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The Techniques and Concepts of Kendo

There are five stances (kamae) in modern kendo that have been adapted from the various traditional styles of kenjutsu: Chudan (middle), jodan (overhead), hasso (vertical on the right side), wakigamae (blade pointing to the rear), and gedan (lower front). All of the kamae are used in the ten All Japan Kendo Kata, but only chudan or jodan are used in shinai training. Opponents usually face off at sword's length (issoku-itto-no-maai) from chudan. A comparatively small number of practitioners prefer to engage their opponent from the jodan stance, and there is an even smaller group who use two-swords (nito). All beginners, however, first learn how to execute techniques from chudan as the standard approach.

Training in modern kendo consists mainly of the repetition of fundamental attack and defensive techniques (kihon-waza) and full-contact sparring (shiai-keiko). The student trains to perfect the various elements of attack and defence which includes correct stance, straight posture, accurate blade direction (hasuji), relaxed manipulation of the shinai, smooth footwork, and an understanding of correct distance (maai). The four legitimate target areas are the men (head), kote (wrists), do (torso), and tsuki (by a thrust to the throat). There are numerous possible variations of waza that can be employed to strike the four valid targets in kendo. These are divided into attack (shikake) and defence (oji) and utilize feints, parries and blocks, while maneuvering forwards or backwards.


Shikake-waza

Ippon-uchi-no-waza — Single strikes to men, kote, do, and thrusts to the throat.
Harai-waza — Deflecting opponent's shinai then striking.
Ni / Sandan-no-waza — Combination techniques.
Hiki-waza— Rearward-moving techniques executed from close-quarters.
Katsugi-waza — Shouldering the shinai before striking.
Maki-waza — Deflecting the opponent's shinai with a circular motion.
Katate-waza — One-handed techniques.
Jodan-waza — Techniques executed from the overhead stance.

Oji-waza

Debana-waza — Striking just as the opponent initiates their technique.
Suriage-waza — Parrying techniques.
Kaeshi-waza — Parrying then striking the reverse side.
Uchiotoshi-waza — Knocking the opponent's shinai down.
Nuki-waza — Avoiding the opponents strike then counter-attacking.

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