475 Pine Avenue West
Montreal, Quebec H2W 1S4
In this section, you will find texts posted by sensei D'Orangeville. They contain his vision on what is kendo and things you should know to progress in your knowledge of kendo.
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To the attention of all Dojo members
In kendo, we are all teachers because we are accountable for ourselves and others. From there comes the notion of martial respect (defined by punctuality, good manners, conscientious practice and cautious listening of the lesson, and the control of useless emotions).
On this last point, which has almost divided the harmony of the Dojo recently, I recommend you to meditate on the meaning of the penmanship posted in the Dojo (Mushin) and to find for yourself and others a practical sense and a source of balance and happiness..
For all these reasons, in kendo, everything must start with a salute and finish with a salute. This year, we will prepare the last McGill Taikai, taking place on March 3rd. Two of our members will participate in the selection for TEAM Canada 2003 in April and May. Maybe we will attend the Harvard University tournament in April, but we will certainly be present at the Canadian championships in Vancouver on July 1st.
I forward you my best wishes for this new year, accompanied by some modest recommendations to enhance our individual and collective practice in 2002.
Teaching method: personal responsibility of one's martial education.
Objective: knowledge of oneself and others by sharing the joys and sufferings of the Dojo. Gain a solid martial culture (Budo).
Teaching committee for 2002: Hakbong - Olivier - Yuka - myself. Rotation of lessons.
The teaching calendar and its contents will be posted upon practice resumption.
Preamble: Montreal does not have a sufficient critical mass of practicing kendokas or high-level teachers to follow without thinking the traditional Japanese teaching method common to martial arts. Method that consists of patiently observing and following the example of higher rank practicioners. It is thus necessary to innovate and rely on a logical method in order to create a clear and decisive teaching plan.
Very briefly: there exist 4 renowned methods to make progress in Kendo:
1- Participate in a maximum of keiko with the conscious and sincere repetition of the traditional big techniques. Be convinced of the value of these techniques by the serious practice of katas.
2- Participate in a maximum of shiai (tournament). Validate these big techniques in shiai. However recognize when to give up for certain periods of time when only remains the taste of success.
3- Pass the grades. Fully understand that the grade obtained is lent until reception of the higher grade. This delay of several years allows you to validate your level.
4- Create for yourself a method for personal practice.
On this aspect of personal practice, I recommend a few things:
A. IN THE DOJO:
Use the short period of Mokuso adequately.
Fix your mind on a simple point of focus: your breathing (inhale very slow / hold 10 seconds / exhale very slowly) or an abstract center idea (if you are accustomed to zazen) like mushin ...
Learn how to drive away the parasitic ideas. Drive them away with "a whip of the hand" as one drives away a mosquito without hurting it. Control useless emotions, however do quietly look at them come and leave. If you prefer to sit and think about what you will eat this evening, rather think of whom you will ask for keiko and what you intend to do during that keiko.
Ask those that you do not like as well, whatever your reasons.
Look after your posture.
Maintain the ki, left knee tended, stomach muscles tensed, relaxed shoulders.
The footwork in Kendo is essential. Without feet alive, there is no solid threat. It is important to bring back the left foot during the hit. It is a technique of threat/intimidation during shiai that can also be improve during suburis. It is the left foot that is the most important. It has to be stopped properly during the hit. The shinai has a 45-degree angle on top of the head, that is the minimum. The shinai that hits the back is also a good option. Do not hit air but a virtual Men with a ¡§te-no-uchi¡¨ hand movement (like drying a towel). Otherwise, it is just aerobic with a shinai (nevertheless good for your health).
PRACTICE GOOD MANNERS:
Forcing yourself to follow the protocols (rituals) of the Dojo is an excellent method to control your mind and discipline it.
While you order your equipment and warm up, increase a certain tension of combat (the martial seriousness) that peaks when you put your Men on.
As soon as your Men is on, spare useless gestures of friendship.
Fight with determination as if each technique were the last.
Choose 3 techniques Ooji, 3 Shikake and perfect them WITHOUT REST.
Then, abandon them and let them reappear in your repertory by themselves. Consider the opponent in the Dojo with a spirit of domination but with a mentality of sincerity and generosity, like a brother (or a sister) in front of whom one is not severely judged.
During the active practice, ask yourself: WHAT USELESS MOVEMENTS DO I MAKE? There are those to eliminate as early as possible and those that we must still keep to reach another technical level, by "looking at them" with amusement. It is funny to make silly things, even in Kendo. During Gikeiko, we often repeat the ¡§Kihon¡¨ techniques "live". That forces us to take risks, to let ourselves go without the mentality of gaining an Ippon or losing one: it is SUTEMI. Each received Ippon is a victory, each given Ippon is a victory. It is about victory of the Dojo.
WORK OF MOTODACHI:
1) Moto is not passive. Neither physically, nor mentally. He is not an idiot target that gives out screams.
2) Moto uses his work: to consolidate his guard - legs are spread firmly, the stomach pushed to the front and to the bottom, back straight, shoulders relaxed, head solid. The Chudan guard is the most perfect possible. It covers the opposing Kiai by its own kiai or its Kiseme. Moto reacts quickly and leaves the passage to Aite (partner). In techniques like Kote-Men, he clearly moves back by a step in order to develop the opposing footwork. He offers clear targets.
3) Moto can improve his senses education as follows:
He follows the opponent¡¦s shinai with "appetite", evaluates the quality of his impact, sees its opponent globally and also evaluates his physical and mental posture as well as the value of his technique. He then thinks of his own techniques and dramatizes certain points to be changed.
He imagines an Ooji technique during the trajectory of the opposing shinai and repeats it mentally. He immediately applies it during the Gikeiko.
He harmonizes himself physically and mentally with his Aite, like two dancers: he uses kiai to control excessive emotion, straightens his back, tenses his neck, constantly checks his shinai and fully ventilates.
He requires a perfect movement of others and of himself. Briefly, he corrects without delaying the lesson (in Kendo, there is not individual lesson).
He finishes his techniques with high quality Zanshin.
When possible, he checks in the mirror his Chudan No kamae: foot position, especially the hips, the hands, the mind.
With each passage or each technique, he focuses on only one of these points.
B. OUTSIDE THE DOJO (Optional)
1. Deep breathing exercises:
Daily regular basis / 3 times 5 minutes of complete inhalation (full pulmonary capacities) and slow expiration / with one period of 10 seconds apnea between each stage. Jogging is another choice.
2. Mental image:
Re-examine in slow motion a technique, a pleasant behavior or not, a period of Shiai. Revise, analyze and mentally correct. Repeat the mental correction. This work is effective with kendo videos.
3. Reflect on your own personal objectives, spiritual, intellectual and athletic.