Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Overview of the usage of the katana Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
Michael Curl




Location: Northern California, US
Joined: 06 Jan 2008

Posts: 486

PostPosted: Sun 09 Aug, 2009 3:14 pm    Post subject: Overview of the usage of the katana         Reply with quote

Hello, I have no experience with japanese swordsmanship at all. I am not interested in learning it, German longsword is what I am currently learning.

However I was wondering if anyone would like to give me a brief run through on it.

What I have in mind is, (to compare it to the german longsword) some guards, some master cuts (popular techniques), and a few notes on how its use differs from a longsword. This is simply as an education exercise, since youtubeing katana techniques gives you nothing but ninja crap.

Both discussion, pictures, and video would be welcomed and appreciated.

Just a few opening questions.



p.s. Yes I know there are many schools, just speak in generalities or whatever school you are most comfortable with. Thank you very much.

E Pluribus Unum
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
D. Austin
Industry Professional



Location: Melbourne, Australia
Joined: 20 Sep 2007

Posts: 208

PostPosted: Sun 09 Aug, 2009 10:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Michael,

Unfortunately, you may have trouble finding people who really know what they are talking about, who are willing to give you a "brief run through" on traditional usage of the katana.

To find some non-ninja footage, your best bet may be to do a youtube search for "kenjutsu koryu" (oldschool swordsmanship). I remember seeing quite an interesting documentary on Katori Shinto Ryu once which I think was on BBC. You might also want to search for that.

Regards,

Darren.
View user's profile Send private message
Nat Lamb




Location: Melbourne, Australia
Joined: 15 Jan 2009
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 385

PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2009 1:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"brief run through" is probably akin to Zorro's "the pointy end goes in the other man". But I think you are probaly after a bit more detail. What little I know is what is left over in Judo and Aikido, and I think that compared to Germain longsword the main diferences are that the arms, esp the elbows, are kept a bit tighter into the sides, and that cuts have a slightly more exagerated "drawing" motion built into them. Basic footwork seems to be very similar though, in fact there seems to be more general similarity between GLS as a whole, and Katana use as a whole, then there is specific similarity between individual schools in each tradition. (I think that made sense)

Please bare in mind these are "impressions" of someone who has limited1st hand experience with GLS and only 2nd hand experience and infered knowledge of Kenjutsu.
View user's profile Send private message
Sam Barris




Location: San Diego, California
Joined: 29 Apr 2004
Likes: 4 pages

Posts: 617

PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2009 3:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Since you're in Northern California, you might venture down to SoCal and observe a demonstration or workshop of the Dojo of the Four Winds. Failing that, I second the search for koryu. Koryu refers specifically to classical bujutsu.

Just so you know, there are period manuals in kenjutsu just like in Western swordsmanship. If memory serves, the Yagyu Shinkage Ryu had an illustrated manual of a samurai fencing with a tengu (demon, for lack of a better term). There are four or five from different schools that are available to the public, IIRC. They shouldn't be too hard to locate.

Pax,
Sam Barris

"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." —Thucydides
View user's profile Send private message Yahoo Messenger
Michael Edelson




Location: New York
Joined: 14 Sep 2005

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 1,032

PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2009 7:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are very many schools of iaido, battojutsu,kenjutsu, etc. and each does things a bit differently, so a brief run through with specifics would be difficult. Many "newer" JSA (Japanese Sword Arts) schools have a very limited curriculum compared to German longsword...a few kata, 8 cuts, rinse repeat. However, there are many that are every bit as rich, particularly the Koryu (old schools), and that is what I'll focus on.

Essentially, JSA is a lot more similar to German longsword than it is different. The sword has only one edge, so there are no back edge cuts, and that is the one major difference, but some schools use a motion very similar to the zwerchau to parry on the spine of the sword. There are also philosophical differences. For example, Yagyu Shinkage Ryu will parry a cut to the legs whereas Liechtenauer will void (though there may also be a void in YSR...I don't remember). Also, the cut is generally preferred to the thrust (though the thrust is used) in bind play in JSA.

However, these differences are minor and trivial, and if you watch a couple of good YSR guys doing paired drills you'll be amazed how similar the two arts are. This is largeley unavoidable, as both arts focus on efficient lethality, and there are only so many ways to move with a two handed sword. The guards are nearly identical, though there are some differences.

As for things like footwork, I'd like to say how different or similar they are, but then we can't really know, can we? All I'd be able to comment on is JSA footwork vs. what we think German longsword footwork is. The short answer here is, again, more similarities than differences, though it does depend on the JSA school.

Hope this helps.

New York Historical Fencing Association
www.newyorklongsword.com

Byakkokan Dojo
http://newyorkbattodo.com/
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Michael Curl




Location: Northern California, US
Joined: 06 Jan 2008

Posts: 486

PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2009 8:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you all for your responsis.

I know a little japanese history so I understand what a tengu is, however I was hoping to find some techniques, so I will youtube Kenjutsu.

E Pluribus Unum
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Likes: 50 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 5
Posts: 8,177

PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2009 8:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Edelson wrote:


As for things like footwork, I'd like to say how different or similar they are, but then we can't really know, can we? All I'd be able to comment on is JSA footwork vs. what we think German longsword footwork is. The short answer here is, again, more similarities than differences, though it does depend on the JSA school.

Hope this helps.


For some styles I think that the lead leg can be opposite to what we usually do with the lead leg being on the same side as the katana !? Maybe because the average katana is shorter on average than the average longsword !?

Anyway I took a one day seminar by Maxime Chouinard in the " Shinkendo " style that my Longsword group offered:
http://quebec.shinkendo.ca/
http://lesduellistes.com/phpbb2/

( Note: Maxime gave us a very good seminar compressing what would probably have been years of information in a useful condensed overview of his style and was a joy to meet and discuss with ).

This was a while ago and my memory of it could be wrong but the footwork seemed to be the reverse of what we usually do for some techniques. But overall, a lot more in common than difference if one discounts the details and the different cultural approach in teaching traditional Japanese arts versus our relaxed and less formal Western approach.

A rough comparison would be:

1) Japanese: Starting with a detailed approach on how every move should be done leading eventually to insights into basic principle by drilling under strict direction but without being told the why of things. ( Until judged ready I guess or when ready one needs not be told ? )

2) European style ( Modern ? ): Seems like more emphasis on explaining the basic principles early on and while the drills might still be important applying the principles in less than ideal condition ( mostly when bouting/dueling ) being more important than minutia in hand or foot placement or the ceremonial aspects of the art. Also, less of a master/obedient student rigid hierarchy.

Michael: If I am wrong in whole or in detail in the above I would welcome your more experienced knowledge in both the Western and Eastern sword arts. Big Grin Cool

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
View user's profile Send private message
Michael Edelson




Location: New York
Joined: 14 Sep 2005

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 1,032

PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2009 10:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean, as a gross generalization, what you say is essentially correct, with one possible exception. I have no problems with generalizations (I think they're essential for online communication), as long as people accept them for what they are.

The exception...I've spent a good deal of time in JSA and have never seen footwork that is opposite what we do in German longsword. Now that doesn't mean it doesn't exist, but it may mean it's not a very good generalization, since it is probably the exception and not the rule. Then again, I may be wrong about that.

New York Historical Fencing Association
www.newyorklongsword.com

Byakkokan Dojo
http://newyorkbattodo.com/
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Elling Polden




Location: Bergen, Norway
Joined: 19 Feb 2004
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,576

PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2009 11:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Later european single sword styles also lead with the sword side. One of the 17th c manuals I read states that the reason for this is to move of line faster, and thus cover behind your sword.

I was also under the impression that European longsword featured a lot more grappling than JSA?

"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
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website MSN Messenger
Michael Edelson




Location: New York
Joined: 14 Sep 2005

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 1,032

PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2009 12:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
I was also under the impression that European longsword featured a lot more grappling than JSA?


Ah! Good point! I always forget that one, being too focused on the sword. However, that may only be an artifact of how the arts are studied today and in recent history.

New York Historical Fencing Association
www.newyorklongsword.com

Byakkokan Dojo
http://newyorkbattodo.com/
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Jim Mearkle




Location: Colonie, NY
Joined: 20 Mar 2004
Reading list: 3 books

Posts: 113

PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2009 2:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not really qualified to speak on either, but I had to say this: Thank you, thank you, thank you! for an intelligent discussion on the subject, rather than just trading insults like children.
Jim
View user's profile Send private message
Nicholas Allan Wilson




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 16 Feb 2009

Posts: 70

PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2009 4:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Curl wrote:
Thank you all for your responsis.

I know a little japanese history so I understand what a tengu is, however I was hoping to find some techniques, so I will youtube Kenjutsu.


You may want to do a little more research into gripping a Japanese sword than just observing kendo. A shinai is VERY different than the tsuka of a katana, one being more ovular than the other.

Also, there are some subtle differences in grip depending on the ryu (style). For example, the iai ryu that I am most familiar with leaves about two fingers' width between the hands on the tsuka, others do not. Generally speaking, the further your hands are the more fliexibility you will have. The closer they are the more power (so to speak).

Hope this helps.
View user's profile Send private message
Nicholas Allan Wilson




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 16 Feb 2009

Posts: 70

PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2009 5:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It should also be noted that Japanses swords do not fall into the one-size-fits- all categorgory. A sword needs to be fitted to your body as best as possible. If you are trying to make comparisons it would be wise to consider the size of sword you have.
View user's profile Send private message
Nicholas Allan Wilson




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 16 Feb 2009

Posts: 70

PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2009 11:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:

1) Japanese: Starting with a detailed approach on how every move should be done leading eventually to insights into basic principle by drilling under strict direction but without being told the why of things. ( Until judged ready I guess or when ready one needs not be told ? )

2) European style ( Modern ? ): Seems like more emphasis on explaining the basic principles early on and while the drills might still be important applying the principles in less than ideal condition ( mostly when bouting/dueling ) being more important than minutia in hand or foot placement or the ceremonial aspects of the art. Also, less of a master/obedient student rigid hierarchy.

Michael: If I am wrong in whole or in detail in the above I would welcome your more experienced knowledge in both the Western and Eastern sword arts. Big Grin Cool


From my understanding, traditional JSA teachings rely more on observation than on discussion/explanation. While in class the student is required to closely observe the instructor. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that this method requires the student's full attention. The second has a more strategic purpose. Observation of technique and attention to detail (no matter how small) can be used against the enemy. Such observations were used to find out the opponent's vulnerabilities like if they are leaning too far forward, holding the sword too tightly or too loosely, sticking an arm or leg out too far, etc.

Discussion and explanation seem to be more of a western method. It has it's advantages in that telling someone directly is easier and perhaps faster. But in a real confrontation using the powers of observation would be more beneficial (in my opinion) simply because your enemy is not going to verbally tell you how to beat him. He will show you, however.

I am not sure what you mean by "modern" when referring to Western swordsmanship. What do you mean?
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Likes: 50 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 5
Posts: 8,177

PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2009 6:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nicholas Allan Wilson wrote:


I am not sure what you mean by "modern" when referring to Western swordsmanship. What do you mean?


I mean the current modern mentality of many Western people who don't like an overly blatant Master/Obedient student relationship of the Japanese cultural kind and like a more " relaxed " Teacher/Student open atmosphere of social equals.

At my HEMA group we still listen to our Director/Instructor respectfully but there is no excessive formality: Normal courtesy between the Director and students and respect among the students is probably higher than one gets with other sports or on the street. ( The respect is there, the discipline is there but the atmosphere is friendly and informal ).

Nothing wrong with studying the Japanese arts the way the Japanese teach it and it can be very appealing but is almost a
" cultural immersion " thing and not just learning sword techniques.

The " modern " style of learning Western swordsmanship is just less formal in general.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
View user's profile Send private message
Elling Polden




Location: Bergen, Norway
Joined: 19 Feb 2004
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,576

PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2009 8:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Edelson wrote:
Elling Polden wrote:
I was also under the impression that European longsword featured a lot more grappling than JSA?


Ah! Good point! I always forget that one, being too focused on the sword. However, that may only be an artifact of how the arts are studied today and in recent history.


It could also be the result of the longsword starting out as an armoured fighting style, resulting in a more close combat oriented style. The Katana is after all designed to cut soft targets, whereas european longs swords are strikers or thrusters.

However, there are quite a few sword grappling techniques included in different Japanese martial arts, such as Judo, which would presumably have been part of the samurais training package, before the arts became "specialiced" individual disiplines.

"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
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website MSN Messenger


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Overview of the usage of the katana
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum