Sword katas

thardey

Master Black Belt
Joined
Feb 13, 2007
Messages
1,274
Reaction score
94
Location
Southern Oregon
(Warning -- long post)

Hello,

I have a few questions, and the "search" option didn't yield any results. Normally I am a lurker in forums in general, because I usually don't have any new questions, but I have some specifics in mind, that aren't covered by the "I'm a newbie, please tell me about a website that will make me an uber swordfighter" kind of nonsense.

First, my background, then the questions. :samurai:

I have a 1st degree black in Chun Kuk Do (The style that Chuck Norris developed). Weapons include Nunchaku and Bo staff, although personal choice in weapons is highly encouraged. Others in my school also are fond of sai and kama, although it's not officially part of the curriculum. Put very simply, the philosophy of CKD is to study all forms of Martial Arts, and use the techniques and strategies that work best for you. Sort of a "try and find the best of all worlds" kind of approach. (BTW, this is why it's sometimes hard to "define" what CKD looks like - we all practice it a little different.) "Chun Kuk Do" translates to "The Universal Way".

Along with Karate, I have studied Western Historical Fencing (Think ARMA, for those of you who know what that is) for about 8 years. Mostly 17th century rapier, and sword and buckler (a small round shield).:enguard: I've studied a combination of Marrozzo, Thibault, and Saviolo. The Renaissance theory of learning was that everything is related. Music, fencing, astronomy, geometry, architecture, etc. Again, you have a "Jack of all trades, master of none" kind of approach.

These two "western" style of martial arts (CKD is an American system, after all) reflect my way of thinking on learning in general, and it seems to work well for me. I am not interested in "do one thing, do it well, and then move on." I certainly appreciate those of you who do specialize, because you provide the research and knowledge to help people who learn the way I do. And certainly everybody learns differently.

Now, finally my questions. :viking1:

I am interested in learning about single sword use from the Eastern Perspective. Right now I thought Id start with the shorter, straighter ninja-to or something similar. (Not the completely straight one, but slightly curved). I have a few specific questions. Again, I just want enough for an introduction to the strategy, not mastery. If I like what I see, Ill pursue that later.

1. The handle is often 11 inches, but the blade is often around 20 inches. Is this sword intended to be used as a two-handed sword, or a single hand? Or both?

2. Is the grip for two hands close together (like a baseball bat?) Or separate (like a hockey stick?).

3. Does the straighter blade indicate a use for thrusting over cutting? If so, is that part of the purpose of the longer handle, to provide reach?

4. Where is the balance point of a proper ninja-to (expressed in inches from the tsuba). Most rapiers have a balance point of 2-3 inches from the crossguard, while a longsword (a bastard sword) is about 4 inches.

5. Are the cuts large, slashing cuts to the face and body, or are they short, quick slices to the arms and legs of the opponent.

6. Is the defense using this type of sword typically a two-beat defense (aka Parry and riposte) or is it a single time defense (avoid while counterattacking)?

7. Is there a specific kata that is able to demonstrate in motion the answers to these questions?

There is only one samurai sword instructor in the valley where I live, that I know of, and from what I have been able to gather, he is not a qualified sword instructor. I would rather learn the basics from you guys than go to him and learn the specifics wrong. There are no ninjitsu schools within 250 miles of where I live.

Any help would be appreciated.

-Travis
 

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
15,196
Reaction score
4,856
Location
San Francisco
I suspect that the answer you will get here, over and over, is that you need to work with a knowledgeable teacher. Learning from people here, over the internet, if you cannot meet with them in person, will be no better than working with the unqualified "teacher" who resides in your valley.

Anyone can pick up a sword, swing it about and be dangerous to others, and probably to themselves as well. Learning proper handling and good technique, to handle the weapon safely and effectively, is another matter, and takes hands-on training with a good teacher.

Keep looking, perhaps later on you will be in a position to study under a good teacher. For now, focus on what you already are doing. Trying to learn sword over the internet, or on videos, just is not a good idea.
 

tellner

Senior Master
Joined
Nov 18, 2005
Messages
4,379
Reaction score
240
Location
Orygun
If you're interested in learning weapons, find a qualified teacher. If you really want to understand the answers to your questions the first thing you'll need to realize is that there are times when narrow and deep beats wide and shallow.

As to your question, there is no single "Eastern perspective" in swords. There are many different styles of weapon and systems for teaching and using them. A katana looks something like a dha, but Kendo has zip to do with Krabi Krabong. Kali and Kalaripayittu are radically different. The way the Persians use the curved saber doesn't look anything like the way Sumatrans do it. If you want sword forms any decent Chinese school will teach them, but few if any will teach you how to fight with a sword. If you can't find decent Kendo - and it sounds like it might be hard - try looking for Southeast Asian martial arts like Eskrima, Kali, Krabi Krabong, Arnis or Silat.
 
OP
T

thardey

Master Black Belt
Joined
Feb 13, 2007
Messages
1,274
Reaction score
94
Location
Southern Oregon
If you're interested in learning weapons, find a qualified teacher. If you really want to understand the answers to your questions the first thing you'll need to realize is that there are times when narrow and deep beats wide and shallow.

As to your question, there is no single "Eastern perspective" in swords. There are many different styles of weapon and systems for teaching and using them. A katana looks something like a dha, but Kendo has zip to do with Krabi Krabong. Kali and Kalaripayittu are radically different. The way the Persians use the curved saber doesn't look anything like the way Sumatrans do it. If you want sword forms any decent Chinese school will teach them, but few if any will teach you how to fight with a sword. If you can't find decent Kendo - and it sounds like it might be hard - try looking for Southeast Asian martial arts like Eskrima, Kali, Krabi Krabong, Arnis or Silat.

How will I find which style to pursue If no one can explain to me the basic differences?

For instance: Without worrying too much about hand/foot timing, the spanish circle, or blade graduation I can at least explain to someone the difference between Italian-style fencing, such as Marrozzo, and Spanish fencing, such as Thibault. From there, someone would be able to determine which style suits their personality and previous training better. Once they've chosen a style, then they can find someone who will train them in it.

I'm not particularly interested in the Samurai/Katana, but I would like to eventually learn some form of eastern swordsmanship. I need your help to find which one. I thought I'd start with a short sword, but maybe I should just ask people to "sell" me on their particular favorite.

I just want to know about the different styles so I can choose one to pursue.

-Travis
 

Charles Mahan

Purple Belt
Joined
Oct 23, 2002
Messages
373
Reaction score
9
Location
Denton, Tx
How will I find which style to pursue If no one can explain to me the basic differences?

Well. The usual method of finding a style starts with finding out what's available in your area. There are precious few legitimate training options to be had in most regions of the US. You will be lucky if there is even one in your area. That will likely make your decision for you unless you are willing to move. If you are one of the lucky few who have more than one option available for you, then you can do some research on those particular options.

I'm not particularly interested in the Katana, but I would like to eventually learn some form of eastern swordsmanship. I need your help to find which one. I thought I'd start with a short sword, but maybe I should just ask people to "sell" me on their particular favorite.

This is probably for the best. You don't seem to be genuinely interested enough in any particular sword art for most JSA instructors to consider you worth the time. The mixed martial art philosophy you described above is a VERY poor fit for the traditional JSA world.

Good luck with whatever you do settle into.
 
OP
T

thardey

Master Black Belt
Joined
Feb 13, 2007
Messages
1,274
Reaction score
94
Location
Southern Oregon
This is probably for the best. You don't seem to be genuinely interested enough in any particular sword art for most JSA instructors to consider you worth the time. The mixed martial art philosophy you described above is a VERY poor fit for the traditional JSA world.

Good luck with whatever you do settle into.

Exactly. My lack of interest in the katana has more to do with a disagreement over the philosophy of the samurai rather than the physics of the weapon itself. I wouldn't imagine I would do well in that type of dojo.

When I explained my philosophy of learning to a Jujuitsu student, he suggested that the Japanese also liked the idea of borrowing from all, then making it their own. I don't know what exactly he was referring to, since I don't know much of Japanese culture, and most of my experience in the MA is either Western, or Korean.

I guess this is why I thought the ninja-to might be a good place to start, since the "ninjitstu mantra" seems to go along the lines of "do whatever works". I wanted to see if that was true, or just another "super street fighter" kind of advertisement.

-Travis
 

Blindside

Grandmaster
Founding Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2001
Messages
5,175
Reaction score
849
Location
Kennewick, WA
I guess this is why I thought the ninja-to might be a good place to start, since the "ninjitstu mantra" seems to go along the lines of "do whatever works". I wanted to see if that was true, or just another "super street fighter" kind of advertisement.

Well, to start with the straight-bladed square-tsubad, "ninja-to" has about as much historical accuracy as 10 pound western "broadswords."

Where are you located? Perhaps someone could give you suggestions for instruction.

Lamont
 
OP
T

thardey

Master Black Belt
Joined
Feb 13, 2007
Messages
1,274
Reaction score
94
Location
Southern Oregon
Well, to start with the straight-bladed square-tsubad, "ninja-to" has about as much historical accuracy as 10 pound western "broadswords."

Where are you located? Perhaps someone could give you suggestions for instruction.

Lamont

See above, I'm in Medford, Oregon.

What would be historically accurrate?

I'm looking for something like this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ninjaken

"According to the same book by Masaaki Hatsumi, the ninja ken was straight, but only in contrast to the average sword of the period which were much more curved. The ninja ken still had a slight curve to the sword. Hatsumi says that they were often straight bars of low-quality steel with an edge ground on to them. According to other sources, some of the sword being forged during the Tokugawa era also had blades with less curvature than others.. This was also the period during which the mythology of the ninja grew as they were employed by the Shogun as secret police.

The Bujinkan dojo currently contains one school, the Togakure ryu, which teaches the use of the ninja ken. Typically, this is a wakizashi-length sword (or slightly longer) that has been outfitted with katana sized koshirae (fittings). The idea behind a shorter sword is that it is much easier to fight in close quarters with a shorter sword, as would be necessary for a ninja acting as an intelligence-gatherer."


See, I'm an amateur swordsmith, and I've built several western swords which have received approval of my fencing instructor. (Gladius, Viking single-handed sword, longsword (commonly -- and wrongly -- known as a "bastard sword"), and a cutlass. I want to try swords from other parts of the world.

Each sword is built with a specific use in mind. I liked this idea of starting with a ninjaken, or ninjato, or or wakizashi with oversized fittings, or whatever it's historically called, because I read in the book. "Ninja and their Secret Fighting Art" by Stephen Hayes, that ninja were encouraged to make their own weapons. I liked the idea, but first I have to at least have a cursory understanding of how the weapon was used. It's more likely to be hung on a wall if I like it, and used as a machete if I don't. I'm not planning on entering any tournaments with a new sword form, but I would like to see a form, so that I can build a sword which would work well in it.

In order to build a sword with the proper balance, I have to know certain things, like two-handed or one? Small, quick cuts or large slashing ones? What kind of grip? etc.

In this way I will understand a sword in a much different way than someone who only swings one around. Also the history and philosophy of a culture is readily apparent in the designs of their weapons and armour.

Another facet to what I am searching for. Maybe this will help.
 
OP
T

thardey

Master Black Belt
Joined
Feb 13, 2007
Messages
1,274
Reaction score
94
Location
Southern Oregon
If you're interested in learning weapons, find a qualified teacher. If you really want to understand the answers to your questions the first thing you'll need to realize is that there are times when narrow and deep beats wide and shallow.


"Wide and shallow" is not a very accurate description of what I am doing. I prefer the concept of a woven fabric.

Just as a bulletproof vest is able to stop a bullet by using tightly-woven strands, built over a hard foundation, so to speak, I try to "weave" together various other disciplines to help me understand more.

In this case, I am combining the balance and lead and follow of my ballroom dancing, with the timing and rythym of my guitar, with the power and stance of my hard style karate training and the speed and penetration of my soft karate training (both a large part of CKD), with the stragegies and footwork of my fencing, with the physics and balance of my bladesmithing, with the philosophy and understanding of my history study, and the theology of my religion.

As I understand any one of these better, or add another "weave" to the whole fabric of my life, I become more in tune with the world around me. As my dancing improves, so does my fighting, as well as my understanding of women. Everything I learn helps me to learn more things. As my concept of a "single time" defence vs a "double time" defence becomes clearer, it translates into a better understanding of music. The better I understand history, the clearer perspective I have on religion.

It is not a "Western" Philosophy only. It is an "old" philosophy that we have moved away from in the modern world. It's a philosphy older than ancient Babylon.

For some of us, wide does not necessarily mean shallow.

-Travis
 

Xue Sheng

All weight is underside
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Messages
34,151
Reaction score
9,166
Location
North American Tectonic Plate
I suspect that the answer you will get here, over and over, is that you need to work with a knowledgeable teacher. Learning from people here, over the internet, if you cannot meet with them in person, will be no better than working with the unqualified "teacher" who resides in your valley.

Anyone can pick up a sword, swing it about and be dangerous to others, and probably to themselves as well. Learning proper handling and good technique, to handle the weapon safely and effectively, is another matter, and takes hands-on training with a good teacher.

Keep looking, perhaps later on you will be in a position to study under a good teacher. For now, focus on what you already are doing. Trying to learn sword over the internet, or on videos, just is not a good idea.

What he said

Find a qualified teacher, weapons are dangerous even with a teacher worse without.
 

jks9199

Administrator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2006
Messages
23,430
Reaction score
3,735
Location
Northern VA
In this case, I am combining the balance and lead and follow of my ballroom dancing, with the timing and rythym of my guitar, with the power and stance of my hard style karate training and the speed and penetration of my soft karate training (both a large part of CKD), with the stragegies and footwork of my fencing, with the physics and balance of my bladesmithing, with the philosophy and understanding of my history study, and the theology of my religion.

You've got interesting and complex goals -- but you're going about learning an "Eastern Sword Art" the wrong way. As a comparison, it's like you've walked into a restaurant district featuring dozens of restaurants from many cultures, and said "Feed me cultural food." Just like there are different European fencing schools, or different styles of guitar or dance, each influenced by the culture and environment where they were developed, each Eastern nation (and sometimes sub-national groups like regional tribes) developed their own swords and their own approaches to using those swords. Even though the swords may look similar, there are key fundamental differences between the use of the katana and the dao -- there are also major differences. There are even differences between each school of swordsmanship with the same blade.

Listen to the advice of the people here; nobody has said "Don't learn a sword." They've said that you can't learn a sword without a proper instructor, so start by finding out what instructors are in your range. Some may require more commitment than you're willing to make; others may not teach the sword until you've learned the unarmed portion of their system. You mentioned learning the sword techniques of ninjutsu; they're integrated with their empty-hand taijutsu. I doubt you'll find someone who will teach you "ninja kenjutsu" without saying you need to learn Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu (or whichever school you choose). It would be like trying to learn flamenco guitar using a bassoon.

Do some more research; see what styles of blade work are available in your area, and since you want to consider forging your own blades -- which ones are reasonably amenable to that, as well. (The techniques involved in forging a katana are complex, for example, and I suspect that even a very talented amateur is unlikely to produce a usable blade. But kukri and some kris blades? Much simpler.) See what styles are compatable with your current training as well; why add yet another complex system of movement on top of your hard & soft karate, dance, fencing and whatever else you've done? To use your comparison of weaving -- there comes a point when you can't braid/weave/twine anything else together without creating a knot instead of a tapestry.

And there's just no substitute for a real live, personal instructor. Could you have learned karate solely from a book? There are intricate pieces that just cannot be conveyed effectively in text or corrected except by a trained eye. Can I read a book or watch a video and learn how to forge a blade?

To go back to your original post... you listed a series of questions. Several of them were asked as "yes/no" or "either/or" when the actual answer is "sometimes" or "in some schools or some situations." It seems as if perhaps you started to find some of that out with some of your later posts.
 

Charles Mahan

Purple Belt
Joined
Oct 23, 2002
Messages
373
Reaction score
9
Location
Denton, Tx
Exactly. My lack of interest in the katana has more to do with a disagreement over the philosophy of the samurai rather than the physics of the weapon itself. I wouldn't imagine I would do well in that type of dojo.
-Travis
With your expressed goals, I doubt you'd be given a chance to try. Keep in mind that many of the JSA teachers have been pouring decades into their chosen art. It's a very deep field of study which requires years and years of dedicated practice to have even the most basic understanding of how a system works.

Let's put it this way, I've been studying MJER Iai under a Nanadan Kyoshi for nearly 10 years. When I go to Japan in November, I will be a complete nobody who has just barely reached a point to be considered teachable by the higher ups. My instructor who has been training since 1980, ten of those years in Chiba at a top notch dojo, is fond of saying that at a tournament in Japan he would be one of the guys sweeping the floor before the competition.

In an art like that where it takes so long to train people up to a minimum level of proficiency, instructors feel a very real responsibility to pass on the teachings which their instructors worked so long and hard to pass on to them. These teachers are almost without exception not making any money to speak of. It's a labor of love. Smaller classes are better, so there is absolutely no incentive to take on students other than to pass on the teachings of the style to the next generation. So why should an instructor waste time on a student who is only interested in learning the very basics to add to their bag of tournament tricks and move on to something else? That time would be better spent teaching the serious students.

I'm not saying that there is no value in the kind of MMA stuff you are into. Clearly lots of folks find a great deal of value in it. Far more than are interested in the traditional martial arts world. Just trying to explain why I think your training attitude is a poor fit for the JSA world. There is a saying I've heard frequently regarding style hoppers. Jack of all trades, master of none.
 

Cryozombie

Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 11, 2003
Messages
9,998
Reaction score
206
(Warning -- long post)

Right now I thought I’d start with the shorter, straighter ninja-to or something similar. (Not the completely straight one, but slightly curved). I have a few specific questions.

3. Does the straighter blade indicate a use for thrusting over cutting? If so, is that part of the purpose of the longer handle, to provide reach?

4. Where is the balance point of a proper ninja-to

7. Is there a specific kata that is able to demonstrate in motion the answers to these questions?

There is only one samurai sword instructor in the valley where I live, that I know of, and from what I have been able to gather, he is not a qualified sword instructor. I would rather learn the basics from you guys than go to him and learn the specifics wrong. There are no ninjitsu schools within 250 miles of where I live.

Any help would be appreciated.

-Travis

Travis...

1) Ninja-to is fiction. It doesn't exist. The closest thing I am aware of is the Katana used by the Togakure-ryu, which in the saya resembles a Katana in almost every way. Once drawn, however, you can see that it has a much shorter blade... which makes clearing the saya on a draw quicker, and it can be done from deceptive angles and from "too close" to your opponent.

In fact, let me reference you to THIS post for a comparison photo.

2) The Blade isn't straighter... just shorter.

3) I don't know that the "Balance point" matters much when doing Togakure-ryu stuff, BUT I could be wrong as I have only seen a handful of Togakure-ryu sword durring a seminar, and some odd drawing stuff from a guest we had at our dojo for a couple weeks...

4) Kata in Ninpo are not like what you expect when you hear "Kata". We don't have "forms" like, You know... "Kata"... (crap its hard to seperate the terms)... Kata in Ninpo is closer to what schools do as "one step sparring" or whatever it's called... an attacker does the attack, you do a pre-defined defense, and then, repeat... so I don't know that you will find what you are looking for...

Basically... to sum this up... there are no actual techniques designed for the Hollywood Ninja-to... except maybe for what guys like Ashida Kim or some of those fake ninja created... and due to the esoteric nature of the Togakure-ryu sword and the chance that you could find someone to demonstrate the techniques properly to you... (keep in mind these are techniques designed with small deceptive movements for a "cut and run" type of attack, not so much a "swordfight"... lots of stuff you can miss if you just "see" them without it explained to you) So you would probably be better off looking at a "standard" Katana or, if you want a straighter sword, somthing Chinese maybe.
 

Ninjamom

2nd Black Belt
Joined
May 29, 2006
Messages
882
Reaction score
84
Location
Solomons, MD, USA
I suppose, THardey, given your many goals and Charles' comments, you need to make a decision about WHICH of your goals are most important to you. If it is most important to you that you learn a historically-accurate Eastern sword approach, then you are fairly limited in choices, and you might want to reconsider the Japanese 'old school' sword arts. These are the only 'eastern arts' that I am aware of that have a real legacy of historically verifiable techniques - techniques that have been passed down for centuries from the time when they were used in combat. Other arts do not have that unbroken chain, linking the art to its historical context (and this comment is coming from a student of Korean sword arts). As Charles pointed out, if you reconsidered the Japanese arts, you would have to reconsider your committment in time and effort to mastering a single sword style.

If your most important goal is avoiding the JSA world and the katana, then you should look into Chinese sword forms, but as has been previously mentioned, there just aren't many schools that teach swordwork outside of a complete empty-handed curriculum.

If any-old 'eastern sword art' will do, and you just want to get the flavor of the art without having to master a new empty-hand system (and maybe pick up some sword techniques and strategy), then you might try haedong gumdo.

If you want to emphasize techniques used in a sparring/fencing environment, or if you prefer the sport/competitive aspects of sword work, you might try kendo, or kumdo (both have the added advantage of usually having some traditional techniques and kata with the two-handed sword, as well as the fencing curriculum).
 

Don Roley

Senior Master
MTS Alumni
Joined
Sep 25, 2002
Messages
3,522
Reaction score
71
Location
Japan
I guess this is why I thought the ninja-to might be a good place to start, since the "ninjitstu mantra" seems to go along the lines of "do whatever works". I wanted to see if that was true, or just another "super street fighter" kind of advertisement.

It is kind of the later. When the art first came to America, there was very little outside of the basics being taught. And even in the case of the basics, there were a lot of people that did not know even that. But they wanted to teach a lot of things like swords, knife and other things that they had not been trained in. So they borrowed from other sources and that kind of clashed with what was being shown in Japan. It is not that the other sources are wrong- only that they were designed with slightly different purposes in mind. (Kind of like trying to use a lot of sport fencing stuff in classical rapier- it looks good if you don't really know what is going on.)

There are limits on what the ninja did because there are limits on what people can do and you have to build an art around that reality.

As for the link about the ninjaken- listen to CryofZombie. The stuff that is in that article you linked to is built on a book written by SKH trying to translate stuff from Japanese and making a lot of mistakes. Best to just ignore the entire thing than try to seperate the few good pieces mixed in with all the problem stuff.
 
OP
T

thardey

Master Black Belt
Joined
Feb 13, 2007
Messages
1,274
Reaction score
94
Location
Southern Oregon
If any-old 'eastern sword art' will do, and you just want to get the flavor of the art without having to master a new empty-hand system (and maybe pick up some sword techniques and strategy), then you might try haedong gumdo.


Ninjamom,

I looked up haedong gumdo on wikipedia, and I thank you very much for the suggestion. I think it is well worth looking into.

Would you agree with the quote below?

"Haidong Gumdo may be generally characterized as exchanging multiple strikes of the sword for one strike of the sword. The one strike concept characterizes the Japanese method. The Japanese ideal of "one strike, one kill" is prevalent in Japanese kendo (kumdo), even today. The merits and limitations of each of the philosophies may be debated endlessly. Probably the best way to characterize the main difference between Japanese Kendo and the Korean Haidong Gumdo styles is through training philosophy:
  • The Japanese technique primarily focuses on one-versus-one, or individual combat.
  • The Korean technique primarily focuses on one-versus-many, or battlefield combat.
The essence of Haidong Gumdo is in shimgum, a concept similar to the that of the Spanish duende, as coined by the Spanish poet, Garc穩a Lorca. Shimgum is the unification of the mind, body and spirit expressing itself through the use of the sword. It implies a technical mastery of the sword, but transcends technical limitations. One can be "technically perfect" but still not achieve shimgum. Shimgum is what makes Haidong Gumdo not only a martial science but also a martial art."



This idea of Shimgum may be my "goal" you expressed earlier. The one that I need to decide which is more important to me. I'm searching for a goal - all of my various pursuits seem to point me towards one thing. That one thing isn't defined yet. That one thing is my goal.



Also, would you agree with the "multiple strikes" vs. "one strike" comment?




And is there any more information you can point me towards? It seems that everything on the 'net, or wikipedia is so untrustworthy, it would be nice to have a personal recommendation on what information to trust.




Do you study under the Daehan Haidong Gumdo Federation under Kim Jeong-Ho, or the Hanguk Haedong Gumdo Federation under Na Han-Il?



-Travis
 
OP
T

thardey

Master Black Belt
Joined
Feb 13, 2007
Messages
1,274
Reaction score
94
Location
Southern Oregon
Travis...

1) Ninja-to is fiction. It doesn't exist. The closest thing I am aware of is the Katana used by the Togakure-ryu, which in the saya resembles a Katana in almost every way. Once drawn, however, you can see that it has a much shorter blade... which makes clearing the saya on a draw quicker, and it can be done from deceptive angles and from "too close" to your opponent.

In fact, let me reference you to THIS post for a comparison photo.

2) The Blade isn't straighter... just shorter.

3) I don't know that the "Balance point" matters much when doing Togakure-ryu stuff, BUT I could be wrong as I have only seen a handful of Togakure-ryu sword durring a seminar, and some odd drawing stuff from a guest we had at our dojo for a couple weeks...

4) Kata in Ninpo are not like what you expect when you hear "Kata". We don't have "forms" like, You know... "Kata"... (crap its hard to seperate the terms)... Kata in Ninpo is closer to what schools do as "one step sparring" or whatever it's called... an attacker does the attack, you do a pre-defined defense, and then, repeat... so I don't know that you will find what you are looking for...

Basically... to sum this up... there are no actual techniques designed for the Hollywood Ninja-to... except maybe for what guys like Ashida Kim or some of those fake ninja created... and due to the esoteric nature of the Togakure-ryu sword and the chance that you could find someone to demonstrate the techniques properly to you... (keep in mind these are techniques designed with small deceptive movements for a "cut and run" type of attack, not so much a "swordfight"... lots of stuff you can miss if you just "see" them without it explained to you) So you would probably be better off looking at a "standard" Katana or, if you want a straighter sword, somthing Chinese maybe.

Thank you very much. That is very helpful.

I suspected as much about the kata, the idea of a long, 13 or 18 step form didn't seem like something you would see in ninpo. We study the "one-step" type of practice extensively in CKD, in fact as part of the "make it your own" type of philosophy, you are expected to not only learn the traditional "one-step" forms, but to design 6 of your own to be approved by the testing board before your Black Belt test. It is the place in which you must demonstrate that you have learned the principles of the strikes instead of just the motions, by making them "yours".

The swords are beautiful. I always liked the simple, functional look. "Beauty in simplicity". It seems to apply to both the weapons, and the use of them.

What is the proper name for the "Katana used by the Togakure-ryu"? So that I can stop using terms like "ninjaken" or "ninjato"?

-Travis
 
OP
T

thardey

Master Black Belt
Joined
Feb 13, 2007
Messages
1,274
Reaction score
94
Location
Southern Oregon
As for the link about the ninjaken- listen to CryofZombie. The stuff that is in that article you linked to is built on a book written by SKH trying to translate stuff from Japanese and making a lot of mistakes. Best to just ignore the entire thing than try to seperate the few good pieces mixed in with all the problem stuff.

I will probably pursue this on one of the ninjustu boards, but is there a thread you could reference that has already disscussed SKH and other Masaaki Hatsumi "disciples"? I would hate to find an opportunity to study Bujinkan and then find out later that I have been learning from an "Ashida Kim" disciple, or a poorly trained "ninja wannabe".

Apparently there is a large ninpo school in Portland, and it is possible that in the next few years they may open a branch were I live. Dojo's are popping up here faster than Starbucks. What credentials should I look for?

(If this is an inappropriate board to ask this question on, please let me know the etiquette for moving it.)
 

Ninjamom

2nd Black Belt
Joined
May 29, 2006
Messages
882
Reaction score
84
Location
Solomons, MD, USA
Would you agree with the quote below?

"Haidong Gumdo may be generally characterized as exchanging multiple strikes of the sword for one strike of the sword. The one strike concept characterizes the Japanese method. The Japanese ideal of "one strike, one kill" is prevalent in Japanese kendo (kumdo), even today. The merits and limitations of each of the philosophies may be debated endlessly. Probably the best way to characterize the main difference between Japanese Kendo and the Korean Haidong Gumdo styles is through training philosophy:
  • The Japanese technique primarily focuses on one-versus-one, or individual combat.
  • The Korean technique primarily focuses on one-versus-many, or battlefield combat.
  • Yes, I agree.
The essence of Haidong Gumdo is in shimgum, a concept similar to the that of the Spanish duende, as coined by the Spanish poet, Garc穩a Lorca. Shimgum is the unification of the mind, body and spirit expressing itself through the use of the sword. It implies a technical mastery of the sword, but transcends technical limitations. One can be "technically perfect" but still not achieve shimgum. Shimgum is what makes Haidong Gumdo not only a martial science but also a martial art."
partly yes, partly no. I think any weapons art strives to attain a seamless flow that makes the weapon an extension of the body (to the point of moving as another member of the body). You can probably attest to the same goal in Western fencing, or even in playing a musical instrument.

This idea of Shimgum may be my "goal" you expressed earlier. The one that I need to decide which is more important to me. I'm searching for a goal - all of my various pursuits seem to point me towards one thing. That one thing isn't defined yet. That one thing is my goal.
that sort of makes sense to me. I think you are looking to make all the pieces fit together into one 'whole' that makes sense and flows together.

Also, would you agree with the "multiple strikes" vs. "one strike" comment?
Absolutley. More so in the Daehan Federation, which emphasizes the long forms more. The Hankuk federation has an extensive curriculum of chukdo/shinai drills that bear striking resemblance in form and function to Japanese kendo drills, but all using a one-handed sword approach.

And is there any more information you can point me towards? It seems that everything on the 'net, or wikipedia is so untrustworthy, it would be nice to have a personal recommendation on what information to trust.
Ignore anything that claims to provide a history of the art going back thousands of years - such histories are pure marketing fiction. Ignore anything that gets into a debate over whether the sword and style are really Korean, Japanese, or Chinese. Each area had its own martial culture; each used straight, curved, double, and single-edged weapons; and each fought the others for centuries, so that there was continual flux of tactics and technology as they responded to each other. Most websites will have accurate information regarding descriptions of the techniques, mechanics, footwork, general curriculm, and forms.

For some good overview clips, see the video links on this page. You may also view an outline of basic techniques here and see a video clip of a Korean Master performing them here. If I may (humbly) recommend my school's website, you may view it here (please especially check out the 'Links' page for a pretty inclusive set of links to HDGD schools from all the major federations). Without a doubt, however, the best one-stop for information on the art of haidong gumdo and discussion with people far more knowledgeable than myself is at Anthony Boyd's HDGD website here. To get the most benefit, you should join (free) to have full access to all the forums, but there is a special 'General Questions' section that doesn't require membership, specifically for people to discuss what HDGD is all about.

Do you study under the Daehan Haidong Gumdo Federation under Kim Jeong-Ho, or the Hanguk Haedong Gumdo Federation under Na Han-Il?
Aha!! Someone has done some research!! Our school is currently non-alligned, although our curriculum leans more towards the Hankuk side. We also incorporate a lot of drills from KKF Kumdo, which is the same as Japanese kendo (and why I feel at least a little bit able to comment on both styles).

Cheers, Travis! Feel free to PM me with any more specific questions on haidong gumdo, or post on the board for more discussion and wider feedback.
 

Latest Discussions

Top