For 3.Dan-5.Dan: Using Keiko to Develop Tactics

At this level, it is important to think how to develop Ji-geiko tactically when considering your ‘type of opponent’ and ‘your opponent’s type of Kendo’ whilst trying to extend the scope of your own Kendo.

Thinking about your ‘type of opponent’, for example, can be categorized into those; who are tall; short; those whose Ken-sen is high; or Ken-sen low; is slightly to the right; where the stance is big; or the stance is small; is wide; where the back foot is diagonally facing left; where the weight is rather on the right foot; or on the left foot, with posture straight; posture is leaning forward; or leaning backward and so on. Considering your ‘opponent’s type of Kendo’, can be also be categorized into types of Kendo in which your opponent; holds a shinai tightly, softly, does not use Te-no-uchi but relies on power, moves fast, is good at or tends to try Debana-waza, Kaeshi-waza, Hiki-waza, Renzoku-waza or feint techniques and so on.

As the above examples imply, when you think about ‘your opponent’, it should include both elements. To be able to do ‘your own Kendo’, it is quite important for you to consider, try, develop and acquire tactics for fighting against both ‘types’.

Here, as I asked you to do in the previous article, I would like to ask you to stop reading for a while and instead think, refer to the above examples and the Kendo or your Dojo members:

1. How are you fighting against various types of opponent and their Kendo?

2. What footwork, shinai and body movements, Waza and combinations of Waza are you using?

As I described in the previous article, also try thinking of the process of using Tokui-waza [your favorite Waza] and how much your Kendo depends on how clearly and quickly you can picture all of the possibilities in your mind. Thinking about the above things will also help develop the tactics you will need to create and try against various types of opponent and their Kendo in order to develop the scope within your own Kendo. As described in Tactics in Kendo Part 1, ‘doing your own Kendo’ does not mean doing Kendo in which you attack with the same timing and same Waza all the time against all types of opponent. How you fight changes and you must change your tactical methods of fighting accordingly to your opponent, their type of Kendo and the situation. This does not mean, however, you should try to do something you do not normally do. You must choose the best option or the best option may be unconsciously made from a variety of choices. Of course, a person who does not have any choices can only do one sort of Kendo. Such a person can easily beat some particular type(s) of opponent and their Kendo, but is no match for some others. Speaking from a position of coach, such a player is difficult to select and use. What tactics can we use and how can we fight? Here it is not my intention to describe what to do against every type of opponent and their Kendo, but I would like to describe some methods of Keiko that 3rd~5th Dan practitioners are recommended to attempt, reflect, revise, develop and refine their tactics.

The importance of pursuing Ji-geiko with people who are hard for you to deal with was described in Attitudes to Ji-geiko Part 2. To keep avoiding practicing with them is not a solution. Your problem will remain. It is suggested that you should try to do Ji-geiko with them more than with anyone else and try to overcome the fear and problems, by being struck again and again, reflecting on your Ji-geiko with them, planning and creating your tactics. In addition to this, here, I would also like to recommend actually trying to copy their Kendo. I think that we all have had this experience of trying to copy someone’s Kendo that we admire. We try to copy that person’s way of Kamae, footwork, posture and attacking, trying to be that person and trying to gain something from doing it. Trying to copy someone’s Kendo that is hard for you to deal with in Ji-geiko is the same. By trying to copy that person’s Kendo and trying to be that person you are trying to grasp the feeling of that person’s attacks and strikes and also try to grasp what type of Seme that person may not like and where that person may not like being attacked against i.e. Men Kote, do etc, where there may be a weaknesses and so on. By adopting a style of Kendo that you find difficult, you may also get insights into the strengths of that style whilst practicing with a junior and be made aware of those weaknesses when you practice with a senior.

Article by Dr. Satori Honda-sensei, British National Kendo Team Coach