Special Interview〜 Ryo Murase 〜(2)

Hello! This is KENDO PARK.

This is the continuation of the interview that was published in our previous post.

*Previously: Part 1: “The 2 things that Kendōka all around the world should practice”

 

Part 2: “Win by practicing proper kendo technique”

~Ryo Murase, the Japanese representative in the 2015 World Kendo Championships~

(From here on, KENDO PARK= KP, Ryo Murase= Murase)

KP

I hear that it’s difficult to practice basic attacks if I decide to go to a dojo. In that case, how should I practice?

Murase:

First, I think it’s best to acquire the proper movements through the initial "Kirikaeshi".

Kirikaeshi lets you practice the fundamentals of shinai maneuvering, but the movement is close to an exercise in “cutting with a katana”. I suggest that you practice Kirikaeshi while keeping in mind the fundamentals of the movement.

As points to note:

・Grip with an equal amount of force in both hands

・Point the edge of the shinai so that the movement is more like “cutting” than “swinging”

・Always move parallel to the ground, without changing the height of your hips

・Expand your shoulderblades’ range of motion as you move

 (Kirikaeshi is similar to conducting test cuts with a katana)

(Kirikaeshi is similar to conducting test cuts with a katana)

 

Also, when you’re moving to strike against your teacher, you should always do so with the spirit of “defeating” him or her. This may be a bit difficult for working-age kendō players, but nothing good comes of being timid.

KP

Tell us a little bit about your special technique, the “tobikomi-men”.

Murase:

This is a technique that was created as a result of adhering to my principles of “weight transfer” and “touching the opponent’s shinai”. (Refer to previous interview)

When I go for the strike, I don’t follow any specific trajectory. If I had to describe it, I think I would say that I “strike while looking into my opponent’s eyes”. In essence, it’s an incredibly simple technique.

KP

At what opportunity do you go for the “Tobikomi-men”? I’d like to know how the opponent looks to you when you go for it.

Murase:

I really think that a big part of it is “going for the strike after I touch my opponent’s shinai”.

Firstly, once you’re able to hold down on your opponent’s shinai from above, there is no physical way that your opponent will be able to push you back. Human hands are built to be strong against pressure applied to it when the palm is raised, but are considerably weaker when the back of the hand is facing upwards.

You often see moves where the shinai is swept aside from the side with the Tsuru (string). Those moves work because they are an application of this principle.

 (I was completely unable to push back up when my finger was pressed down from above.)

(I was completely unable to push back up when my finger was pressed down from above.)

 

As a result, I envision my men technique as landing before my opponent can assume a completely defensive stance.

Furthermore, I strike while moving parallel to the ground with my eyes locked on my opponent’s. I think the most common case is me striking when my opponent rears back and tries to get into a defensive position.

 (From Ryo Murase’s perspective, he strikes when his opponent goes into this kind of position.)

(From Ryo Murase’s perspective, he strikes when his opponent goes into this kind of position.)

 

KP

Your techniques seem to be comparatively on the simpler side. Is this intentional on your part?

Murase:

I think it’s just that simple techniques are best suited to my style. In consideration of my future, I think it’s beneficial for me to be able to compete using simple techniques from a young age.

Also, since I’m currently occupying a teaching position, I’m focused on “winning using proper kendo techniques”.

KP

Tell me a little bit about how you choose your bogu (equipment).

Murase:

As a general rule, my baseline requirements when choosing equipment are:

・The equipment is easy to use;

・The equipment is durable;

・And the equipment fits my personal size.

But besides the above, I believe that advantages in kendo can come from preconceptions through visual assumptions that can be made even before the match. So I do have some personal preferences when it comes to outward appearances like accessories or the color of my equipment’s shine. I think that presenting yourself as strong through high-quality appearances is another way of securing victory.

Of course, this is all based on budget. So sometimes I have a little fun by adding a bit of hidden decoration as a personal touch.

KP

Finally, please tell me what tasks both “kendo as a whole” and “Ryo Murase as an individual” will have to tackle from here on out.”

Murase:

With respect to kendo as a whole, I think the main task the sport faces is how to mix traditional kendo practices with modern kendo practices. I’m still grappling with this issue myself, so I’m trying to get input from many different teachers.

As an individual, I want to get more practice under my belt and achieve results as a kendōka. Springboarding from this, I think how I pass on what I’ve accomplished is a big task for the future.

FROM MANAGEMENT:

Despite being a young top athlete, I was struck by Murase’s commitment to “acquire proper kendo techniques so that [he] could participate in the sport for as long as possible.” Maybe it’s the case that this unwavering position on kendo is the source of his strength.

I will continue to pray for his ongoing success.

~Bogu and Shinai bag models used

by Japanese representative in the 2015 WKC~

Poster:
Kenshi Nagamatsu

Born December 8th, 1987 in Tokyo
Graduated from Keio University's Faculty of Law.

Started Kendo at 5 years old at the Tokyo-budokan (located in Ota-ku, Tokyo), and continued kendo club activities throughout Keio junior high school and Keio high school, and during Keio University Athletic Association's Kendo association, as well as Nomura Securities' Kendo association.

Started KENDO PARK services in 2017.

Major kendo accomplishments include:
・Second place in Kanagawa prefecture's high school kendo tournament
・Best 8 in Kanto students' new player tournament
・Best 16 in All-Japan Business Organization Kendo Tournament, etc.