Considering the previous post, about Tame, was so popular, I thought it would be nice to also look at another Kendo concept, that is of critical importance.
Datotsu no Kikai - the opportunities to strike.
During our encounter with an opponent, we will invariably be presented with several opportunities to strike. Some of these will be pure happenstance, some will be through mistakes on the part of our opponent, and some - the best ones - will be the products of our own creation.
Our previous conversation about Tame is connected to this concept, as we must have Tame in order to capitalise on the opportunity when it comes. As this post is about Datotsu no Kikai, I will only talk today about what these opportunities are, and not go into the concept of Seme - which is about how to make them happen. I will cover that in more detail in a later post, but in the meantime, you can see a recent video we made about Seme here -
So, according to the official ‘Kendo Written Exam Example Questions and Example Answers - Shodan to Godan’ (剣道学科審査の問題例と解答例（初段～五段）) published by the All Japan Kendo Federation, the general opportunities for striking are as follows -
- At the beginning of a movement (Debana)
- When a Waza is complete (at the end of a movement or technique)
- When [the opponent] has settled (when there is a gap in concentration or spirit)
- When [the opponent] retreats (Hikihana)
- When [the opponent] blocks (or when there is an opening)
- When [the opponent] takes a deep breath (when breathing, movement stops)
Some of these seem somewhat straight forward, others, maybe not so much… Number 3 for example, when the opponent has settled, and has a break in their concentration can be particularly hard to recognise, as can number 6 - as these relate to the opponent’s mental and physical state. We know that attacking at the start of the opponent’s movements results in successful Debana-waza (Number 1), and good Ouji-waza or Ato-uchi can be performed at the end of a technique (Number 3). It can be hard to hit an opponent who is retreating (Number 4), but here is one fantastic (and very famous) example here -
I have also made a video in the past about how to beat an opponent who is blocking (Number 5), you can see that here too -
Of course, this is a broad categorisation of striking opportunities - but most Yuko Datotsu tend to fall into one of these six. As I said, I got this information from a book about grading questions, specifically from the chapter aimed at 2nd and 3rd Dan - so if you are grading for one of these grades, this may be on the test.
Feel free to let us know your thoughts on Datotsu no Kikai!
Thanks for reading!