Training basics: Dai Ichi Kyoushu


Dai ichi kyoushu is a renzoku exercise that consists of continuous striking in a pre-set series and can be considered one of the most fundamental exercises. You can have different patterns but the basic strike sequence demonstrated in this video is omote, ura, omote, shita, nodo (or omote if practicing without men and trying to be safe). After each strike the motodachi retreats a single step and, in time with the strikers nuki, attempts to cover the mokuju creating the opening for the next strike.


Important points to bear in mind for motodachi:

  • Start just outside of maai. Give the command ‘dai ichi kyoushu’ and as you step in aggressively to maai invite them to attack with the command ‘hajime’
  • Ensure that your retreat after each thrust returns you to correct maai – that is 10cm crossing of the mokuju
  • Keep you movements small – don’t open up too much when providing the next opportunity but make sure that the opportunity is clearly made
  • Minimise sound as the mokuju is drawn back to maai – the weapons should remain in contact but not create a loud sound as they meet.


Important points to bear in mind for shuugisha (striker):

  • As soon as motodachi steps into maai, simultaneously giving the command of ‘hajime’ begin your attack.
  • Keep the attack moving. This is a renzoku exercise so the idea is to keep the momentum of your attack up and not to pause too long in between. As soon as motodachi creates the next opportunity, strike.
  • Keep your movements small and smooth
  • After your strike, relax the grip on the mokuju as this helps to reduce the noise as motodachi slides theirs back to return you to maai
  • Focus on the feel of the small movements as the motodachi moves your mokuju off centre so that you can start to instinctively tell when an opening has been created

5 thoughts on “Training basics: Dai Ichi Kyoushu

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  1. Hi Simon,

    First of all, excellent job on the video! The labeling makes very clear what both the striker and the motodachi are supposed to do.

    I have a question regarding what seems to be an unconventional kanji reading. I have some idea of how kanji work, but am not studying Japanese. I looked at the Japanese version of this web page (, and the kanji for Dai Ichi Kyoushu are:


    To my surprise, the last two kanji “稽古” are the same as the kanji in “Ji-Geiko” from Kendo (that is, free practice, free sparring), where those kanji are pronounced “Keiko” or “Geiko”. In my Kendo glossary, 稽古 (keiko) by itself is translated as “Practice”, “Training”, or “Study”.

    Is Kyoushu just a different reading of the same two kanji (稽古)? Is it dialect, e.g. is Kyoushu perhaps a dialectical reading of those two kanji in Nagoya-ben? Or did I miss some other word (composed of two different kanji) on the Japanese version of the Dai Ichi Kyoushu web page which are pronounced “Kyoushu”?

    Thank you for your time. I’ve found that knowing the exact kanji for different terms can often help to clarify concepts, especially with all the homophones in Japanese.


  2. I checked around and it is probably interesting linguistic stuff I’d guess.

    Apparently the official word is not “kyoushu” however I have trained with people from all over the place and never heard anything different; however if someone approached the exercise and commanded “dai ichi geiko” I have to be honest and say I would know what they meant and just do the exercise without noticing.

    Our japanese translator does have jukendo contacts who assure her she is correct in her japanese. Probably this just gets chucked in the bin of “do you pronounce the ‘w’ in を when saying ‘men wo ute’?”

    Personally I focus more on the training than the language I guess. My japanese shows this…

  3. And at training today I noticed that Yamaguchi sensei says Dai Ichi Geiko… I am guessing you should go with geiko, I probably picked up something old or local.

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