In the Classics it is said that everything moves from the centre. The centre must stay quiet and subtle and the legs and arms move from it and around it. As we improve the centre becomes fine and stable and we become aligned, balanced and in harmony. If we lose our centre we become scattered and we lose integrity.

When doing sword form or fencing the sword is moved from our centre, and on the sword’s centre. Our centre remains relatively still as our arms and the sword move around it, and the sword’s centre stays relatively still as the blade and the pommel move around it. In other words, our sword’s centre stays mostly in front of our Dan Tien* as we move, rising and lowering and not by swinging our arms to the left and right, willy-nilly.

The Japanese Sword Classics use the idea “The Seat of the Sword” to refer to the Dan Tien as related to swordplay.

“ ‘Seeing with the body and limbs’ means trying not to allow our body and limbs to be disconnected from our opponent’s Seat of the Sword, we see with the mind so that we may see with our eyes, we see with our eyes so that we may make our hands and feet go for our opponent’s Seat of the Sword.”


“Both the positioning of your feet and the carriage of your body should not be disconnected from your Seat of the Sword.”


At the highest level, our blade will be relentlessly seeking the O’s centre. Initially this will be an intention and whether it works or not is relative to the O’s skill. At some point it will hopefully become a natural act, as with magnets seeking poles, or flowers turning towards the Sun.

*The centre is called “Dan Tien” in Chinese, “Hara” in Japanese. The Dan Tien is also an organ named the “Greater Omentum” in western medical terms, it seems not to have any specific role, but it grows larger in some athletes as well as in advanced practitioners of the internal arts such as Yoga, Tai Chi, Bagua, Dervish spinning, etc.

Author and Images: Ken van Sickle

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