View Full Version : The face of the swordsman.

Charlie Kondek
12th March 2003, 20:10
So, I was chatting with some of my kendo sempai/sensei at the last taikai and, I'm not sure how it came up, but we were talking about how some of the older kenshi distort their faces into warlike postures when they fight. One of my sensei said there is an old school of thought in kendo that actually teaches this as part of the technique. Has anyone heard of this, or been taught this?

Also, if you have experience with something similar, but not in kendo, please share, I'm interested in knowing more. I mean, something like this:

Charlie Kondek
12th March 2003, 20:12
Or this! I've done jigeiko with Inoshita-sensei of Cleveland and he makes a face like this.


Charlie Kondek
12th March 2003, 20:15

Diane Mirro
13th March 2003, 00:27
Yes, the idea of distorting the face with a horrible grimace is an ancient kendo practice, intended to cause your opponent to erupt in uncontrollable fits of laughter, thus rendering him/her completely helpless...

My Iaido and Aikido sensei over the years have emphasized the opposite--that a grimace or frown will actually impede good technique by causing you to tense up--after all, it's hard to have an angry look on your face and remain relaxed. In fact, one sensei had a smiley face drawn on the end of his jo and bokken (Iwama blunt tip having a small oval end instead of a point) precisely to get his partners to relax during weapons practice.

Joseph Svinth
13th March 2003, 00:43
Lee Ermy Jr. does a great job of describing the war face in "Full Metal Jacket." See also the New Zealand movie "Utu."

In most cases, though, the war face is a joke, because the people are simply trying to look scary when they're not.

Paul Taylor
13th March 2003, 01:31
Mommy, the mean man scared me.

Oh boy, the famous Samurai face that has launched a thousand toilet jokes.

The worst face I ever saw was when my sempai grinned at me. I knew I was doomed.


I still am waking up in a cold sweat, and not the Picardi type.

13th March 2003, 02:41

I think you have kabuki and noh theatrical appearances on the one hand, and the stoic, gunslinger like calm of the ideal swordsman on the other. Then you have the true face of fear on the real thing.:)

Arman Partamian

Charlie Kondek
13th March 2003, 13:41

I'm not convinced. Like I said, I have seen older kenshi make these expressions - maybe it's just natural? I'll do some more research.

Here's a lead:


Charlie Kondek
23rd April 2004, 16:05

Anybody in the current crowd have any insite? Note the thread is an old one.

23rd April 2004, 16:25
I try and remain deadpan. What disturbs most people is that they subconsciously are used to seeing emotion or movement in the face and it unbalances them not to see it. That combined with the focus and half closed eyes make people 'jump' when you cut at them....that and my ugly face anyways...:D

23rd April 2004, 18:08
I find it most disconcerting when you face those older sensei who are smiling all the time. Happy, happy, big grin, whack! They just love them some easy targets.

23rd April 2004, 18:14
Originally posted by Charlie Kondek

Maybe its just me but that looks sort of like a KISS album cover.

Charlie Kondek
23rd April 2004, 19:13
This came up in the first place after I was doing jigeiko with Inoshita-sensei of Cleveland. Then one of my senseis said that about old skool "face kendo."

I recently looked at mine in a mirror. It just looks determined and perhaps a little, I dunno, haggard! In kamae, that is. Be interesting to see what it looks like during actual practice.

27th April 2004, 00:48
I was told off for making "greasy face" by a visiting sensei while doing kata. I had a big realisation about naturalness in kendo from his comment. Deliberately scary faces destroy kigurai IMHO.