Going up on toes when swinging katana

J. Pickard

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Hi, I know nothing about japanese sword arts but saw some vids recently that made me curious. In the videos (I think it was iaido) the swordsman would draw the katana and strike down but when he did he went up on his toes at the same time. What is the reason for this footwork?
TIA.
 

isshinryuronin

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That was the way I was taught the downward cut. As the katana is raised, the heels come up. No reason was given but it may just add one's mass into the cut as one comes back down for the down stroke. Also, quick stepping (kind of a shuffle) as you approach with the attack is done on the balls of the feet. That's all I got. It's been 25 years since I've been to Iaido class so others in the art may have additional insight.
 

Jared Traveler

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Hi, I know nothing about japanese sword arts but saw some vids recently that made me curious. In the videos (I think it was iaido) the swordsman would draw the katana and strike down but when he did he went up on his toes at the same time. What is the reason for this footwork?
TIA.
In Muay Thai most kicks require you to come up on your toes, that's because you have to pivot your body and heal mid strike. It's very hard to do. I'm not familiar enough to know with Iaido if that is the reason I'm that art.
 

Gyakuto

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That was the way I was taught the downward cut. As the katana is raised, the heels come up. No reason was given but it may just add one's mass into the cut as one comes back down for the down stroke. Also, quick stepping (kind of a shuffle) as you approach with the attack is done on the balls of the feet. That's all I got. It's been 25 years since I've been to Iaido class so others in the art may have additional insight.
I believe its called counter rotation and its due to Newtons Third Law of Motion -every action has an opposite and equal reaction. Ive never seen it performed with the heels coming up but have seen the hips being rotated in the opposite direction to the rotation of the sword in its arc.

Heres a nice example of the late great Iwata Sensei showing this movement. His feet arent visible but his heels may well be lifting.

 

Hyoho

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Hi, I know nothing about japanese sword arts but saw some vids recently that made me curious. In the videos (I think it was iaido) the swordsman would draw the katana and strike down but when he did he went up on his toes at the same time. What is the reason for this footwork?
TIA.
A great variation as to how many koryu do this. But fundamentaly the feet have already settled momentarily before a cut to allow us to power up from kosh/hara. Also the legs are already bent and flexed. In my ryu sometimes both the feet leave the ground to add the power of body weight and yoroi if worn.
 

Gyakuto

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I was practising my cutting the other day and putting into place all that my teacher has been drilling into me! Much to my surprise, I noticed I was spontaneously coming up on my toe as I cut! I wasnt consciously doing it, it just happened. Its not a big movement, like standing on point just noticeable. What I was attending to was the sequential contraction of my fingers to whip the kissaki over my head to the point of contact with teki head and it happened. Now I have to not consciously try to perform this movement otherwise it will be extinguished!
 

Hyoho

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So you are doing a small jump right before impact?
A small jump to exchange feet. In most sword work the feet should be planted slightly prior to a cut. This facilitates use of the hips and koshi/hara power.
 

Hyoho

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A small jump to exchange feet.
I was practising my cutting the other day and putting into place all that my teacher has been drilling into me! Much to my surprise, I noticed I was spontaneously coming up on my toe as I cut! I wasnt consciously doing it, it just happened. Its not a big movement, like standing on point just noticeable. What I was attending to was the sequential contraction of my fingers to whip the kissaki over my head to the point of contact with teki head and it happened. Now I have to not consciously try to perform this movement otherwise it will be extinguished!
Stand facing a wall with bokuto and cut just to touch the wall. Now cut again but strike the air well above and in front. Cut to strike well above the head. You will now notice that the cut is a lot deeper a good few inches further in penetration.
 

Hyoho

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I believe its called counter rotation and its due to Newtons Third Law of Motion -every action has an opposite and equal reaction. Ive never seen it performed with the heels coming up but have seen the hips being rotated in the opposite direction to the rotation of the sword in its arc.

Heres a nice example of the late great Iwata Sensei showing this movement. His feet arent visible but his heels may well be lifting.

Takena year after I took Iwata Sensei to the UK and introduced him to a new group that became Roshukai.
 
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