When Footwork in Sword Arts?

Discussion in 'Beginners Corner' started by DruBokkens, Apr 8, 2017.

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  1. DruBokkens

    DruBokkens White Belt

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    Among sword arts, when does footwork training begin? Is it mainly a subject for kata, and not a part of basics like learning basic cuts, or is it included in all exercises from day one?
     
  2. DanT

    DanT Brown Belt

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    Depends which art you're talking about. In CMA because they descend from battlefield skills the footwork is similar to footwork used for empty hand combat, and is taught alongside the cutting skills. It really depends on what you're talking about because the footwork and strategies depends on the type of sword you're using (a broadsword vs a katana vs a straight sword vs a hook sword) for example.
     
  3. DruBokkens

    DruBokkens White Belt

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    I'm sorry for not clarifying—I was asking about Japanese sword arts, especially kenjutsu and iaido. I was curious if footwork is treated separately from the very basics, especially basic cuts to allow a beginner focus just on those, or if it's introduced alongside, from the very beginning. And if it's different from school to school, or mostly consistent.
     
  4. oaktree

    oaktree Master of Arts

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    I was taught it right from the get go after how to hold a sword. I can't think how to do was without footwork especially in two man sequence
     
  5. Midnight-shadow

    Midnight-shadow 2nd Black Belt

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    Generally speaking, you learn the basic sword movements first, then put footwork with it. For example, One of the first saber moves I was taught was the vertical downward slash, a very simple movement but as a beginner you still need to think about it a bit. So I practised that movement standing completely still until I could do it without thinking about it. At that point I was told to put a shuffle step into it, so I would raise the sword above my head, shuffle forwards and strike down. Rinse and repeat. From there I learned to do the movement going both forwards and backwards.

    You can of course learn it the other way around, where you practice the footwork first, and then add the strikes to it. This will achieve the same result and it's personal preference which order you learn them in. The key though (for me at least) is to isolate the footwork from the hand/sword movements before putting them together.
     
  6. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple Senior Master

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    While this isn't for japanese sword arts, when I originally started fencing, I spent about 3 weeks (2 hours daily) learning footwork and practicing before I ever got to hold a weapon. When I've played around with people from kendo or HEMA, my footwork always gives me a pretty big advantage.
     
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  7. DruBokkens

    DruBokkens White Belt

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    Thank you guys for your input. Does anyone know how does it work in, say, Toyama ryu or Katori Shinto? I've seen glimpses of some classes where students repeated each basic cut ten times at the beginning of the class, with proper footwork. I wonder, however, if (in most cases) brand new students learn basic cuts as isolated from the footwork, like one of you had mentioned—unless, of course, I'm trying to find consistency that isn't there, and it all differs from ryu to ryu.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2017
  8. KangTsai

    KangTsai 2nd Black Belt

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    From what I know (not much), Katana arts focus alot on hip-movement for cuts more than stepping.
     
  9. oaktree

    oaktree Master of Arts

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    In Katori Shinto Ryu I learned waza we did not do isolated cuts with out footwork even makiuchi has footwork when I learned it. I guess each teacher is different though I have visited other schools and did not see this(same ryuha)
     
  10. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    I'm curious as to why you would think that such actions would be done separated from footwork... sword work, as in everything else, is not powered just by the arms, but by the body, driven by the legs, and centred in the hara. As a result, to do sword work without the legs is just, well, rather pointless in most cases.

    I'm also a little curious as to why you're asking... if you're training in the ryu in question (and I have some exposure to Toyama Ryu, as well as my training in other ryu-ha, including Shinto Ryu), then it's obvious... and, if not, then the particulars aren't that important to you. Do you train in ken? If so, what system do you train in?
     
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  11. DruBokkens

    DruBokkens White Belt

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    Thank you for your reply, it makes perfect sense.

    I wanted to practice kenjutsu for a long time, in fact most of my life, but never made that move because I thought I'm the last guy suitable for it. It's still going to be a while before I can begin training, so I'm curious to understand some of it while I wait.
     
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  12. Midnight-shadow

    Midnight-shadow 2nd Black Belt

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    Why do you think you are unsuitable to learning Kenjutsu?
     
  13. MI_martialist

    MI_martialist Blue Belt

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    Well, in an art, one can do as one pleases and feels the interpretation is good. In a fight science (jutsu), then fundamentals are continually and constantly trained...footwork is a fundamental that dictates distance, which is probably the most important element in battle.
     
  14. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Yeah, I'm going to second the question as to why you feel you're unsuited to training in kenjutsu... I mean... your profile lists you as being 28, so I don't quite get why "its still going to be a while", assuming the reason isn't just that there's no one around to teach... and you list your occupation as "bokken-maker". How can you do that without any understanding/experience in what a properly balanced bokuto/bokken should be like?

    At the end of the day, the particular teaching and training methodology of a particular system is a part of that art... but really fairly irrelevant unless you're training in it. There is no single blue-print, no single approach that all systems dogmatically follow... so, whether you realise this or not, your entire question is kinda irrelevant to you. You cannot teach this to yourself, no matter how many videos or "glimpses of classes" you've seen.

    Er.... what?

    You do get that a translation of "jutsu" (術) is "a practical art", yeah? So I'm not sure how you're distinguishing between a "jutsu" system (whatever you think that is), and an "art", here implying a martial art... and, while I'll give you that the fundamentals (kihon) are continually and constantly trained, your idea of footwork being about distance, I feel, is a bit off... it's more about other aspects, with distance being a part of certain types of footwork... and as for "the most important element in battle"... yeah... maybe less romantic fantasy in your training? You're not going into battle... especially not with a sword.
     
  15. MI_martialist

    MI_martialist Blue Belt

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    So, this definition that you have given for "jutsu" is the definitive one that everyone goes by? Jutsu has many layers of depth of meaning...A jutsu system has consequences...an "art martial" is an interpretive dance with the consequence being not getting a patch, stripe, belt, new fancy colored uniform. That is what I am implying. "Arts Martial" has martial training backwards and upside down compared to a science training - JUTSU.

    How is footwork and distance off? How do I optimize distance? Do I do it by not moving the body, and by moving the body strategically, one moves (works) the feet. Of course there are other aspects, but which one is more important than distance? So, if we do not train for battle (the potentiality of being attacked or in a fight to protect oneself or someone else), why do we train "martial" unless we really want "art" and like to dance around in our undergarments.

    As for not going into battle, especially with a sword...well, what do you call a fight? Is it not battle? What do you call a situation in which you have to protect yourself or your loved one? A ballet? Not with a sword...true, but who said anything about a sword??? On the same thought, do you then believe that sword training is of no use in modern times?
     
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  16. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master Black Belt

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    It has been my experience that the Japanese sword arts are taught as a whole. The movements and actions in the beginning are large and exaggerated, and you spend the rest of your life refining and understanding these movements.

    The schools of Toyama ryu with which I am familiar are large believers in proper warm-up. The head of their organization believes that you need to work your upper body well before beginning learning in order to a) help build the proper musculature, and b) loosen your upper body so as to better use your center rather than strictly your muscles when cutting. With this in mind, they will usually do a number of repetitions of each of the basic cuts as warm-up before beginning training. This doesn't mean that they are studying the cuts without footwork though.

    P.S. Bear in mind that "kenjutsu" is just a word used to describe what happens after your sword is drawn. :)
     
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  17. Hyoho

    Hyoho Brown Belt

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    We have saying, "Cut with the feet". Footwork is an intrinsic part as we generate power to cut with the whole body and not with upper part only. One has to develop what is called ki ken tai ichi. To use spirit/heart sword and body as one. This can vary depending on what art you do as in some the feet are placed momentarily before to be able to generate power from koshi (the hips) Without using the feet? It's not Japanese swordsmanship. The main reason for cuttting from a seated position is to learn to cut with the hips.
     
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  18. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Well.... it's the definition that my Kanji dictionary gives... "術 - Practical Art. Primary meaning 1) a)PRACTICAL ART, technique, skill. b) technical art, technique, technology 2) magic, witchcraft"... but let's look at Jisho.org, as they often have more contextual and layered meanings and definitions.... 術 - Jisho.org
    ... ooh, look, the first listed definition is "art"... followed by "technique".... "skill"....

    Of course, if you want to apply a definition that doesn't match the way the word is used and applied in Japanese, or in Japanese arts, based on the teachings of your instructor, who has shown time and time again that his knowledge is highly romanticised and lacking, then hey, go for it... but expect to be corrected when his poor teachings lead you astray and you try to rely on them here...

    Sure... but not the way you are presenting them.

    That doesn't even make sense on any level. I mean... doing something has consequences? Well... yeah.... welcome to basic physics....

     
  19. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    I wish MI_martialist, that you hadn't said the above underlined. Now you make me have to agree with Chris Parker, in the bolded portion of this post. Why would you do such a thing? :) :) :)

    Going from the Hapkido I learned, footwork is very important. However, it is not only for distance, in fact, only peripherally so. Mostly it about placing one's feet in such a position to facilitate countering an attack; moving to where the opponent cannot counter attack your counter attack, make it easy to turn your opponent's body or arm/leg so as to make a joint lock effortless, add momentum to a grapple, or such as that.

    As I read what you said, I interpret you saying distance in preparation for an strike-attack, or a retreat with the option for preparation for a counter-attack. And maybe in your art or desired art, that is true. But not in all arts.

    So while in the Hapkido I learned, footwork is important, since we tend to move into an attack, distance is less important as its own over-riding concept. It is then, more about proper placement for the success of the particular technique we wish to use.

    I know little about sword use. But the little I know, again distance kind or sorted itself out as needed, but the idea of the long trousers was to hide other aspects of where the feet were going. Since the feet could give away an attack or defense. Those who know more, such as Chris Parker, can correct me on that if necessary.
     
  20. MI_martialist

    MI_martialist Blue Belt

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    Medicine to the dead...medicine to the dead.
     

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