1 Kendo Philosophy & Reigi

Overview

  • Kendo Philosophy
  • Reigi
    • Shizentai
    • Rei
    • Dojo Protocol
  • Dojo Safety – The Four Points

Kendo Philosophy

The following is taken from the All Japan Kendo Federation website

The concept of Kendo is to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the Katana (sword).

The purpose of practicing Kendo

  • To mold the mind and body,
  • To cultivate a vigorous spirit,
  • And through correct and rigid training,
  • To strive for improvement in the art of Kendo,
  • To hold in esteem human courtesy and honor,
  • To associate with others with sincerity,
  • And to forever pursue the cultivation of oneself.
  • This will make one be able:
    To love his/her country and society
    To contribute to the development of culture
    And to promote peace and prosperity among all peoples.

(The Concept of Kendo was established by All Japan Kendo Federation in 1975.)

Everytime, I read through this, I reflect on my experience and the words have a deeper and richer meaning. To me, the concept and purpose of practicing kendo offers a view of the mountain range which is the journey of kendo.

Reigi

Reigi means manners and etiquette. Kendo begins and ends with reigi. Without reigi, kendo would devolve to stick fighting. This concept underpins everything we do in kendo.

Shizentai

Shizentai means your natural posture. In layman’s term, it means having a straight posture, arms relaxed on the side, and when standing still having your feet in the “V” position. As you enter/exit the dojo, or when waiting for instructions, this is the standing position to be adopted. For a full and comprehensive guide – check out this post by Kendo-Guide. Key points to remember

  • Stand as if your head is being pulled by a string from the top of your head; your chin slightly tucked in.
  • Shoulders relaxed; those with muscular shoulders, or who work a lot with computers and have naturally slouched shoulders, I find that it helps to slightly open up your shoulders. Relax your shoulders, then ever so slightly, push your shoulders back, and you will feel a slight tension on your back.
  • Feet in the “V” position with the heels touching.
  • Shinai handling
    • ensure tsuru (shinai string) towards the floor and your little finger is over the tsuru
    • shinai should be approx 45 degree angle

TIP: At home, you should practice looking at the mirror to check your posture.  Any chance you get throughout the day will also help you reinforce this.

Kendo is about allowing both your body and mind to adapt to new situations. So when you first start out, a lot of conscious thought is required. In fact, as you progress, we tend to focus even more on our basics.

Rei

Rei means courtesy, but is also used signal kendoka to bow. There are two types of Rei, a deeper bow (30 degrees) with eyes focused on the floor in front of you. Typically used when bowing towards the Kamiza (the dojo “high” position).

When bowing towards your opponent, it is a shallower bow (15 degrees) and you maintain eye contact with your opponent.

Dojo Protocol

Before entering or exiting the dojo, a kendoka must face the kamiza and Rei. Shoes must also be taken off before entering the dojo. Any bags on the shoulder needs to be removed.

The entering of the dojo signals to your mind that training has begun. Training starts there, way before you even put on your bogu.

For more advanced students, we start to bring more of the dojo when we step outside of the dojo into our lives.

Before joining any exercise especially when arriving after warmup has begun, ensure you do the proper rei (includes 3 steps in then into sonkyo) before joining in.

Dojo Safety

There are four key points everyone has to keep in mind when in the dojo (good idea to keep them in mind when outside the dojo too):

  1. Environment – be aware of your surroundings for any potentially hazards on the floor, and if people are training, ensure that you do not put yourself in a situation where you or someone else may get hurt
  2. Self – be aware of your body’s current condition. Do you have any sickness or injuries. It is your responsibility to monitor your health and manage yourself so that the training sessions doesn’t have any lasting negative impact.
  3. Equipment – regularly maintain your kendo equipment, especially the shinai, bogu, himo, and kendo uniform. This is to ensure a safe training environment for yourself as well as your training partner
  4. Instructions – please listen out for your instructors. As there is a lot of kiai during normal keiko, you need to pay attention to fully understand what is required of you again so that training can progress smoothly and everyone is in a safe environment. When in doubt, raise your hand and ask.