Bokken, bokuto, or both?

Discussion in 'Japanese Swords and Sword Arts' started by Aiki Lee, Feb 10, 2017.

  1. MI_martialist

    MI_martialist Brown Belt

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    There are a lot of schools with Koryu traditions, and roots. The roots are good and important, but the emphasis and focus has become defanged. Those, and the modern do arts will generally understand bokken and use it. Professional, true koryu warrior class practitioners, will hear "bokken" and understand your training. We use bokuto, and when we hear bokuto, it tells us the training is more authentic.
     
  2. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    The irony is too much, I can't take it. Lol
     
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  3. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master Black Belt

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    You are welcome to believe whatever you wish to believe, but that doesn't make it true.

    Perhaps I would be more inclined to believe you if you were actually living and training in Japan, or maybe had lived and trained in Japan in the past, or maybe if you were actually practicing a koryu art with roots in and oversight from Japan. However, you are actually doing none of these things, so I will take anything you assert as true with a grain of salt, since it is only what you've been told and you've given us no source of outside corroboration for verification.

    As long as you're happy with your training, then train hard. Don't assume that what you're told is absolute truth, and don't try to push your ideas on to other people. Neither of those is the Japanese way.
     
  4. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Very briefly, the Japanese written language (kanji) was imported from China, as I'm sure you know... this means that a number of written characters were adapted from their original (Chinese) usage to the most similar Japanese concept, rather than specifically referring to exactly the same thing. In China, the character 剣 (or, at least, an older version of it) was used to refer to a Chinese type of sword... specifically, a straight-bladed, double edged weapon described as a "jian". When the character was imported to Japan, it was used for the Japanese concept/term of tsurugi... a type of straight-bladed, single edged sword modelled on the Chinese of the 6th and 7th Centuries. They also developed a "Chinese" pronunciation of "jian"... which became "ken" when spoken in Japanese (the way they thought the Chinese word was said).

    The character 刀 was also imported... in Chinese, this is pronounced "Dao", and is often used to describe shorter, stouter blades (such as the Bat Charn Dao of Wing Chun), so it was sometimes translated as "knife", or simply "blade". As you can see, this concept refers to a single cutting edge, so when the first curved, single edged weapons were developed in Japan (thought to be around the 8th or 9th Century), the term was naturally applied to them... and the Japanese pronunciation of that is "katana" (note: not as a specific type of sword... what we think of as a katana, classified by it's mounting and koshirae as much as the blade itself, wouldn't really take hold for a while... early usage was of any short, utility blades, typically used in conjunction with longer weapons, and would sometimes be called an Uchi-gatana, or "striking blade/sword"), while giving it a "Chinese" pronunciation of "To(u)".

    So, from a historic perspective, the term 剣 was used to refer to double edged, straight weapons, and the term 刀 was used for single edged, curved weapons... however, there really is little distinction between them in usage these days, aside from some system preferences... after all, Kendo (剣道) isn't done with an old-school tsurugi... it's also not uncommon for any form of swordsmanship so simply referred to as "ken"... but almost universally using a weapon that is single edged and curved. The straight, double edged simply hasn't been used in Japan, or Japanese martial arts, for centuries... outside of one group studying it, but with no actual historical link, legacy, or anything else relating to the usage of such an item... just basically making it up based on other material they have.

    Before I get to that, are you genuinely inviting me to go through your website, and specifically the claims, and "informational" material there, to illustrate just how out of whack it is with actual Koryu training, ideas, concepts, history, and reality? Cause, I'm happy to... but would like you to clarify that you want me to first, so I don't get thought of as fraud busting...

    For which historical information, Steve? The written characters, the usage of terminology, or the realities of Classical Japanese martial arts training?

    Not overtly, no... at most, they'd likely assume that you were trained in the West (which is true)... you may come up against someone who is familiar with a number of groups who prefer the term "bokken", and assume you train with them... which is not necessarily anything that will be good or bad for you.

    It's not that "what he says doesn't jive with what I believe", it's more "what he says doesn't jive with reality, history, classical martial arts, Japanese martial concepts, accurate and correct terminology, and more, as known and understood by all practitioners and teachers of all legitimate Koryu in every medium found".

    Frankly, the idea of needing to come and train is a smoke screen... it's irrelevant. He has no idea what Sogobujutsu actually refers to (his PDF on it is nothing but misapprehension, mistakes in understanding, and mis-applied ideas), all you need to do is read it to see the problems (once you have some understanding of the area)... it has nothing to do with what the training is like... his knowledge is lacking.

    HA!

    No.

    Let me ask you this, then... if you walk into my school, and ask if we're training with 木太刀 tonight, does that tell me you're not trained in a Koryu tradition, or that you're not "professional" (seriously... that's a ridiculous thing to think you are in the first place...), or a "true koryu warrior class practitioner"? Yes? No? Can you say why?

    Oh, and please provide the correct transliteration for the term when you answer, thanks...

    This. Absolutely this.

    The only thing I'll say is that I wouldn't require you to have trained in Japan, or lived in Japan (it would help, absolutely), but I would require that you had actually trained in Koryu to lecture us on whether or not we are training in it...

    Here's a good way to tell... what do you get ranked in under Mr Viol?
     
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  5. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Sure. Yeah. Any of that, or all of it. Lots of information being shared. I'd really enjoy getting closer to the source material, if possible.

    Well, less the realities of classical, Japanese, martial arts training. More the usage of the terminology.
     
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  6. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Master Black Belt

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    Who's that? I have never heard of them.
     
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  7. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Oh... yes, you have, Mark... PM sent....
     
  8. oaktree

    oaktree Master of Arts

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    I have heard it both ways in Japan and outside of Japan . I really never thought about the difference meaning as most understand what you refer to.
    I guess it's possible that non martial artist in Japan might use bokuto more, but I didn't cared very much either way. I never heard some one say bokuto is the way to say it and that proves it's koryu, I want to say in my time with my sensei in tksr I don't recall any emphasis on the word bokuto and my sensei may have used bokken as more of a familiar term for everyone.
     
  9. Hyoho

    Hyoho Black Belt

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    he
    'Ken' refers to any sword both Japanese or Western 'To' refers to Nihonto. (Japanese sword). Japanese associations have used both with a play on words such as Todo Renmei (Japanese Sword association) or for example Kendo meaning 'Way of the sword' but of course its Japanese fencing.

    When using wooden one in Japan? If it's shaped like a Japanese sword it's specifically a Bokuto. Bokken could be another shape.You go to a Budoguya? You buy a bokuto.

    Looking at Mr Voil's page I have no idea whatsoever what a Dai Shihan is. We can use the term Shihandai as an acting shihan but Dai Shihan.

    More to the point and out of humility we don't actually call ourselves anything or paste a title in front of our names. That's lesson to be learned for 'Visitors to Japan.'
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2017
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