View Full Version : Crimson Steel
08-03-2000, 10:33 AM
I found copies of Toshishiro Obata's "Naked Blade" and "Crimson Steel" in our dojo library last weekend. I have a question that Nathan Scott or perhaps Guy Powers might be able to answer.
Does 'Go Ho Batta Ho', 'Shodan No Kata', and 'Nidan No Kata' as described in "Crimson Steel" come from Toyama Ryu? Are they creations of Obata Sensei or are these katas somewhat generic and are used by several different traditions of swordsmanship? I am just curious. We also do these katas at the dojo where I receive instruction.
08-03-2000, 11:32 AM
Hello Mr. Woo,
As I'm sure you know, Mr. McCartney (Soke, Ishi Yama ryu) is an ex-student of Obata Sensei.
At the time he was studying, Obata Sensei had already compiled variations of waza and kata to supplement the Battodo curriculum that he had been taught in Japan in order to facilitate the dissemination of Battodo in America (roughly 1980-1990). These methods were catagorized under the general term "Battodo", and should not be confused with the specific Toyama ryu and Nakamura ryu Battodo mokuroku.
When Obata Sensei officially decided to found "Shinkendo", he naturally retained those elements he created/modified and incorporated them into the Shinkendo curriculum.
I don't know the Nakamura ryu curriculum, but Toyama ryu as taught by Nakamura Sensei consists of a set of 8 kata and a set of 6 kumitachi (soutai dachi?). The kumitachi have since been absorbed into the Nakamura ryu curriculum - Mr. Power would be far better qualified to explain these details. We had a really enlightening discussion about Toyama ryu during the pre-crash days here, but I guess it's all gone now!:(
Toyama ryu has been subsumed into the Shinkendo curriculum as "gaiden" waza (borrowed techniques) - though only a small handful of current Shinkendoka know/remember the kata, and it appears that only myself and one other instructor know the kumitachi set.
Goho Battoho is heavily influenced by the Battodo previously practiced before Shinkendo was founded (though there have been modifications made to the methods). I don't believe Shoden no kata has anything to do with Battodo, but rather swordsmanship in general.
For the record, those of you that have the "Crimson Steel" video (of older books, for that matter) should be advised that some of the names are incorrect or mis-catagorized. Nidan no kata among others was renamed years ago, and the Crimson Steel video incorrectly names everything "Toyama ryu" (Obata Sensei did not have control over some parts of the publications/productions before they were edited and released) when most of it was Battodo variations. Those interested in Shinkendo might consider picking up Obata Sensei's recent book on it (self-published) called "Shinkendo - Japanese Swordsmanship". It provides a solid overview of our style and curriculum.
Quite alot of what Mr. McCartney learned from his study with Obata Sensei has been changed, as has a great deal of what was originally published in the books you mentioned (well over 10 years ago).
That doesn't mean that it's "wrong", just that it doesn't represent what we're doing now.
However, since Mr. McCartney's study with Obata Sensei has long since ended, and the techniques you've mentioned are now considered to be Shinkendo techniques, there may be some discomfort on our side with the fact that Shinkendo techniques are being taught by an unlicensed individual under the name of his own ryu-ha. This may be worth mentioning to Mr. McCartney next time you see him.
Hope this helps,
Hello Mr. Woo (and thank you for signing up for the 19-20 Aug seminar in Westlake Village, CA).
Does 'Go Ho Batta Ho', 'Shodan No Kata', and 'Nidan No Kata' as described in "Crimson Steel" come from Toyama Ryu?
Are they creations of Obata Sensei or are these katas somewhat generic and are used by several different traditions
of swordsmanship? I am just curious. We also do these katas at the dojo where I receive instruction.
Scott gave a fairly accurate answer to your overall questions, but let me add a little bit.
The "shodan" and "nidan" no kata actually come from Hayashi Kunishiro sensei's "Wakakoma Group" actors' guild. Hayashi sensei is quite an accomplished martial artist and was a long-time student of Nakamura sensei; he then broke off to found his own Batto organization. Mr. Hayashi has been the top samurai-action coordinator for NHK for many years and maintains that position today. Through Mr. Obata, I was introduced to Mr. Hayashi back in 1984. Not only did I receive a great tour of NHK studios and get to see the Taiga Drama "Miyamoto Musashi" filmed, I also was a guest at his home and got to do some tameshigiri with him (and hold his nodachi). I was presented with the denim "outfit" that the Wakakoma group wear -- it's a hakama with very shallow legs, really like a pair of jeans. The uwagi and hanten are also denim. But, I digress.
Mr. Obata studied and acted under Mr. Hayashi for some years, and they enjoyed a very close relationship; Mr. Hayashi was largely responsible for Mr. Obata's going to Los Angeles. I must say that the "Wakakoma Group" is more than just actors -- they are proficient martial artists and are relied upon to portray proper etiquitte and martial ability -- and for it all to be accurate to the period being protrayed.
See you on the 19th,
08-03-2000, 01:11 PM
I had actually heard that Shoden no kata was being practiced by the Wakakoma, and I know that Obata Sensei is quite fond of Hayashi Sensei. But if they do use Shoden no kata and Nidan no kata, I had assumed that either Obata Sensei had developed it while he was there or that perhaps Hayashi Sensei and him had worked it out together.
Do you happen to know this?
I wasn't aware that Hayashi Sensei was a student of Nakamura Sensei. Thanks for the info.
Hello Mr. Woo (and thank you for signing up for the 19-20 Aug seminar in Westlake Village, CA).
Uh oh, your covers blown! :D
I had assumed that either Obata Sensei had developed it while he was there or that perhaps Hayashi Sensei and him had worked it out together.
Actually, I do not know who developed the set, but I never got the impression it was Obata sensei -- he would have said so, as with the "tatami-omote" story.
There were three levels of "Wakakoma" kata: "Shodan," "Nidan," and "Sandan."
Guy (with the blown cover :D)
08-05-2000, 10:39 PM
Mr. Scott and Mr. Power,
Thank you, I knew I could count on the both of you to supply me with information on the roots of the sword art in which I receive instruction. For those who don't know me, I am a student of Ishi Yama ryu and my sensei is Mr. Russell McCartney. I am one of the senior students at the honbu dojo in Seattle.
The way Ishi Yama ryu does 'Five Battaho' differs from the description in "Crimson Steel". The first two cuts are the same. But McCartney Sensei has added two cuts to each waza, a yoko giri followed by a kesa giri. We finish the waza with a chiburi similar to the one used by Toyama ryu instead of the big chiburi. Each waza also has an advance version and an advanced continuous version.
The way we do 'Shodan' kata is pretty much unchanged as is described in "Crimson Steel". In 'Nidan' kata, Ishi Yama ryu has added additional steps in the two thrusts. I think we also do the parries for the last two kesa giri differently. We also do 'Sandan no kata' from the "Wakakoma Group". I have only memorized the first half of the third kata. I am glad to find out there are only three katas in the set. I was afraid there were as many katas as there are dan grades.
Mr. Scott, I have relayed your discomfort with the borrowed material from the Shinkendo curriculum to Mr. McCartney. Although my sensei was a student of Obata Sensei along time ago what was taught to McCartney Sensei is taught differently to Ishi Yama students now. It is not clear in my mind at which point 'borrowed techniques' which are altered and 'improved' become the basis for a new ryu-ha. In any event it is obvious from reading "Crimson Steel" and "Naked Blade", that the intermediate to beginning advance level techniques of Ishi Yama ryu has its roots in the pre-Shinkendo curriculum.
Mr. Scott, I am under the impression that you may in San Diego on Sept 2 - 3 to observe the Jikishin-Kai Gasshuku. A group of students from Ishi Yama ryu will be doing the tameshigiri tournament. I would like to meet you there.
Mr. Power, I am looking forward to receive in instruction in Nakamura ryu from you at the Dragon Times seminar on Aug 19-20.
Victor Y. Woo (a shill for ghp :D)
08-07-2000, 12:19 PM
The way Ishi Yama ryu does 'Five Battaho' differs from the description in "Crimson Steel". The first two cuts are the same. But McCartney Sensei has added two cuts to each waza, a yoko giri followed by a kesa giri.
You have just described what we call "Goho battoho, gotengiri". We have quite a few variations of the Goho battoho series, and gotengiri is one of the older ones.
I'm not sure what Sandan no kata looks like, so am unsure if it is in our curriculum anywhere or not.
I'll look forward to meeting you at the Jikishinkai taikai. It would be interesting to compare the differences/similarities in our forms.
If I can get away, I might swing by the Dragon times seminar as well and at least say hello. It's only an hour from here.
08-22-2000, 01:44 PM
My sensei has asked me to respond to your discomfort that Ishi Yama Ryu may be borrowing the Goho Battoho waza without authorization from Shinkendo. There are only three really effective ways to cut from the draw. After the sword is drawn there are only eight possible cuts, including the thrust. Everything else is a variation of the eight basic cuts. In any event, that means there are only 24 permutations of waza that have a draw cut that is followed by another cut. Not all of the permutations are effective. Once all of the extraneous movements have been removed, there are only a few ways of doing a technique correctly. It is most likely that many schools of swordsmanship throughout time in many geographic locations would have come up with techniques you claim as belonging to Shinkendo.
It was nice to meet you at the Dragon Times seminar last Sunday. By the way, Power Sensei gave an excellent two-day seminar on Nakamura Ryu. I am sorry we didn't get a chance to talk more. Perhaps we will have a better chance to converse at the Jikishin-Kai Gasshuku in San Diego coming up in less than two weeks. Still, it was nice to match your face with your Internet persona.
Congratulations on having Obata Sensei as the 'Spotlight on Budo'.
08-22-2000, 03:10 PM
Hello Mr. Woo,
As far as Ishi Yama ryu, you have a point regarding this. But I would still hasten that not all Iaido and Battodo looks the same, and the fact that Mr. McCartney happens to be an ex-student of Obata Sensei makes the inclusion of seemingly identical waza somewhat more than coincidental.
But your comments are appreciated and noted.
It was nice to meet you as well, though I don't think the event host (Dragon Times) was thrilled about visitors. I had checked the web page in advance and saw no mention of "No visitors allowed". I would have been happy to pay a few bucks if that's all it was about....
Anyway, it looks like I will be at the Jikishinkai gasshuku at least on Sunday (I've got a wedding obligation I'm trying to keep on Saturday!), perhaps in an "official capacity".
We'll catch up more there! (internet-people never look like you think they will look when you meet them, huh?)
Thanks for the congratulations - feel free to stop by and chat.
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