Questions about Japanese Iron fan--tessen

Discussion in 'Beginners Corner' started by C1412, Dec 26, 2017.

  1. C1412

    C1412 White Belt

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    Before I start this thread, I have no intention to use any of this information for ill will. I am merely curious and a writer who has this character who wields an Iron fan.

    I respect the martial arts surrounding this weapon so as much as possible, I'd like to make it realistic as possible.

    Now onto the question.

    I've read on some sites that this Iron fan could actually kill a person depending on the blow. How in the world is that possible?

    I have my theory that if the iron fan actually hit weak points, it could cause injury and then death.

    Thank you for your response.
     
  2. BrendanF

    BrendanF Orange Belt

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    'IF'...'could'... seems you've answered yourself. Those koryu which teach tessen universally use it for locks, manipulations and strikes. NOT coups de gras. AFAIK.
     
  3. Midnight-shadow

    Midnight-shadow 3rd Black Belt

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    I'm only really familiar with Chinese fans, which had a sharpened edge used for slicing across an opponent, causes lacerations and even being able to sever blood vessels. This would mostly be done in the open fan position.

    Depending on how they are made, Japanese fans could be used in a similar fashion, although from what I'm reading it was used more as a trapping weapon:

    Learn about Tessenjutsu - Japanese Martial Arts focused on War Fans - Black Belt Wiki
     
  4. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes Senior Master

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    I have no expertise in how the weapon was traditionally used, but consider that when folded the tessen is essentially a short metal truncheon. I understand that some versions were actually just solid iron clubs designed to look like a folded fan so they could be carried in environments where blades would be forbidden.

    Is it hard to understand how you could beat someone to death with a short metal club? It might not have the leverage of a longer club, but it would still be solid enough to potentially crack someone's skull.
     
  5. MI_martialist

    MI_martialist Brown Belt

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    Staves made from broken blades from battle...
     
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  6. Encho

    Encho Green Belt

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    Dear op,
    You can kill a person with any thing if you use it with that intention.
     
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  7. C1412

    C1412 White Belt

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    Haha! I was a bit doubtful of my theory, but thank you. That makes sense.
    Oh! That could be useful for this character. Thank you.

    I see. Well I understand that you could beat someone to death, but the character I'm making prefers to use the fan and give a killing blow immediately so yep. Thank you for that btw!

    That could work as well! Thanks for giving me an idea.
     
  8. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    with a short, heavy truncheon, there are strikes more likely to kill. you have to decide how far to stretch reality (no stretching will make for a boring character/fights). A shot to the front of the throat has a reasonable chance (breaking the hyoid bone, I think), and a shot to the back of the head, just under the skull edge is also reasonably dangerous with something like that.
     
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  9. Midnight-shadow

    Midnight-shadow 3rd Black Belt

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    If you watch the following clip at 2:40 it shows you some use of a Chinese fan in action. I can't attest to how realistic it is, but it gives you an idea of what it can be used for.


     
  10. frank raud

    frank raud Master Black Belt

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  11. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Don's work above is great on this subject.

    Gentlemen, it is a fan, a back up tool, not a primary one. As Tony mentioned above when closed it can be a formidable striking implement.
     
  12. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master of Arts

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    A few things for folks to consider ...
    First, I agree with Brian in that Don Cunningham's Secret Weapons is an interesting and pretty well researched book on some of the lesser known weapons of old Japan.

    Second, there is quite a bit of confusion about tessenjutsu due to some of the Chinese arts which use fans as weapons, and also because of traditional Japanese fan dances, which often look like a martial arts kata due to the precision and training required. This is perpetuated by well meaning (but uninformed) folks that pass on tidbits such as "Tessen, the Japanese war fan!" (it wasn't). All of the tessen that I have seen in either pictures or live have been solid iron in the shape of a folded fan (most of them) or an actual useable fan with heavy iron top and bottom covers (I've only seen a couple of examples of these).

    All of the koryu that still practice tessenjutsu (well, the ones that I am familiar enough with to have seen it) use it as a truncheon. Here is an example of how the koryu teach tessenjutsu from a public demonstration of some of their kata. Kiraku ryu is a legitimate koryu school in Japan ...


    Hope that helps some. :)
     
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  13. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    I'll be honest... I have little inclination to answer this with any form of genuine information. Bluntly, you're a writer... invent whatever you want the fan to be able to do, and how you want it to be used. That's not what these sites are for... try a creative writing forum for ideas along those lines. That said... if you're trying to be authentic in your writing, and that's why you're asking, I would say that yes, take what is essentially an iron bar, and crack someone across the skull with it, and you'll see some damage... but, for more detail, there are (broadly speaking here) two dominant uses for tessen... against unarmed opponents, and against armed opponents. Again, broadly speaking, against an unarmed opponent, a tessen is most commonly used for joint locks and restraints, and against armed opponents (most typically armed with a sword, for the record), striking with the weapon was the preferred. Of course, there was cross-over, but that's the basic thrust of it. Of course, if you're taking the effort to make that aspect authentic, I'd expect that you're making everything else just as authentic?

    Yeah.... that "Black Belt Wiki" is just atrocious....
     

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