Från Kendo-Guide.Com Newsletter nr 2, augusti 2008
High School Kendo Has Been Changed: Rules on Tsubazeriai
This month, I would like to talk about how and why high school kendo changed the rules on tsuba-zeriai.
How did it change?
Basically the committee of All Japan High School Athletic Federation KENDO Section (AJHSAFK) did not like how students used tsuba-zeriai in matches or shiai.
Students used tsuba-zeriai to kill time so that their team or they would win the shiai. Besides, they spent most of the shiai time in tsuba-zeriai.
According to some statistics, these high school students spent 3/4 of their shiai time in tsuba-zeriai.
This tendency was seen strongly in high school competitions so the committee of AJHSAFK decided to solve this problem and also to keep kendo clean.
Keep Kendo Clean?
In shiai, we want to win. Who competes to lose? But it does not mean we should spend the most of time in tsuba-zeriai so we could win our shiai.
Moreover, in tsuba-zeriai, we have many techniques to keep our opponents in tsuba-zeriai so that they cannot strike us.
In normal training or keiko, we do not really use such techniques because there is no winning-losing situation as we have in a competition.
What we usually do, when our opponent and we cannot strike anything from tsuba-zeriai, is that we start stepping backwards to break tsuba-zeriai and start from Issoku Itto no Ma. (Clean)
In keiko, we know it is not the matter of winning or losing. It is the matter of how we improve ourselves, but in shiai our goal is somehow shifted.
As a result, we spend more than a half of shiai time in tsuba-zeriai.
So Tsuba-zeriai is a Dirty Technique??
No. We can be in tsuba-zeriai.
This change is to prevent the kendo practitioners from using tsuba-zeriai as one of shiai techniques such as killing time.
Tsuba-zeriai is a result of getting too close after striking one another. And we should be seeking an opportunity to strike in tsuba-zeriai or should break it as soon as possible.
The purpose of tsuba-zeriai is not "to avoid losing".
Now What are High School Students Doing?
They had to learn "correct" tsuba-zeriai. We all should know what correct tsuba-zeriai so I will list up what we should or should not do in tsuba-zeriai.
1. The correct tsuba-zeriai should be done using tsuba (hand-guards) not hands.
2. We cannot keep our sword in the right (our left) side of our opponent shinai for a long time. It is OK if it happens to be in that position for a second.
We cannot keep going back to that position intentionally.
3. Your hands should not touch the blade part of your opponent shinai. In other words, your hand should not be above your opponent's tsuba.
4. Your shinai and the opponent's should not be parallel.
5. We should not rotate our shinai to the right in tsuba-zeriai.
Source: Kendo Nippon
The AJHSAFK committee revised more but since it is for high school shiai rules and regulations so I do not talk about these changes here.