Japanese word for technique is Waza and in Kendo all techniques or Waza are classified under two categories namely shikake meaning offensive and oji meaning defensive. Owing to Kendo being derived from Kenjutsu, the techniques used by practitioners are derivatives of methods that were once employed by Kenjutsu. Overall these might seem very simple but mastering them is a task that is easier said than done and practice and perseverance are bywords that come in handy.
Kendo techniques are best learned in a stepwise sequence and while wielding the shinai might seem to be the crux, it is equally important to pay attention to footwork and to scream 'Kiai'. While 'Kiai' is more of a personal preference , footwork is something that every kendo practitioner needs to grasp.
In Kendo, Shikake Waza is the term used to refer to techniques that are meant to be initiated by you while Oji Waza is an expression that is used for techniques that you respond with on being attacked. During practice sessions, the Kendoka are taught each of these techniques and are made to practice with a motodachi first at a slow pace. As the student progresses, the speed is increased till it matches the tempo of a formal competition. Although this process of learning is slow and requires plenty of patience, it is a time-tested method that enables the practitioner to grasp every aspect of the training and gain confidence.
Following are the techniques that are classified under Shikake Waza or offensive form of Kendo - Oji Waza
When the combat is in progress, there comes a time when the opponent might have fallen off guard or is in a position wherein he can be easily subdued. The Kendo practitioner takes advantage of such a situation by moving into the 'suki', meaning break or gap, and making a strike. Techniques employed under this category are -
Renzoku waza - Meaning consecutive attacks, this technique entails applying a combination of several movements in quick succession in order to intimidate the opponent. An apt example of this technique is kote-men wherein the first step entails moving in through a rhythm of correct strikes and the second step calls for assuming a posture that would momentarily throw the opponent off-guard and create a suki for moving in.
Hiki waza - This technique is based on the assumption that the opponent would lose balance and also control of his shinai if attacked suddenly, thus giving the other ample opportunity to execute a well calculated strike. Hikibana-kote is a good example wherein the opponent is distracted through a strike and creates sufficient gap in the process for another more effective strike to take place.
Harai waza - In this technique, the opponent's kamae is already broken and his shinai is either deflected or knocked out of his hand, thus leaving you with a clear opportunity to make a strike.
Debana waza - Strikes under this techniques that are commonly employed by practitioners are debana men, debana tsuki and debana kote. The idea is to strike an opponent when he is about to strike assuming that he would be too distracted to react and hence will be unable to counter immediately.
Katsugi waza - Derived from the Japanese word 'katsugu' which means carrying on your shoulder, this technique entails lifting your shinai over your shoulder in a deceptive gesture and surprising your opponent with a strike. Practitioners resort to this technique only when they have exhausted all other methods and are yet to find an opening.
Meant as counter attack or defensive techniques, these are employed either in form of a response to your opponent's strike or as a means to defend yourself against your opponent's strike. Following are some of the popular counter attack techniques employed by Kendo practitioners -
Nuki waza - Timing is what determines the success of this technique because the practitioner is not just required to dodge an attack but also respond with a strike of his own. To be able to execute this technique well, as a practitioner you need to observe your opponent minutely and time your attack in a way that it is most effective rather than being too slow or too quick.
Suriage waza - Used on being struck by the opponent's shinai, this technique calls for the practitioner to sweep his shinai in a rising motion and then an upward motion before executing a strike. There are four methods in which it can be carried out and is dependent on the opponent losing his concentration after having made a strike.
Kaeshi waza - Meant as a response technique, it entails parrying your shinai with that of your opponent with the result that you might get an opportunity to strike them on the opposite side.
Uchiotoshi waza - Since 'uchiotoshi' is a Japanese word which means to knock down, this technique calls for knocking down the opponent's shinai in either direction so that you have an opportunity to strike. To be successful with this technique, you would need to predict your opponent's movement and grab the opportunity to knock down his shinai as soon as the opportunity presents itself.