"Full contact" sparring with rigid weapons

Decker

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Hi all.

Stumbled upon this video in jap, apparently about a school/style of kenjutsu that features full contact sparring, unarmed techniques allowed, with a rigid weapon, without protection.

They later go on to demonstrate some techniques/drills with metal pipes.


Anyone seen anything like this, or clarify what's going on?

Thanks much.
 
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tellner

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It's club-fighting with lightweight aluminum tubes. It borrows techniques and training methods from Japanese fencing, but you couldn't call it "Ken" do in any meaningful sense of the word.

The weapon itself is very poorly designed. The completely round shape reinforces bad habits by undermining edge-discipline.

The range is all kinds of wrong. In the clips at the beginning the fighters were way, way too close. That's because they aren't using swords or anything with enough authority to demand the respect that a blade would command. That's why I call it "club-fighting". If you're willing to accept a sword-cut to the head for a punch or kick you are not fighting with swords. You're not even fighting with very effective clubs.
 

Sukerkin

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I am ever cautious when it comes to criticising anothers swordwork that has been put up on YouTube, particularly when I have no idea of their training or background. After all, I have no doubt that if I were to put any of my kata up there then there would be a storm tide of criticism.

However, I have just started watching that video clip and recognised the style being used in the opening - it's MJER. By the lights that I have been taught, then it starts with a not particularly well executed oroshi and so makuri. It degenerates pretty badly from there :D. For if you attack anyone 'full contact' with a bokken and know what you are doing, then they are going to the hospital or the morgue.

Of particular note is that the first word of the video voice-over is gendai. That's pretty much all you need to know if you're interested in the swordarts {need smiley for snobby-nose-in-the-air :eek:}.

I don't understand enough Japanese to give any realistic interpretation of what was being said but it looks like someone with training in iai has sensed a commercial opportunity for people to play fight pretty roughly and pay for the privelidge of thinking they're learning something about swordwork.
 
OP
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Decker

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Wow, thanks for the insightful input, guys.


Of particular note is that the first word of the video voice-over is gendai. That's pretty much all you need to know if you're interested in the swordarts {need smiley for snobby-nose-in-the-air :eek:}.

Ah, if only the koryu martial arts could proliferate as much or as quickly as modern, trendy sport martial arts... Then again, what works still works, regardless of origin, no? :wink1:

For if you attack anyone 'full contact' with a bokken and know what you are doing, then they are going to the hospital or the morgue.

If you're willing to accept a sword-cut to the head for a punch or kick you are not fighting with swords. You're not even fighting with very effective clubs.

So my hunch that there was something really wrong with the picture was correct... Unless aluminium tubes hurt less than bokken owing to their lower density... :idunno:

Do you think sparring with padded weaponry like the type Actionflex makes is worse? (Probably a more common, derogatory term would be "boffers", yeah?)
 

Sukerkin

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I don't think anyone would say that what they were up to in that video wouldn't be fun - it's just not swordfighting and if the participants in are being told that it is then that is where the problems start.

The best way to think of it is to switch to the analogy of paint-balling. Great fun, looks a bit like playing 'army' but has nothing to do with being able to shoot properly (unless you're re-enacting C18th musket fire :D).

On the technical side, I would guess that because the hollow 'tubes' are light and large bore, then the contact will be more stinging than crushing.
 

Ken Morgan

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Sukerkin is quite correct, it starts as MJER and then veers all over the place.

I have no idea where they are going with it, perhaps it a bit of harmless fun? Wanting some non lethal contact without resorting to Kendo?

Someone already said that they are way too close, And they certainly are.

The ukenagashi practice at the end is quite common, weve done it in Niten and iai practice for years.

To each their own.
 

Nebuchadnezzar

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......Of particular note is that the first word of the video voice-over is gendai. That's pretty much all you need to know if you're interested in the swordarts {need smiley for snobby-nose-in-the-air :eek:}.

I don't understand enough Japanese to give any realistic interpretation of what was being said but it looks like someone with training in iai has sensed a commercial opportunity for people to play fight pretty roughly and pay for the privelidge of thinking they're learning something about swordwork.

Forget about it being gendai, these people are training with the thought of taking a strike from a sword not a glancing slash and continuing to fight. This must be promotional video for the stunt doubles on Power Rangers. Tell me that's what it is. :idunno:
 

Ken Morgan

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Forget about it being gendai, these people are training with the thought of taking a strike from a sword not a glancing slash and continuing to fight. This must be promotional video for the stunt doubles on Power Rangers. Tell me that's what it is. :idunno:


Nah-uh, there are no cute pink or yellow Power rangers practicing, so cant be!!
 

Andrew Green

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Doing full contact, with head shots and no head protection is stupid, if those "weapons" had anything at all behind them they would all have pretty messed up faces, and broken fingers. A little more behind them and they'd have some serious head injuries.

Of course they don't seem to care about that much and just go in and forget that a hit would do serious damage and treat the hits for what they are with the pretend weapon.

This is what the koryu folks warn against when they say sparring is bad. It doesn't have to be bad, but it can, and they are proving that.

They'd be far better of wearing armor, using shiai and opening up the rules of Kendo a little too allow other targets and techniques.
 

kegage

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While I find this video entertaining to watch, and I am not about to criticize them because I dont know any more about what they are doing than what I am seeing in the video, the round pipes do give me pause. I have to agree with the edge discipline comment. That being said, with the proper head, body, and hand protection, sparring with a rigid a weapon that is designed to emulate the real weapon is not only possible, but is beneficial. I have been doing free sparring for years and, for me, there is nothing better than a free sparring combat situation to test and improve ones technique.
Here is a video I came across that is an example of what I am talking about. It is not the type of sparring I do, but it does show what is possible.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7nUFpznK7E

There are no videos of me sparring at this time (although I am going to try and change that), and I am hesitant to post a video of others engaging in the style of sparring I do, because, well frankly, I cant find any out there that have a modicum of decent form and technique. I am sure they would be even more painful for you to watch than it is for me simply because I am used to seeing it.

Kevin
 

Bruno@MT

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But no matter how much protection you use, the impact will remain the same.
And being hit on the fingers, arm neck or head with a steel bar can cause serious injury, even if there is no edge contact.
 

Chris Parker

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While I find this video entertaining to watch, and I am not about to criticize them because I dont know any more about what they are doing than what I am seeing in the video, the round pipes do give me pause. I have to agree with the edge discipline comment. That being said, with the proper head, body, and hand protection, sparring with a rigid a weapon that is designed to emulate the real weapon is not only possible, but is beneficial. I have been doing free sparring for years and, for me, there is nothing better than a free sparring combat situation to test and improve ones technique.
Here is a video I came across that is an example of what I am talking about. It is not the type of sparring I do, but it does show what is possible.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7nUFpznK7E

There are no videos of me sparring at this time (although I am going to try and change that), and I am hesitant to post a video of others engaging in the style of sparring I do, because, well frankly, I cant find any out there that have a modicum of decent form and technique. I am sure they would be even more painful for you to watch than it is for me simply because I am used to seeing it.

Kevin

Oh, I'll happiliy criticise them... not for the sparring (although their methods do encourage bad habits, and takes them from the reality they think it brings them closer to...), as that's not where the real issues are.

It's the "swordsmanship" in the rest of the clip. The cuts are stilted and pulled, the grips are too tight, there is little in the way of tenouchi that I saw, movements are done for effect without the reason, they appear to be unable to move outside of their own heads, and they would not have much chance against an actual swordsman. That's just the beginning, though.

As for the "Toyama" clip, one thing to realise is that the people there are not actually Toyama Ryu practitioners, but people who came to a Toyama event to put on a demonstration. So it's still not Kenjutsu, gendai or koryu. They have been discussed here before, but the main things I noted last time are a prevalence of kendo-style hitting, rather than committed cuts, a lot of little "tapping" actions, and a few other things that made most of what they did rather ineffective, and again removed from the reality it was meant to get closer to. Unfortunately, that is the effect of "sparring" in sword arts.

If you are sparring in a sword art then you are actually removing it from reality. The reason is simple: If you are acting and moving realistically, then you are aiming for disabling or killing cuts every time. And if you do that, the way to ensure that that happens is to ensure that the reciever is stopped by the blows you strike, which means actually hitting in a way that achieves that result (which, if items like bokken are used means that a disabling cut, such as a cut to the inside of the wrists, won't be present, so a blade would be needed... I think we can see where that is going). If strikes are used that don't finish the encounter, or if finishing strikes don't actually finish the encounter (ie they are well struck, on target etc, but the opponent is not physically stopped, the way that a solid strike to the top of the head would, as control is being used) then the encounter will continue. That will lead to the employment of faster strikes as both try to get in first, not worrying about the fact that a mistake means death or dismemberment, which means less effective cuts, strikes instead of cuts, and so on.

So either it's fairly realistic, and people go to hospital, or it's not realistic, and that defeats the purpose of most people in engaging in such practices.
 

Bruno@MT

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To expand a bit further on Chris' post: In one kata( I think it is Togakure ryu but I am not sure since I have not studied biken much yet) there is a form where one hits with the spine of the sword (the blunt part) in order to cleave a helmet and / or damage the skull and neck.

Ergo, a correct hit with even a blunted sword, even on armor, can be a killing or crippling blow. Ergo there is nothing realistic about the video clip, and realistic full contact sparring with rigid weapons is not done, anywhere. Because it would mean having a significant percentage of crippled and dead training partners.
 

Langenschwert

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In my HEMA club, we do steel sparring quite a bit, but none of us thinks it's "real", and it's not full contact. You'll kill people doing that. You could call it "light contact". For us, it's an important way to pressure test some of the things we're working on and to improve our decision-making abilities under pressure. It's a necessary thing in reconstructed arts IMO. For us it's more along the lines of "OK, I'm going to try to get my Duplieren (a certain technique used in a hard bind) to work on this guy" or, "let's see if my counters close the line like they should". But that's not what the folks in the first vid are doing. More power to em, but I don't care much for it.

With regards to the second vid, I kind of like it. Some of those guys are decent. I wouldn't mind participating with my longsword... prize playing is an important part of the European tradition of swordsmanship. I'll cross swords in a friendly manner with anyone who isn't an idiot, newbie or psychopath for the purposes of mutual learning.

However, as fun as the second clip is, it ain't Koryu. It isn't traditional JSA at all.

It does, however look most enjoyable. Some of those guys seem pretty OK. And there's no harm in trying something new, as long as they're honest about what it is, what it isn't, and where it comes from.

Best regards,

-Mark
 

kegage

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Oh, I'll happiliy criticise them... not for the sparring (although their methods do encourage bad habits, and takes them from the reality they think it brings them closer to...), as that's not where the real issues are.

It's the "swordsmanship" in the rest of the clip. The cuts are stilted and pulled, the grips are too tight, there is little in the way of tenouchi that I saw, movements are done for effect without the reason, they appear to be unable to move outside of their own heads, and they would not have much chance against an actual swordsman. That's just the beginning, though.

As for the "Toyama" clip, one thing to realise is that the people there are not actually Toyama Ryu practitioners, but people who came to a Toyama event to put on a demonstration. So it's still not Kenjutsu, gendai or koryu. They have been discussed here before, but the main things I noted last time are a prevalence of kendo-style hitting, rather than committed cuts, a lot of little "tapping" actions, and a few other things that made most of what they did rather ineffective, and again removed from the reality it was meant to get closer to. Unfortunately, that is the effect of "sparring" in sword arts.

If you are sparring in a sword art then you are actually removing it from reality. The reason is simple: If you are acting and moving realistically, then you are aiming for disabling or killing cuts every time. And if you do that, the way to ensure that that happens is to ensure that the reciever is stopped by the blows you strike, which means actually hitting in a way that achieves that result (which, if items like bokken are used means that a disabling cut, such as a cut to the inside of the wrists, won't be present, so a blade would be needed... I think we can see where that is going). If strikes are used that don't finish the encounter, or if finishing strikes don't actually finish the encounter (ie they are well struck, on target etc, but the opponent is not physically stopped, the way that a solid strike to the top of the head would, as control is being used) then the encounter will continue. That will lead to the employment of faster strikes as both try to get in first, not worrying about the fact that a mistake means death or dismemberment, which means less effective cuts, strikes instead of cuts, and so on.

So either it's fairly realistic, and people go to hospital, or it's not realistic, and that defeats the purpose of most people in engaging in such practices.

This is where we are going to disagree. While there are major philosophical, esoteric, mental and physical disciplinary and even ideological attributes in the martial arts, all martial arts, and especially a weapon arts is about combat. The whole reason why bokken and shinais were developed were so warriors could train and practice in a relatively realistic manner without actually killing each other (Something I think we all know.). It is possible to realistically train by doing combat. I know. I do it. The protective equipment needed has to be much more resilient than what is commonly used in most martial arts (even kendo) today, but it is possible.
In the quote above Chris mentions “kendo-style hitting, rather than committed cuts, a lot of little "tapping" actions, and a few other things that made most of what they did rather ineffective, and again removed from the reality it was meant to get closer to.” and the need of “using disabling or killing cuts every time.”, and he is absolutely correct on both points. The type of combat (I am going to stop using the word “sparring”( It does seem to leave the impression of light tapping style blows Chris was referring to.) I do is all about exactly what Chris is talking about full, committed, cuts to the head, body and extremities, and no one goes to the hospital. Bruising is, however, commonplace. Besides the armor, and the acurate design of the weapons, one of the keys to success is that the people who are training acknowledge when they receive a “good” cut (and small taps don’t count). The idea is to train in exactly the manner Chris described.
 

kegage

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However, as fun as the second clip is, it ain't Koryu. It isn't traditional JSA at all.

These questions are not aimed at Langenschwert they are for everyone.
This bodes a question I have been curious about for a long time. At what point, in their far reaching history, did schools begin to phase out combat training as a part of their teachings? As an example, Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu was founded by Miyamoto Musashi who was in many people’s eyes a consummate warrior with a fighting reputation to match. I find it difficult to believe that in his, and the sensei that followed, teachings they did not engage in some form of combative training. When did the schools begin to exclude actually learning how to use the lessons learned through kata in combat?

Also, I see this type of statement a lot. Mostly in commentary on Youtube videos involving different school's and/or people's activities, demonstrations, or teaching. (Yes, I know, and have privately commented as such, on the total bogusness of many of the videos that are out there. I am referring to the ones that seem to be from trained people and sactioned schools.)
So, what determines what is and isn’t koryu and/or traditional JSA, and why aren’t the activities on the second video considered so? After all, it seems that they are at an established school and the activity appears to be sanction by such.

It does, however look most enjoyable. Some of those guys seem pretty OK. And there's no harm in trying something new, as long as they're honest about what it is, what it isn't, and where it comes from.

Best regards,

-Mark


Me too. Want do.

Kevin
 

Ken Morgan

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Traditional JSA was never meant to train one for the battlefield, the koryu we have today came about from hundreds of years of peace and the pacification of the samurai.

Only 5% of casualties on a Japanese battlefield pre-1600 came from swords

Koryu is koryu simply because it has been around longer then anything else. Give Seitei another couple of hundred years, itll be considered koryu.

If youre practicing the paired kata in any school, MJER, MSR or HNIR and you feel that its worth little to nothing in real life. Then you are either practicing incorrectly or not practicing hard enough.
 

Sukerkin

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This bodes a question I have been curious about for a long time. At what point, in their far reaching history, did schools begin to phase out combat training as a part of their teachings? As an example, Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu was founded by Miyamoto Musashi who was in many people’s eyes a consummate warrior with a fighting reputation to match. I find it difficult to believe that in his, and the sensei that followed, teachings they did not engage in some form of combative training. When did the schools begin to exclude actually learning how to use the lessons learned through kata in combat?


Note: Bold mine



In a sense that is backwards, Kegage.

Kata are a series of techniques honed through the combat experience of others to greater enable the survival of those that follow after.

The combative training that formed the contents of the kata was, simply put, warfare.

A thing to remember is that, despite the high honour accorded the sword, most combat in war is carried out with other weapons. The katana is a 'side-arm', the equivalent of the more modern conception of the officers pistol. It is a fall-back weapon when all others have failed.

In the matter of Iai, however, a slightly different ethos arises, as Iai is the art of using the sword in self-defence or surprise attack in non-battlefield situations.

Historically, paired forms are 'scripted' because otherwise you lose more people in training than you need to. However, it is up to the student to provide the combative mindset to go along with the techniques and to excercise the control to stop blows short of the heads of their partner whilst not 'learning' to never do any differently. If you saw myself and one of of my fellow students performing the Tachiuchi forms you would hopefully see that the only reason what Uchidachi does not get his or her head caved in is because Shidachi chooses to apply tenuichi and stop the bokken just short.

That's about as combative as you can get in serious sword art training without killing each other :D.
 

Bruno@MT

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Also, the thing that wasn't mentioned is that for people like Musashi, duelling was their form of sparring, and depending on the way the duel happened or was agreed to, it was to the death or not. Those who survived got to pass on their knowledge.

So in a way, the formalized patterns, teaching methods and kuden (oral transmissions and 'secrets') are the distilled learnings and teachings that made them succesful, generation after generation of student and master. At least that is how I feel about it.

Western society places a high emphasis on 'free' sparring, and it is a valid tool. But that does not mean that people who don't use that tool in favor of other methods are missing out or have inferior skills.

I think that is illustrated nicely in this clip here:
[yt]83Xq2p0E07o[/yt]
 
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