Discussion in 'Japanese Swords and Sword Arts' started by PhotonGuy, Sep 13, 2017.
Double posted somehow ...
Shoot, my posts are rarely worth reading once!
If you're training Iaido and your instructor and other folks who train Iaido are telling you what the right tool is, do that. It's easy. You can play tennis with a racquetball racquet, but can you really call it tennis if you do? I don't know. I think at that point you've invented your own game.
I really don't understand where the conflict is coming from. Having the right tool just seems so straightforward. I'm a fan of spending a few more bucks on the right tool for the job. I don't buy every tool around, but I sure do love my table saw and router. I did a lot of finish carpentry around the house with just a miter saw, but it makes all the difference to have the right tool.
The style of Iaido that I've recently started studying is Muso Shinden Ryu.
Partly beacause the concentration in one facet is so deep they simply dont have time to do another. kendo bu have a more or less 365 day schedule of what training they do and events/competiton they should cover.
I have seen 7th dan bend blades as their time and concentration was spent so much on Iai and they did no test cutting. They did not under stand what is called 'hasuji'. The same as the would cut steak with a knive and not turn the blade sideways Sensei that participated in WWll were good all rounders but most have past on. Batto tends to have a military foundation such as Toyama ryu. My Iai teachers and mentors are gone. That pushed me over to Batto Jutsu. Something that was classical and I never thought I had a hope in hell of practicing. Kenjutsu seeded and started when my Batto Jutsu teacher passed on. So it has never been a choice with me to moved around and on. Above all we see a duty and obligation to our teachers in Japan and stick with them. It's not as some people describe it as 'a style'. I have always managed to do two arts as they differ so much.
Some facets have one settling the body and rotating the hips to generate power. Not the baseball swings we see on the internet. To create a circular ma ai dealing with opponents that come in to that area. (the old way). Other facets deal in moving oneself to create hip power by moving forward. All very faceted and complex. Last but not least and adding to all that can you actually fight? Can you pick up a weapon and deal with someone or just dance around holding the wepon wearing protective armour.
Not entirely sure why I'm going through this again, but....
In terms of Japanese swordsmanship? Yes. And that's the point... we're not discussing just the ability to cut something in half, we're talking about Japanese swordsmanship... which can, but doesn't necessarily include cutting mats in half.
Child, you have no idea what you're talking about, or who you're talking to.
You're not even making any sense... no-one "regularly sword fights" at all... kendo, HEMA, and Olympic-style fencing would be the closest, and even there the distinction is quite noticeable. And as far as "someone who chops a mat in half"... when it is done in Japanese sword arts, it's for very specific reasons... and is not really considered a combat skill, or equated to anything of the kind.
Not if he's NOT EVEN DOING SWORDSMANSHIP.
Not impossible odds. Far from it. Mats are easy to cut. The point is that this thread is about Japanese sword arts... not this bizarre obsession you have with hacking mats in half. I mean, you can cut a mat in half with many tools, and many methods. Who the hell cares? They have nothing to do with the study of Japanese swordsmanship unless it is involving the tools and methodology of Japanese swordsmanship.
There is plenty of suitable equipment. There is also plenty of unsuitable equipment. But what makes something suitable is more complicated than you understand.
And this is not a normal discussion because you plainly have no clue what you're talking about, and at the same time, are trying to push an agenda based on being clueless and arguing with the very people who can give you the right information.
No, you're viewing it as what you think is the only practical aspect, while completely remaining ignorant (wilfully, it seems) of the actual topic.
Your confusion is that you can't get past your own misconceptions of what you think "practical" means, in order to listen to people trying to educate you. The choice of weapon is, in many ways, a practical decision, but also a personal one, and one based in the tradition being taught (we'll come back to that). You, however, have exactly the wrong idea of what "practical" means here.
Er... if you use an axe at all, you're doing it wrong... JSA, remember....
And no-one has said anything of the kind. It's more a matter of not wearing swimming flippers when doing MMA as they're not wrestling shoes. Once again, you have no idea what you're talking about, and are making exactly the wrong assumptions by reading things that aren't being said.
You were wrong. Pgsmith and I both gave a range of criteria, and reasons for seeking more personal advice, and Brendan offered some links to some reputable suppliers (although PhotonGuy would still need to check with his teacher for the criteria needed for his practice). So, yeah, you were wrong. Totally.
There really isn't the variety of tennis racquets that there are in swords, though... and a tennis racquet that goes flying isn't going to embed itself in someone's chest. Which, for the record, is something that has happened.
But let me ask you this... what system is PhotonGuy learning? What are the prescribed sizings for that system? What is the preferred koshirae? How tall is PhotonGuy? Does he have any issues with his wrists or shoulders? Can you answer any of that? Cause all of those are personal factors for his sword... beyond the idea of something of quality. And these are all things his instructor would know... hence our advice.
No, the advice was to talk to his instructor about what specific requirements there were, and to go from there. It's simply not the black and white situation you seem to want to present it as.
Are you kidding?
You have been getting the advice from the people who know what they are on about. You haven't listened. The consistency from us should be enough for you to listen, but I suppose not... because it doesn't match your delusions, it can't be right....
What the hell are you talking about?!?!?
Then you haven't heard a damn thing anyone has said.
Huh? You're not making any sense... what traditions from swordsmanship are effecting other systems?!?!
Christ... no. Dude. It has nothing at all to do with anyone being "allowed" to do anything or not... it has to do with the cheap ones being utter garbage, dangerous, badly suited to practice, and utter crap.
What. The. Hell. Are. You. Talking. About.
Okay, cool. I'm going to highlight why you need to talk to your instructor here.
Different systems have different sword preferences. Personally, I have trained in Muso Shinden Ryu Iaido, Hontai Yoshin Ryu's Iaijutsu syllabus, Tenshinsho Den Katori Shinto Ryu (which includes Iai waza), and am familiar with Seitei Iaido, Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu, Yagyu Seigo Ryu, Tatsumi Ryu, Bokuden Ryu Iai Heiho, Kashima Shinryu, Suio Ryu, and have a passing familiarity with some aspects of Kage Ryu (Hyoho's system), Hoki Ryu, Mugai Ryu, Tamiya Ryu, Sekiguchi Ryu, and probably another half dozen more that are escaping me at present. For my Muso Shinden Ryu and my Katori Shinto Ryu,
Muso Shinden Ryu, for example, has a preference for a longer sword... to the point that the founder of the modern form, Nakayama Hakudo, once nearly sliced through his Achilles tendon with a particularly deep drop of the kensen in Shohatto. Not quite as big as, say, the swords preferred by Sekiguchi Komei, head of the Yamauchi-ha line of Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu, who like oversized weapons in their practice, and certainly nowhere near the size of the Chokken of Kage Ryu, or the Odachi of Shin Muso Hayashizaki Ryu... but Katori Shinto Ryu has a preference for a slightly shorter sword, matching the size of their bokuto (if you're particularly tall, you might choose a longer one... again, the size is half personal, and half the system you're training in).
So, for training in Muso Shinden Ryu, if you're roughly "average" height, you might go for a 2.45 Shaku blade... or a 2.5 perhaps... but this is something your instructor can help you with. One important thing to point out, though is that your school has a link directly to a whole range of swords, starting from $299(US)... so maybe that whole thing where we said that that should be your starting point holds some merit?
Here is the link: Under Construction!
@drop bear you're either forgetting or haven't realized something in these sword art threads that can be summed up in one word/acronym: LARPing.
People are asking for advice on what comes down to what is the proper tool for their LARPing activity. If this was LARPing medieval dining and they were asking for a type of fork, your advice of "any pronged fork that holds the meat and gets it into your mouth is sufficient" wouldn't hold water and would get the purists all over your lack of understanding medieval ways. Substitute medieval fork for Japanese sword, and I think you can understand my analogy.
You're discussing "real world" cause and effect, they're discussing LARP.
I'm not trying to be condescending at all to those invested in Japanese swordsmanship. But "the right way" to draw, carry, display, cut, etc. is a IMO a form of LARPing. There are certainly other ways which are demonstrably quite effective (the mat was in fact cut in half without anyone losing a limb, after all), but that doesn't mean it was done "the right way" according to specific Japanese swordsmanship or any other swordsmanship protocol/ traditions.
That's a good way of expressing it. It can come across as making fun of them, but I don't think that was your intention. They are recreating something, not looking for the ultimate mat-cutting technique/weapon (nor even necessarily an effective one, since mat-cutting isn't the purpose for most of them).
Looking back at my own words, "recreate" may be another way to look at it. In the US, there are groups that re-enact parts of the Civil War. They wear uniforms that are reasonably accurate to the period and circumstances (to varying degrees, depending how dedicated they are to accuracy), and use weapons (firing blanks, obviously) of the period. There are certainly better rifles now, and if one just wants to make some gunpowder go "bang", there are other ways that are equally effective. But if they want to re-enact those battles, they will use the tactics of those troops, load their weapons like those troops, etc.
That was exactly my point.
I'm not exactly comfortable with equating serious study of a Japanese sword art (or HEMA or any other martial art) with LARPing, or even reenactors. (Side note: there are WWII, American Revolutionary War, and Civil War reenactors, at a minimum -- and most are quite serious about the authenticity and accuracy of what they wear.) Maybe if you limit it to studying and learning about something that doesn't exactly have practical day-to-day application... but even then, I think the LARPing characterization, especially, is disrespectful. It doesn't acknowledge, I think, the cultural sharing aspect, nor does it seem to respect the intent and integrity of serious training.
This is true, but you aren't seeing the whole picture. Cutting a mat "the right way" in a Japanese sword arts context does not mean cutting it according to protocol or traditions (although it being Japanese, those are always present). It means cutting a mat in such a way that you utilize the power of your center rather than your arms, and you remain in the proper balance and with the sword in the proper position to immediately follow up that cut with another, no matter what your opponent may do.
This is why practice cutting (tameshigiri) is just another tool to try and teach proper swordsmanship. The Japanese sword arts are taught the same way they have been in the past, as if you will actually need your sword to survive. This means that if you use only your upper body and arms when cutting, you will tire quickly and leave an opening where your opponent can kill you. If you use too much power and over-reach when cutting, you will leave an opening where your opponent can kill you. If you put your body into the cut so you are off balance, you will leave an opening and your opponent will kill you. The objective of test cutting within the Japanese sword arts is not cutting the target, the objective is cutting the target correctly in order to stay alive. It's a lot more difficult to do, but it's hard to understand (and see) the difference if you aren't actually familiar with the sword arts.
It is a lot more than LARPing or reenactment in that proper technique, and understanding why there is a proper technique, is more important than being historically correct. Anybody with an interest can do some research and invest in period clothing and do quite well in a LARP or reenactment group. It takes considerably more effort to learn a traditional martial art.
Nice description, thanks.
Very similar concept in our Tibetan White Crane. The use of the body, properly in balance, to deliver the power. Technique does not come from the arms and shoulders. It starts with the feet and engages the entire body.
Yes, it takes a lot of work to get it right.
But anybody with reasonable upper body strength can throw an effective punch. That isnt the point. The point is to do it with maximum engagement and better results.
I don't think anyone was trying to imply it was as easy as LARPing or re-enacting, just that there are considerations besides simply cutting a mat, and some of those considerations go to focusing on the traditional sword used by the ryuha (surely there are other swords that would perform as well for either cutting or overall swordwork, but it wouldn't be that system). And that there's a focus on something other than cutting the mat (as you point out in your post).
If I want to cut a mat, I don't need to study anyone's swordsmanship.
If I want to cut a mat as efficiently as possible with a manual method, swordsmanship is one possible starting point, but probably not the most direct path.
If I want to learn to use a traditional Japanese sword well, without innovating the sword (that's the part I was saying is similar to a re-enactment), then koryu sword arts are perhaps the best place to find that.
I am certainly out of my depth here... I know nothing about any sword arts. (we have a couple of good ones at our dojo though, that I get to watch occasionally) However, reading this thread reminded me of the experience I had learning to play guitar. (I really hope this example helps out)
I wanted to learn to play guitar, so I started looking for both a guitar and a teacher. I found the teacher first, and she insisted on going with me to buy a guitar. To me, they were all the same. Sure, they looked different, and some were more expensive... I had no idea that neck widths were different, the string heights were different, that the height of the string changed over the neck, that the woods were different, that there were different gauges of strings, the bridges were different... (its a really long list) I just wanted the guitar that looked a certain way, for what I wanted to pay for it. She was smart enough to explain to me that if I buy a cheap / wrong guitar it will sound like crap. If it sounds like crap, I won't want to practice, because it will always sound like crap. I understood this, and allowed her to choose my first guitar, for twice what I wanted to pay. (it was a yamaha laminate top guitar) And I started to practice. At that time, every guitar felt clumsy. I liked how some felt, even though I had no idea how to play.
I played for a couple years. I enjoyed it. It sounded good, because I bought the right guitar to start with. It amazed me that other people would get frustrated and quit. I thought I knew why, I thought that they bought the wrong guitar and it sounded like crap, so they didn't want to practice. Until, I tried their guitars. Sure, they sounded like crap... but the action was too high, making it hard to hold the notes, and even harder to go to the next note. The strings actually hurt my fingers, that already had calluses from a year or two of playing. Some of these guitars couldn't actually be tuned right, the gears would not hold the tension. Some the strings were too close together for my hand.
Here's the thing. Before I put significant time into playing the guitar, I would not have noticed or known about any of these issues. (there are a lot more to list...) I simply did not know anything. After a few years, I started to notice more things that would make playing a guitar harder or easier to play. I finally thought I understood why my first teacher wanted to help me choose what to start with. I then put down the guitar for about 15 years. The bug came back, but I wanted a better guitar. I went into the store, and found that I could not play at all anymore. I had to start learning all over... I realized, I could not evaluate a "better" guitar, if I could not play. I dug out that old guitar, and even though the sound died (laminate guitars do that over time) and it sounded pretty rough... I was able to relearn much of what I had learned before. Once I was back near the level I was, I went back to the store to play different guitars. I was able to find one I really like. I am still learning about things that effect how they play and how they sound. The more I learn, the more I respect my first teachers efforts to start me out right. She was good enough to tell me that how it sounded mattered. Thats the only thing I could possibly understand at that time. But, she had actual real reasons for directing my purchase. But, I would not learn of those reasons for years.
What I have gleaned from reading this thread, and watching the sword arts we have at our dojo... is the importance of involving your sensei, and taking his advice. Your sensei knows where you are going with your training in his system. He knows what will aid you in learning his system when you do not. Others here have mentioned specific reasons for getting the right tool. I cannot comment on those reasons... But, from my guitar experience, I can share, that listening to the master is the only way to go. If you are willing to hold the sword the way they tell you and swing the way they tell you and step the way they tell you.... why not use the tool they tell you to use. They really are trying their best to get you to use the tool that will most efficiently teach you their art. I really hope this made sense to people.
Just trying to clarify for those unfamiliar with it. Thought about it, and went to see if I could find some video to make it more clear.
This first video is from a random karate studio's "sword class". Not trying to bad mouth them or anything, but it is a wonderful example of how NOT to practice tameshigiri. I only watched the first minute or so, but the student who is doing the cutting is starting from a poor position, swinging the sword poorly, and only using his arms and upper body without engaging his center at all. These folks have obviously (to me) had no real Japanese sword arts training.
Now contrast that with this clip. This is my friend Sang Kim. He is highly ranked in Toyama ryu and runs the Byakkokan dojo in New York.. He is also the current president of the U.S. Federation of Battodo. See how he engages his entire body in the cuts, but remains balanced with the sword towards the target and in front of his body the entire time, ready for another cut if needed.
There are two arguments that get used that just don't apply. The sword will break. You will stab yourself.
This is not really the case considering mat cutting can be done with a machete by a guy in his back yard.
Now I just find it hard to believe that there is so much reliance on the type of sword rather than development of the skill of the user.
Essentially the argument for correct cutting techniques and thousand dollar swords to me boils down to that is how you want to do it.
And that is fine. But let's not try to make it more than it is. Because then the arguments just become weird and culty.
Yeah. Look I get that. And have no issue with it. But to learn a skill takes participation. Not a cooler than heck sword or fork.
To participate in a ritual probably needs the right gear. But the argument that I don't like is that the skill set won't be developed with the sightly wrong tool.
That is just elitism.
A $50 sword is not as durable as a $15 machete. The blade is longer and thinner, so even if it were made of the same material, it would be more fragile. Add to that the fact that a $60 sword will still have more expense in the grip, more decoration, and a more expensive scabbard than the machete. Then add in the fact that the machete is actually manufactured for cutting stuff. Most cheap swords are manufactured with the intent that they be put on display, so the steel in them can be absolute crap.
You're arguing that a sword that's "good enough" doesn't need to be as good as they're claiming it needs to be.
They're arguing "how do you know what 'good enough' is when you haven't actually done it."
There's 3 sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth.
And I will counter how do you know meth is bad if you haven't tried it?
It is a stupid argument.
Except you could make a cheap sword that cuts. Or does the job well enough. Just there is no market for it among the Iado crowd. Which was kind of the original question.
And you would just do a riveted handle.
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