View Full Version : TSKR sword versus spear.
11-25-2000, 05:06 PM
Hail holders of the wisdom :)
I am a frustrated Katori Shinto Ryu wanna be.
I said wanna be because i live in Brazil, what makes impossible for me to train this style (the only KoRyu represented here is Shinto Muso Ryu, but in a far state...)
I have acquired Sugino SenSei's tape from Tozando (fantastic!) and two other tapes from Otake Ritsuke SenSei(extremely impressive!).
For those who haven't had the chance of viewing these tapes my advice is: Spend some money, they are worth of it!
My question is: the sword versus spear kata is intended to teach an effective way of using the spear or to teach a swordsman how should he deal with the spear's LENGTH ?
I ask this because, although the naginata kata appeared to me as very elegant and effective, the spear techniques didn't seem(at least to my untrained eyes) to explore the full potencial of this weapon...
Any information will be greatly appreciated!!
11-26-2000, 02:51 AM
although I am not an active exponent of TSKSR, I have been trained the first kata of the omote Kenjutsu and some of the Iaijutsu forms under a student of Sugino Yoshio Sensei. I also have read the books of Otake Sensei (3 volumes), which deal with many different aspects of the TSKSR.
As far as I know, the school is primarily a sword school, and the use of the other weapons have the primary goal to give the adepts of the ryu the possibility to learn about the various advantages and disadvantages of different weapons of the classical Bushi, different Maai and so on.
This form of training has the side effect that the student also learns how to use this weapons effectively in combat, and I think none of the Bushi back in the old days would be so mad as to rely on the use of only one single weapon.
Regarding Sojutsu, there are (as far as I know, which is near nill)two forms Yari versus Yari, called Jodan no Yariai and Gedan no Yariai.
But on e-budo there are many gentlemen who have far more knowledge and experience concerning this matter, and I hope they will tell us more interesting details on the subject.
Heiho wa Heiho nari.
[Edited by Nicki Gerstner on 11-26-2000 at 03:57 AM]
01-01-2001, 10:31 AM
I have absolutely zero training in TSKSR, but I do have some experience in sojutsu, specifically Kukishinden Ryu. Although I cannot offer you advice on Katori Shinto Ryu strategy, I can talk a little about spear vs. sword.
One of the things that makes the spear such an incredible weapon is that fact that, when properly used, it can hold one or more attackers at bay. I am sure that many a talented swordsman have fallen from a yari-strike. However, like the sword having a long-range weakness, the spear does not tend to perform well in the medium range. In my art, we have a saying (paraphrasing):
"Under the sword, there can only be hell. Step in, and you will find heaven." note to BJK members - A full quote/reference would be appreciated.
So, the katana works extremely well once the distance is closed. Not too close, of course, or else you may be in tanto-range, but enough that the spear-head is no longer a concern.
Coincidentally enough, I witnessed last night at a party a video of a really old (I think now-dead) shihan of TSKSR doing a really cool and really long kata of naginata vs. sword. This guy was with sword, and I noticed that he didn't try to fight the naginata outside, but stepped in to block.
Again, I am by no means an expert, but I hope this assists you in your understanding of your art.
01-01-2001, 11:52 AM
Am not familiar with TSKSR, but your comment points out an interesting item. It seems that many systems are a bit one-sided in showing counters to specific weapons or attacks. For instance, in aikido, the empty hand vs sword, the empty hand wins, yes? Kind of the point. But it may not be a 'balanced' approach. It would seem like the practice of iai within an aikido system would be heavily influenced by this. Not to pick on aikido, just an example. How many combined styles or multiple weapon styles put most of their emphasis on one weapon or approach? Does this bring out a better understanding than a pure sword or pure empty hand system?
Had a chance to see some sword vs spear kumitachi at a kobudo embu in Yokohama this past year. Great stuff. Won't swear to the style (Guy, a little help here?), but the interesting thing was that in the first few forms, the spear won! I thought it showed an interesting progression in understanding the strengths of the spear and learning counters and attacks. just my two cents. Be interested to hear other views.
Happy New Year to all,
01-01-2001, 05:25 PM
That is a very important point!
What i understand out of this is:
You can defeat only those who act recklessly.
Sun Tsu states that invencibility lies in defense, but victory lies in the attack. Musashi states that one of the rules to attain victory is to do nothing useless.
If you possess a perfect defensive strategy you will be able to remain undefeatable, but the same goes for your enemy.
To defeat him you must find his openings.
We conclude that the "losing" side of the kata is the one who does the first mistake.
This is very clear in AiKiDo(were the uke attacks without malice or planning) and Shinto Muso Ryu(my opinion).
If you try to train AiKiDo's kihon against a well planned and executed attack, you will fail.
By well planned/executed i mean that the Uke will have found YOUR OPENING!
To control the meaning of the kata/kihon you must understand which side is "intended to win" :)
When you are the shite/nage you learn to see the openings, while the role of uke give us the chance to feel the consequences of mistakes.
Too bad very few people realize this...
01-01-2001, 07:37 PM
Remember, in Aikido the Nage is to fill himself with ki and create an opening for the Uke to enter into. The purpose of this is to learn to draw a specific attack out of the aggressor in a “real life encounter”. By drawing out an attack, the Aikidoka creates an advantage for himself by causing an error in the aggressor. While attacking, the aggressor commits himself to movement. This movement is manipulated by the Aikidoka to his own advantage.
Remember Aikido is an accretion of aiki-jujutsu, a number of sword arts and spear. O Sensei was also quite experienced in Sumo and was considered above average in the use of the bayonet. Aikidoka train with the bokken and jo. Jo techniques are a combination sword, bo and spear techniques. O Sensei had his enlightenment following a match with a swordsman who believed O Sensei had no right to create his own system of Budo.
In Aikido, it is believed that to receive an attack is superior to initiating an attack. When a person initiates an attack they are off center both physically and emotionally and are therefore more easily defeated. This is in contrast to Musashi who believed a sudden overwhelming attack was the at times beneficial. Musashi was more of a fighter and O Sensei believed it was inappropriate to intentionally injure your attacker, so that may explain the differences in their philosophy.
Scott R. Brown
01-01-2001, 09:21 PM
Remember that every school has a specialty. Headmasters had favorite weapons based on personal style, preference, body mechanics, even environmental factors came into play. Not every ryu-ha could possibly cover every kata for every weapon or even understand fully how to use said weapon. Some weapons weren't taught as in depth simply because the teacher in question didn't LIKE that weapon. I don't know anything about TSKSR, but the teachers then were human as well and subject to the same fallacies we are.
01-01-2001, 09:42 PM
Also similar weapons will have similar underlying principals and techniques. If one is experienced in the use of the jo he can transfer the technical principals to the bo, sword and spear. He may not be as proficient as a student of sojutsu, bojutsu or kenjutsu, but he would understand the underlying principals much easier than say a kenjutsu practitioner would sojutsu. I am a firm believer in learning the underlying principals of an art over the specific techniques. Not that specific techniques should be ignored, but the underlying principals are the foundations upon which all the techniques are based. Understand the underlying pricipals and and the techniques are more easily understood and adapted as circumstances dictate. It provides flexibility if your weapon of study is not available in a practical self-defense senario. A kenjutsu practitioner should be able to pick up any 3 foot long stick and may a good accounting of themselves.
Scott R. Brown
01-02-2001, 09:14 AM
I dare to say that the techniques are secundary to the principles.
In portuguese we have the expression "pie recipe" meaning step-by-step explanations.
People tend to treat technique as "pie recipes", but combat is all about dealing with the unexpected.
You cannot expect to relie in memorizing techniques for each possible situation. Even if this was possible i don´t believe this would work under stress.
For me the techniques are tools to make us familiar with the principles. And the principles help us to develop patterns of behaviour that are universal.
This way, when attacked, you will react without thinking in a simple but efficient manner that will serve for a variety of situations (instead of specific responses for specific attacks).
And this brings me back to the original question:
In the TSKSR kata who is supposed to "win", the sword or the spear?
01-02-2001, 12:11 PM
While I do not know the kata, does it matter which one is supposed to win. If the kata is teaching the principles of sword and spear it may be designed so that there is no winner.
01-02-2001, 02:56 PM
Although, I too, am not an expert, I train under the expert, and thus can claim expertise vicariously (yuck yuck). This whole "who is the 'winner' or 'loser'?" in each TSKSR form argument misses the whole point. For those people that know little about the school, it is understandable to dwell on this, especially if you have only seen photos (Deity and the Sword) or the movie put out by the Nihon Kobudo Kyokai, since they only show the end result of the attacker (uchikomi) getting "the one up" on the defender at the end of each kata (although the book DOES dwell on what i am about to say). For those TSKSR junkies on this post that collect anything and everything pertaining to the school, I can only say, go back to your footage showing Otake Sensei explaining what is ACTUALLY GOING ON in the kata, or find better resources to get such footage. Hidden within each form are the real kata, no? At each stage along the way one of the two opponents is slain. A dies, B dies, A dies, B dies. The BBC video may have covered this. Becuase in the last stroke A might be doing the striking doesn't mean "A wins," it means its about time to end the kata and move on to the next one so somebody has to strike the final blow, and A is as just as good a candidate as B. Thats all.
P.S. All the kata are like this. In Bo or Naginata, the sword does not "win" over those arms, they just end on a good note. Their wrists have been slashed and other nasty things done to them many times over by the time the kata ends. Same for the Bo and Naginata wielders. Remember, TSKSR is both comprehensive AND balanced. One is taught what one needs to win with the non-sword weapons as much as with the sword. My 2 cents.
01-02-2001, 06:06 PM
...I am a firm believer in learning the underlying principals of an art over the specific techniques. Not that specific techniques should be ignored, but the underlying principals are the foundations upon which all the techniques are based. Understand the underlying principals and and the techniques are more easily understood and adapted as circumstances dictate
Good concept, I agree. But which do you learn first? Or, which do you teach first? Can you learn or appreciate the principles without thoroughly learning the techniques? Can you teach principles before or even at the same time as technique? Would you want to? Do you discuss the bunkai before you teach the kata?
Somewhat related question, applicable to TSKSR and some koryu, are you (not you, Scott, this is for everyone) up front with your explanations or do you wait for a 'spiritual commitment'? Do you hide principles within forms and wait for 'enlightenment'?
[Edited by socho on 01-04-2001 at 07:41 AM]
01-02-2001, 07:55 PM
It is my opinion that basics should always be learned first. For example, when training with the sword the student first learns proper grip, stance, basic blocking and striking movements, etc. Next, these simple movements are combined into 2-4 step techniques. When a number of these techniques are understood they are combined into forms (katas). Underlying principles are too advanced for the beginner to understand because beginners do not have practical experience. Experience provides a framework for the principles to be understood. Different underlying principles can be introduced at different times, but some rudimentary experience is always necessary before the student can grasp the concept. For example, one of the underlying principles of movement is moving from your center. Most beginners have no idea what this means. They must first learn the proper method of movement, and then learn to sense when their weight is centered and when it is not. This learning begins with simply moving down the floor, then moving in conjunction with hand movements. As the student progresses they learn movements in concert with a partner. Then the student learns to move in forms and eventually two man forms. Some of the movements can be learned in a day, but to do them while maintaining your center takes time and experience. Learning to move from one’s center is a process that must be experienced rather than explained. I can explain to a student all the concepts of moving from one’s center, I can demonstrate it singularly and in conjunction with a technique or form (kata), but the student will not grasp the concept; it will not become “their” knowledge, until they have learned to sense their own center. It is something that can be learned, but not taught.
As far as when to teach underlying principles is concerned, I was never taught them. I had to figure them out on my own. I am still learning them. Ever since I became aware that underlying principles existed I have been searching for and investigating them. I don’t believe an underlying principle is necessarily related to one’s spiritual development. It is more related to ones interest and intelligence. I call it insight. I define insight as intelligent introspection into the truth of things. If one has intelligence, but is unable to introspect or can introspect, but does not have intelligence, they cannot gain insight. My interest is in discovering the foundational principles of all things. Not just the martial arts. It is like the philosophical principle of the universal and the particular. The particular springs from the universal. It is my belief that if you can understand the universal you can understand all the particulars the spring from it much more easily. In other words, instead of learning 1000 techniques, learn 4-5 techniques that demonstrate the underlying principle, then all 1000 techniques are inherent in what you have learned. This will help eliminate mental clutter and allow the martial artist to react with much more spontaneity in defense circumstances and allows him to innovate when the need arises.
When I teach I mention the underlying principles, but I realize that the student will not grasp them until they are ready. Some people don’t have the ability to understand them and some are not interested. A person can still be a good martial artist without understanding underlying principles, but he will bet a better one if he does.
"Under the sword, there can only be hell. Step in, and you will find heaven." note to BJK members - A full quote/reference would be appreciated.
"Under the sword uplifted high,
Hell below is making you tremble;
But go forth, and you have the land of bliss"
The yari-tai-ken kata you saw are "Nakamura Ryu Sojutsu" developed from jukenjutsu by Nakamura Taizaburo sensei.
He has not taught this arm since the 1960s when his eldest daughter, Kyoko, died. She was his protoge at that time and it just hurt too much to continue to teach -- they always did this particular set as a father-daughter team. Sensei was uncharacteristically (compared to most Japanese men of his generation) close to, and fond of, his daughter.
The forms were finally reintroduced and are now exhibited by some of the upper-echelon teachers like Nakajima sensei (below, right).
This style is listed in Watatani's Bugei Ryuha Daijiten as "Toyama Ryu Sojutsu [from jukenjutsu]; founded by Nakayama Taizaburo [former army sergeant]." I think the "Nakayama" is a typographical error for "Nakamura". And I'm fairly sure I've rendered the quote accurately -- but I don't have access to the citations at this moment, so I'm not 100% certain.
01-04-2001, 08:52 PM
Thanks for the info. I thought it was from Nakamura-ryu, but wasn't sure. They did a very impressive demo at a kobudo embu at a shrine in Yokohama.
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