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Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho
(Bokuto Application for Kendo Fundamental Technique Practice)
Mark Uchida - Copyright 2003
The fundamental concept of Kendo is to cut with a sword: the Shinai representing the sword.  However, this concept has become obscured, as Kendo has become more sports oriented.  The Kendo Kata was established in 1912 to teach to and preserve the concept that the shinai and the katana are one in the same; however, the Kendo Kata, in addition to being difficult for most beginners, is infrequently practiced and is often exercised only in hurried preparation for examinations.  Therefore, the Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho was developed to bridge the gap between modern kendo practice and traditional training concepts and values.

From 1999 to 2002, the Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho was worked from concept to application.  April 5th and 6th, 2003, the first Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho workshop was conducted in Tokyo, Japan to introduce the new methodology to selected representatives from each region of Japan.  On April 12, 2003, the first known demonstration and group teaching of this practice in the U.S. was carried out in Colorado Springs, Colorado at a workshop sponsored by Mushinkan Kendo Dojo.  The instruction was lead by the principal developer of the Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho,
Mr. Tadanori Ota.

The main intent of the creators of the Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho was to develop a form of bokuto training that could be incorporated into regular kendo practice for purposes that include:
1. Help beginners learn the concept that the shinai is the representation of the katana.
2. Develop solid basics and techniques that are directly translatable into bogu kendo practice.
3. Develop the student's abilities and understanding for later practice of the Kendo Kata.
4. Develop reiho (manners).

The all Japan Kendo Dojo Federation is focusing the application of this new bokuto practice in the primary and secondary school systems.  Currently, the Osaka prefecture kendo federation is applying it in promotional examinations, in addition to Kendo Kata and Keiko.  The All Japan Kendo Federation is also looking into avenues of interjecting the Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho into all general kendo practices throughout Japan.
In Kendo Kata, there are five kamae (on-guard positions) used, some of which have no practical application in modern kendo.  Therefore, in the Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho only chudan-no-kamae (center on-guard position) is taught.  All of the strikes are executed within the center-plane of the body and the techniques directly translatable into bogu-kendo practice and the Kendo Kata.  As well as provide a methodology for fundamental and technique development,
this practice system also allows latitude in its application for instructors to incorporate advanced teachings to further elaborate on particular waza or fundamental points, if so desired.

There are nine fundamental forms in the Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho.  The accepted practice is for students up to the rank of 1st kyu to learn and be able to execute confidently and correctly the first three kihon forms.  The next three forms are added for shodan, and all nine forms for nidan and above.

Like the Kendo Kata, there are two roles: Motodachi, who acts primarily as the receiver*, allowing the other practitioner to execute the various waza; and Kakarite, who executes the basic techniques.  However, unlike the Kendo Kata the relationship between the two practitioners is equal.

[*Motodachi's role is not solely that of the receiver, but is that of an equal practitioner in the exercise, working to refine the basics within the role of Motodachi.]
Opening Protocols
Lesson Glossary
The opening and closing protocols are the same as in the Kendo kata.  Ritsurei (standing bow) is performed with the bokuto held in the right hand.  The bokuto is then transferred to the left hand and held in the taito position (bokuto held on the left hip).
Bokuto are drawn upon taking the third step - the left foot is drawn forward naturally to a position rearward of the right foot to complete the forward foot movements.  The sonkyo posture is assumed with the bokuto held in Chudan-no-kamae (center on-guard posture); the tips of the bokuto crossed in the yokote-kosa position (position where the yokote of the bokuto are crossed.  The yokote is the vertical line formed by the intersection of the side-plane of a sword and the plane that forms the sword tip).
The practitioners stand, keeping the bokuto in the yokote-kosa position.  The bokuto are then lowered to the Otoku (neutral) posture.  Starting with the left foot, five rearward steps are taken back to the Tachiai (starting) position.  At this point, the bokuto are elevated back to chudan-no-kamae for the start the practice movements.
Lesson Glossary
Key Points (general):
a. Body /foot movement must be in synchronization with the arm movement.  When executing strikes, the feeling should be as if the right foot advances first, before the upward swing of the arms.

b. The strikes must be performed with Ki-Ken-Tai-no-Ichi (synchronization of the vocalized spirit, the strike, and the setting of the body when the advancing right foot is planted on the floor).

c. Motodachi and Kakarite must both be constantly aware of maai (distance or interval between practice partners).  Before striking, the starting distance must be issoku-itto-no-maai (one step striking distance).  From this maai, a practitioner should be able to take a single step forward and strike with the mono-uchi (first third of the sword length) of the bokuto over the datotsu-bu (target area).  The maai from which Toki-kata is performed for return to the tachiai location should be the yokote-kosa interval (position where the yokote of the bokuto are crossed).

d. Zanshin (continued preparedness after attacking) must be maintained by both Motodachi and Kakarite, from the start of each movement to the point of kamae otoku.

e. When practicing counter-attacking techniques, it is important to apply the concept that defense and attack are one in the same.

f. Aiyumi-ashi is used when moving to or from the tachiai position.

g. Okuri-ashi is used in the performance of the kihon movements, unless otherwise specified.
Fundamental No. 1, 2, 3
Kihon Ichi (Fundamental No.1)
Ippon-uchi no waza: Men, Kote, Doh, Tsuki.

Kihon Ni: (Fundamental No.2)
Ni/Sandan no waza: Kote, Men

Kinon San (Fundamental No.3)
Harai waza: Harai Men
Fundamental No. 4, 5, 6
Kinon Yon (Fundamental No.4)
Hiki waza: Tsubazeriai kara no Hiki Doh

Kinon Go (Fundamental No.5)
Nuki waza: Men, Nuki Doh

Kihon Roku (Fundamental No.6)
Suriage waza: Kote, Suriage Men
Fundamental No. 7, 8, 9
& Closing Protocols
Kinon Shichi (Fundamental No.7)
Debana waza: Debana kote

Kinon Hachi (Fundamental No.8)
Kaeshi waza: Men, Kaeshi Migi-Doh

Kihon Kyu (Fundamental No.9)
Uchiotoshi waza: Doh uchiotoshi Men
Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho
Lesson Glossary
Corrections and Clarifications
The term “Kojin” has been replaced in this instruction.  Kojin is a range of points along which sword tips are crossed.  The correct term “yokote-kosa” has been inserted.  Yokote-kosa is an exact point where the sword tips meet with the yokote crossing. (correction made 05Nov2005)
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