eyes, stomach, and sword-tip,  is something that must be studied.

Swords should measure ten fist widths in length. Ten fist widths is about half of your height.  This is also about half of the distance between your hands when you extend both of your arms out to the sides, therefore, be sure to stretch out your entire body (and kamae) when facing an enemy.  In ancient times this teaching was called “Tenshin-shoden.” Sankaku-ku is based on this.

The eyes, stomach, and sword-tip should work in unison when squaring up to an enemy. This is the teaching of Sankaku-ku.

Anybody who wishes to learn our style (Itto-Shoden Muto-ryu) must first study this teaching as the base princple above all else. Skill in swordsmanship, as with all things, begins first by obeying the principles. Only by doing so you will learn the underlying theory. It is essential to faithfully study sankaku-ku. You cannot discover the deepest secrets (of swordsmanship) without doing so. Effort… effort….

– Yamaoka Tesshu, March 30th Meiji 16 (1883)

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