When I visited a Philippine kendo club last July of 2014,  one of the main critique of their sensei to my kendo is that I lack ‘shibori.’ Big time!

Of course, I was ashamed to admit that I didn’t even know what shibori was, let alone heard of it! The sensei demonstrated it to me, and I must say, I couldn’t do it! Properly.


Shibori is the “wringing of the hands” action when gripping the shinai at the moment of impact. Although I’ve been familiar with the action before, I never really applied it in my kendo because it was awkward and unnatural and I was kept being told to relax my grip and shibori is not at all relaxing, so it was one very confusing roller coaster ride of instructions for me and obviously, I am full of excuses. However, since my visit to that club, I have been figuring out how to do shibori in the succeeding months after that.

I was intent to correct my bad habits.

Below are some of the stuff I picked up on the subject from the several resources I’ve gathered:

  • “When striking or when just holding the shinai we are taught also to clasp with a feeling or wringing or twisting in the hands as we would when wringing moisture from a wet tea towel.” — Noma Hisashi
  • In some kendojo, people were, and maybe still are, taught to wring the shinai between both hands at the point of cutting. Unfortunately, this has the effect of causing the point of the shinai to rise on impact, which actually defeats the purpose of rising it as an aid to finish the cut correctly.”Chiba-sensei
  • “…Squeeze lightly with the little and index fingers after the point of impact.”
  • We should not change our grip from beginning to end of the cut The hands throughout the cut should be in KIRITE (cutting hand) position, although they could be extended in NOBITE (extended hand) form to lengthen our reach on impact.

So although there are differing opinions on the matter of shibori, one thing is for certain — good tenouchi will give you that nice, pleasant Sae (snapping action of the wrist upon impact), which is what shibori is trying to achieve (from what I understand). So the real secret to it is the tightening of the little, ring and index fingers of the left hand and the index and little fingers of the right hand upon impact, while very, very subtly extending the wrists forward.

I don’t know if it’s correct, but it works for me.

Share your thoughts?

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