Queen Mary Kendo Club

Session #6: “The first cut is not the deepest.”

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Due to the extremely low attendance (thanks to MCM), our coach decided it would be a good time for all of those present to practice some nidan waza (two-step techniques), seniors and beginners alike.

The two steps of a nidan waza are simply:

  1. A movement of the shinai (such as a cut or slap) to create an opportunity to cut
  2. A strong and accurate final cut

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Apart from being sharp and swift, a well executed nidan waza must be controlled. Or to quote our coach, “The first cut is not the deepest.” (How was it that nobody apart from me found this funny?) By this he is actually alluding to two key points:

  1. You do not throw yourself in to do the final cut unless if you can see that your first movement has successfully created an opportunity. You should be upright and ready to strike any target after the first step so that you can proceed (or retreat) according to the situation.
  2. The first movement can be imperfect. As long as there is an opportunity to cut, all that matters is whether the final cut is strong and accurate.
    (e.g. for kote-men, you may hit the tsuba of your opponent in your first kote cut, but that does not matter if you cut a perfect men after that.)

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Nidan waza are notoriously difficult, but by practising them we learn to make every movement in a controlled manner with an upright posture and hone our judgement of distance and timing.

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Author: Sybil Wong

PhD student in Molecular Oncology at Barts Cancer Institute, QMUL

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