Special Interview~Yukiko Takami~(2)
We will continue on the interview with Yukiko Takami.
* Previously, PART 1 "Fundamental Persistence"
PART 2 "The importance of Process"
～Yukiko Takami Japan Representative of WKC Year ’09 ’12 ‘15~
(From here on KENDO PARK = KP Yukiko Takami = Takami)
Started kendo in Josuikan, Fukuoka and won the inter-high championship while studying in Aso High School.(@Kumamoto)
Won the national championship in the team category as a 1st year student at Seiwa University.
Represented Japan in WKC in 2009, 2012 and 2015 winning Individual champion once,
2nd Runner-up once, Team Champion once.
Currently an Assistant Professor at Jutendo University’s Sports and Health Science Department.
Can you give some advice for female kendo on how they can carry on doing kendo?
Firstly, setting goals would help.
▼Winning a tournament
▼Passing your Dan exam
▼Having a great time with kids in kendo, etc.
Anything is fine. It is crucial to set goals to keep the spirit and motivation of doing kendo going.
Besides that, don’t compare to yourself in the past.
Females physical abilities change in performance drastically once they stop doing competitive sports. Forget about the image of your young self as there are different ways to do kendo at different ages.
Especially in grading, the aims differ too.
▼Age 20s should attack with vigor and spirit
▼Age 30s should focus on the process of their cuts to the very end.
With this said, ease in to the change slowly would be alright.
Personally, I look forward to how my kendo evolves in the future as it is inevitable.
Not focusing on winning and losing but purely enjoying the clashing of swords with your opponent feels really great.
If a mother enjoys kendo a lot, her children will naturally be attracted to want to train in kendo too.
Do share with us any points to consider when a female Kendoka goes against a male Kendoka.
If in any case you have no choice but to train with a male Kendoka most of the time, do take note of the following points.
▼Do not give in to fear
▼Obtain the centre and seize the moment to move forward
It is natural to feel fear when going against a male opponent with bigger stature, however, backing down would shift your weight to the back causing you to be hit due to slowed reaction and also higher risk of injury. THUS, don’t back down.
As males have better reach and power most of the time, backing off would only make you a much easier target.
Hold your centre to the very end (ideally aiming for a Tsuki), with and intention to push forward is good in my opinion.
Moving forward does not necessarily mean you must attack at all cost, even if it is just touching of Shinai is effective enough. This would be enough to cause the opponent to hesitate and slowed, at times, even stopped in their tracks which makes it easy for female players to pull a "Debana" or "Kaeshi waza". This is especially effective against male Kendoka with great leaping power.
This is a question from working men Kendoka which includes female Kendoka too.
How to be a good Sensei in kendo? Also, repetitively receiving hit by students in training has made it less interesting overtime.
Sensei receive cuts so we can catch the moment where an opening presents itself, technically, Sensei receiving cuts is the most effective way most of the time.
However, repeating the same cuts may become less interesting over time.
1. First, make a cut.
2. Change up the receiving pattern.
3. Observe the outcome and reaction.
Changing training patterns may help in my opinion.
Can you share with us your experience of the difference in characteristic of going against most Japanese representatives and foreign Kendoka?
Each Japanese representative has favorite Waza of their own, mastered to a point as if it were their secret finishing move even when you know the Waza is coming and still lands.
Foreign Kendoka on the other hand has totally different cutting pacing and speed from their Japanese counterparts, and on the other hand do not have much favorite Waza. We have to go against them on a "Kihon" (Basic) cut showdown and also cutting power. Before WKC, to train up these abilities, we had Keiko against male Kendoka and unpredictable beginner Kendoka along with different types of Kendoka.
When instructing student, what are the points to be aware of?
Choosing your words and things you want to express carefully. Even when teaching the same points, different students may interpret your teachings differently, so I as students individually on what they have understood from my teaching. This has improved me overtime.
At Juntendo University, I have selected a few assistants among the students who have the intention to be managers. We select students based on their fundamental knowledge and their base values. As it is a university, it does consist of students of different kendo level and background, with some bringing their habits as well, thus we select with great care.
Is there any advice for oversea Kendoka to become better?
I really admire the great passion oversea Kendoka has for kendo. As it has become easy to watch kendo video online, keep referencing and researching Waza and cuts from different sensei would help a lot.
On the other hand, strengthen kendo "Kihon" (=Basic). Hand foot coordination can be improved with great amount of good repetition, this can also be done outside of dojo personally.
"Suri-ashi", "Kamae", basic cuts, etc. can all be performed at home and would make a lot of difference when done repeatedly.
If kendo fundamental techniques are not well established, it becomes hard to execute various Waza with great effectiveness. Repetitive "Kihon" (=Basic) training is crucial I believe.
How do you choose Kendo equipment or Bogu?
At first, I was not very literate with the choosing of kendo equipment, but I have used fully customized equipment during the 2015 WKC. After using them for a while, I realize it is important to have a good fit and aesthetic that is satisfactory to yourself.
Even Shinai selecting was not something I am knowledgeable of in the past, however, recently I have been using Shinai with centre of mass closer to my hands. My left hand tends to raise more than needed during cuts, so a Shinai with centre of mass closer to my hands would improve such an issue. Just like a golf club, choosing a Shinai that fits your style of kendo is crucial.
Is there any issue or topic about the kendo industry that you are aware of?
There isn’t any that I know of, however it would be nice to receive newsletters about them. While I have received teachings of kendo since I was a child, most fellow students would say something like “I have heard of Kendo, but I have not seen what it is”. It would be great if kendo receives more media coverage.
Although I have been interviewed multiple times by various magazines, I sometimes thought that it would be great if this helps to spread kendo further to the masses.
What are your personal goals and task from now on?
My next goal will be to challenge the 7Dan exam. With this, I have been honing my process of cutting and contemplating on getting results out of it.
Another goal would be to improve as a kendo instructor. It is a good study and research to know what methods are best to suit different children of different personalities.
Having stood on the pinnacle of the world 3 times in a row, we are really impressed to see Takami sensei still holds great passion and continue her path of the sword.
We are also grateful to have been given words of advice for female Kendoka and how it can help girls take up and improve their kendo.
These words have once again made us realize the charm of kendo, which does not discriminate the gender and age of those who pursue it.
〜FOR SUMMER SELECTION~
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.