Courtesy in Kendo

Courtesy in KendoKendo training begins and ends with courtesies. The strikes and thrusts of kendo are directed against a single opponent. They therefore exert a more direct psychological effect on the mind rather than the techniques of group sport. Pushed to the extremes, the emotions involved in kendo might degenerate into primitive aggression.

We employ courtesies to control and humanise these emotions.

The aims of kendo are to respect your opponent and assist each other in refining the spirit, tempering the body and developing technical skill.

Since the feelings of the mind and heart reflect in the way you act, the courtesies enable you to maintain a correct posture and a feeling. Consequently, they make an important contribution to the creation of kendo that is mutually beneficial to both parties.

Standing bow

Keeping your eyes on the opponent and without bending your neck or your knees, lower your upper body forward to an angle of about thirty degrees. Let your arms hang naturally to the sides of your body. Hold the bowing pose for a few seconds, then return to the normal standing position.

Bow from Seiza

Kneel with your knees about the width of two fists apart. Your hands are held lightly on your thighs and your back is straight. Relax your shoulders, direct your head straight forward, close your mouth and look directly to the front. The traditional way to assume the position is to bend the left leg first, then lower the body. When standing, put the sole of the right foot on the floor first. Your hands must not touch the floor in either the kneeling or rising action.

Keeping your eyes on the opponent and without raising your hips or bending your neck, lean your upper body forward. Advance your hands slightly on front of your knees with fingertips either together or slightly parted; place them on the floor. Quietly lower your head. Hold the position for a brief moment, then return to your original position.

Bowing while holding the shinai

With the shinai in a low position next to your hip, execute a standing bow. Starting with the right foot, take three steps forward. Between the second and third step, you grip the base of the guard of your shinai from the bottom with your right hand. Raise the shinai diagonally upward as if you were drawing a sword from its scabbard. With your left hand, grip the end of the shinai. Lowering both hands to the front, assume chudan-no-kamae. Then assume the sonkyo position.

The signal to rise in a match is given by the chief referee. In practice sessions, the two opponents watch for the best opportunity to stand. In either case, after rising, assume chudan-no-kamae and begin.