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Iron Chef
14th January 2004, 20:38
I was looking at some of the pictures at jinmukan.com One thing I noticed was that nobody had tsuba on their bokuto. Our bokuto have handguards. Seems to save a lot of smashed fingers during katachi. Are their Ryu that just won’t use tsuba on their bokuto?

ulvulv
14th January 2004, 21:01
Originally posted by Iron Chef
I was looking at some of the pictures at jinmukan.com One thing I noticed was that nobody had tsuba on their bokuto. Our bokuto have handguards. Seems to save a lot of smashed fingers during katachi. Are their Ryu that just won’t use tsuba on their bokuto?

If it is supposed to be katori shinto ryu, then yes.

pgsmith
14th January 2004, 22:23
I always make the mid-level students remove theirs. At that level, they should have enough control so that if they get a finger whacked in kumitachi, they know they did something wrong! :)

My instructor taught me that the tsuba should be superfluous (sp?). I was taught that their reason for being was to keep your hand from slipping onto the blade, not to keep your hand from getting whacked. Despite that, I am grateful for it when doing kumitachi with the newer students as they always seem to be aiming at my fingers!

Cheers,

Brian Owens
15th January 2004, 08:01
Originally posted by Iron Chef
...Are their Ryu that just won’t use tsuba on their bokuto?
If you look at photos and films of koryu demos, many -- purhaps most -- don't use tsuba on their bokken/bokuto. Kendoka most often do.

Originally posted by pgsmith
...I was taught that their reason for being was to keep your hand from slipping onto the blade, not to keep your hand from getting whacked...
This topic just came up a few days ago in another thread. I was taught as Paul was, and said so. Then Scott Irey posted that tsuba are to protect your hand from your opponent.

I respect Scott's opinion, but I wish he wouldn't have stated his as an absolute and made me look like a fool. I always something like "this is what I was taught, but others may differ."

I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one to have been taught that tsuba are, at least in part, intended to protect your hand from your own blade.

Nsherrard
15th January 2004, 12:44
Each to their own. This strikes me as similar to the budo vs bujutsu arguments. People seem to draw conclusions based on what is probably a relatively small deal. By the way, if you do some SMR Jo you'll soon find that having a tsuba on your bokken is not an indication of skill or lack thereof, it's an absolute necessity. Briefly perusing Draeger's trilogy on budo, I found the following:

With tsuba:
Hokushin Itto Ryu
Maniwa Nen Ryu
Araki Ryu (though, if I recall correctly, Mr. Amdur doesn't use a tsuba in his demos. Different branch perhaps)
Shindo Muso Ryu

Without:
Yagyu Shinkage Ryu
Kashima Shinto Ryu
Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu

This list was probably a bad idea, but then again, it might be fun for everyone to pull out their books, videos, and what have you. I can see it now, five pages later: "My book has a picture of a Wasamari Ryu kata, and they used tsuba!" "Well, I just watched Akuma Sensei, the 23rd soke of Wasamari Ryu, on my video of his famous 1931 demo, and he didn't use a tsuba. It only goes to show the lessening of skill throughout the 20th century!"

Some koryu use tsuba, some don't. I doubt it has anything to do with skill level. I've never seen or heard of a live blade being wielded without one. Yes, I suppose one could argue that on a live sword its purpose is to stop one's hand from sliding onto the blade, and I'm sure it does, but come on. It's there for defense, folks, and there ain't no koryu that doesn't use a tsuba on their live blades.

pgsmith
15th January 2004, 14:40
Yes, I suppose one could argue that on a live sword its purpose is to stop one's hand from sliding onto the blade, and I'm sure it does, but come on. It's there for defense, folks, and there ain't no koryu that doesn't use a tsuba on their live blades.
While I agree that all katana have tsuba, I do not agree on your reasoning. If tsuba were for defense, alot of what I learned would be done differently I think. They also would have made tsuba out of hardened steel the way armor is made, and I've never heard of a hardened steel tsuba ... ever. Take, for example, this beautiful sukashi tsuba. It is fashioned from shakudo, which is an alloy of copper and gold. I seriously doubt that this would provide much in the way of defense. I was taught that if you need the tsuba to protect yourself, you are doing something wrong. Of course, as in all things Japanese, there are different ideas on the matter I'm sure. :)

http://home.earthlink.net/~jggilbert/Kyo5.jpg

Cheers,

Iron Chef
15th January 2004, 14:50
Yes SMR Jo is part of the Jikishinkai syllabus and No Tsuba could really hurt I think. Then again that which does not kill us makes us stronger. :laugh:

Ellis Amdur
15th January 2004, 16:07
Tsuba are absolutely necessary in Araki-ryu - of the line I practice. They are about an inch thick, and octagonal in shape, for what it's worth. In Toda-ha Buko-ryu, we do not use tsuba. In the latter, due to the way the sword is used, it is not necessary for standard kata practice - one can safely work without one (altho' there are moves implicit that would require a tsuba). In Araki-ryu, given the close in work, the tsuba-zeri (locking of the handguards), fingers would be snapping like breadsticks without them.

Note, of course, that one doesn't find katana without tsuba. Even in the ryu without - it's absolutely necessary to keep your hand from sliding up onto the blade in tsuki (ask O.J. Simpson), and it is a necessary protection of the hands for a lot of moves which, even if not a specialty in one's own ryu definitely will be in others.

Ellis Amdur
www.ellisamdur.com

Nsherrard
15th January 2004, 17:20
I obviously got the Boku-ryu Bokken confused with the Araki-ryu one. I actually haven't seen the Araki-ryu demonstrated by Mr. Amdur for quite a while, and although I did qualify my statement with an "if I recall...", I'm still rather ashamed at not remembering inch thick octagonal tsuba. Anyway, sorry about the misinformation.



-----------------------------------------------------------


Nathan Sherrard







*must..resist urge...to gloat...*
*resisting....resisting...*
*whew!*:D

Tony Peters
15th January 2004, 18:14
Originally posted by Ellis Amdur

Note, of course, that one doesn't find katana without tsuba. Even in the ryu without - it's absolutely necessary to keep your hand from sliding up onto the blade in tsuki (ask O.J. Simpson), and it is a necessary protection of the hands for a lot of moves which, even if not a specialty in one's own ryu definitely will be in others.

Ellis Amdur
www.ellisamdur.com

While not disputing the above at all, I always though that Tsuba were there for Blade balance primarily and self hand protection as a secondary thing. I know my Iai's entire feel change completely when I installed an above average tsuba

Ellis Amdur
15th January 2004, 18:51
Yes and no. If tsuba weren't necessary, smiths would have had no difficulty in forging a weapon and creating a hilt that gave the proper balance. (I handled a Burmese Dah the other day - used very differently - a shorter one-handed curved sword - no tsuba - balanced just fine).

That the tsuba is necessary required the the sword then be made so that it and the tsuba together would provide proper balance.

Same with bokuto, really. When I've either made or had made an Araki-ryu bokuto, I've had to ensure that the balance of the weapon is such that it is UNBALANCED without the heavy tsuba.

Best

Ellis Amdur
www.ellisamdur.com

Eric Montes
15th January 2004, 21:44
Tendo ryu also requires a tsuba. Preferably large and thick. These are harder to come by. The Tsuba on my tachi are about two thirds the thickness of my teacher's.

Furthermore, tachi-awase practice requires the use of kote to protect the hands. These are just standard naginata kote, not the onigote of Ona-ha Itto ryu.

Earl Hartman
15th January 2004, 21:56
Boku Ryu? Do you mean, perhaps, Bokuden Ryu?

T. ALVAREZ
15th January 2004, 22:01
For what it’s worth. Kashima Shinto Ryu does not use tsuba while using bokkuto most of the time. The majority of the kata are done with fukuro shinai that use rather large tsuba. This is important as there are many movements that encompass tsuba zeriai.

Although there were plenty of sukashi tsuba, fuchi/ kasgira made. From my research I am willing to bet that they were almost never used in battle during the Sengoku period, but changed out for heavy iron furniture. This is in regards to shakudo and shiboichi materials.

Bushi started carrying more shakudo type set ups in the Edo period and beyond.
They simply wouldn’t hold up to the rigors of a battle field environment.

I agree that tsuba are for both protecting the hand from the blade that is being swung at you as well as your own hand slipping forward on the blade. There are many ryuha that use tsuba ziriai waza as most battles would end up in a clinch anyway.

My two cents.


BIG TONY
SENPOKAN DOJO

chrismoses
16th January 2004, 00:13
"There are many ryuha that use tsuba ziriai waza as most battles would end up in a clinch anyway." -Big T

Oh great, like I needed another reason not to mix it up with you, "Frankly I feel the odds are slightly in your favor..."

:p

T. ALVAREZ
16th January 2004, 00:46
:D
Bring the beer and it's all good!
How's your teacher doing these days?

Big Tony
Senpokan Dojo

hyaku
16th January 2004, 01:15
Originally posted by Nsherrard
I found the following:

With tsuba:
Hokushin Itto Ryu
Maniwa Nen Ryu
Araki Ryu (though, if I recall correctly, Mr. Amdur doesn't use a tsuba in his demos. Different branch perhaps)
Shindo Muso Ryu

Without:
Yagyu Shinkage Ryu
Kashima Shinto Ryu
Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu


You forgot Hyoho Niten Ichiryu

Hyakutake Colin

Nsherrard
16th January 2004, 05:07
I didn't see a picture of it, but then, it was a brief perusal.

Brian Owens
16th January 2004, 05:49
Originally posted by hyaku
You forgot Hyoho Niten Ichiryu

Brian Owens
16th January 2004, 05:53
Here's an interesting one.

Brian Owens
16th January 2004, 05:55
Oops. Picture didn't post. Let me try again below. -- Brian Owens

Brian Owens
16th January 2004, 05:59
This one is ebony, and has an ebony tsuba and an ebony tsubadome. Very unusual.

Also $400.00 or so!

Federico Calboli
16th January 2004, 14:26
Dear Members,

I always wondered, how were tsuba kept in place on a bokuto in "the old times", before rubber tsubadome came into place? Incidentally, were all tsuba made with wood, or was rawhide used as well?

Regards,

Federico Calboli

Michael Kurth
16th January 2004, 18:24
the straight bokuto posted a few ones up is the one used in kashima shinryu. we also use tsuba on ours.

greetings,

chrismoses
16th January 2004, 21:37
"How's your teacher doing these days?"
-Tony

Very well thanks! He's been feeling great and really glad to be back on the mat. (I'm assuming you're talking about Robbie, BTW)

See you end of February?

T. ALVAREZ
18th January 2004, 06:30
Chris,
Glad to here he's doing well. Please give him my best.

February. You know something I don't?


Big Tony
Senpokan Dojo

Scott Irey
20th January 2004, 16:02
Originally posted by Yagyu Kenshi

I respect Scott's opinion, but I wish he wouldn't have stated his as an absolute and made me look like a fool. I always something like "this is what I was taught, but others may differ."



My intention was not to make Brian look like a fool (and quite honestly I don't quite understand how my statements made him feel like a fool....guess I am just not sensative enough to see it....must have something to do with all those years of hard a$$ combat iai-DO ;) training)

My intention was to dispell a myth that has been floating around in the sword arts and psuedo sword arts world here in the West for quite sometime now.

Now it may be true that a given style teaches that the tsuba is there primarily to keep your hand from sliding up onto the blade. (Note I have NEVER heard this from a teacher of a legitimate koryu sword style, but it has been told to me by various exponents of aiki arts) And it may also be true that a given style may teach that one should not rely on the tsuba to protect the hand (a statement I have most commonly heard from kendo instructors). However neither statement negates the FACT that the PRIMARY function of the tsuba is to PROTECT the hand from an opponents sword.

As to Paul's argument regarding hardened steel tsuba. Sorry Paul, but hardened steel tsuba do exist, I have owned more than a couple. However for the most part tsuba are SOFT and for good reason. Soft metal is far less likely to break under impact and it is more likely than a hard tsuba to catch the incoming weapon when the edge of the blade bites into it. And were delicate fragile looking tsuba are concerned I have handled more than a few delicate tsuba with big nasty sword cuts in them, some of which still had pieces of edge steel broken off in the cut. Granted I would still prefer a big, solid thick tsuba for myself...leave the delicate and pretty stuff for the guys who don't want to rely on the tsuba...but still manage to keep one between their hand and their opponents sword :)

Regards,

chrismoses
20th January 2004, 16:30
You guys are all wrong, everyone knows that the tsuba is there so that when your sword is laying on the ground you can slide your foot under the blade and flip the sword back up into your hand a la Errol Flynn...

Geez, you guys need to watch more movies. :D

Scott Irey
20th January 2004, 16:44
Chris, I forgot about that part....how it slipped me mind is beyond me :)

Hey, why don't you give me a call this week and swing by my new pad to take a lookat your long-over-due saya. Still working on the finish (waiting for it cure for the most part) but you could see your sword again and also see that there actually is a saya for it (functional at this point but not as pretty as I want it yet)

Regards,

chrismoses
20th January 2004, 17:02
You got it! I'll PM you later to make sure I still have your current phone #.

Cady Goldfield
20th January 2004, 17:35
Speaking of tsuba and stuff -- Scott, I got your PM regarding the holdup on my iaito. Thanks for the note. Will look forward to getting it SOMETIME in 2004. :rolleyes:

W.Bodiford
20th January 2004, 23:06
===========
Paul Smith (01-14-2004) wrote:
" . . . My instructor taught me that the tsuba should be superfluous (sp?). . . . "
===========

I think the numerous posts to this thread have indicated that tsuba actually performed a wide variety of different functions for different people under various circumstances.

The most important function throughout much of the Tokugawa period (1603-1868), though, has not been mentioned. I am referring to the importance of the tsuba as a symbol of conspicuous consumption. Tokugawa sumptuary laws severely limited almost all aspects of daily life. The size, shape, style of one's home and even the type of wood that could be used was regulated. The cloth and color of one's clothes was regulated. The size of one's sword and color of the scabbard was regulated. Thus, the tsuba was one of the few items where one could display one's extravagance. In this regard, it functioned similarly to the Gucci and Louis Vuitton handbags that were so popular among Japanese OLs (office ladies) a few years ago. Maybe the OLs lived in tiny apartments, maybe they hated their jobs, but they should show off their good taste and disposable income by carrying expensive handbags on the subway each day. In Tokugawa Japan most people used swords primarily as symbols of social status, not as weapons. Thus, even in the blade inside the scabbard was made of wood (to save money), the tsuba on the outside would be as beautiful as possible.

Tokugawa-period marital art treatises frequently admonish their readers not to let fashion or appearance dictate their selection of a tsuba. In the texts that I have read, tsubas with excessive openwork (sukashi) are criticized for not being able to stop an enemy's sword blade, tsubas with excessive relief work are criticized for being too rough when one's own knuckles brush up against them, and tsubas made of hardened iron are criticized for being too rigid and allowing the force of an enemy's blow to potentially damage the tang of the blade. Clearly, the authors of these treatises expected the tsuba to protect one's own hands in two ways: (1) from being struck by an enemy's blade and (2) from sliding up onto the edge of one's own blade.

Regarding this first function, it is interesting to note that during the 1840s and 1850s when dueling once again became common many people found their tsubas too small in diameter to adequately protect their hands. There are accounts of people taking wooden lids from cooking pots, poking a hole through them, and fitting them as makeshift tsuba. I do not have any reliable evidence, but it seems to me that tsuba dating from before 1600 generally seem to be larger than tsuba from the Tokugawa period. My friends in Japan who are very knowledgeable about Nihonto, though, tell me I am mistaken.

===========
Federico Calboli (01-16-2004) asked:
"I always wondered, how were tsuba kept in place on a bokuto in 'the old times,' before rubber tsubadome came into place? Incidentally, were all tsuba made with wood, or was rawhide used as well? "
===========

Tsuba for bokuto most often were made either from rawhide or from wood. Sometimes, though, iron or alloy (shakudo, etc.) also was used. I have seen many old bokuto, from a variety of ryuha in several different parts of Japan. I could not see how the tsuba are held on in every case, but when I could see usually there was a braid or nail in the bokuto.

I hope this helps.