Do tsuki is the first strike I learned in tankendo – a very straightforward thrust to the centre of the opponent’s torso.
From naore to chudan no kamae
The movement to go into kamae is done in two smooth motions. You start with the tanken in your left hand which is resting lightly down the side of your body – let the arm drop naturally, don’t force it straight or bend the elbow up. The tanken is turned so that the tip is down and behind the body with the tsuru facing towards the floor. Right arm is resting down the side of the body.
The first movement consists of the following simultaneous actions:
- Raising the left arm with tanken up the body
- Turning the left wrist so fingers and tsuru face curl in toward body
- Grasp the tsuka/handle of the tanken with the right hand
- Push forward with right hip and foot
The second movement is the the release of the tanken with the left hand (which then returns to the hip) as the right hand rotates the tanken over and forward into chudan no kamae.
Tankendo chudan no kamae
For tankendo you work in migi kamae with the right arm extended forward of the body, elbow down and in, holding the tanken and your left hand firmly resting on your hip in a closed fist. Your left hand stays in this position unless you are attempting to do seitei, controlling of your opponent’s weapon/arm. The posture is upright with weight in the centre of the body – knees should be slightly bent to allow for pushing off and absorbing of movement. The kissaki or tip should sit at your do height but the angle of tanken points up to connect with your opponents eye line.
Practicing basic do strike
The more senior person will normally begin as motodachi. You’ll start from 5 steps away to bow, the motodachi will then give the ‘kamae’ command. Once in chudan no kamae, motodachi will move in two steps to come to ma-ai. For tankendo, the kissaki of the two tanken shouldn’t cross, they should really just meet [0.42].
The command to strike is ‘do (w)o tsuke’ – consecutive strikes are announced with ‘onaji’. When the command is given, motodachi can assist their partner by shifting their kamae out of hanmi so that the right hip/shoulder and the tanken open up slightly to make their do more accessible [1.30]. The target point is the corner where the stitching and plastron meet – this makes it easier for the strike to stick rather than sliding off the plastron [1.52]. Motodachi needs to make sure that the absorption step they take is small and doesn’t result in them leaning into the strike which would change their posture [2.10]. The correct absorption distance helps their partner to stick the strike and maintain the correct extension of the arm.
For striking do tsuki, the line of the attack should be straight up and into the torso – it shouldn’t come up and over and the tanken should be angled up, not flat or angling down into the strike position. The arm should draw a strong, straight line down through the wrist – if the wrist is bent backwards at the target point it will be a weak thrust. Posture should again be upright, not leaning in or over.
Tankendo uses small steps and it’s very easy to step too far in, causing the strike to be in the wrong position or to slide off. Simon’s technique for learning the correct distance isn’t ‘correct’ technique but rather designed to help your body learn what the right distance is. To do this, extend the arm to strike before the step in – this means that you’ll connect with the motodachi’s do before you’ve landed the foot and will be able to tell if you’ve overstepped.