Looking beyond the mountains…
There is a saying in kenjutsu to look beyond the mountains often accompanied by a calligraphy picture to both inspire and remind the student. When looking at a mountain range we tend to focus on a single mountain- often the biggest and tallest to the point that after a few moments we miss the surrounding mountains.
In kenjutsu while we spend time focusing on the very smallest and exacting details to perfect ourselves without compromise, we need to know when to pull back and see where and how all the pieces fit into the big picture.
When using the sword it’s not enough to just cut with the sword, but rather to not only cut with it effectively, but also protect yourself from being cut back in the process from your training partner.
In kenjutsu there are a number of body postures (kamae) that both serve to lead into the various cuts, but also protect your body’s vulnerable spots from being cut in return.
Think of them as strategic starting points that you shift in and out of as you navigate the sword in conjunction with your training partner. In this course we are going to look at three of the basic postures used in kenjutsu. In actuality there are dozens of them in general, and even more used by specific schools (ryu). Some kamae further refine the strategy, while others are used for very specific functions like safely deflecting something being thrown at you.
In learning the kamae you want to first begin by assuming the position and getting used to holding your body and the sword correctly. Hold it for a bit as best you can and then stand back normally. Later on as you become more comfortable with them you will want to practice shifting from one posture to the next in a fluid manner and in different directions moving more like a dance to get used to shifting in and out of them as needed without thinking about them.
Regardless of the posture at all times you want to be aware of where your sword is in relation to you and your training partner, in addition to making sure your back is straight, your hips are tucked under your spine, and that you have good balance and are able to move smoothly.