Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Kendo Kata Sanbonme

On Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at about 8:30 p.m., after an approximate 22 years of practice, I finally figured out Kendo Kata Odachi : Sanbonme.

Sanbonme is the third in a series of 7 kata performed with a wooden sword (boken) between 2 partners : Shidachi, the good guy, attacked by Uchidachi, the bad guy - usually the teacher. Normally only the first 3 kata are studied before testing for Black Belt.

Sanbonme is a very difficult one to master because of the footwork. When in all other kata one always step to the front or back beginning with the front or back foot, in Sanbonme when Shidachi counter attacks him, Uchidachi steps back with his front foot first.

Until last night, it had never made sense, the natural way to step back seemed to be back foot first.

Because Shidachi's control of Uchidachi's attack was too forceful...

Instead of wacking Uchidachi's attack to the side, if Shidachi only slightly deviates Uchidachi's initial attack and takes control of the center, he is in good and very natural position to attack back, and Uchidachi then only can step back very quickly with his front foot - least he be poked between the ribs by Shidachi's sword that is now dangerously close...

The whole kata becomes effortless, and Shidachi totally controls Uchidachi at the tip of his sword.

We were able to figure this out because of the emphasis my students and I have put on our practice of Kenjutsu lately : Kendo Kata, Eishin Ryu Tachiuchi no Kurai, and mainly Ono Ha Itto Ryu Kenjutsu. The whole point are to not create any opening and occupy the center.

The details of the move I cannot explain in writing. They have to be practiced. The main points are that when practiced in this way, the waza is extremely efficient in terms of RESULT achieved : Uchidachi REALLY feels so much pressure that he has to step back, quickly, with his front foot. It is also extremely efficient in terms of ENERGY used. Shidachi effortlessly takes control of the game EFFORTLESSLY.

Beyond technical knowledge, this is what we should strive for : Efficiency : Achieve maximum result with minimum effort.

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