Kihon session with Tsuchiya Sensei

Tsuchiya Sensei visited Michinoko dojo last night along with a Candian man Mr Stephen Nagy. This was also the first time to practice in Japan for my guest Mr David Pruitt.

Tsuchiya Sensei was kind enough to do a basic kihon lesson for our benefit.

We started with two sets of normal kirikaeshi, followed by do kirikaeshi.

Next Tsuchiya Sensei explained that there are three ways to strike men.
First using the shoulders, big cuts swung over the head, second, using the elbows, small cuts swung slightly up, third, very small cuts using the snap of the wrists.

Tsuchiya Sensei also commented on Kiai.

Standing at kensen to kensen (sword point to sword point) kakarite (attacker) lets out a strong kiai, YAAA! Cutting it off before moving forwards.
Hold the breath as you step to your issokuitto no maai (one step one strike distance). Sensei pointed out that everyone has a different distance, base on age, height, fitness and other factors.

Key Point!!

  • You should not kiai while moving into striking distance, this creates a suki (opening) for your opponent. It's better to cut off the kiai and only release it when you strike. Kiai, move forwards probing for the opening, and strike strongly with your body and kiai.

We practiced each men three times against motodachi in groups of 3.

Starting from kensen to kensen, Kiai, step into your striking distance and strike men by one of the three methods above. Make sure to focus on driving through the opponent with zanshin.

We then practiced debana men and kote.

For debana men: Kiai at kensen to kensen, motodachi steps forwards into cutting distance, pauses slightly, and cuts men, Kakarite should cut men before motodachi strikes.

For debana kote: kiai at kensen to kensen, motodachi steps forwards to strike men, kakarite cuts kote just as the motodachi raises his hands to strike men.

We moved from debana kote to Ai-kote men.

Starting at kensen to kensen, motodachi and kakarite kiai, motodachi steps forwards and strikes kote, kakarite strikes kote and the same time and follows through to cut men.

During this exercise Sensei stopped us to make a point about kiai and zanshin. Most people were allowing their kiai and zanshin to let up quickly, with their kiai dissipating away from the opponent (sensei made a spreading movement with his arms to show where our Ki (spirit) was going).
He urged us focus our Kiai into the opponent (while kiai-ing MEN!! He brought his hands together in a point and drove it towards the opponents centre) and drive forwards with zanshin.

We closed up the kihon session and had a very enjoyable jigeiko afterwards. Tsuchiya Sensei is definitely one of the strongest kendoka I have ever practiced with. He destroys people, his cuts are ferocious, his gyaku do is unstoppable, his focus in keiko is unsettling and inspiring at the same time, and the man will absolutely flatten you with his zanshin!

Either in chudan or jodan he kendo is fantastic to watch!

I would love to practice with him every day!

Keiko @ Michi no Ko with Tsuchiya Sensei (front row second from right)