Practice Report of The 21st Haku Un Kai


Practice Report of The 21st Haku Un Kai
Hakuunkai is an offline practice session hosted by Haku Un, an online kendo school.
Morimasa Okada 8th dan, the 3rd generation headmaster of Shodokan and the dean of Haku Un, directly teaches the most important "basics" of kendo. Haku Un members, regardless of rank or kendo experience, young and old, male and female, come from all over Japan and even from overseas to practice and improve their skills in a friendly competition. The following is a summary of the basic training given at the recent "21st Hakuunkai," a practical training session.

Sunday, May 21, 2023 from 10:00 
The 21st Hakuunkai at International Bujutsu Training Center Yugyoan (Higashi Matsubara, Tokyo)
The basic training began at 10:00 a.m. and lasted approximately two hours.

The following is a recap of our pratice.

(1) Stretch your back with your feet as wide as you can and stand with a relaxed posture, and then extend your arms and hands as if you were reaching for the ceiling. Pull your neck upward and straighten your back so that your viewpoints are high.

(2) Open your shoulder blades and put your palms together in front of you ("Jin-temizu").
Open your arms wide with your elbows bent upward at the right angles, as rikishi do on the sumo ring. Move the arms widely as if rotating them, and stretch the chest out as the shoulder blades were closing. As you move your arms forward to open your shoulder blades, strike both palms in front of your body. At this point, the center of the body is where the palms meet. The arms should be extended to the center of the body by closing and opening the shoulder blades.

(3) Hold the bamboo sword and take a stance (Kamae).
Hold the shinai with the same awareness gained from the "back stretch" and "Jin-temizu" exercises.
The position of the feet should be in accordance with the Metropolitan Police Department's basic kendo rules, which is to have space of "one foot" between the two feet.
Be aware of the tanden and the position of the left fist. The base of the left thumb is in front of the navel.

(4) While checking the posture, step forwards using the waist and do "Okuri-ashi" and "Ayumi-ashi" so as not to lose the posture.

5) Swing up and down.
While holding the Kamae, swing the left fist above the forehead, one fist in front of the other. At that time, the angle of the shinai from the side is 45 degrees. Be careful not to drop the tip of the sword. When swinging, be aware of the shoulder blades. Swing the shinai slowly down through the center of the body. Be aware of your shoulders, elbows, wrists, and fingertips. When the shinai goes down to the bottom, is the wrist in the kiri-te (cut hand) position? Is the top of the wrist extended?

(6) Chakin-shibori
Fingertip awareness. This is about the so-called "chakin-shibori". The feeling of handling the shinai with the fingertips. To create sharpness of strikes.

7) From shoulder and elbow movement to fingertips.
Close shoulder blades, open and swing up. Use shoulder joints and elbow joints softly, then move to wrist and fingertips. Be conscious of transmitting Ki from the fingertips to the tip of the sword. There are many joints from the wrist to the tips of the fingers. Be aware of the function of the joints from the palm to the fingertips.

8) Repeat the Keishicho Kendo Basic "Three Movements for Striking the Face" and move on to the front strike.
In frontal strikes, there is a closing and opening movement of the shoulder blades, a vertical joint movement of the shoulder and elbow, and a movement of the shoulder blades forward when extending the arms. By being aware of each joint, the reach can be used longer. Furthermore, extend the arms to the center of the body, and do "Chakin-shibori" with awareness of the fingertips. Strike the space in front of you with the cut hand.

(9) Face each other and strike with the left and right side of the Men.
Both players strike each other's shinai left and right at the hight of their Mens. First, the Motodachi moves back and at each time strikes the opponent's left and right side. Kakarite does the same, taking two steps forward and at each time striking the opponent's left and right. Inevitably, both shinai strike each other with their shinai in the position of the Men. This movement develops into a Kiri-kaeshi.

(10) Strike the opponent's shinai.
Next, with both players facing each other, Motodachi holds the shinai to the side in the front position. Kakarite strikes with the thickest part of the shinai. Kakarite should strike with the shinai in three movements just like we did in the step of (8).
Is your Kamae correct? When striking, are you aware of the shoulder blades, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and fingertips? Are you moving from the body and striking with the hips? Is the left foot retracted? Is your strike sharp? There are many important points to be aware of in the basic movements.

(11) Haya-suburi
This is the last step to finish the basic practice. In order to continue Haya-suburi for a long period of time, relax and be aware of the body movements described above. If there is no effort, there will be no unnecessary movements, and you won't be so tired and can continue doing it for a long period of time.

⑫ After basic practice, we take a five-minute break, drink water, put on our bogu to practice.

Thank you for reading my report.
We look forward to your continued participation in Hakuunkai.

Written by Hiroshi Takahashi