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Thread: iaido and seiza

  1. #1
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    I was thinking about the real deal of iaido and I知 confused.
    If i were a samurai sitting in seiza and suddenly an attack is made against me. What would i do?
    I知 sure i will draw my wakizashi and tanto rather than my long sword . It get worst when I think about the ettiquete and behavior of the samurai. . I don稚 know if I知 wrong (i know little about the subject) , but a samurai would sit in seiza with his long sword along with wakizashi/tanto in the obi ?
    Why the samurai wore the wakizashi?
    Just curiosity ,
    Thank you

    Nelson Sanz

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    Nope,

    Katana were not worn indoors; therefore, no reason to sit in seiza with one. That "convention" occured after Omori was expelled from Eishin Ryu. He went out, combined Ogasawara Reigi (etiquitte training) with the raised-knee forms of Eishin Ryu, and called his new style "Omori Ryu." After Eishin died (7th soke), Omori was readmitted to the Ryu by the 9th soke. From this time the seiza "Omori ryu" (shoden waza) were incorporated.

    Regards,
    Guy
    Guy H. Power
    Kenshinkan Dojo

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    As Guy pointed out, learning to draw the long sword from seiza has no combative background. For me it's a fine training for proper movements and for strengthen the hips.
    In MJER (as in many others) you find also Tachi Ai and Tate Hiza (in some Ryu also Iaigoshi). From the historical background, this postures makes much more sense if you are talking from getting in action with your sword.

    Best regards

    Ruediger Meier

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    Originally posted by ghp
    Nope,
    Katana were not worn indoors; therefore, no reason to sit in seiza with one.
    Its a little hard to believe that no samurai "ever" wore their katana indoors. Lets face it we just don't know how common or uncommon it really was.
    Nulli Secundus

    Ed Chart

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    Its a little hard to believe that no samurai "ever" wore their katana indoors. Lets face it we just don't know how common or uncommon it really was.
    Why do you say this? Anybody refusing to remove their katana at the genkan [foyer] would be seen as an enemy; they would be either prevented from entering, or an alarm would be raised. It is akin to walking in someone's door with your shotgun at the ready. The kodachi was worn indors but not the katana -- it was removed and either placed on a sword rack, or carried in the right hand so as not to be easily used. The only time a katana would be "worn" indoors would be in a dojo setting -- not in a home setting.

    And why do you think we do not know how "common or uncommon" the practice was of wearing katana indoors? At least Japanese know quite well the katana was not worn indoors. I have yet to meet an iai teacher who accepts the theory that a katana was worn indoors. My own teacher, Nakamura Taizaburo, used to ask Japanese iai teachers "why do you do iai from seiza when katana were not worn indoors?" It's a question that would dumbfound them -- not because the question is stupid, but because they know katana were not worn indoors. The most common response was "that's the way we are taught." However, the best responses were "seiza strengthens legs;" "seiza are kodachi waza modified for katana;" and "seiza teaches the proper etiquitte."

    Don't rationalize seiza iai. It is an artificial convention started by Omori after he was expelled by Eishin. Omori went off and blended techniques of Ogasawara Ryu Reigi (school of etiquitte) with what he learned from Eishin. It's easy to see that the Shoden waza (Omori Ryu iai seiza-bu) are adaptations of the Chuden waza (Eishin Ryu iai tate-hiza) in Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu (including Muso Shinden Ryu).

    Regards,
    Guy
    Guy H. Power
    Kenshinkan Dojo

  6. #6
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    Hello,

    As usual, Guy is most correct. The truth is, there are only two kata in Omori-ryu that are unique: Kaishaku (Junto) and Tsukekomi (shinchuto). Anything is possible. I'm sure that at some point, somewhere, a bushi sat in seiza while wearing the katana but it certainly wasn't the norm. Omori-ryu was the product of peaceful times and has little to do with combat reality. The ryu was included in Eishin-ryu (and Muso Shinden-ryu) as a training set -At least, that's my take on it.


  7. #7
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    Hi,

    One other small point that may be worth mentioning is that Bushi generally did not sit in Seiza *outside*.

    Higher up's might occaisonally use short stools to sit on, like during military campaigns, but if you were outdoors, you would typically squat in sonkyo if necessary or remove your hakama (if in private) to keep from getting the silk clothing dirty while resting.

    So, for the most part, if you were in seiza it was because you were indoors. We know these kinds of things because Samurai followed agreed upon methods of etiquette, such as the still extant and popular Ogasawara ryu, and these types of things were guided by strict etiquette.

    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)

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    Do you know how painful it is to sit in sonkyo for any length of time? In the formal kyudo ceremony known as a yawatashi, an assistant sits in sonkyo at one end of the target bank to retrieve the arrows shot by the archer. I have done this before, and although you do not sit in sonkyo for more than 2-3 minutes before the first arrow is shot, it is just hell on wheels. It takes a tremendous amount of practice to be able to do this for any length of time and still have the use of your legs.

    My guess is that in a military situation iaigoshi, sitting on your haunches with the left knee on the ground with the right knee raised, was the preferred posture. If one were wearing armor, getting one's hakama dirty would not be a consideration, and the iaigoshi posture is much better from the point of view of preparedness for quick movement. Your sword can be easily drawn, and your legs are not strained. In Nagao Ryu, for instance, one never sits in seiza; the sitting position is a modified iaigoshi-type posture called kiza, where you are up on your toes but both knees are on the ground. From this position, you can move very rapidly using your toes to push off. Also, unlike modern kyudo (the ceremonial etiquette of which was adapted from the Ogasawara Ryu) the seated posture of the Heki Ryu is an iaigoshi-type posture, with the left knee on the ground and the right knee raised about 8 inches off the ground. From this posture the archer can very quickly and easily assume a kneeling posture for shooting.

    Earl
    Earl Hartman

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    That's a good point, Mr. Hartman, I had forgotten about Iaigoshi when writing the last post.

    Even without armor, I've been told that it is preferable to "squat" in Iaigoshi and have one knee dusted a bit than to drop to two knees.

    Thanks for the addendum.

    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)

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    And don't forget the classic asian squat. It drove me nuts to see these little old farmers squating next to their fields in Japan. They can sit like this for an hour at a time, and I couldn't even stretch my legs enough to get to the position. They squat with their feet flat on the ground, and their butt hanging just an inch or so off the ground. This makes tremendous sense in a region where nightsoil was the fertilizer of choice. It also explains the taboo against anything touching the ground. Outside in Japan, traditionally, and to this day, you squat. Inside, prior to the Tokugawa era, Karl Friday has said that tatehiza was the most common posture, and that seiza became popular after 1600 (I wish I had saved that post).

    Peter Boylan

    PS Now I can do that squat for about 10 minutes at a time.

  11. #11
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    Peter:

    Yes, people squat a lot in Japan, and I found it fairly easy to do, for some reason; but outside of putting a neon "I Am An Uncultured, Low Class, Country Hayseed" sign on your head, squatting in public is about the best way to call immediate attention to your status as either an inakappei or a chinpira, or at least a slovenly, low-class person in general (at least according to my wife, anyway).

    Earl

    [Edited by Earl Hartman on 08-14-2000 at 05:37 PM]
    Earl Hartman

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    Hi Earl,

    Living in darkest Shiga, I was an innakapei, and proud of it! It worth remembering though, that prior to the 20th century, this is the way the vast majority of Japanese would have sat outdoors. Frankly, I can't imagine anyone actually SITTING on the ground when nightsoil was the fertilzer of choice, and had to be hauled through the streets to the fields.

    That said, I doubt that anyone in armour could get into seiza, and I'm sure that they couldn't get out of it if they somehow managed to get down their.

    What we need are uncle Karl's solid history. Joseph, do have the post lying around anywhere?

    Peter "innakapei" Boylan

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    Earl -- A reading history backwards theory. While field grade officers and the soldiers assigned to their staffs are often enormously concerned with spit'n'polish, lower-ranking soldiers who pride themselves on superior job performance are often equally proud of being comparatively slovenly in appearance. Thus in a British context, while Guards Grenadiers wore red suits and shakos, the Indian Army proudly wore khaki.

    Again reading history backwards, it is my experience that most soldiers outside the staff sections usually care more about taking a nap or stealing eggs or hustling the honeys than staying spotlessly clean. After all, you can always clean up but you can't always take a nap or steal eggs or find a honey worth hustling. The staff folks care about the same things, mind you, it's just that they pay somebody to shine the boots and clean and press the uniforms. Even drill instructors change clothes half a dozen times a day to maintain that fresh look.

    In the field, standards deteriorate fairly quickly. Yes, this drives martinets and sergeants major nuts, but it is nonetheless a fact of military life. (There is a great Bill Mauldin cartoon that show Willie and Joe looking especially bedraggled in front of a sign saying "Entering Third Army. Ties will be worn, etc. By Order of General George S. Patton Jr." One of them is on the radio in the jeep, saying, "Tell the Lootenant we'll be a little late getting back, as we have to take this thousand mile detour.")

    Peter -- Unfortunately, no I do not have that post. Do you think perhaps the original source was not E-budo but iaido-l? I say that for three reasons. First, it sounds like something that might have been said there. Second, Professor Friday posts there more than here. And finally, I don't recall reading it here, and usually I try to pay attention to historical trivia. If so, perhaps it is archived in iaido-l someplace?

    ADDITION: If interested in this, try http://listserv.uoguelph.ca/cgi-bin/...ido-l&P=R10997 , or search "Friday seiza".

    [Edited by Joseph Svinth on 08-17-2000 at 04:08 AM]

  14. #14
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    Default Warrior Sitting...

    Greetins,

    Never run when you can walk,
    Never walk when you can stand,
    Never stand when you can sit,
    Never sit when you can lay down
    Never stay awake when you can sleep.

    A little ditty shared by my old man from his days as an Ashigaru.

    Cheers,

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    I doubt the flat-footed squatting posture, which is the same one that is used when one relieves oneself in the field (and is probably why people think that it shouldn't be assumed in public) was used much by warriors who wanted to maintain themselves in readiness for a very simple reason: your swords would get in the way and such a posture would prevent you from getting to your sword quickly in time of need. I find that squatting posture to be quite relaxing, actually, and I would imagine that it was used quite often by soldiers if they were in a situation where rest, rather than readiness, was a priority. However, from the point of view of combat readiness, if one is going to sit, iaigoshi is the best posture. Looks cooler, too.

    Earl
    Earl Hartman

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