The Japanese Sword and the Japanese Idioms

The Japanese Sword – it has unbelievable cutting power, but does not break or bend. It is called the soul of the samurai and it treated not only as a weapon but carries a spiritual, religious aura. It appears in the mythologies of Kojiki and Nihonshoki (two of Japan’s oldest and most important books of classical Japanese history), called reiken (spirit-sword) or houken (treasure-sword) and is steeped in much mystery. Japanese people are uniquely known for keeping them as jewelry to appreciate its beauty rather than as a collection of antique items. Yes, it is believed that number of samurai who used the sword and the craftsmen who made them…

Perhaps, we need to introduce more scientifically based training for Kendo?

Written by Kimura Takahiko(CEO at Tozando) The other day, I happened upon a news article about the major league pitcher Yu Darvish, in which he gave some guidance about the future of the Japanese baseball community. To make a long story short, the conclusion that he made was that “Going through harsh training and make effort only using spirit and will-power is not good enough. There is a need to incorporate the latest technology and science into your training to achieve better results”. Kendo being a traditional Japanese competitive martial art, likewise puts a lot of emphasis on making an effort, will-power and of course spirit. In Kendo, the ultimate…

The Path to Passing the Kendo Promotional Examination Part 3

Written by Hayashi Takahiro, Kendo Kyoshi 7-dan(Tozando) About the 2-dan examination This time, I’m going to talk a bit about the 2-dan examination. In addition to refining the basic movements, manners and etiquette required in the Shodan examination, you are also required to use Oji-waza (応じ技), in other words, reacting and counter attacking. Not only will your striking techniques be examined, but also how you react and counter when your opponent attacks you will be thoroughly tested during the practical examination. There are many basic techniques such as going avoiding a hit to the Men and going for the Do, or avoiding a strike to the Kote and going for…

Tokuren Z: A Kendo Bogu made for winners

The Jutsuka Tokubetsu Kunren (術科特別訓練; Special Technique Training Department) or for short, the “Tokuren”, is a special Japanese police squad whose purpose is to promote and reinforce technical training within subjects such as Judo, Kendo, Taihojutsu, marksmanship, etc. to raise the overall level of physical and mental health among police officers. It’s well known in the Kendo community that some of the strongest Kendo players originates from the Kendo Tokuren police squad, and their long and harsh daily training routines makes them fearsome powerhouses that can be considered to be the true Kendo professionals, many of who are or have been ranked in the top in the All Japan Kendo Championships…

Japanese Samurai Armor 101

Japanese Armor, or Katchū (甲冑; armor and helmet), depending on in which period it was made they can largely be categorized into two categories, Ō-yoroi (大鎧; great armor) and Tosei-gusoku (当世具足; modern armor) armors. The Ō-yoroi first appears during the middle and late Heian period (794~1185) and became more widespread during the Kamakura period (1185~1336). The Ō-yoroi were designed for cavalry archers as they were one of the main military forces during this period of time, because the box-shaped construction and its heavy weight that didn’t allow for much movement or flexibility, it was unsuitable for use on the ground. To defend against arrows the Kabuto had large Fukigaeshi (吹き返し),…

Jōdan-no-kamae Part 2: How to improve your technique

Written by Aya Onodera, Kendo 3-dan(Tozando) In the Jōdan stance you raise your Shinai up above your head, leaving your torso wide open. Unlike when two Chūdan practitioners fight, there is no offensive Shinai techniques such as Harai-waza going on between the two practitioners while they try to create an opening to attack, and this might at first glance make you think that the Jōdan stance is full with openings. However if you try to attack such a Jōdan practitioner carelessly, you might get hit with a high speed downward swing from over the head. The Katate-waza is a characteristic technique in the Jōdan stance where you swing using only…

How to appreciate a Japanese sword

Nihontō (日本刀; Japanese sword) refers to the traditional swords that are made in Japan, perhaps more commonly known as the Katana, or Samurai sword. On the finished blade, which is painstakingly made by infusing the spirit of the swordsmith into a piece of steel and then carefully polished to perfection, one can see intricate grain patterns emerging from the surface of the steel that we call Hada (肌; grain), and also on the edge of the blade you can see the Hamon (刃文; blade pattern) which is the pattern created by the differentially hardened blade edge during the tempering process. Tozando Antique Japanese Swords Store Ship worldwide by Federal Express…

What is Jukendo?

In the news the other day it was announced that Jukendo (銃剣道; the way of the bayonet) is to be added as one out of nine martial arts that schools all over Japan can choose to teach their Jr. high school students. Due to this, Jukendo has become something of a trendy word in Japanese social networks, including twitter. Judo, Kendo, Iaido are Japanese Budo that most people have at least heard of, however I believe that the majority of the general public probably have never heard of “Jukendo” before. BUY JUKENDO & TANKENDO EQUIPMENT – BUDO MARTIAL ARTS Jukendo is the Japanese martial art of bayonet fighting with a…

Jōdan-no-kamae: The stance of fire

Written by Aya Onodera, Kendo 3-dan(Tozando) Jōdan-no-kamae(上段の構え) is one of the five stances in Kendo and is also called Hi-no-kamae(火の構え), meaning “the stance of fire”. The Jōdan stance does not allow retreat, the stance is intimidating and is a technique that ultimately results in a one-hit-kill. When I was in high school the Kendo advisor in my Kendo club suggested that I should take up the Jōdan stance, and because of this I started using the Jōdan stance. Until then I was using Chūdan-no-kamae(中段の構え) but I was unable to produce the any significant results and was making little progress and because of that I couldn’t enjoy doing Kendo anymore. Deluxe…

Indigo-dye: Because the “Japan Blue” has a scent of Wabi-sabi

Why are Bogu dyed with Indigo-dye?  Bogu are traditionally dyed using Aizome (indigo-dye) and in the past Aizome was something that the Japanese people could find all around them, the indigo-dyed color being a natural part of their everyday life. The famous Edo period Ukiyo-e master Andō Hiroshige, best known for his landscapes, made great use of the different shades of indigo to vividly depict the scenery of Japan. Also Lafcadio Hearn after coming to Japan, famously wrote “…the little houses under their blue roofs, the little shop-fronts hung with blue, and the smiling little people in their blue costumes…”, the indigo color making a profound impression in his description…