The Kendo Kata
While the normal image of Kendo is one of two armoured practitioners
engaged in furious combat with bamboo shinai, this is only part of the
The other aspect, and the aspect that for me marks Kendo as a 'do' or
embodied in the Kendo Kata. The ten Kendo Kata are carried out by two
unarmoured exponents working together in harmony, the Shi-Dachi and the
Uchi-Dachi, equiped with wooden boken (or in the case of high level
practitioners with a metal blade).
Two Kata Practitioners in Sonkyu
The ten Kata act as a living library of the basic sword techniques and
consist of seven carried out with katana opposed by katana, and three
carried out with katana opposed by wakizashi (short sword).
In each of the Kata Uchi-Dachi acts as the aggressor and
strikes with the katana, to which Shi-Dachi respondes with whichever sword
they are equipped with. These Kata were selected from the thousands
of Kata developed by the various sword schools over the centuries.
The ten Kata demonstrate many of the various kamae (or combatative stance
/guard position) including those that are not normally used in Kendo
due to the constraints on target area and the uniformity of equipment.
For example waki-no-kamae, where the sword is held down pointing behind the
practitioner, is rarely used as regulations on shinai length force
everyones' weapon to be approximately the same length, which makes
concealing the length of the weapon of little value in Kendo,
but the kamae is included in the Kata.
Similarly the three Kata pitting wakizashi against katana are
of historical interest and give a fuller understanding of the way of the
sword, rather than being shinai Kendo techniques.
While grading for the lower levels in Kendo only require basic cuts,
techniques, in Australia, once the level being tested for reaches
first kyu (the level before
Dan grade) the Kata are tested as well as shinai fighting ability.
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