"Arrow-cutting"?

Discussion in 'Koryu Corner' started by chrispillertkd, Oct 26, 2012.

  1. chrispillertkd

    chrispillertkd Senior Master

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    I was just wondering if anyone has heard of this.

    Apparently there are some koryu that include techniques (of last resort, I imagine) where you attempt to block an attack from a bowman by cutting his arrows as they are fired at you. Is this an actual "thing"? Is it a practice that is common to more than one koryu? Which ryu include it in their teachings? What weapons are used to do this? (I have seen a video of a gentleman using a katana and have also read an account of someone using a naginata; are other weapons used, too?)

    Thanks in advance.

    Pax,

    Chris
     
  2. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    i don't know anything about the koryu, but this just sounds like fantasy. I can't imagine anyone being successful with this, outside of a perfect set-up and a very weak bow. Under combat situations, with an armour-piercing war bow, or even a respectable hunting bow, there's really no way.
     
  3. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    Though the skill has a name, Yado I believe it is, it is broadly considered to be mythical in nature and is generally promulgated by the Ninjerz-r-us type of practitioner.

    Amendment: A bit of research seems to show that Yado is manipulating arrows to attack with rather than defending against them, tho' I suppose the two could be inter-related.
     
  4. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    Observe and make your own conclusions as to just how possible this feat is really:

    [yt]_ND7MsExOeE[/yt]

    [yt]wiJG3lkACXM[/yt]
     
  5. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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  6. chrispillertkd

    chrispillertkd Senior Master

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    Sukerkin, thanks for the links. The second one was the video I had originally seen and part of why I raised the question in the first place. Unfortunately, at the time of her shooting the film is slowed down in order to look "dramatic" so I really can't say anything about how hard of a draw she has, how fast the arrow is actually going, etc. I'd much rather it have been shown full speed at first and then slowed down.

    The first video is impressive in that he's cutting a fairly fast moving arrow, but I know there's a bit of controversy surrounding the gentleman in the video.

    FWIW, the account of using a naginata I mentioned in my original posting was about Gochi-in no Tajima.

    Pax,

    Chris
     
  7. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Okay.

    Sukerkin, you're thinking of the term "yadome", which is literally "arrow stopping", rather than "yado".

    The version shown is, bluntly, a parlour trick more than anything else, and something that Tanaka Fumon (in the second clip Suk put up) is the best known for. Firing the arrows at him is his daughter, by the way. Tanaka claims lineage in a number of Koryu and reconstructed systems, notably a number that have connections to the X-Kan lineages (Takagi Ryu, Kukishin Ryu of varying forms, Koto Ryu etc), but none of them feature any techniques along the lines of what is shown. As is typical, a realistic concept is misinterpreted and turned into something else. Most commonly, yadome is taught as any method that can be used to protect against arrows, often more based on postural ideas ("hiding" behind a weapon, such as a sword or a bo), although certain systems may have methods mentioned which involve actions (but they are most likely exaggerations, at best).

    Oh, and Michael, we're talking rather different types of bow here...
     
  8. Instructor

    Instructor Master Black Belt

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    Luke Skywalker could have done it blindfolded. :)
     
  9. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    sure, and yet I cannot imagine how that would matter. an arrow coming at you, shot by someone with the intention to kill you, coming off a bow powerful enough to be chose for warfare, that's a set-up asking for disaster if one were to try to cut it out of the air with a weapon. I can't see how it matters if it's a Japanese bow, or a Hungarian bow, or an English Longbow, or a modern recurve or a modern compound.
     
  10. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    OK, regarding the videos...

    in the first one, the swordsman was standing behind a barrier, and the arrow was actually shot to the side of him. He cut it down as it passed him. However, I believe that had the arrow been shot at him, with no barrier in the way, he would have been hit and killed even if he managed to cut off the back of the arrow. It was just coming in too fast to stop it before he would be hit by it. The body of the arrow was already passed, and he only managed to cut off the shaft at the fletchings. At that point, he would have been hit already.

    In the second video, the bow the woman was shooting was very weak. She had no type of finger guard for the draw which suggests it is not difficult to pull, it looked like she had a very abbreviated pull, and the one scene where the showed the release (very briefly) at full speed, gave me the impression that the bow was not powerful at all. It actually looked like she was just pinching the nock of the arrow between forefinger and thumb (on the video at 1:26), which guarantees that the bow is not powerful at all. The rest of the scenes were shown in slow motion, making it impossible to tell how powerful the bow was. I do not believe it was a powerful bow at all, possibly a beginners or even child's bow.
     
  11. oaktree

    oaktree Master of Arts

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  12. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    That gels with the experience of a couple of my sensei, Oaktree :nods:.

    I've described it before in these pages but essentially they set it up so that sensei Shaw would shoot, on command, just past sensei Lovatt's left shoulder whilst sensei Lovatt stood ready in Hasso. They could not do it and, given that, even now, as he battles against that teki that claims us all (age), he is still a hugely better swordsman than I am ... well, I am prepared to say that at best it is a 'gun-slinger' trick and not something to be considered as a realistic technique.
     
  13. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    For the supposed "genuine skill", no, it doesn't have much effect, as, bluntly, the skill isn't legit, and is just a parlour trick. But for the parlour trick, it can have some influence...

    Yeah, Isao Michii is well known for his crowd-pleasing sword tricks (such as cutting various objects being shot towards him... here, an arrow, in other cases a bb-gun pellet), but that shouldn't be confused with anything to do with Koryu (he has founded his own modern system of swordsmanship, which does have many Koryu practitioners shaking their heads at what he's doing). I agree that, if the arrow was aiming at him, he'd still be rather injured, but honestly I don't feel that's the point. He's showing off his reaction timing and precision, not a real battle-realistic skill. Honestly, I don't know of any school that deals with such things. But on the place where he cut the arrow, this is another difference with the Japanese form... the arrows in Japanese archery are longer than Western ones, so if it was a Western bow, he probably would have missed...

    Michael, I'm simply going to say that none of your critique here is accurate when it comes to Japanese bows... there is no finger guard used, as a Japanese bow is drawn rather differently, and this was far from a "beginners" or "child's" bow... in fact, I'm not familiar with there even really being such things. What it was, though, was a less powerful (less full) draw, in order to ensure the arrow flew slowly... but that's actually more to do with Midori's skill in Kyudo than any fault of the bow. In other words, the fact that she could deliberately slow the arrow down that much, and retain the degree of accuracy she did, has me more impressed with her skills than her fathers there.
     
  14. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    ok, and that was my point. Going back to the OP, I believe the question was essentially, is this kind of thing a legitimate skill, tho it was phrased within the context of a traditional Japanese sword method. I agree, it's a parlour trick and not, in my opinion, a legitimate battlefield skill. As for the type of bow and the type of archery having some impact on the parlour trick, sure, I can accept that.

    I can find agreement here and this is basically what I was saying. He is skilled with his speed, but I doubt the skill has much real battlefield use. I will disagree with your final statement tho. Even with a shorter European arrow I believe he would still get stuck with it, even if he made the cut. That is assuming an arrow coming in off a bow that is at least powerful enough for hunting medium to big game, and not a very weak bow instead. He may make the cut, it may happen before his is actually struck, but he'll get struck. And if it's a real arrowhead and not some kind of blunted point, he's gonna get hurt. Even with a blunt, he'll regret it in the morning.

    Seems to me I've seen pictures of some kind of glove worn on the draw hand in Japanese archery. I realise the Japanese bow is drawn differently from other kinds of bows. However, I've done enough shooting to be able to recognize the telltale signs of a weak bow. At that point in the video that I listed, it looks to me like she is simply pinching the nock of the arrow between thumb and forefinger. If so, then the bow cannot be very powerful because that kind of pinch draw simply cannot work with a powerful bow. If, on the other hand, she has hooked the string with a finger or thumb to aid in the pull and I simply cannot see it from that vantage point in the video, then the bow may be more powerful than I give credit for.

    There is also a point in the video where she is viewed from behind as she makes the draw. From the angle of her arm it is clear to me that she has made an incomplete draw, as you point out, to make the arrow fly more slowly. Again, that aids the parlour trick, gives some extra room for the trick to be successful.

    In the short clips where they showed the arrows penetrating the board, that gives us very little information. What kind of board that was, is not made clear. Almost none of the flight path of the arrow is visible, only the last couple of feet before the arrow hits the board. Even from that vantage point, it looks to me like the arrows are not coming in very fast, again pointing to the probablity of a weak bow, or an incomplete draw to minimize the power (and arrow speed) in the shot.

    I'll be the first to admit that I know nothing about Japanese archery. But I do know something about archery and how an arrow flys off a bow, and what a shot from a weak bow looks like compared to a shot from a powerful bow. My observations are not meant to be a critique of Japanese archery. Only to point out what I see in this video, that tells me that this parlour trick is set up in a very special and orchestrated way to make it successful. Without these special orchestrations, the guy would fail. If I took any of my bows, ranging in poundage from about #55 to #110 and shot an arrow at that guy, he would die. He would not make the cut.
     
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  15. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Hi Michael,

    There may be some confusion... looking back over my post, it's entirely possible that I wasn't as clear as I would have hoped. Let's see if I can fix that....

    Yeah, the initial question of "is this in any Koryu?" has an answer of "I seriously doubt it"... the comment in the Tanaka Fumon clip of this being a "very old traditional skill" is, frankly, garbage and sensationalist editorializing on the part of the makers of the show... it's really not. But, for the record, you'd be hard pressed to find anything involving Japanese swordsmanship that was genuinely a "battlefield skill", by the way...

    Yeah, sorry about that... what I meant wasn't that the arrow would miss, it was that, with Isao only connecting at the end of the arrow (at the fletchings), if the arrow was shorter (Western), then Isao would have missed the arrow (and it would have continued unhindered to strike him). I was basically saying that one of the things that allow it to work (as a parlour trick) is the fact that the arrow is longer, giving the swordsman more time to contact the incoming missile, hence the form of archery, and specific equipment having an effect on the outcome.

    Yep, the glove is called a "yugake", and is traditionally made of deerskin, with a toughened leather section over the thumb. The reason is that the Japanese draw is done with the thumb, with the fingers essentially just, as you noted, holding the arrow gently but firmly in place. In other words, the arrow isn't drawn back, which loads the bowstring with kinetic energy, the bowstring itself it drawn back, using a form that allows for a larger, fuller draw, as well as greater accuracy than a Western bow, due to the way the arrow is held (it rests aiming straight ahead, rather than across at a slight angle, as seen in Western archery). To put it simply, there is no pinch draw in Japanese archery. Add this different draw method to the design of the bow itself (with the longer upper arm storing more energy), and you have a very powerful weapon. You might be interested to know that the bow was the defining weapon of the Samurai for the vast majority of their history, rather than the sword, to the point that an early name for Samurai families was Kyusen no Iie, or "bow and arrow families", with the overall term of martial education and military methods being known as "Kyuba no Michi", or "Way of Mounted Archery", as the defining aspect of samurai methodology.

    Oh, yeah, absolutely. This trick is equal parts Takana Fumon's swordsmanship and precision, and his daughter Tanaka Midori's archery, with very controlled and precise firing of the arrows (including the aim, speed, power etc).

    Yep. That was, yet again, another example of sensationalist, but far from substantive, editorializing on the show itself. "The arrows go through the board!" Yeah, okay, great... from how far away? It's just a meaningless demonstration designed to impress people who don't know what they're looking at... which, honestly, is most of the audience of such programs.

    Yep, completely agreed. It was a weak shot, but not a weak bow, and it was a deliberately weak shot in order to allow the trick to work. Parlour games, smoke and mirrors, nothing to do with martial skills whatsoever. It may use the same equipment of martial arts, but that doesn't make it martial arts.
     
  16. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Ah there we go now. I knew we certainly agreed on the bottom line and I wasn't sure where the rest of it was coming from. Looks like we really are in agreement with everything here, just had a couple things get tangled in translation. Interesting discussion, and I always enjoy learning something more about archery and swordsmanship. Thanks!

    Oh, and I am familiar with the thumb draw, in concept if not in practice, and I did suspect that was the method employed in Japanense archery. From that video, I simply could not tell if she was actually doing it, and from that vantage point it looked to me like she was not, and was merely pinching the nock, tho in truth I could not tell with full certainly.
     
  17. Jameswhelan

    Jameswhelan Yellow Belt

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    [​IMG]
    Maniwa Nen ryu
     
  18. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    :chuckles: Whilst of course doing such a thing with live arrows would be very foolish, you do have to take into account just what having a LARP ball on the end does to the performance of an arrow. Still a fun feat but likewise not something to be seriously pondered as a 'fighting' technique.
     
  19. chrispillertkd

    chrispillertkd Senior Master

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    All styles have techniques that most people wouldn't consider " effective." I can't tell you the number of times people have informed me that Taekwon-Do's high kicks are ineffective even though I've used them quite effectively in self-defense more than once. (The secret is like everything else; you need adequate training.) They also often have techniques that are used as a last resort. I'd say that since Maniwa Nen Ryu is a legitimate koryu it's most likely that its yadome techniques fall into both of these categories. Something that you don't really want to be in a situation where you need them but hoping you put enough training time in if you are.

    The effects of the padded tip on the arrow will effect tings, no doubt. So does the difference between using a shinai and a live blade or even using sparring gear. All training consists of giving up a certain amount of realism for safety while wagering that the pay-off is still substantially worthwhile.

    Thanks for the pic, Jameswhelan.

    Pax,

    Chris
     
  20. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master Black Belt

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    Hey Chris,
    Just want to clear a little something up here. Just because you see Maniwa Nen ryu exponents cutting at a padded arrow that is being shot at them, don't think that it is meant as a way to cut an arrow out of the air. Koryu kata are filled with things that make no real sense in an actual encounter. They are designed specifically to imbed certain traits and movements into muscle memory. Without knowing exactly how they are required to stand, move, or cut at the arrows, it is impossible to try to even guess just what that particular endeavor is meant to teach. I can pretty much guarantee you though that it isn't meant to teach a person how to defend themselves from being shot by an arrow. :) The problem comes in when someone sees something such as what Maniwa Nen ryu practices, and puts their own interpretation on it. They then can practice this until they perfect a flashy parlor trick (I've seen video of someone that catches arrows out of the air) and say it is a "traditional practice". It's important to remember that koryu kata never teaches 'techniques', only underlying methods of movement.
     

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