Kendo basics: A complete guide to how to hold a Shinai sword correctly

Learning how to hold a Shinai sword correctly is very important when practicing Kendo.

This article provides detailed information on how to hold a shinai, useful for both beginners and advanced players.

We will explain a wide range of topics, from how to form an appropriate grip on the shinai, to maintaining accurate posture, and even how to handle the shinai during movement.

We will also help you improve your Kendo techniques more effectively by introducing common mistakes and how to correct them.

Through this guide, you will be able to hone your basic Kendo skills and take your technique to the next level.



Basics of how to hold a bamboo sword

In Kendo, it is very important to master the correct way to hold the Shinai.

Proper grip is the basis for improving technical accuracy, safety, and the spirit of Kendo.

In this section, we will explain the importance of how to hold a shinai and the basic way to hold a shinai for beginners.


The importance of how to hold a bamboo sword

The way you hold the bamboo sword can greatly change the effectiveness of your techniques.

Correct grip allows for efficient transfer of force and reduces fatigue.


In addition, in order to perform accurate movements in kendo forms and matches, it is necessary to learn the basic holding techniques and instill them naturally in your body.

Holding the shinai correctly allows you to strike faster, more accurately, and more powerfully, allowing you to effectively handle your opponent’s attacks while defending.


Basic grip for beginners

  1. Right hand position : Place your right hand approximately 1 to 2 centimeters from the bottom edge of the handle. The grip should not be too tight, and the fingers should maintain a naturally curved shape.
  2. Left hand position : Place your left hand at the bottom of the handle. Your left hand is primarily responsible for controlling the Shinai, so grip it firmly.
  3. Grip strength : Instead of gripping evenly, use a strong grip primarily with your little finger and ring finger, and keep your other fingers relatively light. This allows for flexible and fast operation.
  4. Posture : When holding a Shinai sword, it is important to keep your back straight and stand in a relaxed position. Be careful not to put unnecessary pressure on your shoulders or arms.


By understanding these basic points, you will learn the correct way to hold a Shinai, which will lead to improving your Kendo techniques.

Beginners are especially encouraged to keep these basics in mind during daily practice and practice repeatedly.



How to form a proper grip

Proper grip formation is the basis of technique when handling a shinai, allowing for accurate and powerful blows.

This section details hand position and angle, grip strength and adjustment.


hand position and angle

The hand position and angle when holding the shinai are extremely important in Kendo technique. Please refer to the following points:

  1. Right hand position : Place your right hand near the bottom edge of the bamboo sword handle. The ideal position is for your right thumb and index finger to form a “V” shape. From this position, the angle of your hands should remain natural, and there is no need to force them to bend.
  2. Left hand position : The left hand is located at the bottom of the handle. The left hand is the main force supporting the shinai, so it is important to grip it firmly. Make sure to wrap your left palm tightly around the handle.


Grip strength and adjustment

The strength of your grip directly affects the accuracy and speed of your technique. Here are some tips to maintain proper grip strength:

  1. Balance of strength : Overall, the grip should be in the middle, neither too firm nor too loose. Grip firmly, especially with your little finger and ring finger, and rest your other fingers lightly as support.
  2. Grip strength adjustment : Grip a little harder at the moment of impact, then relax and loosen your grip after the impact to reduce fatigue and prepare for the next movement.
  3. Improvement through practice : Grip strength and adjustment will come naturally with repeated practice. It is important to consciously adjust the strength of your grip during daily practice.


Practicing these guidelines will improve your handling of the Shinai and your overall Kendo technique.

Forming the correct grip is the basis of effective batting and defense, so it is best to always keep this in mind when practicing.



Role and position of the left hand

The left hand plays a very important role in Kendo, and is the source of power when operating the Shinai.

This section details the exact location of your left hand and how pressure is distributed.

By understanding and practicing the correct techniques, you can improve your overall Kendo technique.


exact position of left hand

The left hand in kendo is generally placed at the bottom of the shinai handle, at the end of the handle.

The left hand grips the handle firmly and serves as the base for stabilizing and controlling the shinai.

Grip your left hand so that your fist is facing forward and your palm is facing the ceiling.

Movement of the left hand from this position determines many movements such as uchiwaza and baraiwaza.


Distribution of pressure in the left hand

Pressure distribution with the left hand is very important in Kendo technique. Pay attention to the following points to properly distribute pressure:

  1. Dominant pressure : When striking, the left hand takes the initiative and moves the shinai as if pushing it out. At this time, the right hand acts as a guide and controls the direction of the shinai without using unnecessary force.
  2. Adjustment of grip strength : Basically, grip firmly with the little finger and ring finger of the left hand, and use the other fingers for support. In particular, by increasing the force of the little finger and ring finger of the left hand at the moment of striking, you will be able to strike more sharply.
  3. Balance between relaxation and tension : When preparing to strike and after striking, it is important to relax your hands a little. This prevents fatigue and prepares you for the next move.


By being aware of these techniques, you can use your left hand effectively and greatly improve your kendo techniques.

Keeping these points in mind during daily practice and practicing repeatedly is the key to improving in Kendo.



Right hand position and its effects

The position of the right hand in Kendo has a huge impact on Shinai control and overall performance.

It is important to understand how to use your right hand properly and to develop accurate technique.

This section provides a detailed explanation of the right hand position and control of the shinai, as well as the use of force.


Right hand position and Shinai control

The position of the right hand is the reference point when operating the shinai, and the proper position is directly linked to the balance and maneuverability of the shinai:

  1. Right hand position : The right hand is usually placed slightly below the middle of the handle. This allows you to keep the shinai stable while still allowing for quick movements when needed.
  2. Operating the Shinai : The right hand directs the direction of the Shinai and is responsible for increasing the precision of the blow. With your right hand in the correct position, you will be able to guide the tip of the shinai to your target accurately.


How to use the power of your right hand

The use of power in the right hand is essential to effective batting. Here are some points to keep in mind when using power:

  1. Adjustment of force : It is important to grip the shinai with the minimum amount of force necessary, without applying excessive force to your right hand. If you use too much force, your movements will become sluggish and the accuracy of your technique will decrease.
  2. How to apply force when striking : When striking, use your right hand to push the shinai lightly. However, the initiative is in the left hand, and the right hand plays a supporting role.
  3. Relaxed operation : During the strike, the right hand should remain relaxed, allowing you to instantly apply force as needed.


Mastering the proper positioning and power use of your right hand will greatly improve your handling of the shinai and improve your overall kendo technique.

By being aware of these techniques during daily practice and practicing them repeatedly, you will be able to acquire higher-level Kendo techniques.



Posture and holding the shinai

In Kendo, correct posture and holding the Shinai form the basis of technique.

Proper body alignment allows efficient use of force and accuracy of movement.

This section details the formation of correct posture and overall body alignment when holding a shinai.


Forming correct posture

Correct posture in Kendo ensures stability and responsiveness. Please practice the following points:

  1. Straighten your back : Keep your back straight and your shoulders naturally relaxed. This keeps your entire body balanced and allows you to move easily.
  2. Foot position : Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and one foot slightly in front of you. This stance allows you to move easily and maintain a stable posture.
  3. Low center of gravity : Keeping your center of gravity low allows you to move and react faster. Bend your knees slightly and distribute your weight evenly across the soles of your feet.


Overall body alignment when holding a bamboo sword

Body alignment when holding a shinai is directly related to the accuracy of the technique and the transmission of force:

  1. Angle of arm and shinai : Hold the shinai in a natural extension of your arm. This allows for smooth movement without applying excessive force.
  2. How to release pressure from your shoulders : If you put too much pressure on your shoulders, your movements will become stiff. It is important to relax your shoulders and keep your arms moving smoothly.
  3. A sense of unity between the body and the shinai : Treating the shinai as a part of the body allows for more precise control. Being aware of how to use the Shinai with your whole body will improve your technique.


Following these principles will improve your basic kendo posture and holding the shinai, and improve your overall technique.

It is recommended that you keep these points in mind during your daily practice and practice repeatedly.



How to handle a bamboo sword in action

In Kendo, how you handle the Shinai determines the precision and effectiveness of your technique.

In this section, we will explain in detail how to move the shinai when attacking and the position and movement of the hands when defending.

By mastering these techniques, you will be able to perform better in matches and practices.


How to move the bamboo sword when attacking

How you use your shinai when attacking is important to effectively convey pressure on your opponent:

  1. How to swing the shinai : Avoid swinging the shinai too far and try to move quickly and accurately. It is important that every move has meaning and that you avoid unnecessary movements.
  2. Timing of the blow : Read the opponent’s movements, see the opening, and strike quickly. When striking, the tip of the shinai should be directed straight toward the opponent’s target area.
  3. How to use your wrists : Using your wrists flexibly and swinging the shinai with firm force at the moment of impact will increase the accuracy of your attacks.


Hand position and movement when defending

How you use your hands when defending is important for effectively blocking your opponent’s attacks and creating counter opportunities:

  1. Hand position : When defending, hold the shinai firmly in front of your body and adjust your hand position to prepare to receive the opponent’s attack. The left hand always grips the bottom of the shinai handle, and the right hand makes minor adjustments to the position as needed.
  2. Speed ​​of movement : React quickly to your opponent’s attacks, parrying or blocking them with your bamboo sword. Reaction speed is directly linked to defense success.
  3. Stabilize your posture : Stabilize your posture even when defending, keeping your center of gravity low and preparing for your next move.


Proper execution of these attack and defense techniques will give you an advantage in a Kendo match.

Practicing while keeping these points in mind during daily practice is a shortcut to improving your technique.



Advanced techniques and tips

When you become an advanced kendo player, you can see a unique sophistication in the way you hold your sword and your techniques.

In this section, we will delve into the differences in gripping styles used by experienced players and their effects, as well as advanced gripping styles for competitions.

These advanced techniques deepen your understanding of Kendo and directly lead to improved performance in actual competitions.


Differences in the way people hold their hands and their effects

The following characteristics can be seen in the way advanced players hold a Shinai sword:

  1. Fine adjustment possible : Advanced users can make subtle adjustments to the way they grip the handle and apply force depending on the situation. This flexibility allows you to react quickly and effectively to your opponent’s movements.
  2. Strengthening your sense of unity : As you gain experience, your sense of unity with the Shinai will increase, and you will naturally be able to treat the Shinai as an extension of your body. This unity allows for more accurate and powerful strikes.
  3. Energy-saving way of holding : By controlling unnecessary force and learning an energy-efficient way of holding, you can prevent fatigue from accumulating even during long matches.


Advanced grip for competition

In order to excel in competition, the following advanced holding techniques are required:

  1. How to hold it to increase the instantaneous power of your attack : By learning how to hold it in a way that allows you to concentrate your power instantly, you will be able to perform a deadly attack with a single blow. In particular, it is important to optimize the use of your pinky and ring fingers.
  2. Introducing feint movements : Incorporating feint techniques to confuse your opponent is also part of advanced holding techniques. With subtle movements using the bamboo sword, you can provoke a reaction from your opponent and create an advantageous situation.
  3. How to hold for a psychological advantage : By holding your opponent in a confident manner that puts pressure on them, you can gain an advantage in psychological warfare.


These techniques require a deep understanding of Kendo and a lot of practical experience.

Practicing these advanced holding techniques on a daily basis and continuing to hone your skills in competition is the key to reaching even greater heights as an expert.



Common mistakes and their corrections

Beginners who start learning Kendo are prone to making certain mistakes, and these mistakes can hinder their ability to improve their technique.

This section details common mistakes beginners make, how to correct them, and how to practice effectively.


Mistakes that beginners often make

Common mistakes beginners make include:

  1. Too much force : When holding a shinai, one often unconsciously applies too much force, which makes the movements stiff and reduces the accuracy of the technique.
  2. Poor posture : You may not be able to maintain proper posture, causing your back to arch or your center of gravity to be too high. This results in poor balance and inability to strike effectively.
  3. Foot position : Improper foot position often results in feet being too wide or too narrow. Proper foot position is fundamental to kendo and is essential for stable movement.


How to correct mistakes and practice

The following exercises can help you correct these common mistakes:

  1. Relaxed practice : When holding a Shinai sword, be conscious not to put more force into your hands than necessary. It’s a good idea to practice putting pressure on your little finger and ring finger in particular, and relaxing your other fingers.
  2. Be aware of correct posture : Learn correct posture by checking your posture in the mirror and receiving feedback from your instructors and seniors. Practice daily to keep your back straight and your center of gravity low.
  3. Adjusting foot position : Repeat basic foot technique exercises to learn proper foot position. It is important to repeatedly practice the basic movements of kendo, moving forward and backward, so that they become ingrained in your body.


By incorporating these correction methods into their practice, beginners can effectively improve their Kendo techniques.

Through continuous practice and self-reflection, you will be able to correct your mistakes and progress to higher skill levels.



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