« Posts tagged yuko datotsu

Yuko Datotsu and the incorrect information on the Internet.

20130805-120419.jpgA few months ago when I did my Ikkyu grading, we were all told off quite distinctly by Holt Sensei for getting the written part of our exam wrong. Out of the 25 of us grading that day, he said only 5 of us got it right. We were scolded for just copying what we had found on the internet. I was a little disappointed by this seeing as I had researched on the internet, but had written it in my own words.

The articles I had found matched an article one of my fellow kendoka had passed around at training. When our Shihan, Boffa Sensei visited last time, I asked him about the article in question and he told us it was wrong and how. This is the article in question and I have found more than one occurrence of this description available on the internet, including direct copies of this on many websites. This article, although good in certain ways is not the elements of Yuko Datotsu. If you are going for your first grading and have found this article, IT IS NOT CORRECT! This article describes the preparation to the cut as well as the cut itself. This article would say the 5 points are:

  1. Posture
  2. Seme
  3. Opportunity
  4. Datotsu. Correct strike.
  5. Zanshin

Now after discussions with our shihan, I realised that really, only 4 really encompasses most of it. In fact, the part at the end that describes other aspects and terms is closer to the correct 5 elements.

  1. Datotsu-bu. Hitting with the monuchi of the shinai.
  2. Datotsu-bui. Hitting the correct part of the armour. Men, Kote, Dou or tsuki.
  3. Hasuji. The angle of your shinai must be correct.
  4. Ki. Having full spirit and posture. (What had ki got to do with posture?)
  5. Ki-ken-tai-no-ichi. (Does this not cancel out 4)

So I’m not satisfied with this description. The first 3 seem right to me. After this I have looked further. kenshi247.net describes it as follows: Making a valid strike. A valid strike which is considered ippon. According to the rules, a waza is complete when the following conditions are met: showing a fullness of spirit and appropriate posture, striking a datotsu-bui (striking zone) of the opponent with the striking region of one’s own shinai while using correct ha-suji, and expressing zan-shin.

  1. Ki
  2. Posture
  3. Datotsu-bui
  4. Datotsu-bu
  5. Hasuji
  6. Zanshin

Wait, that’s 6. how about:

  1. Ki-ken-tai-no-ichi
  2. Datotsu-bui
  3. Datotsu-bu
  4. Hasuji
  5. Zanshin

Okay, that’s five and seems most valid to me. So, I asked my Sensei again who gave me the following:

  1. Ki-ken-tai-no-ichi
  2. Datotsu-bui
  3. Datotsu-bu
  4. Hasuji
  5. Posture

He also recommended that despite these being the actual 5 elements of Yuko-Datotsu, that the additional parts around it are also good to mention in your written exam. Although this is only slightly different from the Kenshi247 version, it seems to be that Posture make the most sense as this effectively helps to demonstrate Zanshin at the end of the cut.

After much deliberation, this is what I wrote and handed in for my Shodan. It must have been okay as we didn’t get a telling off this time.



The five elements of Yuko Datotsu are what is required to produce and accurate and intentional strike.

The Five elements are as follows:

  1. Ki-ken-tai-no-ichi. The sword, body and spirit should be employed together and directed towards the intentional cut. This also means that your posture should be correct before, during and after performing the cut.
  2. Datotsu-bui. Hitting the correct part of the armour. Men, Kote, Dou or tsuki.
  3. Datotsu-bu. Hitting with the correct part of the shinai, the monuchi, the top third.
  4. Hasuji. The angle of your shinai must be correct to be a valid cut. The shinai is meant to represent a real sword and without correct hasuji on a real blade, the cut would not be effective.
  5. Zanshin / Remaining Mind. To remain ready. Full spirit should have been committed to the cut but you should be instantly ready to cut again.

Additional elements to consider.

The strike is meant to be a correct cut as if it were performed with a proper sword, as such the tenuchi of the cut should also be shown, not just a smashing cut. Without the control of the blade at the end of the cut, there can be no Zanshin.

Sutemi should also be demonstrated as this helps to display your strong ki. Without the complete and total commitment to the strike being performed, you will be slower and thus the strike will most likely not be effective. Only by holding nothing back, will your cut be effective, but there must be Zanshin.

An opportunity must be available before performing a strike. This is achieved through either your opponent giving you an opening, or creating an opening using seme, mental and/or physical or employing a waza of some sort. Harai is a good example of a waza that can be effectively used to create an opening.

Kiai should effectively demonstrate your ki and commitment to the cut.