Chudan no kamae
The first and most important kamae is the Chudan no kamae (centre kamae). The feet are approximately one walking step apart with the left foot to the rear and left heel approximately 2 cm off the ground. The right foot is forward with the heel approximately 2 mm off the ground. Both feet should point to the front as though you were following parallel railway tracks. The legs should be slightly bent with your weight in the centre. The feeling should be as if your legs are a spring ready to push you forwards to attack.
The shinai is held with the end of the handle (Tsuka) cradled in the palm of the left hand and the right hand grasping the handle lightly just below the guard (Tsuba). There should be about 5 – 7cm between the hara and the left hand. The top of the shinai is pointed towards the opponent’s left eye and should be at throat level. The entire arms, except the fingers holding the shinai should be relaxed. This position is sometimes called “holding 4 eggs”, where you imagine you are lightly holding an egg under each armpit, another between your do (at hara level) and the end of the shinai handle and another between the tsuba and the “V” formed by the thumb and index finger of the right hand.
The head should be held erect with the chin tucked in. This will help to correct bad posture. You should look towards your opponent as if you were looking through him at a mountain in the distance. This allows you to view your opponent and immediate surroundings without focusing on one particular part of his body.
Breath smoothly and naturally from the hara. This will give you more stability and keep you relaxed and able to quickly react when required.
Jodan no kamae
In Jodan no kamae the left foot is forwards, the right is to the rear and the shinai is held above the head at an angle of approximately 45 degrees to the right and tilting backwards 45 degrees. The left hand is about one fist distance above the forehead.
Gedan no kamae
In Gedan no kamae the shinai is lowered from chudan to a point where the tip is approximately 20cm above the floor.
Hasso no kamae
In Hasso no kamae the position of the feet is the same as for jodan no kamae. The shinai is held with the tsuba about one fist away from the cheek, level with the mouth. The angle and tilt is the same as for jodan no kamae.
Waki no kamae
In Waki no kamae the right foot moves back from chudan so that the left foot becomes the forward foot. The shinai is brought up over the right shoulder and down behind the body so that it cannot be seen by the opponent. Both hands will be near the right hip with the tip down about 20cm off the floor.