Knutsen-sensei has set out some guidance below on how we might address the return to practice, when this becomes possible. At the moment, of course, the Government guidelines don’t allow normal dojo practice, but we hope there will be some relaxation in the coming weeks.
Reduced physical contact
There will be a need to reduce close contact, especially in group exercise, suburi, uchikomi, where close breathing allied with physical breathing recovery is the aim. This will need to be updated from time to time in the early weeks.
For several weeks training must be limited to work with the bokutō. This was always the emphasis up to the mid-19th century and, in some quarters, well to the end of the 20th century. Therefore, in this initial period emphasis will be completely on the handling and skill with the bokutō, both short and long. Iai will also make use of bokutō as well as iai-tō or live blade. As far as possible more waza will be introduced
As envisioned at this moment (end May 2020), we have a golden opportunity to re-establish, on a traditional basis, proper kendō based on the use of the real sword:- proper and in detailed familiarity with posture and movement leading to tenouchi and greatly improved awareness; correct striking forms; zanshin; etc. It will also give a chance to better understand tactics and strategy.
From the above it is hoped that all members of the Renmei will see a clearer path to understanding the spirit and nature of the Japanese bugei.
As and when we are able to return to shinai kendō, we shall, it is forecast, be fitter through swinging the bokutō, but all will have a better idea of ‘how to cut’ and how to do this correctly.
It is always difficult to be asked to write a few words on the passing of an old friend so I shall be brief.
My wife and I knew Bob from a distance through his interest in ‘Things Japanese’ more or less all his adult life. It was about forty years ago that we first invited him to contribute an intermittent book review to the Journal of the British Kendo Renmei on cultural publications on Japanese subjects that would interest our Members. About this time he began practice in these arts and many of our older students remember him. I should add ‘from a distance’ because Peterborough lies a long way from our centre here in the South so it was not so easy to meet on any sort of regular basis. But, thanks to the invention of email we kept up our correspondence until a couple of months ago.
His erudite understanding was always great help to us all and deeply appreciated. It is such a pity that he never achieved his ambition to visit that country.
Our sincere condolences go out to Sara and his family.
In writing this article, we have been fortunate to have a number of translations from the wisdom of several very senior kodansha in both Kendo and Iai-jutsu All these masters and many others over the years, emphasise teaching the basics in a sympathetic and stimulating manner. These key skills are particularly important when we are introducing novices to what is exclusively a secretive Japanese culture, one deriving from the warrior tradition over the past fifteen hundred years. The teaching skill is not based on finding fault with early errors but encouraging newcomers to absorb the principles naturally without the fear of harsh correction.