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Kendo, The Way of The Sword – Kendo Techniques

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/25 Traditional Culture , , ,

Kendo techniques are divided into shikake-waza (to initiate a strike) and ōji-waza (a response to an attempted strike). Kendoka who wish to use such techniques during practice or competitions, often practice each technique with a motodachi. This is a process that requires patience. First practicing slowly and then as familiarity and confidence builds, the kendoka and motodachi increase the speed to match and competition level.

Kendo Techniques

Shikake-waza (Attack Techniques)

These attack techniques are used to create suki (隙, means gap, break, or space) in an opponent by initiating an attack, or strike boldly when your opponent has created a suki. Such techniques include:


It means “consecutive attacks”. For example, kote-men is one of the consecutive attacks all the kendoka use a lot. There are two types. The first is for moving to the next waza after a failed first strike, and the second holds your opponent’s attention and posture to create the suki for a second strike. The former requires a continuous rhythm of correct strikes. The latter requires continuous execution of waza, to take advantage of your opponent’s suki.


Body and shinai will lose balance as you strike or when being attacked. This technique takes advantage of this to help execute a strike. A good example is Hikibana-kote, when a strike is made to an opponent’s kote as they feel threatened and raise their kensen as you push forward.


This provides a surprise attack, by lifting the shinai over your shoulder before striking. Here a skilful use of the kensen and spirited attack is crucial for effective katsugi-waza or luring your opponent into breaking his/her posture.


This can be used if one’s opponent’s kamae has no suki when your opponent tries to attack. Your opponent’s shinai is either knocked down from above or swept up from below with a resulting strike just when his/her kamae is broken.


This technique involves striking your opponent as you realise he/she is about to strike. This is because their concentration will be on striking and their posture will have no flexibility to respond. Thus debana-waza is ideal. This can be to any part of your opponent’s body, with valid strikes being: debana-men, debana-kote, and debana-tsuki.


In maki waza, you hook your opponent shinai with your shinai and spin up or down your opponent’s shinai.

If you execute this technique with the right timing and the right amount of strength, you will actually spin off your opponent shinai from his/her hands.


This is a technique used when one’s opponent has weak kisei (spirit, vigour) or when they yield a suki under pressure. Always hold kisei and strike quickly.

Oji-waza (Counter-attack Techniques)

These counter-attack techniques are performed by executing a strike after responding or avoiding an attempted strike by your opponent. This can also be achieved by inducing the opponent to attack, then employing one of the oji-waza.


Avoiding an attack from another, then instantly responding. Here, timing has to be correct. A response that is too slow or fast may not be effective. Therefore close attention to an opponent’s every move is required.


If struck by an opponent’s shinai, this technique sweeps up their shinai in a rising-slide motion, with the right (ura) or left (omote) side of the shinai. Then strike in the direction of their shinai, or at the suki resulting from their composure’s collapse. This technique needs to be smooth. That is, don’t separate the rising-slide motion and the upward-sweeping motion or it will not be successful. Valid strikes include: men-suriage-men, kote-suriage-men, kote-suriage-kote, and tsuki-suriage-men.


This waza knocks an opponent’s shinai to the right or left. This neutralises a potential strike and gives the ideal chance to strike as an opponent is off-balance. For success, an opponent’s maai has to be correctly perceived and then one knocks down their shinai before their arm fully extends. Valid examples are: do-uchiotoshi-men and tsuki-uchiotoshi-men.


This technique is a response. As an opponent strikes, you parry their shinai with yours. Then flip over (turn over your hands) and strike their opposite side. Valid strikes include:men-kaeshi-men, men-kaeshi-kote, men-kaeshi-do, kote-kaeshi-men, kote-kaeshi-kote, and do-kaeshi-men.

To get a glimpse how to perform these techniques, watch this video:


1. Kendo. Wikipedia.

2. Kendo Techniques. Kendo Guide.

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