Halifax Kendo Club

Insight From Matthew Raymond

On the weekend of the 14th, 15th and 16th of October, 2005, we were visited by Sensei Matthew Raymond. He has left us with some words of wisdom, please take the time to read his latest teachings for us.

Sorry that it has taken me so long to respond. I've been rather busy of late. Anyhow, I hope you are all doing well and practicing hard. I very much enjoyed coming to Halifax this year and always enjoy everyone's enthusiasm. In observing and instructing over that weekend I think it is very important for everyone to understand why footwork is so important in Kendo. Everyone knows that good footwork adds stability and power when delivering a technique and allows for good movement. What you might not realize is that proper footwork also changes the perception of what you are trying to accomplish. There is no particular skill or spirit required to stand close to another person and physically hit them with a stick. If you do not strive to lunge properly and stretch your arms forward, but instead walk, shuffle, or hop in then all you are doing standing close to someone and hitting them (even if you should then follow through after the fact). It is important to realize that just hitting someone is not "winning". You must strive to lunge, moving your entire body forward while trying to keep your back straight (this creates a lot of energy or force); You must stretch your arms out and strike properly with a forward motion (this allows you to direct and actually use the energy created by your body and does so in a manner that does not injure a partner); You must strike as you are moving and even after the strike continue to move using zanshin (thus, at no time should you "stop" to hit). In order to accomplish all of this it is necessary to gather yourself mentally and spiritually before you have even made the initial lunge. You must push yourself and once in motion you must be committed physically, mentally and spiritually or you will likely not accomplish what you are trying to do. These things you do - you are not trying to injure them, you are not being violent - no matter who your partner is. In all of this, at a fundamental level, the opponent is really yourself so do not simply try to hit the partner you are practicing with. Use good footwork so that you have to push yourself. Strive to use proper form. In doing so you will better develop focus, commitment, and respect for those you practice with. Regards. Matthew Raymond