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Kendo WRITTEN exam
In 2019 the Russian Kendo Federation has introduced new requirements for applicants attending kendo dan exams. From now on these amendments to grading rules add a written exam in addition to usual kirikaeshi and tachiai keiko. The written exam shall include the variation of following questions:

  1. Describe basic kendo movements?
  2. Describe basic kendo distances?
  3. Describe the main conditions of yuko-datotsu?
  4. Describe known types of shikake-waza techniques?
  5. Describe known types of keiko?
  6. Describe requirements for performing a lunge when striking?
  7. Describe known types of oji-waza techniques?
  8. Describe how you understand the term mittsu-no-sen?
  9. Describe how you understand three types of the correct way to attack your opponent [san-sappo] and putting pressure on your opponent [seme]?
  10. Describe how you understand the term shi-kai?
  11. Describe how you understand the term shin-ki-ryoku-itchi?
  12. Describe how you understand the term shu-ha-ri?

In this article, I will try to answer foregoing questions compiling articles from known kendo resources and my own point of view in one place.

1. DESCRIBE BASIC KENDO MOVEMENTS

Kendo footwork is ashi-sabaki. There are five ashi-sabaki in kendo: (i) suri-ashi, (ii) okuri-ashi, (ii) tsugi-ashi, (iv) ayumi-ashi, (v) hiraki-ashi.

Suri-ashi is the way we perform all the other kendo footwork. It is a sliding movement.

Okuri-ashi is the most important kendo footwork or ashi-sabaki. It is also the most difficult one. Without this, you cannot do kendo. When we want to go forwards, we move the front foot first. When we go backwards, we move the back foot first. In okuri-ashi, the back foot never passes the front foot. It does not matter if the right foot is the back foot or the left foot is the back foot. The back foot cannot pass the front foot and vice versa.

In this kendo footwork, tsugi-ashi, the back foot moves first and it stops before it passes the front foot..

In ayumi-ashi, we can actually cross our feet as if we are walking, but in suri-ashi (sliding). It is a walking with but sliding.

Hiraki-ashi is to change the body direction by pivoting on one foot. From the basic stance, take a step diagonally onto the right foot followed by the left foot. Move to the left diagonally onto the left foot followed by the right foot. However, the right foot becomes the back foot. Go to the right as in first move.

2. DESCRIBE BASIC KENDO DISTANCES

Issoku-itto-no-maai [issoku-itto-no-ma]: This distance is a distance where you can reach your opponent with one step forwards and you can avoid your opponent's cut with one step backwards.

Chikai-maai [chika-ma]: Close distance. When you get in further from issoku-itto-no-ma, you are in chika-ma. You can easily reach your opponent but your opponent also can reach you easily.

Toi-maai [toh-ma]: You are not even in issoku-itto-no-ma. You cannot reach your opponent and your opponent cannot reach you either. Basically your shinai and your opponent's shinai are not touching.

Uchi-ma: The distance for you to strike. This is the distance you MUST strike.

Yokote-maai [yokote-no-maai]: There is a part called yokote around the kensaki (kissaki) of a sword. There is a line called yokote-suji a bit lower than the kensaki. If you are in a distance where the yokote of your sword and your opponent's sword meet, you are in the yokote-no-maai.

Koujin-no-maai: Koujin means crossing blades. So if your sword and your opponent sword start crossing, you are in koujin-no-maai. Your kensaki can pass the kensaki of your opponent's sword about 10 cm.

Shokujin-no-maai: Shokujin means touching blades. The kensaki of your sword and your opponent are touching. Once one of the kensaki passes the shokujin-no-maai to get closer, you are in koujin-no-maai.

3. DESCRIBE THE MAIN CONDITIONS OF YUKO-DATOTSU

Making a valid strike. A valid strike which is considered ippon. According to the rules, a waza is complete when the following conditions are met: (i) showing a fullness of spirit and (ii) appropriate posture, (iii) striking a datotsu-bui (striking zone) of the opponent with the striking region of one's own shinai while (iv) using correct ha-suji, and (v) expressing zan-shin.

4. DESCRIBE KNOWN TYPES OF SHIKAKE-WAZA TECHNIQUES


Please read our complete guide to kendo techniques.

5. DESCRIBE KNOWN TYPES OF KEIKO

Kihon-geiko: This means training of the basics. Thus, we train the basics of kendō.

Uchikomi-geiko: In uchikomi, we keep striking targets that motodachi lets us strike, i.e. openings. Strikes should be nice and big.

Kakari-geiko: In kakari-geiko, kakarite keeps striking motodachi with small cuts. Unlike uchikomi-geiko, in kakari-geiko, kakarite can make an opening.

Ji-geiko: It is translated as free sparring. Ji means the fundamental. So we should train our fundamental of our true strength (physical and metal) and acquired techniques in a free sparring.

6. DESCRIBE REQUIREMENTS FOR PERFORMING A LUNGE WHEN STRIKING

Strain muscles of your back leg holding the heel slightly off the ground, relax your front leg, and push your body forward maintaining the upright position.

7. DESCRIBE KNOWN TYPES OF OJI-WAZA TECHNIQUES

Please read our complete guide to kendo techniques.

8. DESCRIBE HOW YOU UNDERSTAND THE TERM MITTSU-NO-SEN

The three sen. This is the three opportunities (in time) at which point one can attack the opponent. The mittsu-no-sen are (i) sen-sen-no-sen, (ii) sen-no-sen, and (iii) go-no-sen. Or essentially (i) initiating an attack to draw your opponent's intent to attack, then attacking the suki (opening) made by their action, (ii) attacking as your opponent initiates and (iii) attacking after your opponent initiates, respectively.

9. DESCRIBE HOW YOU UNDERSTAND THREE TYPES OF THE CORRECT WAY TO ATTACK YOUR OPPONENT [SAN-SAPPO] AND PUTTING PRESSURE ON YOUR OPPONENT [SEME]

An easy translation for seme is "to attack". Even when you are not physically striking your opponent but mentally you are putting pressure on your opponent, it is also called seme. San-sappo or san-satsu – three things to kill: (i) kill your opponent's sword: you must get your opponent's sword away from the center. As long as your opponent keeps a sword in the center, you cannot strike them. So you must use all sorts of techniques to get your opponent's sword away from their center; (ii) kill your opponent's techniques: make sure that you will not give your opponent any opportunities to attack you. You can always initiate the move by anticipating your opponent's move. In this way, your opponent does not have any opportunities to execute their technique on you. As a result, they get frustrated and give you an opportunity to strike them; (iii) kill your opponent's ki: you shall discourage your opponent. How do you discourage your opponent? You can make yourself look big and strong. Try to put pressure (ki) on your opponent. While fighting to take the center, try to create shikai in your opponent's mind. You can do so by killing your opponent's sword and techniques.

10. DESCRIBE HOW YOU UNDERSTAND THE TERM SHI-KAI


Shi is "four". Kai is something that you learn not to do, or pay attention to so you will not make a mistake; prohibition. It can be a lesson to learn. Shi-kai is to tell you to keep your mind away from the four states of the mind: kyo, ku, gi, waku.

Kyo is "surprise". If you get surprised, probably you hold your breath for a while, have your eyes wide open and stop moving. If you do this, your opponent will get you quite easily.

Ku is "fear". If you are afraid of your opponent, you cannot move because of the fear you are feeling.

Gi means "doubt". If you have a doubt in your opponent's movements, you cannot decide how you should react to such movements. Moreover, if you have a doubt in yourself, your decisions, or your actions, you will not be able to perform well.

Waku is "confusion" or "being disturbed". You are so confused and puzzled or you are disturbed so you cannot focus on your opponent. You cannot make up your mind. As a result, your opponent can perform better than you can.

11. DESCRIBE HOW YOU UNDERSTAND THE TERM SHIN-KI-RYOKU-ITCHI

It is a way where the individual cultivates one's mind (the self) by aiming for shin-ki-ryoku-itchi (unification of mind, spirit and technique) utilizing the shinai. The shinai should be not only directed at one's opponent but also at the self. Thus, the primary aim of instruction is to encourage the unification of mind, body and shinai through training in this discipline.

12. DESCRIBE HOW YOU UNDERSTAND THE TERM SHU-HA-RI


Shu-ha-ri indicates that there are three phases in kendo.

Shu is a kanji for to "keep the teachings". When you start learning something, you listen to your teacher. You have to do what your teacher tells you to do in order to acquire the basics correctly.

Ha is a kanji for "to break". Here it means to break the teachings you have acquired from your teacher and learn something new from other teachers. Once you acquired the basics, you need to learn something different to improve yourself physically and mentally even more.

Ri is a kanji for "to leave". You leave from what you have learned from your teachers and establish your own style. This is a state of independence.



The English version is created by Andrew Bragin for KAMINARIKAN.

Kendo WRITTEN exam

In 2019 the Russian Kendo Federation has introduced new requirements for applicants attending kendo dan exams. From now on these amendments to grading rules add a written exam in addition to usual kirikaeshi and tachiai keiko. The written exam shall include the variation of following questions:

  1. Describe basic kendo movements?
  2. Describe basic kendo distances?
  3. Describe the main conditions of yuko-datotsu?
  4. Describe known types of shikake-waza techniques?
  5. Describe known types of keiko?
  6. Describe requirements for performing a lunge when striking?
  7. Describe known types of oji-waza techniques?
  8. Describe how you understand the term mittsu-no-sen?
  9. Describe how you understand three types of the correct way to attack your opponent [san-sappo] and putting pressure on your opponent [seme]?
  10. Describe how you understand the term shi-kai?
  11. Describe how you understand the term shin-ki-ryoku-itchi?
  12. Describe how you understand the term shu-ha-ri?

In this article, I will try to answer foregoing questions compiling articles from known kendo resources and my own point of view in one place.

1. DESCRIBE BASIC KENDO MOVEMENTS

Kendo footwork is ashi-sabaki. There are five ashi-sabaki in kendo: (i) suri-ashi, (ii) okuri-ashi, (ii) tsugi-ashi, (iv) ayumi-ashi, (v) hiraki-ashi.

Suri-ashi is the way we perform all the other kendo footwork. It is a sliding movement.

Okuri-ashi is the most important kendo footwork or ashi-sabaki. It is also the most difficult one. Without this, you cannot do kendo. When we want to go forwards, we move the front foot first. When we go backwards, we move the back foot first. In okuri-ashi, the back foot never passes the front foot. It does not matter if the right foot is the back foot or the left foot is the back foot. The back foot cannot pass the front foot and vice versa.

In this kendo footwork, tsugi-ashi, the back foot moves first and it stops before it passes the front foot..

In ayumi-ashi, we can actually cross our feet as if we are walking, but in suri-ashi (sliding). It is a walking with but sliding.

Hiraki-ashi is to change the body direction by pivoting on one foot. From the basic stance, take a step diagonally onto the right foot followed by the left foot. Move to the left diagonally onto the left foot followed by the right foot. However, the right foot becomes the back foot. Go to the right as in first move.

2. DESCRIBE BASIC KENDO DISTANCES

Issoku-itto-no-maai [issoku-itto-no-ma]: This distance is a distance where you can reach your opponent with one step forwards and you can avoid your opponent's cut with one step backwards.

Chikai-maai [chika-ma]: Close distance. When you get in further from issoku-itto-no-ma, you are in chika-ma. You can easily reach your opponent but your opponent also can reach you easily.

Toi-maai [toh-ma]: You are not even in issoku-itto-no-ma. You cannot reach your opponent and your opponent cannot reach you either. Basically your shinai and your opponent's shinai are not touching.

Uchi-ma: The distance for you to strike. This is the distance you MUST strike.

Yokote-maai [yokote-no-maai]: There is a part called yokote around the kensaki (kissaki) of a sword. There is a line called yokote-suji a bit lower than the kensaki. If you are in a distance where the yokote of your sword and your opponent's sword meet, you are in the yokote-no-maai.

Koujin-no-maai: Koujin means crossing blades. So if your sword and your opponent sword start crossing, you are in koujin-no-maai. Your kensaki can pass the kensaki of your opponent's sword about 10 cm.

Shokujin-no-maai: Shokujin means touching blades. The kensaki of your sword and your opponent are touching. Once one of the kensaki passes the shokujin-no-maai to get closer, you are in koujin-no-maai.

3. DESCRIBE THE MAIN CONDITIONS OF YUKO-DATOTSU

Making a valid strike. A valid strike which is considered ippon. According to the rules, a waza is complete when the following conditions are met: (i) showing a fullness of spirit and (ii) appropriate posture, (iii) striking a datotsu-bui (striking zone) of the opponent with the striking region of one's own shinai while (iv) using correct ha-suji, and (v) expressing zan-shin.

4. DESCRIBE KNOWN TYPES OF SHIKAKE-WAZA TECHNIQUES


Please read our complete guide to kendo techniques.

5. DESCRIBE KNOWN TYPES OF KEIKO

Kihon-geiko: This means training of the basics. Thus, we train the basics of kendō.

Uchikomi-geiko: In uchikomi, we keep striking targets that motodachi lets us strike, i.e. openings. Strikes should be nice and big.

Kakari-geiko: In kakari-geiko, kakarite keeps striking motodachi with small cuts. Unlike uchikomi-geiko, in kakari-geiko, kakarite can make an opening.

Ji-geiko: It is translated as free sparring. Ji means the fundamental. So we should train our fundamental of our true strength (physical and metal) and acquired techniques in a free sparring.

6. DESCRIBE REQUIREMENTS FOR PERFORMING A LUNGE WHEN STRIKING

Strain muscles of your back leg holding the heel slightly off the ground, relax your front leg, and push your body forward maintaining the upright position.

7. DESCRIBE KNOWN TYPES OF OJI-WAZA TECHNIQUES

Please read our complete guide to kendo techniques.

8. DESCRIBE HOW YOU UNDERSTAND THE TERM MITTSU-NO-SEN

The three sen. This is the three opportunities (in time) at which point one can attack the opponent. The mittsu-no-sen are (i) sen-sen-no-sen, (ii) sen, and (iii) go-no-sen. Or essentially (i) initiating an attack to draw your opponent's intent to attack, then attacking the suki made by their action, (ii) attacking as your opponent initiates and (iii) attacking after your opponent initiates, respectively.

9. DESCRIBE HOW YOU UNDERSTAND THREE TYPES OF THE CORRECT WAY TO ATTACK YOUR OPPONENT [SAN-SAPPO] AND PUTTING PRESSURE ON YOUR OPPONENT [SEME]

An easy translation for seme is "to attack". Even when you are not physically striking your opponent but mentally you are putting pressure on your opponent, it is also called seme. San-sappo or san-satsu – three things to kill: (i) kill your opponent's sword: you must get your opponent's sword away from the center. As long as your opponent keeps a sword in the center, you cannot strike them. So you must use all sorts of techniques to get your opponent's sword away from their center; (ii) kill your opponent's techniques: make sure that you will not give your opponent any opportunities to attack you. You can always initiate the move by anticipating your opponent's move. In this way, your opponent does not have any opportunities to execute their technique on you. As a result, they get frustrated and give you an opportunity to strike them; kill your opponent's ki. You shall discourage your opponent. How do you discourage your opponent? You can make yourself look big and strong. Try to put pressure (ki) on your opponent. While fighting to take the center, try to create shikai in your opponent's mind. You can do so by killing your opponent's sword and techniques.

10. DESCRIBE HOW YOU UNDERSTAND THE TERM SHI-KAI


Shi is "four". It is something that you learn not to do, or pay attention to so you will not make a mistake; prohibition. It can be a lesson to learn. Shi-kai is to tell you to keep your mind away from the four states of the mind: kyo, ku, gi, waku.

Kyo is "surprise". If you get surprised, probably you hold your breath for a while, have your eyes wide open and stop moving. If you do this, your opponent will get you quite easily.

Ku is "fear". If you are afraid of your opponent, you cannot move because of the fear you are feeling.

Gi means "doubt". If you have a doubt in your opponent's movements, you cannot decide how you should react to such movements. Moreover, if you have a doubt in yourself, your decisions, or your actions, you will not be able to perform well.

Waku is "confusion" or "being disturbed". You are so confused and puzzled or you are disturbed so you cannot focus on your opponent. You cannot make up your mind. As a result, your opponent can perform better than you can.

11. DESCRIBE HOW YOU UNDERSTAND THE TERM SHIN-KI-RYOKU-ITCHI

It is a way where the individual cultivates one's mind (the self) by aiming for shin-ki-ryoku-itchi (unification of mind, spirit and technique) utilizing the shinai. The shinai should be not only directed at one's opponent but also at the self. Thus, the primary aim of instruction is to encourage the unification of mind, body and shinai through training in this discipline.

12. DESCRIBE HOW YOU UNDERSTAND THE TERM SHU-HA-RI


Shu-ha-ri indicates that there are three phases in kendo.

Shu is a kanji for to "keep the teachings". When you start learning something, you listen to your teacher. You have to do what your teacher tells you to do in order to acquire the basics correctly.

Ha is a kanji for "to break". Here it means to break the teachings you have acquired from your teacher and learn something new from other teachers. Once you acquired the basics, you need to learn something different to improve yourself physically and mentally even more.

Ri is a kanji for "to leave". You leave from what you have learned from your teachers and establish your own style. This is a state of independence.



The English version is created by Andrew Bragin for KAMINARIKAN.