Aspects of Training
The metsuke means the point of observation. There is a common saying that the eyes are a reflection of the mind. If a kendoka only watches their opponent's eyes, they will miss other movements. The best way to see the opponent, is to look at their whole body while paying particular attention to their eyes. This is called enzan no metsuke: the distant mountain point of observation.
Another aspect of metsuke is the 'two eyesights'; kanken. Miyamoto Musashi pointed out that kan (seeing through) should be done strongly and ken (looking) weakly. The meaning is that when looking at an opponent, the kendoka must be keen in seeing through their mind, but mild in observing the superficial appearance. In this case, superficial appearance would be their physical build, their armour and technical abilities.
The kiai, which is a yell serves a number of purposes. First of all, the kendoka's spirit and body are concentrated on one point, enabling them to put forward a strong fighting spirit. Secondly, it's an assertion of confidence in their actions. A yell or shout also expresses a natural need to exert strength.
For this reason, beginners must shout aloud at the start of a match or practice and launch a positive fight by putting forth everything they have. When yelling, beginners tend to use only their throats. The shout needs to come from the lower belly, which requires the tightening of the abdominal muscles.
The maai is the interval or space between two kendoka.
Issoku-itto no ma.At this distance, the shinais are crossed about one inch from the tip. At this interval, with one step forward, the opponent can be struck. It is the one most often used.
To ma.This is a larger interval than Issoku-itto no ma.
Chika ma.This is a closer interval than Issoku-itto no ma Strikes can be delivered by both without the need for moving, so it can be a very dangerous distance.
When two kendoka face each other in chudan-no-kamae, each point at the other's centre with the kensen (sword point). As each are eager to control each other's centre, they will be mentally attacking with the kensen
There are three good opportunities of attack:
- At the moment when the opponent is about to start their motion.
- When they have just finished their motion.
- When they are settled.