Mastering the Kendo Footwork

Kendo Footwork Ashisabaki

Kendo footwork is so unique and probably does not exist in any other sport. The basic footwork is called “suri-ashi” (sliding feet).

First, your right foot should be placed forward and the heel should be raised slightly off the floor. Be mindful that the gap between your right heel and the floor should only be enough for a few sheets of cardboard paper to fit under.

Kendo Footwork Suriashi

Your left foot should be placed to the left of your right foot leaving about a foot’s gap. Your left heel should be off the floor too, but be mindful that the gap in this case should be about 3-4 cm.

At first it is difficult to keep your bodily balance and you will shake a little, but to remain stable imaging pushing your belly button out by about a size of your first. This is the foot position of kendo.

Next is the footwork. Your feet move front, back, right and left. When you move forward, have about 70-80% of your weight on your back (left) foot, slide your toes forward then quickly slide your back left foot forward too. This is called “okuri-ashi” (sending foot). During this, your weight will be on your right foot, but try to quickly get your weight balanced on both feet.

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When you move backward, put 70-80% of your weight on your right foot and slide your left foot backward then slide the toes of your right foot backward (okuri-ashi), then regain your balance on both feet. When going right, your right foot will slide out first and your left foot will do an “okuri-ashi”. When you go left the left foot slides out first and our right foot does “okuri-ashi”.

Kendo Footwork Okuriashi

When you slide your feet it is important to remind yourself not to lose your bodily balance. That is why I said earlier it is helpful to stick your belly button out about the size of your fist.