Since coming back home, I’ve been going to both NYC kendo club and HMK, although with recent family life events… I’ve been going just to NYC kendo club for the past month. At NYC, I’ve been learning quite a bit about Jodan from Kataoka sensei. So this is my updated “how to train for Jodan” guide. I still recommend doing haya suburi with feet reversed.
[As an aside, I will say this – having a proper jodan teacher and an environment where people are encouraging me to hit harder and faster and continue upon this path is something I’ve come to be immensely grateful of. The kendoists here have been helpful and so kind with both my jodan and chudan, and I’ve progressed more in several months than I have in the past year. Until I’m MUCH more dialed in (Kataoka sensei mentioned “like machine” or “without thinking” about the basics, I’ve been doing most of my geiko with chudan. I’ll write something about chudan… sometime. But NYC has been great for my chudan as well.]
- Moving forward, suri-ashi
- Walking steps (like regular walking) “one, two, three, four” and on “five”, fumi-komi
- So you would walk normally (or maybe slightly larger steps than normal) then on the “four”, your right foot would be behind if you started with the right foot on the “one”. On “five”, your right foot would come forward if you were walking, but instead of walking, you do fumi-komi as you bring your right foot forward. So for jodan footwork, you would step forward with the left foot first.
- Should look like this : – _ – _ –
- Count “one, two, three, four” then, on five, fumi-komi, and go through.
- Count “one, two, three” then step forward with the front foot for seme on “four”, pause for a split second, then fumi-komi on “five” and go through.
- Morote men-uchi starting with both hands above and aligned, left foot forward.
- Version 1: Left foot goes forward (sort of a semi-lunge), then you swing forward with both hands while your back foot snaps forward behind the front leg.
- Version 2: Regular men-uchi with fumikomi, just with the footwork reversed.
- For both versions, you do not go back to chudan. Just lift straight back up.
- Katate-men: starting with hands aligned and shinai pointing straight back (so same as above, where your right hand is still grasping the tsuba with all fingers), fumikomi forwards while hitting. When hitting, release the right hand (don’t throw, that comes later). Basically the same as above, except you’re letting go of the right hand at the impact zone.
- Cock left arm to the side, like you see in all the jodan videos. For now, keep right hand straight over your centerline. Then proceed to hit katate men.
- After each hit, don’t let your left arm or shinai down. Go straight back up to jodan.
- Do jodan men with footstep patterns “three” and “four”, as seen above.
- Keep hitting jodan men.
- Keep going.
- Keep going.
- Throw up a little in the mouth.
- Keep hitting.
- Stretch out wrists, shoulders, and elbows as inevitably, you’ll have mishit some and overextended or missed and overextended.
- Fuck the pain, son, keep going.
- Buy your motodachi beer for all the mishits.
Notes on katate-men
- Face straight forward and think TALLLLLLL AS FUCKKKKKK (this leads you to align and sort of “pack” your neck as much as is natural)
- To do this, you should also relax your shoulders. If you have good proprioception, you should feel all parts of your traps, rhomboids, and lats “sinking” in with your scapula. It’s a very nice sensation.)
- Think of stepping on the opponent’s right foot with your left foot to prevent your body from twisting
- Left hand should follow the centerline of mengane
- Imagine choking/punching the throat of the opponent.
- Seme to the men.
- Wrist should follow the opponent’s shinai downwards
- Think of your wrist as sliding down the side of their shinai
- No muscle – relaxed hit, especially the wrist
- Left step fumi-komi, then step forward with right foot (like a walking step)
- This is to maximize speed as the kote leaves you very vulnerable
- Don’t drop left arm down so much on a vertical level, it should still be an extension of the elbow, just drop the left wrist
- Raise hands over the opponent’s shinai before hitting
- … buy a pad (seriously. I think my senpais use a lacrosse pad or something) and a beer for the motodachi’s poor bruised wrist.
Notes on katate-kote:
- There’s quite a few different ways to hit kote. This seems to be the basic one (as it’s taught in NYC anyways LOL).
- There’s another one against the kote to the right wrist of the jodan. Do a kote that kind of looks like a sayu-men from kirikaeshi. It should hit as the opponent is going for your right wrist or when they block the right side of their men, as both these leave their kotes open.
Something I’ve found interesting is practicing without kiai. I like it. It helps keep me loose and relaxed throughout the strikes. I’ve been told to start kiai only when fatigue starts settling in.