Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 1 2
Results 16 to 23 of 23

Thread: iaido and seiza

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Posts
    183
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Iai-goshi (at least of the Katori Shinto Ryu) certainly does take some getting used to. When i first started iai, my ankles were in sheer pain, and the balls of my feet were even worse off. Learning to leap and move from that position using accurate and dynamic motions while maintaining balance and power was one of the more difficult things i have learned in my life. BUT, once your legs loosen up and your used to the new pressure in new areas, you relax into the posture, making it quite easy to stay in that position for quite some time. I find regular seiza to be excruciating compared to iai-goshi. And without a doubt, the speed of the draw compared to one from seiza is mightily fast.
    Oh yeah. I know what chinpira means, but is inakappei like a country bumpkin or something.

    [Edited by gmellis on 08-15-2000 at 07:12 PM]
    Greg Ellis
    I like autumn best of all, because its tone is mellower, its colors are richer and it is tinged with a little sorrow. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and it is content.

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Palo Alto, Ca, USA
    Posts
    1,324
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Greg:

    Yeah. "Inaka" means country, and the "-pei" suffix is meant to make fun of a certain kind of accent (Ibaraki-ken, I think), where everybody ends their sentences with "-pei", e.g., "So dappei" for the standard "So desu ne", or something like that. Thus, hayseed.

    I never said iaigoshi was easy, only that it beats its competition (sonkyo) by a country mile. This has been mentioned before, but the slow, seiza-based iai in MJER and MSR is only for training. In MJER, the movements are supposed to become progressively faster as you work up to tachiwaza, which, as I understand it, is the oldest part of the curriculum of the ryu.

    I have seen some demos of the TSKSR iai stuff and it looks damn difficult due to the speed. I imagine its hell on the legs, at least in the beginning. Totally cool stuff, though.

    Speaking of weird sitting postures, am I the only person out there who has trouble with the concept of tatehiza? I find it hard to believe that anyone would actually sit like that. I have been told that it is some sort of posture for sitting in armor, but it is, if anything, more combatively "dead" than seiza, since it is so much harder to get moving (Yokkara shoi-to!) I have heard it said that when wearing armor it would be impossible to sit in seiza because the sune would dig into the back of the knee joints; if this is true I think it would be just as much of a problem with tatehiza, where your left knee is bent at an acute angle and you are sitting on top of your own ankle (huh?).

    Anyway, iaigoshi seems best, or at least not counter-intuitive.

    Earl
    Earl Hartman

  3. #18
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA USA
    Posts
    2,558
    Likes (received)
    38

    Default suneate

    Hello,

    I sit in seiza all the time wearing suneate and bogu while practicing Naginata, and iI've never found it uncomfortable. While the suneate are obviously modern and somewhat modified for practice purposes, they do appear to be pretty damn close in design to real suneate. In fact, mine even came with leather on the inside ankles to protect the user's ankle bone from the horses stirrups!

    I'd guess it is more likely the haidate (thigh skirt) or just the weight alone that may have made seiza uncomfortable/impractical. But I'm just guessing...

    Regards,
    Nathan Scott
    Nichigetsukai

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

  4. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Posts
    82
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    I couldn't help but notice that the above posts imply that everyone already understands and agrees on the meaning of words like seiza, sonkyo, tatehiza, etc. In discussions of this type it is important to realize that the meanings of words change in accordance with context, regional patterns of usage, and historical evolution.

    After the start of Meiji (1868) various authors and national organizations began to establish standard definitions and national norms for daily practices such as sitting. When modern Japanese draw distinctions between sonkyo, tatehiza, and iaigoshi, therefore, they do so based on the general notions of etiquette that were popularized at that time. Prior to Meiji there existed widespread variation among regions, social classes, and historical periods. We cannot rely on modern distinctions to interpret premodern texts or practices.

    Our best historical evidence for evaluating how groups of people normally sat (or any other behavior) is pictorial. Illustrations, however, frequently depict scenes that the artist never witnessed. Even when artists were eye-witnesses, they often re-arrange details for artistic or other considerations. For this reason, even illustrations present many problems of interpretation. When we try to describe those illustrations in words, or when we read historical texts that describe the appearance of some scene it becomes immediately obvious that our vocabulary is too vague. Words alone cannot convey the scene accurately.

    Just for fun, I checked how the terms used in the above discussion are actually defined in the *Nihon kokugo daijiten* (20 vols.) published by Shokakan. This is the largest and most historically accurate dictionary now available for Japanese. Instead of merely copying definitions from earlier dictionaries (as is usually the case), the editors of this dictionary carefully compiled usage notes from thousands of works of literature and collections of historical documents. Here are their definitions.

    ____________


    za: any bodily position between standing and lying down

    seiza-1 (NOTE: written with kanji for "correct sitting"): sitting in a correct position as dictated by rules of etiquette

    shoza (NOTE: this is another way of reading the same kanji that are used for writing seiza): sitting directly in front of or facing a guest

    seiza-2 (NOTE: written with kanji for "quiet sitting"): (1) to quiet the mind while sitting and to concentrate one's will power; (2) in Confucianism, to sit in meditation in a manner similar to sitting in Zen (zazen)

    sonkyo: (1) any crouching, squatting, or cowering position; (2) the act of bending both knees, lowering one's body and bowing one's head as a superior person walks by; (3) the type of bow performed in martial arts such as sumo and kendo in which one spreads one's legs, squats down on the balls of one's feet and lowers one's head --- it is sometimes performed while touching one's left knee to the ground

    tatehiza: to sit with one knee down and one knee drawn up

    iai: (1) sword technique in which one squats with one knee drawn up while holding an unsheathed sword across one's back in preparation for cutting upward at an enemy; (2) a martial art developed during the Tokugawa period in which one unsheathes a long sword while uttering a kiai, also known as "iai nuki" or "iai no jutsu"

    iaigoshi: (1) to draw up one knee while raising one's hips (as one is about to stand up); (2) to sit in the manner used while practicing the martial art of Iaido; (3) a word used in a metaphorical sense for any unsettled state or condition

    _________


    From the definitions above, I think it is clear that when reading a historical document we cannot know for certain exactly which bodily position any of the these words might indicate. If one squats down in a ceremony according to the proper form, then one is squatting in seiza. If that squat is located in the central position, facing a guest, then it also is shoza. At the same time, anyone observing or writing about the ceremony could describe that exact same squat as: sonkyo, tatehiza, or iaigoshi. Unless one stipulates a precise definition for use in a particular context, then the exact referent remains unclear.

    Martial art traditions stipulate definitions for use by the people who practice those traditions. Those stipulative definitions, however, are meaningless outside of that particular tradition or lineage. Consider sonkyo, for example. The book _Zusetsu Nihon bugei bunka gairon_ (Illustrated Overview of Japanese Martial Art Culture, 1994) by Osano Jun includes a section with photographs and illustrations of sonkyo as performed by various martial art lineages (koryu). All of them are different. Some touch their left knee to the ground. Some touch their right knee to the ground. Some touch neither knee to the ground. Some bring a hand down to the ground, some keep both hands on the knees, and so forth.

    Similarly, the way that iaigoshi is practiced and taught various widely from one martial art lineage to the next. In some martial art lineages, iaigoshi is not a sitting posture at all. Rather, it refers to a way of shifting the weight of one's hips.

    Moreover, the vast majority of fighting men (and women) in premodern times, especially prior to the Tokugawa period, never studied any systematic methods of combat. They learned by hunting, by trial and error, and by following the idiosyncratic examples of their compatriots and elders. There is no reason to expect that they behaved according to any widely observed norms.

    We cannot automatically rely on schools of etiquette or their manuals for any help in sorting out these variations. Etiquette exists for the purpose of reinforcing distinctions of social class, status, and privilege. In other words, it is used to clearly indicate who knows the proper methods and who does not. Rules of etiquette define the elite few and distinguish them from the common masses. If everyone followed the rules of etiquette, then there would be no reason for codifying them into rules. By definition, then, rules of etiquette describe how a relatively small portion of the population behaved under certain limited circumstances.

    In the end, we are on much safer ground if avoid broad generalizations until after we have clarified which cases we know, which ones we can guess, and which ones we cannot know.

    William Bodiford
    Professor
    Dept. of Asian Languages & Cultures
    UCLA

  5. #20
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Perth, Western Australia
    Posts
    559
    Likes (received)
    12

    Default

    A question.

    If, as we are all pretty much in agreeance, katana were not worn indoors, ever, why are there iaijutsu kata that perform many variations on the theme of sitting in (what we today understand as) seiza and iaigoshi? I have practiced ones from in front, from beside, from behind and against multiple and/or standing opponents. I think the techniques originally came from Mugai Ryu but were absorbed into Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu at some stage.

    I can understand iaido using them as exercises, but these were two person kata, were they "reverse engineered" from the iaido forms, or is it possible that there were times when you would sit beside or infront of a person wearing thier sword?

    I thought maybe as you wait to go into battle, you may wait in ranks. Possibly at roadside inn or stalls where you sat outside, but even then I was under the impression that it was good form to remove the sword from the obi and put on your right hand side.

    Any ideas?

    Neil
    Neil Hawkins
    "The one thing that must be learnt but
    cannot be taught is understanding"

  6. #21
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    119
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    I think the whole seza contraversy is pretty silly. I don't think that the "apparent" combative nature(or lack of) shouldn't be taken too seriously. The funny thing, to me anyway, is that none of my Iai teachers have ever claimed that the sword was worn in seiza or that the kata were actually meant to be applied that way. Some Kata do not always make sense, combatively, until we study them very deeply and discover the lessons they are meant to teach. Iai from seiza is meant only to serve as a foundation, to teach the mechanics of the system, and to train and develop the legs and hips(as stated previously). This is similar to the way the kata Sanchin is used in Goju ryu Karate do. It builds the foundation for further study. At first, the feet are turned in and certain muscles are used to "grip the floor". Later, in advanced kata, the feet are not turned in, and there is little tension, but there is the same effect. This could not be achieved without the initial study of Sanchin. As with Omori ryu(shoden) in MJER/MSR, it is a vital part of the PROCESS.
    My Iai Sensei, the late Paul Sylvain(7th dan MSR) explained it this way: Shoden(Omori ryu) is to teach the mechanics, or the fundamentals, Chuden(Hasegawa Eishin ryu) is to teach how to move low with the hips(although some schools emphasize this more or less than others), and Okuden(okuiai) is the real applications of the art.
    Another view on the use of seiza is that you need some static postion from which to begin a kata. Seiza is technically simpler than Tate hiza, so it makes sense for the beginning set. Also, after training from seiza, tatehiza, and tachiai, one should be able to move and draw from any sitting, crouching, standing, or transitional position that you find yourself in when you are attacked.

    Regards,
    Brian Dunham
    MSR San Shin Kai

  7. #22
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Davenport, FL, USA
    Posts
    298
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    One of the most impressive images from my stay in Japan in 1981 was observing the construction of a traditional house. None of the carpenters seemed younger than 60. There were no workbenches or power tools. They all worked in the above flat-footed squat, hours on end, equipped only with their double-edged pull-stroke saws. After the beams were completed using dazzling intricate joinery dowelled together, no hardware, the entire tiled roof was completed. That squatting posture was confortably employed on the pitches of the roof as well. Then the interior was completed. No paint. Only lustrous satin staining of perfect woods. It all reminded me of Musahi's carpentry metaphor in the beginning of Go Rin No Sho.

  8. #23
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Palo Alto, Ca, USA
    Posts
    1,324
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Gil:

    Squatting in a work environment of the type you describe was not what I was talikng about. In many situations, the squat is the most zppropriate posture to use, and I have used it myself quite often when the situation demands it. It is just that in Japan, in general, it is considered inappropriate to sit that way in public, while you ware waiting for a bus or a train, for instance, or if you are talking with your friends in a public space. Of course, it goes without saying that women should never sit that way in a public place unless they're on the farm. Like most things in Japan (or anywhere, for that matter), this is a matter of suiting your actions to the place and situation in which you find yourself. It's sort of like being able to blow your nose loudly in the locker room shower without worrying about a Kleenex, but you can't do that anywhere else.

    Earl
    Earl Hartman

Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 1 2

Similar Threads

  1. Seiza in Iaido
    By Jack Chen in forum Sword Arts
    Replies: 26
    Last Post: 16th September 2007, 16:17
  2. Question to Iaido teachers...
    By Jean Binck in forum Teacher and Student
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 21st April 2004, 01:54
  3. Formalites: vital or !!!!!!%t?
    By Ade in forum Member's Lounge
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: 27th January 2004, 16:53
  4. Classical Itto-Ryu Iaido
    By Lito Ramirez in forum Sword Arts
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 28th March 2002, 15:45

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •