Queen Mary Kendo Club

Session #7: Introduction to kote, do and uchikomi

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Almost back to full attendance this week and we also welcomed four new beginners (hooray!).

Kote and do

Our coach added two more cuts to our beginners’ repertoires: kote (to the wrist) and do (to the abdomen on the same side as kote).

Although the targets of the three cuts (men, kote and do) are different, it is important to practice each cut with exactly the same starting motions:

  1. Raise the shinai above your head as if to cut men;
  2. Bring the shinai down the centre as if to cut men; then
  3. Just at the last moment, change the position of the shinai if you are going for kote or do.

You should only start to reduce how much you lift the shinai when you understand the correct shape for each cut.

One more thing to remember is that upon impact of all three cuts, you must be directly in front of your opponent. Even for do, you should not be cutting out of centre.


Knowing the basics for each cut, our beginners were ready to try uchikomi, an exercise in which one side shows opportunities for the other to cut. The primary aim when cutting in uchikomi is to perform each cut as correctly as you can. The secondary aim is to cut as soon as you recognise the opening.

Sometimes uchikomi practice is arranged so that there are motodachi (a set number of seniors who only receive uchikomi) and the others line up to cut the motodachi. Our coach emphasised that when this is case, it is extremely important to always go to the shortest line and never to leave any line empty.

It is after all in your interest to get as much practice as you can in each session, and as the seniors are giving up their own time to receive uchikomi from you, it’s rude to look like you don’t want to practice with them. Some clubs can be very strict about this behaviour.


Author: Sybil Wong

PhD student in Molecular Oncology at Barts Cancer Institute, QMUL

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