Private Kendo Shiai (7dan vs 7dan)
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The dojo that I practice at has an annual shiai (competition) where all the local doctors get together and compete. This year there was three big teams. I was unable to stay until the very end of the competition so I don’t know which team won.
A few of my senseis and friends were competing so I went to cheer them on.
Red is one of my senseis. He is very good at jodan, but he didn’t use it in this shiai. I am not sure why.
Why they yelling?:
In kendo, this is called “ki-ai”. It is to show strength and attempt to intimidate the opponent. To get a point in kendo, you must strike with the intent which is defined by the strike (did it hit with spirit), the ki-ai, and footing (stomp matching with strike impact).
Why aren’t they moving?:
In kendo, you fight for center (maai). Younger players tend to move in greater motions than older/seasoned kendoka as they fight for center. They move their swords around, tapping them together, while fighting for center and also to intimidate their opponent into reacting early, or catch them off guard.
Is this what samurai fought like?:
No. Kendo has changed a lot over the years to adhere to the government changes, etc. For example, in the past it was considered proper to trip your opponent.
How many ranks in Kendo?:
Without counting the kyu ranks, there are 8 current ranks in kendo. The lowest is 1-dan, and the highest is 8-dan. The test for 8-dan is the hardest test to take in Japan where only 1% pass. There is a 9-dan in kendo, but it is a gifted rank to kendoka who have proven themselves to be an asset to the kendo community or culture.