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John Lindsey
16th July 2000, 15:27
The following was taken from the article: The Satsuma Rebellion, written by Kenneth J. Mack and it appeared in the Nov.-Dec. 1994 of the Japanese Sword Society of the United States Newsletter. Mr. Mack is a fellow member of the Houston Token Kai and well respected as both a martial artist and his knowledge of Japanese swords. Contact the JSSUS at: PO Box 712 Breckenridge, TX 76424 for membership information and to possibly obtain the full version of this text.


<center>SWORD MOUNTINGS AND STYLE OF COMBAT OF THE SATSUMA FORCES</center>

<center>by Kenneth J. Mack</center>


Fittings and mountings of high ranked Satsuma warriors are very distinctive. The TSUKA is very long 10 to 12 inches and fitted with over-sized FUCHI/GASHIRA. During the early Edo Period, there was no SAME utilized, nor were MENUKI employed. Sometimes strips of leather were bound around the TSUKA, and leather or cloth ITO wrapped over this, or the bare wood was lightly lacquered and allowed to show through the wrapping. The Bakumatsu (latter days) Edo Period saw the occasional use of SAME and MENUKI.

The lesser Samurai (or at least those who were not so well off financially), had to content themselves with inferior mass-produced blades with KANEMONO of plain blackened iron. The TSUKA of these most usually was wrapped in simple canvas strips, tied in a pattern unique to the area, where the exposed SAME has a triangular shape compared to the traditional diamonds. When MENUKI were employed, they were usually simple blackened iron washers. These mountings were fairly standard, although many variations were utilized. Many of the higher-class fittings, incorporated the "cross-in-a-circle" Mon of the Shimazu Family, as Shimazu Hisamitsu was the current Daimyo of Satsuma.

The SAYA is several inches longer than the sword blade, and lacquered in unusual patterns. Quite a few are done in vermilion. Various kinds of Tsuba have been found on these mounts, but they usually tend to be on
the smallish side. Those made specifically for the mounting will contain two small round openings, one larger than the other, known as UDENUKI-ANA. These holes are said to represent the sun and the moon, and are used for the passage of the UDENUKI-ITO, a cord that is slipped over the wrist to prevent the sword from dropping to the ground during battle. According to one local tradition, the warriors of Satsuma tied a paper string through these holes and the KURIGATA to offer resistance to the sword being drawn.
These men were very quick tempered, and the binding of the paper string allowed them a chance to take a second thought of their intention.
This type of mounting was practical in both the Shinto Ryu, as interpreted by Tsukahara Bokuden (of "One Stroke" fame), and the Jigen Ryu of Satsuma, founded by Togo Hizen-no-Kami Ju-i. Both of these schools emphasized a "quick in kill and quick out" philosophy but the Jigen Ryu took it a step further. Their primary teaching, known as "Cut to the Three Thousandth Level of Hell," consisted of drawing the sword (sometimes even discarding the SAYA), running in whilst screaming a KIAI, striking the enemy down with a single blow to the top of the head (Jodan-no-giri), and running to another. The students of Ju-i practiced this by jumping in the air and striking the trunk of a tree with a Jodan cut known as "Tambo-giri" thousands of times with a heavy wood sword. Usually the student went to another tree when his was worn away on both sides! (A good friend reported seeing such trees during a Japan visit. Some of them recovered and developed thick burls over the injury sites. My friend saw these burls eleven feet high on some trees. Naturally, the tree has grown some since its "practice" days, but try to imagine a warrior running down a mounted conscri0ted trooper, jumping in the air and vertically splitting his skull before coming at you)! It was because of this special type of training that the Satsuma warriors were able to use long, heavy blades in battle, and a good swordsman of the ryu was greatly feared.

John Lindsey
22nd February 2002, 04:09
Someone asked me for this message to be bumped to the front...

25th February 2002, 19:20
Guys,

"Fittings and mountings of high ranked Satsuma warriors are very distinctive. The TSUKA is very long 10 to 12 inches and fitted with over-sized FUCHI/GASHIRA."

Interesting..... this again contradicts the claim by some that Nihon-to never had a long tsuka like used in Yanagi ryu, and were always constructed to one particular formula or proportion.

Also interesting is the coincidental fact that the Yoshida clan from which Yoshida Kotaro/ Yanagi ryu descended supposeably fought on the losing side of the Satsuma rebellion.

Interesting article.

Toby Threadgill

Scott Irey
25th February 2002, 21:41
I happen to have a Satsuma blade in my possession that fits the description to a "T", 30 and 1/4 inch nagasa with a 12 1/2 nakago (it is osuriage, with the original mekugi ana sitting 4 inches lower than the present ana. The fuchi kashira are plain iron and absolutely huge. The tsuba is a huge round iron piece with a shakudo rim and the required ude-nuki ana. James and Tony over at Bugei have both seen it and commented on its size, indeed they made the same observation you did Toby.

I myself have never actually been told by anybody I would consider a real expert on Japanese swords or Swordsmanship for that matter, that long tsuka never existed, but I have been told that there is a "general" formula for tsuka length in proportion to blade length, that being that the handle should be no larger than between 1/3 the total length of the weapon but generally leaning towards the 1/4 the total length of the weapon. My Satsuma blade is a total of 43 inches, with 12 of that being tsuka. I have seen swords in very old (pre-Edo) original mounts as well as more modern (later Edo)that exceed the 1/3 rule, so they obviously existed, but were certainly the exception.

On a side note, the Satsuma samurai were not the only group who preferred big swords. Tosa swordsmen as well were fond of big brutish blades. Oe Masamichi, famed swordsman of the late Edo and Meiji period, prefered to use a sword that was proportionally short to his reportedly tall frame. His preference certainly influenced the general preference for shorter swords being used in the practice of iai by many MJER practitioners not only in his time but up through today. That being said, there are still a few branches of MJER that prefer and still use the bigger more brutish swords the Tosa swordsmen had been known for in the past.

25th February 2002, 22:38
Hiya Scott,

Wow. That sword of yours sounds "verrry nicea". :) Imagine how big it was before it got cut down!

I just saw a beauty at Ted Tenolds house that made me drool uncontrollably. It's a big, beefy, Nambokucho with what must be a 4 - 5 inch O kissaki. It just looks scary...like it want's to cut you! My oh my.......

I'm in complete agreement with you on the sword / tsuka ratio debate. The long tsuka were certainly not the norm but they did exist albeit in limited numbers. Another thing. All shorter old swords were not cut down from big ones. I have a beautiful Koto era katana about 26" long with a 6" nakago that belonged to Takamura Yukiyoshi. It was mean't to be a light and fast blade when it was forged. It is obviously not cut down given the unusual way the bohi is integrated with the yasurime and the fact that it still demonstrates a clear bizen shape . This little gem is still mighty healthy with a wide hamon and a significant hamachi.

If you get Texas way again let me know. We'll go sip some suds and compare lies.

Toby

Earl Hartman
25th February 2002, 22:52
I'm not sure where this "long tsuka never existed" thing comes from. It is a well-known fact (at least among experienced practitioners of MJER and historians) that the swordsmen of Tosa used swords with unusually long tsuka. This style was so distinctive that a man wearing such a sword was instantly recognizable as being from Tosa.

As has been pointed out above, Oe S. was unusually large and strong for a Japanese of his time, but he was noted for preferring short(er)swords.

Those Nanbokucho blades are something, huh, Toby? The Koto blades look like toothpicks next to them.

Nathan Scott
25th February 2002, 23:41
Hello,


This type of mounting was practical in both the Shinto Ryu, as interpreted by Tsukahara Bokuden (of "One Stroke" fame), and the Jigen Ryu of Satsuma, founded by Togo Hizen-no-Kami Ju-i.

My notes indicate that Jigen ryu was founded in 1588 by Togo Shigekata Bizen no Kami (1561 or 1563-1643).

This style has a hell of a reputation as a strong style, but, looks a bit odd in demonstrations. Even the power shown is not that impressive. It is interesting to watch though, as the shidachi appears to just press directly forward into uchidachi and attack, or, pressure them to launch an attack. Within this basic idea, there are surely some interesting tactics taught designed to outwit the opponent.

Also, I was under the impression that Jigen ryu was famous for their "tombo" (dragonfly) cut, not "tambo". I've heard this called "tombo kata" and "tombo kaeshi". Anybody else have any insight?

Regards,

hyaku
26th February 2002, 01:08
[QUOTE] Originally posted by John Lindsey [SWORD MOUNTINGS AND STYLE OF COMBAT OF THE SATSUMA FORCES by Kenneth J. Mack

Many of the higher-class fittings, incorporated the "cross-in-a-circle" Mon of the Shimazu Family, as Shimazu Hisamitsu was the current Daimyo of Satsuma.

The present generation descendant of the Shimazu family will jokingly tell you that the circle represents a head. The vertical line in the cross is an indentation of the weapon used. The horizontal one is the weapon that someone tried to defend themselves with!

[QUOTE]
Various kinds of Tsuba have been found on these mounts, but they usually tend to be on the smallish side. Those made specifically for the mounting will contain two small round openings, one larger than the other, known as UDENUKI-ANA. These holes are said to represent the sun and the moon, and are used for the passage of the UDENUKI-ITO, a cord that is slipped over the wrist to prevent the sword from dropping to the ground during battle.
..
The Tsuba on my 3.8 came from a Satsuma shrine and is of this type. Its the one at the top of my homepage. The fuchi and kashira are of plain iron.

http://www.bunbun.ne.jp/~sword/
..
[QUOTE]
Their primary teaching, known as "Cut to the Three Thousandth Level of Hell," consisted of drawing the sword (sometimes even discarding the SAYA), running in whilst screaming a KIAI, striking the enemy down with a single blow to the top of the head (Jodan-no-giri), and running to another.

I spent a day in the Jigenryu heihosho face to face with a tree stump. I was also introduced to the delights of having them run toward me with that earsplitting Kiai.

My impression was. "Damn this guy is really going to kill me"
and all feelings of "Well come on then" went out the window.

My advice to anyone going to practice there is buy some daipers.

My list of Kagoshima ryu is as thick as a magazine and there are enough unknown ryu down in Kagoshima to write a book. As ever they remain seperate. Kagoshima is Kagoshima. Japan is those other people from the north.

Hyakutake Colin

Nathan Scott
26th February 2002, 01:20
Uh oh,


Interesting..... this again contradicts the claim by some that Nihon-to never had a long tsuka like used in Yanagi ryu, and were always constructed to one particular formula or proportion.

I really don't remember this position being pushed. The earlier Bugei catalogs featured several long hilted blades next to text that discussed long hilts historically, but did not say "battlefield hilts were all this length".

In fact, I have Bugei's catalog #4 in front of me. James says on page three: "During periods of incessant warfare blades were longer and more curved with the tsuka also longer, these were the blades made for war". This is true - though the preference of swords (and hilts) to be longer or shorter varied throughout the periods and areas of Japan - and I don't think this fact has been argued. Here is my (long) breakdown of this issue, FWIW:

LONG HILTS AS DEFINED BY BUGEI

The Bugei blade shown next to this text has a hilt showing 24 diamonds in the wrap, which is probably 14-15 inches long. The tsuka is nearly 1/3rd the total length of the sword. Some blades shown have tsuka that actually exceed 1/3rd the total length of the sword.(pg. 13 - also 24 diamonds). Pg. 16 shows a photo of how to measure a blade for the longer tsuka, which works out to about 14-15 inches on my arm (I'm 6 feet tall). This also happens to be how shinai tsuka are measured in Kendo as well, though this was adopted in order to compensate for the thick kote gloves worn in Kendo.

The arguments (that I've read) have not been about whether longer hilts/sword existed, but how common they were and what the proportions were historically.

From what I've seen, it would seem that many exponents from [the Southern Regions of Japan] (Tosa, Satsuma, Choshu) preferred longer blades/hilts, for whatever reason. This is where Kage ryu battojutsu and other long blade schools are centered, and I suspect that many of the longer hilted photographs of late 1800's Samurai, like those printed in the Fall 2001 Bugei mailing are from. The long swords used in Kage ryu battojutsu are classified as "Choken", which is a specialty sword, not a typical katana. But, even the choken shown at the following photo on koryu.com (http://koryu.com/photos/aj1041.html)
has a tsuka to total length ratio that is between 1/4 and 1/3, even though the tsuka appears to have some 32 diamonds (which in reality is not the most reliable way to guess tsuka length).

Conversely, several photos printed in "Samurai Sketches" show famous samurai with the more standard size hilts - such as photo #3 of Sakamoto Ryoma (a well known samurai from Tosa, Kyushu), taken in 1867.

HILT TO TOTAL LENGTH RATIO

The photo on the cover of "Koryu Kenjutsu" (Tanaka Fumon) shows a very long blade, but with a relatively short tsuka that works out to a ratio of about 1:4.

In the back of the book "Koryu Kenjutsu Gairon" (Tanaka Fumon), there are more photos of very long swords with approx. 1:4 ratio.

The Tokugawa imposed length limitation (josun) of the Edo period, that someone mentioned earlier, works out to a nagasa just under 27.5 inches.

My Chen Kotetsu is exactly at a 1:4 ratio, with a 10" tsuka (29" nagasa/ 15 diamonds) and total length of 40". My Paul Champagne katana appears to have a much longer hilt, but is in fact only 10 1/2" long, with a total length of 40 1/2" (28 1/2" nagasa/ 14 diamonds).

But we are talking more about the propotion ratio than tsuka length.

SWORD LENGTH

In "The Sword of No-Sword" (John Stevens), there are reprints at the back of some of Tesshu Yamaoka's writings (famous Meiji period samurai/kenshi). On page 134, a dojo posting is translated:

"From ancient times, the standard sword length has been set at ten hand-breadths. Ten hand-breadths is approximately one-half the length of [a person's] body, ie., one body length. There is also a sword eight hand-breadths long. Because this [latter] sword is so short greater attention and sharper focus is necessary when confronting an opponent. In the past, swordsmen followed this standard approach and all schools used bamboo swords ten hand-breadths or less in length."

"..Because hardly anyone is aware of traditional standards, the use of excessively long swords is now the custom. This lack of study and proper knowledge is indeed lamentable."

"All those who wish to restore the Way of the Sword must construct their bamboo swords according to the ancient standards, wielding it as if it were a live blade. Future generations too must preserve this standard.

September 14, 1883."

Tesshu blames a traveling swordsman from the [Yanagawa, Kyushu - I think "Yanagigawa" is a mistranslation] clan, Oishi Susumu [founder of Oishi Shinkage ryu], as being the reason longer swords became popular.

The Nambokucho period (1333-1392) was a period where bushi believed "bigger was better". But this began to reverse itself in later periods.

CONCLUSION

Proponents of the longer hilts have not claimed that "all swords were this length" on the battlefield, and those that are on the other side of the argument have not said that there were NO cases of swords with hilt lengths that exceeded the 1:4 ratio. Perhaps the only question is how many used long hilts, and how did they use them.

In fact, it sounds to me like we are all now generally in agreement about this subject. Hilt to total length ratio was most commonly 1:4, or somewhat in excess of this - but generally shorter than 1:3. However, there were certain bushi, ryu-ha or regions where longer hilts and/or swords were popular at certain times in history. To each his own. I believe these misunderstandings are mostly caused by people making incorrect assumptions of what they read/hear, or from confusing specialty blades like choken and nodachi with the katana.

Is there really any more reason to go through this again?

Regards,

[edited typo about Choshu and Tosa being part of the island of Kyushu]

carl mcclafferty
26th February 2002, 03:26
Folks
Kenneth Mack has been my teacher and friend since 1986. He found it interesting (according to Yamada Yoshitake Sensei and Sekiguichi Tosio Sensei)that the Sekiguichi Ryu Shihan Dai from all but the Higo province sided with the Satsuma and the SGR saya are historically a red color. But since it couldn't be proven to be the reason for red saya in the rebellion, it was not included in his paper.

He is now writting a paper on the Kao Isshin Mantetsu blade, which will contrast with some of the beliefs accredited to that blade. It should be interesting to see the counter proposals. Maybe John will post it when he completes it.

Kenneth Mack Sensei has been suffering with Leukemia since 1986. Please say a prayer, to what ever God you worship, that he continues to be with us for a long time to come.

THANKS IN ADVANCE
Carl McClafferty

Ben Bartlett
26th February 2002, 12:49
On a side note, the Satsuma samurai were not the only group who preferred big swords. Tosa swordsmen as well were fond of big brutish blades. Oe Masamichi, famed swordsman of the late Edo and Meiji period, prefered to use a sword that was proportionally short to his reportedly tall frame. His preference certainly influenced the general preference for shorter swords being used in the practice of iai by many MJER practitioners not only in his time but up through today. That being said, there are still a few branches of MJER that prefer and still use the bigger more brutish swords the Tosa swordsmen had been known for in the past.

Huh, that's interesting. I wonder if that's why MSR uses longer-than-average blades (or at least so I've heard!).

James Williams
26th February 2002, 19:46
Nathan,

You guys are too educated for me. I would like to point out one thing however...well maybe two things. We have two pictures of Ryoma on the Bugei website both show him with the longer tsuka. The other thing, and I think that you pointed this out, guys like you and I would have been pituitary giants in ancient Japan and the tsuka/sword length would probably have been proportionate.

My personal feelings is that in the ancient days there was no real standard of length or proportion. Each fighting man used what he thought would give him an advantage. If you were good at using what you had, regardless of whether your sword was the reason for your performance, than there was probably going to be some imitation.

Personally my tsuka length has changed one inch from when I first started using swords ( going from 15" to 14"). I have tried various lengths over the years and this is what works the best for me. Kuroda Tetsuzan sensei has tried to get me to use shorter tsuka however I don't like them and feel that they impair my ability to use my sword effectively. He manages quite well with a short tsuka (11") as you have seen. He also does iaijutsu with a 31" blade and is faster than anyone that I have seen.

The more I study the old days the more it seems to me that a various times and with different warriors almost everything was used as regards length, curve, and tsuka and although these discussions are fun, and with you guys involved very enlightening, we can only accept that the differences were probably greater than the similarities at certain times in Japanese history.

John,

Thanks for the article i enjoyed it.

Tobs,

I found that Nambokucho style blade in Jackson, Wyoming hanging on a wall with the shirasaya shrunk to the point that the blade was exposed. It is in fact a beautiful piece in outstanding condition.

Regards to everyone,

James

Nathan Scott
26th February 2002, 22:35
Hi James,


I would like to point out one thing however...well maybe two things. We have two pictures of Ryoma on the Bugei website both show him with the longer tsuka.

Thats interesting. I would think that going back and forth between longer and shorter hafts would be somewhat difficult, since the techniques and way of cutting would have to adapt to the sword. Maybe he wore a shorter hilt sword for that particular photo!

On the other hand, Taisha ryu and Jigen ryu, two of the more famous ryu-ha in Kyushu, seem to be using the 1:4 ratio bokuto and katana.


The other thing, and I think that you pointed this out, guys like you and I would have been pituitary giants in ancient Japan and the tsuka/sword length would probably have been proportionate.

Yep. I've always been of the opinion that a person should use any assets they may have to their advantage. If you have longer arms, use a longer sword. If you are strong, use a heavier sword. Gorin no Sho also talks about short/long, heavy/light swords advising for moderation (the middle way - avoid extremes).

That being said, maybe Tony Alvarez should be studying nagamaki!


My personal feelings is that in the ancient days there was no real standard of length or proportion. Each fighting man used what he thought would give him an advantage. If you were good at using what you had, regardless of whether your sword was the reason for your performance, than there was probably going to be some imitation.

As I indicated above, I agree with this, at least in part. But on the other hand, the fact remains that there were methods being taught within certain domains to bushi. If the bushi had too much diversity in their individual weapon dimensions, it would have made teaching techniques and principles very difficult. I know that you are well aware of the advantages and disadvantages of longer and shorter hilts. The two cannot (or at least should not) be used in the same manner, from a practical standpoint. To do so would negate any advantage of using a given weapon design.

Clans/methods that use longer blades/hilts seem to have specialized in these methods. Some of these are shown in the previously referenced "Koryu Kenjutsu Gairon" book. Much of the methods shown take full tactical advantage of the longer proportions, as they should. Especially when sparring against a shorter sword. In other words, they do not perform the same techniques - at least in the same way - as methods seen in shorter hilt arts.

I would guess that, within a given region/clan, you would have a degree of personalization and preference in weapons. But past a certain point of customization, teaching semi-uniform methods would be prohibitive. On the other hand, those exponents that are already at an advanced level of skill would have the experience necessary to modify/create new methods for a longer blade if desired.


Personally my tsuka length has changed one inch from when I first started using swords ( going from 15" to 14").

Now that you mention it, I think you told me this the last time I saw you.


Kuroda Tetsuzan sensei has tried to get me to use shorter tsuka however I don't like them and feel that they impair my ability to use my sword effectively. He manages quite well with a short tsuka (11") as you have seen. He also does iaijutsu with a 31" blade and is faster than anyone that I have seen.

Kuroda sensei's grip in KKR, at least on bokken, is a bit wider than what is currently taught by the popular sword arts these days. Eleven inches sounds about right. It looks like he is actually pinching the blade section when he is in Jodan kamae (?).


The more I study the old days the more it seems to me that a various times and with different warriors almost everything was used as regards length, curve, and tsuka and although these discussions are fun, and with you guys involved very enlightening, we can only accept that the differences were probably greater than the similarities at certain times in Japanese history.

There surely was then, as there is now in modern methods, ongoing experimentaion and R&D on weapons, tactics and methods. I suspect that this practice has not changed much over time, andas such, perhaps a look at the variances found in modern CQC around the world would be indicative of what degree this occured historically.

Generally in modern military, most guys carry a .45 or 9mm backup side arm (shoto), with a 5.56 or 7.62 primary rifle (daito) and usually some kind of K-bar type knife is included in their kit (aikuchi/yoroi doshi).

Maybe some guys carry an M60 or .50 cal, (naginata/nodachi/nagamaki) in place of an assault rifle (daito), and as such they perform a different tactical function. But the average foot soldier carries arms that are similar in size in regards to "destructive potential" and technique of implementation.

So maybe some things don't change really change much, eh?

For the record, I don't raise this analogy because of any implied expertise in modern warfare on my part, but rather for the benefit of James' experience in modern warfare. Any additions or clarifications in this regard are of course welcome!

Regards,

HitokiriBattousai
27th February 2002, 01:50
I just wanted to say what a pleasure it has been reading the replies to this thread. Hearing different and similar points of view from experienced martial artists in a non-hostile way is something that is definitely a nice change. I hope to hear more.

hyaku
27th February 2002, 02:13
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Nathan Scott

From what I've seen, it would seem that many exponents from Kyushu (Tosa, Satsuma, Choshu) preferred longer blades/hilts, for whatever reason. This is where Kage ryu battojutsu and other long blade schools are centered, and I suspect that many of the longer hilted photographs of late 1800's Samurai, like those printed in the Fall 2001 Bugei mailing are from. The long swords used in Kage ryu battojutsu are classified as "Choken", which is a specialty sword, not a typical katana. But, even the choken shown at the following photo on koryu.com (http://koryu.com/photos/aj1041.html)
has a tsuka to total length ratio that is between 1/4 and 1/3, even though the tsuka appears to have some 32 diamonds (which in reality is not the most reliable way to guess tsuka length).


Never did put down the lenght of tsuka on the homepage. I must measure up and rectify that. Its about 1.8. Nearly one third of the overall length. Anything shorter with this curve would make the weapon unbalanced. Anything longer would without doubt present problems with the shomen-giri of some ryu

Tesshu blames a traveling swordsman from the [Yanagawa, Kyushu - I think "Yanagigawa" is a mistranslation] clan, Oishi Susumu [founder of Oishi Shinkage ryu], as being the reason longer swords became popular.

Oishi also used a 4 shaku Fukuro Shinai. This was indeed a very tall man near 190 cms. Present generation Oishi are some times this tall.

Yanagi refers to its name Willow River so it could be called Yanagigawa

Hyakutake Colin

Nathan Scott
27th February 2002, 21:44
Thanks for the clarifications Hyaku-san.

When you say "1.8", is that in shaku? I've been converting everything into inches so that comparison would be easier.

As far as the John Stevens translation, I thought that he might be referring to "yanagi gawa" (willow river), but noticed that Yanagigawa is also a family name. It is good to know that Yanagigawa and Yanagawa are the same thing though.

BTW, I meant to add a link to your article on Kage ryu battojutsu on the koryu.com site:

Kage ryu battojutsu (http://koryu.com/library/chyakutake1.html)

Regards,

Scott Irey
27th February 2002, 21:48
Originally posted by Nathan Scott

From what I've seen, it would seem that many exponents from Kyushu (Tosa, Satsuma, Choshu) preferred longer blades/hilts, for whatever reason.
CONCLUSION



Nathan,

I just wanted to point out that Tosa is in Shikoku, not Kyushu.

Regards,

Earl Hartman
27th February 2002, 22:11
Choshu isn't in Kyushu either, AFAIK.

Scott Irey
28th February 2002, 00:27
Yup Earl is right, Choshu is in Southern Honshu..almost Kyushu, but not quite.

Nathan Scott
28th February 2002, 01:17
Thanks for the corrections guys. My fingers got away from me - I tend to type as fast as I think, and sometimes something doesn't come out right.

For the sake of others reading (and probably confused now):

1) Satsuma - now called Kagoshima prefecture, Southern Kyushu.

2) Tosa - now called Kochi prefecture, on Shikoku island just north of Kyushu.

3) Choshu - now called Yamaguchi prefecture, located just north of Kyushu on the Southern tip of the main island of Honshu.

I guess my mind was still thinking about the Satuma Rebellion. Thanks for keeping me in line!

PS. I edited the original post to reflect this correction. Are you guys still reading the first post? There are lots more after that...



Regards,:laugh:

wmuromoto
28th February 2002, 03:21
Hyakutake san had an interesting comment re: his take on the Jigen-ryu.

I saw a couple of videotapes of their demos, and a lengthier piece on the ryu and the current headmaster of one of the Jigen-ryu branches. After seeing how those Satsuma guys (now Kyushu) practiced, I could very well imagine how some Tokugawa loyalists were reported to have retreated as soon as they saw the Jigen-ryu guys running towards them on the battlefield. Yes, diapers necessary. There's something to be said about looking like a flaming maniac and being ready to whack the bejeezus out of someone come hell or high water that would put fear in the heart of an opponent.

One friend said, "Boy, those guys look scary, but I wouldn't be interested in studying the ryu because it's so...uh, CRUDE looking..."

Another friend salivated and said, "YEAH! That's the kind of sword style I want to study!"

Different strokes, literally, for different folks.

Wayne Muromoto

Earl Hartman
28th February 2002, 17:40
Hey. If you can scare the guy enough so that he either soils himself or runs away, who needs technique?

"Technique? Technique? I don't gotta show you no steenkin' technique!"

Tony Peters
28th February 2002, 20:36
The Celts were said to be that way, Bezerker rage on the battlefield can carry a battle if you aren't ready for it.

AAC
5th March 2002, 13:30
Cutting to the "Three Thousandth Level of Hell" maybe be crude looking, but those folk down in Kagoshima understand hatsu tachi...

Antonio Cobb

Nathan Scott
17th February 2003, 19:29
Hi guys,

I was just re-reading this thread, and was curious what you all thought about something.

Previously, I cited some stuff from Tesshu (snipped):


"From ancient times, the standard sword length has been set at ten hand-breadths. In the past, swordsmen followed this standard approach and all schools used bamboo swords ten hand-breadths or less in length."

"..Because hardly anyone is aware of traditional standards, the use of excessively long swords is now the custom. This lack of study and proper knowledge is indeed lamentable."

James mentioned in his reply:


My personal feelings is that in the ancient days there was no real standard of length or proportion.

What do ya'll think about Tesshu's statement? He is very clear about his feelings - did the bushi really respect these lengths and proportions?

Michael Powell
20th February 2006, 02:37
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I do not doubt the truth of anything that you have written and would even concurr a point by adding the fact that Menuki origionally started as a covering for the Mekugi or pin. Pins break and those that are not inclined to check are better off with the new style of Menuki decorations.

As for tree wackers; while I am also sure this is true and further the notion in consideration of Helmut Splitting as a sword technique, I find all too often too many people are overbearing in their interest in the Big Cut. The Lone Wolf and Cubb splitting a standing body in two. This to me is like the amature Chess Player always chasing after mate and spurnning the simple win of material or the endgame.

Take a look at Hayashizaki Ryu; the Father of Iaido often used in some kata Kirioroshi to merely cut hands! Or consider the eye witness reports from the Ikeda Raid by the Shinsengumi. There reporters spoke of 6 inch disks from skulls, and fatal Kesa-gaeke cuts , ie. cuts from the shoulder all the way across the chest, not through it. Even if you look carefully at most advanced Tosa Ha, Gaishi is the bead & butter finishing cut. The point of the latter is not just deadly but quicker than Kirioroshi and easier to backup with a second.

After all it does not matter if you drown in 5 feet of water or 500 , the end result is still death!

ZealUK
20th February 2006, 07:19
[QUOTE=Michael Powell]As for tree wackers; while I am also sure this is true and further the notion in consideration of Helmut Splitting as a sword technique, I find all too often too many people are overbearing in their interest in the Big Cut. The Lone Wolf and Cubb splitting a standing body in two. This to me is like the amature Chess Player always chasing after mate and spurnning the simple win of material or the endgame.[QUOTE]

I must say that the notion that Jigen Ryu is simply about whacking trees is clearly unresearched, and utterly incorrect.

Your comments are close to derogatory.

poryu
20th February 2006, 10:18
HI

I won a satsuma mounted Chisa Katana.

The Saya is leather wrapped (completely) with a think coat of black Lacquer over the leather, with a metal Kojiri. The Koguchi has a metal band around the outside. There is a slot for a Kodzuka but that is lost.

The Tsuba is Moko style in made form lacquered leather with a mon on it.

Tsuka is plan wood lacquered in black, with very simple and plain (cheaply made) fuchi and kashira.

The original Tsuka Ito is missing but you can see the impression left by a washer menuki on both sides. The Tsuka ito also left an impression and was of the single continuous length from fuchi to kashira.

Tsuka length is 9 inch (23 cm)
Blade length - 21 inch (51cm)
Overall (kojiri to Kashira) - 31.5 inch (80cm)

ZealUK
20th February 2006, 15:17
I reccomend a book called Satsuma Koshirae ( 薩摩拵 ) by Zushyou Ichirou ( 調所一郎 )

Characteristically Satsuma swords had fairly small tsuba, fairly large fuchi, and longish tsuka. Noticably the sori is quite mild on many of the blades pictured. However there are examples where a deep sori is present.

The Shimadzu Maru Ju kamon is visible on many examples. Having said this, that kamon is still present all over Kagoshima today. It is on almost every manhole cover, many shop signs, almost every jinja, and is represented in the modern day logo for Kagoshima city ( a reshaping of the kanji for city 市 )

There is also a section on both styles of Jigen Ryu present in Kagoshima.

I have also heard that many swords were thrown into Kinko bay after the second world war as to prevent occupying forces from taking them away. Its a shame that the ocean would have eaten them up so readily.

Kagoshima people are very proud of the heritage of the city. Although they maintain a strong sense of being different from the rest of Japan, they have contributed an enourmous amount to the modern development of Japan.

Aside from the contribution to the downfall of the Tokugawa bakufu, and the subsequent Satsuma rebellion Kagoshima created many modernisations for Japan.

Satsuma was the richest province in Japan in the 1800's and as such represented itself as an independant nation at the Paris world exposition.

They even waged a short war against the then mighty British Empire.

Students from Kagoshima travelled to the UK and America to study Western technology and ideas. Kanaye Nagasawa, a child genius, even became a pioneer of wine production in West coast America!

The first factory in Japan was the Shuseikan in Kagoshima. The first telephone call in Japan was made from Tsurumaru Castle to a nearby garden by Shimadzu Nakiakira. Later he installed a telephone in the Shuseikan and his private house at Seigan En.

Kagoshima also developed the pioneering ship Shohei Maru. Its flag later became the Hinomaru.

Sorry I drifted into a brief foray of Kagoshima pride there, but I assure you I have recoved now.

Chidokan
2nd September 2008, 21:57
hey Alex, did you ever get a set of the local koshirae we discussed a while ago? I managed to pick up a lovely small iron tsuba last trip, so would like something to match... a photo will do to help me out...:D

ZealUK
3rd September 2008, 03:09
hey Alex, did you ever get a set of the local koshirae we discussed a while ago? I managed to pick up a lovely small iron tsuba last trip, so would like something to match... a photo will do to help me out...:D

Since I got married buying things is forbidden, especially weapons. :cry:

The tsuka for Satsuma goshirae are a bit longer than most nihonto, and they sometimes have curvature inverse to that of the blade. Wouldn't be a great deal of use for MJER I reckon. The fittings are nice, big and simple generally. I'll ask around if you let me know what you want. I have a friend who is a sword polisher and dealer, and some good contacts at a shop up in Kumamoto.

They have some really nice Naminohira blades down here at the prefectural museum as well.