Slow, Precise Naginata Kata Demo

Chris Parker

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Hmm, a few things. Firstly, it really wasn't that slow... the speed of embu will be determined by the line itself. And that was fairly typical speed in this case. Next, it features classical-based kata, but not classical kata itself. What we have here is modern Naginata-do, and a demonstration (embu) of the kata side of the training, rather than an actual classical form. That said, I can see a number of traits of the Ryu that went into making up modern Naginata-do present in their kata, so it's not too far off.

To make it easier for anyone who has been encountering the same issues I have in terms of the host site you've been using, here it is embedded from you-tube:


To give an idea of classical forms, as well as some differences in the demo speed, here are some favourites:

Chokugen Ryu O Naginata. Using a very large weapon, the demonstration is naturally a fair bit slower, to avoid injury.

Toda-ha Buko Ryu. In this case, against a spear (yari awase).

Tendo Ryu, a large influence on modern Naginata, so a lot of similarity in the performance style.

Jikishinkage Ryu Naginatajutsu. Sometimes the way a demonstration is given is more due to who is doing the performing. Here, we have the head of the system, in her advanced years, performing.

Tenshinsho Den Katori Shinto Ryu. Okay, these guys don't do slow....
 
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Sukerkin

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I really liked the Chokugen ryu demonstration. The power in the blade deflections was pretty impressive, as was the mobility of the practitioner to make use of the length of the naginata. As an iaidoka, I found myself trying to think of ways that I could get past the blade of the weapon and get into range :).

Luckily, a naginata wielder is not something we normally expect to encounter when down the pub with the geisha's, so I wasn't too distressed that the only thing I could think of was to engage the naginata with the edge of the katana and advance quicker than she could retreat :D.
 

Chris Parker

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Go to Katori Shinto Ryu, my friend...


6:46 onward for your request, but a minute or so before that to have a closer look at the Shinto Ryu method of using Naginata (also an O Naginata, similar to Chokugen Ryu).
 
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Tez3

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I really liked the Chokugen ryu demonstration. The power in the blade deflections was pretty impressive, as was the mobility of the practitioner to make use of the length of the naginata. As an iaidoka, I found myself trying to think of ways that I could get past the blade of the weapon and get into range :).

Luckily, a naginata wielder is not something we normally expect to encounter when down the pub with the geisha's, so I wasn't too distressed that the only thing I could think of was to engage the naginata with the edge of the katana and advance quicker than she could retreat :D.


Wouldn't the Geisha be able to deflect any attacker by throwing her fan at him? The metal one that slices people open?
 

Tez3

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Oh, Irene, you're just trying to mess with my head, yeah?



I always thought Madame Butterfly would be more interesting if she had skewered Pinkerton instead of letting him take her son, let's see him trying to sing with his head parted from his body for example!
 

billc

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The internet is a wonderful thing. Imagine not very long ago, none of what is on these videos would have been accessible to anyone not in the ryu...
 

Chris Parker

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Hmm, that's not quite right, really. This level of insight is certainly available to far more than before, but out of the 7 clips posted here 5 of them are of embu. These are public demonstrations that have occurred for a long time now, with various forms of embu being recorded as being held during the Edo Period (17th-19th Century). So the information was around, these techniques (or ones like them) were shown to the public, it just wasn't quite as accessible.
 

pgsmith

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... it just wasn't quite as accessible.
Correction, it was nowhere near as accessible. Before the advent of the internet, the only way to see embu was to either go there yourself, or to get together with those that were there, and watch their videos of it. Either way, there was a very limited number of people that could ever see koryu arts in action. Before the internet, there were a very limited number of people that even knew what the koryu were.
 

Chris Parker

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For the record, that's really what I was saying. My main point was that claiming that "none of what is shown on these videos would have been accessible to anyone not in the ryu..." wasn't correct, as these are taken from public demonstrations. So this exact information would really have been accessible to anyone who could get to one of the embu, whether fully public, partially public, or private. And, depending on the period, any of those could be the case.

Basically, what I was saying was that embu didn't suddenly arrive with the internet, or with video cameras, so the idea of such demonstrations and public performance was not out of the question.

For example, here is a clip from an embu in 1930, which had a large number of Koryu, as well as Kendo and other arts demonstrating. In this clip, we have the teacher of Otake Sensei showing Tenshinsho Den Katori Shinto Ryu:

 
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pgsmith

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My main point was that claiming that "none of what is shown on these videos would have been accessible to anyone not in the ryu..." wasn't correct, as these are taken from public demonstrations.
I understand what you meant Chris. I was just quibbling with your semantics when you said it "wasn't quite as accessible". It's akin to saying that before the advent of airplanes, crossing the ocean was a tad slower. Bit of an understatement that. :)
 

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Hmm, a few things. Firstly, it really wasn't that slow... the speed of embu will be determined by the line itself. And that was fairly typical speed in this case. Next, it features classical-based kata, but not classical kata itself. What we have here is modern Naginata-do, and a demonstration (embu) of the kata side of the training, rather than an actual classical form.
Hi Chris :) It's only a small thing perhaps but I should correct you on something. The art is not called "Naginata-do". It's usually referred to as "Atarashii Naginata" or (more commonly), simply "Naginata". Here's a reference as to why (other than "because my teacher said so" :p )
The Mombusho advised the new All Japan Naginata Federation that they should promote 'Naginata' using the phonetic hiragana characters rather than Chinese characters (kanji). The reasoning for this was to rid the newly developed version of Naginata of any militaristic connotations or nuances that maybe (sic) attached to the kanji, as opposed to the neutral hiragana. Thus, the characters "なぎなた" are used to write Naginata for the post-war sporting innovation, although kanji are still used in regards to the Naginata of traditional styles such as Tendo-ryu and Jikishinkage-ryu and so on. Also, the Ministry of Education directed the Naginata Federation not to add 'do' (Way) after Naginata (Naginata-do). This directive was intended to further separate new Naginata from that practiced before and during the war, and its spiritual hence nationalistic connotations. 'Naginata - The Definitive Guide' by Alexander Bennett, page 57.
The kata in the OP though are definitely the formal kata studied from Sandan (I just compared them to footage I shot recently for comparison to be sure). Thankfully it'll be a while before I have to worry about those though ;)
 

Chris Parker

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Hi Furikaeshi,

Yeah, I'm aware, but was trying to keep it simple for our OP, who doesn't have a classical Japanese art background. Most commonly I hear the term Atarashii Naginata-do (New Naginata Way), so just took off the Atarashii part, as I felt it may confuse things. Agreed with your comment, though.

How long have you been training in Naginata?
 
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