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Michael Curl




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PostPosted: Tue 30 Jun, 2009 10:41 pm    Post subject: Japanese Swordsmanship vs European         Reply with quote

I want to be clear, this is not a which is better contest (I think Deadliest Warrior proves just how easy it is to be retarded with that)

Rather I have been trying to find an honest compare and contrast between longsword and katana styles (internet search results in rpg's and ninja references). Obviously they are both longer swords (compared to one-handed swords), but how are they different? I can't seem to find any good kendo videos on youtube that I can study, I just find bad music and people pushing cheap katana's through cheaper folding chairs.


So I know that there are kenjutsu practitioners who are experienced at both. So I ask you...

1. Whenever I see kendo being practiced it seems like they are making short hops rather than passing steps, how are these used? Are they like the advances in classical fencing where they ar more like syncronised advances rather than the hops they appear to be.

2. How often are thrusts implemented? Is it just as frequently as with the longsword, or is it more rarely done?

3. How are the cuts different? I was under the impression that much shorter, less power strikes can be made wtih the katana due to its curve and sharpness.

4. How much wresting and grappling is involved with Kenjutsu? Is aikido a form of this? Does half-swording exist?

and lastly 5. What role does the tsuba play? It seems that due to its size, it would only be good for preventing your hand from sliding up the blade, and the enemies from sliding down.

Thank you very much.

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Gabriel Lebec
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PostPosted: Tue 30 Jun, 2009 11:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Michael,

While I am not going to be very helpful in comparisons I can at least throw in a couple thoughts re: Japanese swordsmanship.

First of all, the history of Japanese swordsmanship is varied and comprises a large number of disciplines with different techniques, scopes, philosophies, purposes, etc. Kendo is very different from iaido, which is different from some forms of kenjutsu, etc. And within such blurry categories, individual ryuha are quite different as well; some are more ceremonial, some are more practical, just as one example.

It seems to me (and I welcome informed correction on this point) that western longsword technique is a relatively narrow discipline, since it has enjoyed a somewhat recent revival based on a limited number of key sources. Perhaps it would make more sense to compare Japanese swordsmanship as a whole to European swordsmanship as a whole, including other historical forms (smallsword dueling, sport fencing, sword-and-buckler, etc.).

Obviously the scale of this potential discussion is getting way out of hand. Wink I think we'd need to limit the comparison a bit before proceeding.

To address some of your original points:

Coming from a short background of introductory Nakamura Ryu battodo, we were certainly taught a basic thrust ("tsuki"). Some of the forms incorporated thrusts as well. But the emphasis was definitely on the cut. Keep in mind that the core Toyama Ryu forms I am referring to were developed as modern battlefield techniques against unarmored opponents; nonetheless, it is a basic tenet of Japanese sword history that the primary use of the katana (and the tachi) was to cut.

Again referring to my limited experience, the cuts we practiced were efficient and controlled - emphasis was placed on bringing the blade in immediately after the cut (no ridiculous golf swing follow through...). The best cuts on soft targets were made (and this was very much verified with tameshigiri) by having correct angle alignment and body mechanics, not by applying more power. More power too often could result in a sloppy cut that would jarringly stop in the middle of the test medium.

I've never seen any half-swording in modern kendo, iaido, or kenjutsu. Maybe it exists, I don't know. A nagamaki however is sort of like half-swording in terms of proportions / grip placement, if not in actually gripping the blade. Half-swording would seem sort of contrary to the stringent precautions typically taken against actually touching the blade of nihonto (which was certainly an historical/cultural reality as well as a modern collector's concern).

The tsuba is, as you say, much more to prevent your hand from slipping up than as a physical guard against other blades. I don't recall ever seeing actual binding techniques in Japanese sword MA, and not much blade-on-blade contact in the first place. I've noticed that western longsword teaches a lot more nifty examples of applying leverage or redirecting the opponent's blade in very specific ways - Japanese swordsmanship seems, to me, to be more concerned with positioning, achieving the initiative, dealing with multiple opponents, etc. then in the fencing aspect.

Lastly, there are many very interesting and illuminating videos of genuine Japanese sword-based MA out there. I suggest you look up the names of various traditional ryuha (try http://www.koryu.com/) and using those in your searches.

I'll leave you with this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzJAUKZGyNQ&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN6FYoGCvBo&feature=related

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science." - Albert Einstein
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James R.Fox




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jul, 2009 1:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sirs- I have read in several hisrorys of Japanese-European early contact the the Japanese did take up fighting with katana and tanto adter they saw Spanish and Portugese practicing rapier and dagger. I have no idea if they kept ir up too long. The guy who write Thr Five Rings was supposed ro have used it in some of his 50-odd duels, Tharts all I remember,sorry. But every major library should have books on early Japanese contadt hisroey an a translation of the Five Rings
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Wed 01 Jul, 2009 1:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

1) kendo is not like JSA...just like olympic fencing isn't like how one would use a rapier.

2) how often a thrust is used is actually pretty depent on which school you study...some have more then others, but generally speaking, not used as much as in western longsword fighting.

3) the cuts are surprising similar at a base level...but differ greatly on an advanced level. This has more to do with the mindset of the combatants then sword style(my opinion...based on conjectures). In japan, if two samurai fight and both die, they both won. In europe, they both lost.

4) yes grappling and hand to hand combat does exists. Half swording...umm not so much.

5) the tsuba is for your hands.
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Nicholas Allan Wilson




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jul, 2009 2:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

First, let me say that I am relatively new to posting so if I am unclear or fail to get my point across I apologize.

One important aspect that differentiates JSAs (Japanese Sword Arts) from WSAs is the fact that most Samurai carried their swords (daisho) with them at all times (at least in later periods) and wore them in a seated position. As a result, the methods of combat and construction of the weapons were factored into this kind of lifestyle.

Different schools of swordsmanship were developed in response to the various circumstances swordsmen found themselves in, the battlefield being just one. The assorted styles of kendo were better suited for that type of confrontation. Arts like iaido/battodo were developed for use in instances where a swordsman may be required to defend himself from a sudden attack at a moment's notice. An attack could happen while eating, visiting with a friend, etc. Many (but by no means all) of the techniques (waza) practiced today in the various styles of iaido/battodo were developed for indoor confrontations, a lot of them being from a seated position (seiza). With this scenario in mind, it would seem that having a sword with a large cross-guard would be a hindrance and would limit any kind of rapid deployment while seated on the ground.

By comaprison, most of the manuscripts, historical illustrations, and recent videos from WMA schools that I've seen deal more with confrontations from a standing postition. Of course I could be wrong (probably am ) and just have yet to see any examples.

Hope I helped somewhat.

~nic
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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jul, 2009 4:47 am    Post subject: Re: Japanese Swordsmanship vs European         Reply with quote

Hello!

Michael Curl wrote:
1. Whenever I see kendo being practiced it seems like they are making short hops rather than passing steps, how are these used? Are they like the advances in classical fencing where they ar more like syncronised advances rather than the hops they appear to be.


Yes I think they are a bit like that. Both feet do not move at the same time as far as I reckon, so they are not just a 'hop'. I believe they evolved naturally because the need to remain grounded and stable on uneven terrain was removed in the sport.

Michael Curl wrote:
2. How often are thrusts implemented? Is it just as frequently as with the longsword, or is it more rarely done?

3. How are the cuts different? I was under the impression that much shorter, less power strikes can be made wtih the katana due to its curve and sharpness.


I'm grouping these two because I think the answers are linked. Thrusting is certainly known and used. There are a fair number of thrusts in the katas of Katori Shinto Ryu (to the throat, thigh, belly). But many of these can also be seen as slicing cuts depending on the situation. Since the school was founded at a time when armour was common, powerful cuts are used as well as shorter ones directed at weak spots.

The exact mechanics of cutting with the longsword, as well as how much power should be used, are still debated. Therefore it is a bit ambitious trying to compare both... I guess there's been just as much variety in Europe as there has been in Japan regarding these matters. The key difference is that a specialized thrusting sword such as some rapiers never appeared in Japan. Actually, even if you limit your scope to the medieval period, I don't know of a Japanese equivalent of a type XV... So that limits the possibilities. The forms are varied in Japan but less so than they were in Europe in my opinion.

Quote:
4. How much wresting and grappling is involved with Kenjutsu? Is aikido a form of this?


Most kenjutsu schools also taught an associated form of unarmed combat. So students would have been as familiar with wrestling and grappling as students of European masters would have been. Of course it might not appear if you look only at kenjutsu because the art is primarily concerned with what happens before grappling...

Aikido is a modern art stemming in part from one such school. It has a sword part but I don't know how true it is to the original kenjutsu. Some moves might have been modified to fit the overall philosophy better.

Quote:
Does half-swording exist?


Not exactly as in longsword as far as I'm aware. In general Japanese seem to avoid even touching the edge of their sword (maybe this is related to the lack of significant gloves?). But there are techniques were the left hand goes to the back of the blade for added leverage, to have stronger blocks and enable closing techniques. See this video for example, near the very end at 11:10:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4vbca_kobudopartie1_travel

(and watch the whole, this is from one of the oldest schools of kenjutsu. Maybe you'll find surprising things in it...).

Quote:
and lastly 5. What role does the tsuba play? It seems that due to its size, it would only be good for preventing your hand from sliding up the blade, and the enemies from sliding down.


Yeah that's more or less it Happy Some schools (one being Katori Shinto Ryu again) have training wooden swords that do not even have a tsuba because it is not used at all.

Maybe this is because the crossguard never really caught in Japan because of the lack of shields. I also wonder if binding with the guard would be suitable at all with the physionomy of the katana. It is a bit shorter than a longsword, with a blade that has more the dimensions of a european one-hander. If you bind with your cross and your blade is not long enough, it effectlively prevents you from hitting the adversary too... Pure hypothesis from me, that last part.


One significant difference that you did not mention in your post is that the majority of European swords were double-edged. I think this affects the techniques quite a bit. Many key longsword moves use the short edge and are therefore not effective with a katana (ignoring the size problem for a moment). Even messer techniques use the sharpened back near the tip, I believe?

Regards,

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Vincent
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Nicholas Allan Wilson




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jul, 2009 4:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James R.Fox wrote:
I have read in several hisrorys of Japanese-European early contact the the Japanese did take up fighting with katana and tanto adter they saw Spanish and Portugese practicing rapier and dagger. I have no idea if they kept ir up too long.


I believe you are referring to Miyamoto Musashi. The style he developed is called niten'ichi ( "two heavens as one") or nitōichi ( "two swords as one") or "Ni-Ten Ichi Ryu. And he used a katana and a wakizashi, not a tanto.

I'm not sure about the whole Portugese thing. May I ask where you read this?
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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jul, 2009 7:22 am    Post subject: Re: Japanese Swordsmanship vs European         Reply with quote

Michael Curl wrote:

1. Whenever I see kendo being practiced it seems like they are making short hops rather than passing steps, how are these used? Are they like the advances in classical fencing where they ar more like syncronised advances rather than the hops they appear to be.


This is a question of rules, spesific to kendo, and not a general japanese swordsmanship feature. To score a point in Kendo, the strike, the impact of the foot hitting the ground, and the Kia declaring your intended target (head, hand, belly or thrust)i must be simultaneous.
Hitting the opponent is not really important.
(I practiced kendo for about six months before jumping the fence to reenactment fighting.)

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Gabriel Lebec
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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jul, 2009 8:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vincent,

Love the TSKSR video! Very interesting. And good catch re: supporting the back of the blade with one's hand, I should have thought of that.

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science." - Albert Einstein
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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jul, 2009 8:03 am    Post subject: Off-topic talk         Reply with quote

I answer the one point on haft-swording.It was used .But only when fighting with very long no-dachi.which had an unsharpened length.The japanese no-dachi could get up to 15ft in length.which a good portion of the bottom (20inches more or less)was un sharpened,and haft-swording wasn't used with the average katana mainly because the blade was too sharp,and not balanced for it.


 Attachment: 14.74 KB
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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jul, 2009 1:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are some good answers here, particularly by Gabriel and Vincent. There are a few things here that I'd like to add to.

First off, even though many people study "longsword" in a particular style, ultimately these arts are complete martial arts. The sword is only one aspect (and in many ways can be considered the central aspect), but the arts cover unarmed, dagger, staff, and a myriad of other pieces, and all of them are interrelated.

Gabriel Lebec wrote:
It seems to me (and I welcome informed correction on this point) that western longsword technique is a relatively narrow discipline, since it has enjoyed a somewhat recent revival based on a limited number of key sources.


Its not so much that western longsword techniques are a narrow dicipline. Its more that there are no living lineages for it, and modern practitioners are going off of historical evidence left by the masters. (Though that might be what you meant. Happy ) This means that we, in modern times, are limited to what evidence we have. For instance, we have a great deal of suriving material for the German medieval styles (primarily the Liechtenauer tradition) as well as the Italian styles (primarily from the Fiore dei Liberi tradition). We have some sur viving material for other medieval traditions, but not nearly as much.

Having said that, we have quite a rich source of evidence for the Germans and Italians for their longsword studies, so there's certainly no shortage of techniques in these parts (or rather, there's enough contained in these traditions that it would take many lifetimes to master. Happy )

James R. Fox wrote:
Sirs- I have read in several hisrorys of Japanese-European early contact the the Japanese did take up fighting with katana and tanto adter they saw Spanish and Portugese practicing rapier and dagger. I have no idea if they kept ir up too long. The guy who write Thr Five Rings was supposed ro have used it in some of his 50-odd duels, Tharts all I remember,sorry. But every major library should have books on early Japanese contadt hisroey an a translation of the Five Rings


Miyamoto Musashi wrote the Book of Five Rings, and I'm very skeptical of the idea that he learned Nito-ryu from the Spanish or Portugese, particularly because rapier and dagger is such a different art (other than having something in each hand, which is not at all an uncommon trait in various arts outside of Japan or Europe). I've never seen any evidence other than people posting this on various internet fora.

Nicholas Allen Wilson wrote:
By comaprison, most of the manuscripts, historical illustrations, and recent videos from WMA schools that I've seen deal more with confrontations from a standing postition. Of course I could be wrong (probably am ) and just have yet to see any examples.


You make an interesting point, though I'm not sure I totally agree. Maybe. I think this largely has to do with what historical masters chose to record, or what information has survived. We definatley know of certain specialized techniques that people tend to think of as Asian existing in WMA (such as striking an opponent from the draw), but these types of techniqes seem to be demonstrated in the fencing manuscripts that are geared more towards showing a "collection" of the art, rather than showing primary training material, so who knows what else our ancestors may have practiced? I hesitate to draw any conclusions about it at this stage because of the lack of evidence one way or another.

Myrick J. Hethington wrote:
I answer the one point on haft-swording.It was used .But only when fighting with very long no-dachi.which had an unsharpened length.The japanese no-dachi could get up to 15ft in length.which a good portion of the bottom (20inches more or less)was un sharpened,and haft-swording wasn't used with the average katana mainly because the blade was too sharp,and not balanced for it.


Very large swords, such as the one you pictured, were not actually used for combat. They were used for religious ceremony (similar to how many large bearing swords in Europe were primarily for parade purposes). There are many schools of Japanese swordsmanship that do grasp the spine of the blade, as was mentioned above, and this is done with a "standard" sized sword.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


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James R.Fox




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jul, 2009 2:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Allen Wilson, Sir, as for the Portugese early contact with Japan, this is in all history books of Japan. It was because of this contact that the Togugawa Shoguns expelled all christians from Japan, except for the Dutch base at Nagasaki:The Portugese had introduced gunpowder and upset the old political Shogunate set up by Hideyoshi based on Non-gunpowder weapons and castles.As for Mushashi's book, I read an English translation annotated by a Japanese Kendo master. Sorry, I don't have the book anymore. You are right, it was katana and Wakisazi, not katana and tanto, my memory was playing tricks again. I'm 70 and it does that. If you are Interested, pick up George Cameron Stone"s "Glossary of the Construction ,Decoration, and Use of Arms and Armour" known to us cognoscini as Stone's Glossary.. It is invaluable for anything up to 1935. The only thing was he did not know about real Damascus steel, the blast furnaces were not discovered and published untill the 1970"s.He only knew about manufactured Damascus steel. You can pick up a copy of Stone's Glossary on Amazon, as MRL has stopped selling it. It has some beautifull examples of Japanese adaption of Portugese and Spanish Curiasses to Japanese conditions.It's also got some great articles on manufacture of Japanese swords, Including why you NEVER touch the blade of an antique sword.(guess, ha,ha Big Grin ) I hope this post is more ledgible, my arthritis is playing hell with my hands it's been raining 3 days.

P.S. to all myArmoury guys, when are you going to sell Stone's Glossary? As a reference for your antique arms and armour discussion it's invaluable, I've settled several points with Stone , the last time I was in I identified an Italian fauchard cut down to a biarding pike. Stone Illustrates them

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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jul, 2009 6:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James R.Fox wrote:
P.S. to all myArmoury guys, when are you going to sell Stone's Glossary? As a reference for your antique arms and armour discussion it's invaluable, I've settled several points with Stone , the last time I was in I identified an Italian fauchard cut down to a biarding pike. Stone Illustrates them


To begin with, technically myArmoury doesn't sell any books directly, although the site does make a percentage off of books bought from Amazon through affiliate links in our Books section.

Stone's is very interesting in terms of sheer breadth - lots of unusual items identified. On the other hand, from my memory of looking through it a couple of times, it isn't error-free. I think there's been a certain amount of research done since Stone's was published that means it's not likely to be recommended here, especially for beginners, even while more knowledgeable people may still find it useful as a world arms reference.

If you want to continue this discussion I'd suggest making it a new thread since it is off-topic here.

Back to the original question, I'm not so sure that the bottom portion of most nodachi was left unsharpened, I don't remember ever seeing that. I've seen many of them with very long nakago, even proportionally long, which would be expected if they were to be wielded at all; but as Bill points out, most of the longest examples were not really meant for use anyway.

Now on the other hand, some little bit of my brain is nagging me about perhaps a rice-paper wrap on the lower section of the blade, to make it holdable. Not sure if that's correct or I am misremembering something someone else said, I'll have to check.

BTW Bill, yeah, I meant to write "modern western longsword technique." Of course, that shouldn't mean that historical longsword technique was a narrow discipline in the slightest. Besides which, even modern longsword doesn't seem that narrow now that I think of it, there are regional schools and varying interpretations.... :-)

-GLL

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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jul, 2009 9:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James R.Fox wrote:
Michael Allen Wilson, Sir, as for the Portugese early contact with Japan, this is in all history books of Japan.


But, as I mentioned above, I don't know of any evidence that the Japanese learned the art of using two weapons from the Portugese. The techniques, stances, and general movement of Nito-ryu really doesn't look like espada y daga.

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--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


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Patrick De Block




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PostPosted: Thu 02 Jul, 2009 1:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some things which came to my mind when reading through this thread.

It's useful to differentiate between kendo and kenjutsu. Kendo developed from a concern in kenjutsu to do free sparring without killing each other. Kendo refers to the Itto Ryu for its use of protective gear, bambu swords and a lot of the theory behind it. But other ryu also had some form of free sparring with more or less protection, even a school which is considered to be the oldest still existing, the Maniwa Nen Ryu use a fukuro shinai, quilted gloves and some form of head protection. Those schools still exist and apart from free sparring they retain and still practise their kata.

Kendo on the other hand can be compaired to modern fencing. Everthing is very frontal and only five moves are allowed: a vertical and a diagonally downward cut to the head, a cut to the trunk and one to the wrist and a thrust. The description in this thread of the foot, cut and kiai happening together is in fact the ki-ken-tai-ichi of Kendo, intention - sword - body - one. The theory is influenced by the Itto Ryu (one sword school): one cut and that should end the engagement. Apart from this Kendo also has a kendo-kata, a series of twelve paired sword practises, partly with a short sword. (Following the lead of Kano and his Judo, to create a scientific system with the best techniques.)

If you follow the ideology of the Kendo Renmei you should also pratice iaido and jodo, there are twelve seitei iai and twelve seitei jo pratices. By the way, the ki-ken-tai-ichi of iai or jodo are different from kendo. Eventually you can study Muso Shindo/Jikiden Ryu iaido and Shinto Muso ryu jodo. Muso Shindo or Jikiden contain standing sword plays which apply grappling although they're not well known. Those are the most widely praticed but you could also study Hoki Ryu which is known for its techniques where you grip the spine of the blade halfway to thrust or to slice. As for the use of the tsuba, yes, it exists, for example in the Yanagi Ryu.
The problem is the same as always, once you decide that something should be done in a certain manner or that something is absolutely not done you will meet someone who does it differently or does what is absolutely not done and does it effectively.

As to aikido, everything you do can be explained as a swordmove and came from swordmoves. After all, if you're a swordsman and you start grappling, you probably apply the principles you've learned in kenjutsu. If you come from aikido and you see those grappling techniques in iaido you say its aikido, if you come from iaido and you see some things in aikido, you'll probably think: I know that. As to the sword techniques in aikido, some say it's too much aiki and not enough ken.

One last, iaido being a way to be able to defend yourself if you're unexpectedly attacked. Surprise attacks usually succeed. Iaido or iai-jutsu for that matter is only a small part of the complete curriculum of traditional schools and in all probality were assassin's techniques.

One very last, comparing WMA and JMA.
Since we basically all have the same motorskills there must exist a universal way to move, of course taking the tools you use and your cultural outlook into account. I mean, the scientific best way to move that can be expressed in different ways.
As to the theory, for example, vor-indes-nach or sprechfenster also exist in JMA.
There is also one likeness which isn't often mentioned: it is a fact that when martial arts were nearly extinct in Japan some martial artists went to families that once had a school, asked for the documents and asked to be designated heirs to the extinct school. So, if you read the unbroken thread of head masters succeding each other since the beginning of time, implying that the secrets of the school were transmitted through the succesive generations , it might be that at some point something is covered up, because the art was recreated.
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Nicholas Allan Wilson




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PostPosted: Thu 02 Jul, 2009 7:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think that another interesting difference between JSAs and WSAs is that in JSAs the positioning of the body is squared with the opponent. There are many times in JSAs (especially iaido) where cuts are done from a three-quarter-like stance (hanmi) but even in those instances the cut begins in a forward position and ends in a three-quarter-like stance. The majority of the time the body is completely squared off with both feet facing forward. The most basic kamae (guards), chudan no kamae and jodan yo kamae, are perfect examples of this.

I also think that the sword guard has an affect on combative posture as well execution of attacks. Aren't a majority of the cuts with longswords done from the shoulder? I have seen overhead cuts done before but the hands rarely appear to move past the forehead area. Longsword cuts look to have a swivel-like quality to them which would appear to accomodate the generous portions of guard.

~nic
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PostPosted: Thu 02 Jul, 2009 10:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Squaring off with your opponent is kendo or doing things kendo-fashion. If you do jodo which is mainly fighting with a stick against a sword, the basic sword posture is hasso (vom Tag at the shoulder). If you do seitei jo you will bring up your sword above your head, if you are doing the classical ryu you will cut from the shoulder. Jodo also contains sword against sword techniques, both start from hasso and again, either you do it kendolike or not.
Look at Tetsuzan Kuroda or at Kashima Shin Ryu, they don't square off.
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Nicholas Allan Wilson




Location: New Orleans
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PostPosted: Thu 02 Jul, 2009 10:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From the video that you posted, at 0:36 they are squared off, at least more so than some of the WMA guys I see. However, they don't start from a squared position which is interesting. But they do return to a squared off position.
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Nicholas Allan Wilson




Location: New Orleans
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Posts: 70

PostPosted: Thu 02 Jul, 2009 10:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nicholas Allan Wilson wrote:
From the video that you posted, at 0:36 they are squared off, at least more so than some of the WMA guys I see.


I'm sorry. I meant to say "the video i found".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyS5roV6Q3Q

Again, sorry for the confusion.
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William Carew




Location: Australia
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PostPosted: Fri 03 Jul, 2009 3:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nicholas Allan Wilson wrote:
Nicholas Allan Wilson wrote:
From the video that you posted, at 0:36 they are squared off, at least more so than some of the WMA guys I see.


I'm sorry. I meant to say "the video i found".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyS5roV6Q3Q

Again, sorry for the confusion.


Hi Nicholas,

I'm not sure what being 'more squared off than WMA guys' means? Kuroda Sensei and his assistant move through a variety of physical positions during the execution of their approach and techniques: sometimes they are more side on; sometimes they are squarer on and it depends on the circumstances in the moment according to what they are trying to achieve... just as it is with 'WMA guys.'

Actually, instead of talking about 'WMA' if we are referring to swordsmanship interpreted from surviving European texts I prefer to use HEMA or Historical European Martial Arts. WMA is actually a wide umbrella term that usually also includes numerous living tradition arts such as Savate, Glima, Boxing, Wrestling, Jogo do Pau, Bastone Siciliano etc.

Another important thing to bear in mind is we really don't know with any certainty what real HEMA looked like back in the day and to be honest, it's too soon to judge HEMA by the meagre calibre of most of us practicing it. The so called HEMA 'movement' is relatively young and with a few rare exceptions any limitations or oddities in technique and application are quite likely our own rather than something within the original arts themselves. Take a half dozen groups from around the world studying the same sources (say, German longsword) and have them demonstrate the 17 main devices and you will see, among many commonalities, lots of differences in execution and interpretation... who is to say which, if any of them, are closest to the real deal? Of course, trying to figure it out (and yet never knowing for sure if you have) is part of the fun of it for some of us! Wink

Now, on the video you linked to, Kuroda Sensei is a phenomenal swordsman, the best I've seen on video. I have gained *many* biomechanical insights into swordsmanship by studying his videos, including general concepts on how to move efficiently between techniques, how to step and carry the body to best affect and utilise gravity and inertia effectively rather than placing too much reliance on muscle force alone and more. Many of these things are applicable, with caution, to similar European arts such as that of the longsword IMHO. If you have a chance to view extended video of his seminars, I highly recommend it.

Cheers,

Bill

Bill Carew
Jogo do Pau Brisbane
COLLEGIUM IN ARMIS
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