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Thread: Draeger & MSR/MJER Bashing

  1. #1
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    Hi All,

    Yes it's me again! What do all you Muso Shinden Ryu and Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu people think of Donn Draeger's anti-Hayashizaki Jinsuke Line Iaijutsu (and maybe pro-Katori Shinto Ryu) comments (which I don't agree with at all)in his various books? IE: Seiza & Tate-Hiza not combat effective, Wearing sword across body at 45-deg's & danger of Saya-ate, etc. etc. I can't think of his other negative comments at the moment.

    I asked a Japanese student of the Komei Juku style of Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu about the above and he gave me some excellent answers. So what do you all think of Drager's comments? All the best.

    Regards,

    Paul Steadman

  2. #2
    Meik Skoss Guest

    Default DFD "bashing" (?) Eishin-ryu/Shinden-ryu

    P. Steadman wrote: "What do all you Muso Shinden-ryu and Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu people think of Donn Draeger's anti-Hayashizaki Jinsuke kine iaijutsu (and maybe pro-Katori Shinto-ryu) comments (which I don't agree with at all) in his various books? I.e.: seiza and tatehiza not combat effective, wearing a sword across one's body at a 45-degree angle and the danger of saya-ate, etc., etc. I can't think of his other negative comments at the moment."

    What do I think? He was right about the fact that neither a seiza or tatehiza position allows for very rapid, efficient movement in drawing a sword. He demonstrated this to me by having me sit in front of him and draw on him (I was doing Eishin-ryu at the time). He let me get almost all the way out of the scabbard before leaping to his right and cutting in one continuous moment (I can't recall if that's saken or uken). In any case he proved his point. I've since done the same with other people, although Yagyu Seigo-ryu's iaigoshi is a bit different from that of Shinto-ryu, it's still much (MUCH) more effective than seiza.

    Similarly with the method of sashikata. By having the sword sticking out at a 45-degree angle, one has to go through an inefficient sequence of movements to acquire the target and begin the cut. Saya-ate notwithstanding (I don't think that a sword is de rigeur as business dress for the modern road warrior), it's more efficient to wear/carry one's sword so the daito more or less straight on in the direction that one is walking. In fact, it's necessary to wear it that way if one is wearing daisho (which *was* the norm, after all).

    Try wearing a shoto the next time you do iai and you'll see that Draeger was right: with two swords in one's sash, it's not possible to wear a daito at the standard "iaido" angle. I know that most of the guys in my dojo do it that way, but Yagyu Sensei has *never* said anything about my wearing the long sword with it in line with my side. Indeed, he said it was a little more realistic and that's the way *he* does it when he's practising battojutsu. That's good enough for me.

    Finally, you have to understand why Draeger was saying what he did about modern iaido. I won't go into all of that now, except to say that he was trying to point out that there is a lot of stuff being taught that has been changed by people of post-WWII vintage who've never used a sword in reality and that a certain degree of verity is being lost thereby.

    It doesn't matter that these teachers have wonderful waza and/or are terrific people -- THEY JUST DON'T KNOW. There's only one way to ensure that the essential nature of koryu is transmitted: don't mess with it. Sure, it's okay to have a sort of individual style, but when people start messing with the rationale to suit themselves, one is really doing himself and the art a disservice. That's what's happening with the ZenKenRen iaido seiteigata and it really shows how wrong it is. Talk about inane technique! Versions 1.0~12.6 (or wherever it's at now) have little to commend themselves in any meaningful way.

    So don't be slamming Draeger. At least he knew what he was talking about, more'n people want to admit. Sure, he was a bit crotchety about it, but *he* was entitled to be.

  3. #3
    Gordon Smith Guest

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    I'll start by admitting my general inexperience and youth...

    Anyway, as it was explained to me, long time back, iaido kata come from a variety of sources. My understanding of the core of iai is perfection of technique. You are all wrapped up in your zen appreciation of life and beauty when you are called upon to unleash a killing will channeled through your sword. It is this instantaneous shift (among other things) that makes perfect technique difficult.

    I feel that this is part of the underlying lesson in iai (heck, I also find in in my karate) kata. Work the forms as perfectly and precisely as possible, so that in reality (when everything goes to pot), the 10% that comes out is continually improving. Performing good technique out of seiza or tatehiza is difficult, but if you can do it, surely you're standing techniques will improve.

    I find that kata are often the "artistic" side of martial arts. They often are a bit more fluid and "pretty." The sword position falls under this category. There is a nice balance in "start in the center-end in the center" positioning of the tsuka. Yes, it may not be "positionally realistic", but there is grace and beauty to be considered as well. I also think that there is some advantage in the fact that with the tsuka in the center, it is easier to grasp the tsuka quickly.

    I realize that this may seem self-contradicting, but I anxiously await other opinions.

    As for seitei, I have been reminded that it is a series of compromises to be able to allow groups from different ryu to get together and train, sort of. What is considered important changes depending on who is in charge, and as such, it is prone to being altered (again and again and again). After wrestling with the pros and cons of this, I finally just decided to train as I have been taught, and use seminars and the seitei they show whichever year as a n opportunity to learn flexibility.

    -G-

  4. #4
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    Default Reagrding seiza, etc.

    I agree that MSR/MJER take alot of abuse and I can see your view point in saying Draeger is biased, but it is also important to understand his viewpoint to see if his bias is justified or not and as Meik explained above, from the point of view efficiency of technique he was taking, it is perfectly understandable.

    Now as far as seiza and such being used with in Eishin Ryu, probably my favorite story on this topic happened about a year ago. I was doing the guest thing at the police dojo in Kusatsu city in Shiga prefecture and training with Omori Masao sensei, a 90 year old, "very" long time Eishin ryu exponent who was teaching a group of new students the Omori ryu kata. He suddenly stops everyone and says "Now these are all done in seiza, but don't *ever* think that this is how you would actually do them. It is for training purposes only and no warrior would even actually use these techniques in seiza".

    I'd also agree with the sword in a straight line bit as well. While talking to a group of Zen Ken Ren practitioners of a given ryu, they stressed to me that the sword should be at the Seitei standard 45 degreeangle across the front. I later visited an old non-affiliated menkyo kaiden of the same ryu and the very first thing he says to me while demostrating some basic draws is "It should be in a line here. That centered in the front thing is completely wrong and due to the damn seitei kata messing up everyone's iai." He then proceeded to pull out some old densho explaining this point (I couldn't really read it, but...).

    As Meik said, listen to the old guys, they know what they're talking about...

    Best Regards,
    Rennis Buchner

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    Here we go again.

    Right and wrong. Who the heck is really going to be the definitive source here? It's like arguing who is more powerful, Godzilla or the Michelin Tire man?

    I whole heartedly agree on the comment of the Omori-ryu Shoden Seiza Waza. They were *never* meant or conceived or intended to be interpreted as "combat effective" - a popular misconception for those snipping at MJER.

    As for the "proper angle" thang.

    Why on earth wear the tsuka pointing straight ahead - it increases the distance/time your right hand has to travel to draw the sword and unnecessarily exposes the right hand and wrist to being cut by your opponent (not too many one handed samurai) [tongue in cheek]

    Well, at least that's the way I've been taught by my sensei and shown by the head of our ryu-ha of MJER iai-jutsu - he's an old guy too!

    Neither have problems wearing daisho at the "angle" thing either. I've seen both perform koryu techniques quite efficiently with daisho. Hmmmmmm.

    What I object to are these absolute interpretations: who the heck is going to "prove" them out? We can say that there are differences of opinions based on what we are taught in our respective traditions - and that being based on differences in philosophies of application. "Right" or "Wrong"??? Come on.

    Erik Tracy
    MJER Iai-jutsu
    Jikishin-Kai

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    Suppose you had this guy that was a Grandmaster of iaijutsu, and suppose the guy loved the tea ceremony. Suppose he thought so highly of both that merged the two so his followers could benefit form both at some level of their study. Now suppose this old dude died and his students, or some of them anyway misunderstood the meaning of this practice. Or suppose they only studied the new merged forms. What might happen?

    What might one current grandmaster do to establish some balance and reasonableness to his art? I always got more questions than answers.

    Dennis Hooker
    http://www.shindai.com
    Dennis Hooker
    www.shindai.com

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    Default Sorry Guys

    Hi Guys,

    Thanks for your comments. Mr Skoss I wasn,t slammin Draeger, and Rennis I do respect and listen to the old guys! Anyway I thought you two were the ones pushing the "Draeger Shouldn't be Deified & Wasn't Always Right," band-wagon.

    I asked a member of the Komei Juku his opinion on the subject of Draeger's negative MSR/MJER comments and I was offered the following:

    1- Seiza is not a combat posture. It's used to engender formality and etiquette. The shoden series teaches basic sword handling & etiquette and as an intro to moving and using the sword. And the techniques don't have to be performed from seiza!

    2- Tate-hiza was a sitting posture utilised by the bushi while he was at rest (maybe while wearing armour), as you can't (& shouldn't) sit in seiza in armour. Actually I was told that one would actually sit taylor-fashion (anza, or crossed-legged) and if under threat or danger was imminent one moved into tate-hiza from anza in prep for action.

    3- Wearing the sword at 45-deg's across the body is very important. When someone grabs you in a bear-hug from the front, you can still draw your sword (daito or shoto), and the Komei Juku student did demonstrate wearing daisho at 45-deg's with no problems at all. Also, having the sword at 45-deg's protects you from exposing your wrist from kote-uchi when you grip your sword. Wearing the tsuka straight out in front at 90=deg's exposes your wrist to being cut.

    4- Avoiding saya-ate with the sword at 45-deg's is easily done by moving your sword+scabbard and body when you have to pass by another bushi (Yagyu Shinga Ryu Heiho-jutsu has a number of stepping techniques designed for this).

    Mr Skoss wrote "....neither a seiza or tatehiza position allows for very rapid, efficient movement in drawing a sword. He demonstrated this to me by having me sit in front of him and draw on him (I was doing Eishin-ryu at the time). He let me get almost all the way out of the scabbard before leaping to his right and cutting in one continuous moment (I can't recall if that's saken or uken)."

    The same would be true if the situation were reversed ie: A MJER practitioner has a Shinto-ryu parctitioner sit in front of him and draw on him with Uken/Saken/Tobi-gote etc. The MJER parctioner could respond in kind with any technique. It doesn't prove anything (by the way not all MSR/MJER styles have that stupid slow 3-hour nukitsuke routine while trying to become one with the universe or defeating the enemy within crap).

    Mr Skoss also wrote "By having the sword sticking out at a 45-degree angle, one has to go through an inefficient sequence of movements to acquire the target and begin the cut. Saya-ate notwithstanding (I don't think that a sword is de rigeur as business dress for the modern road warrior), it's more efficient to wear/carry one's sword so the daito more or less straight on in the direction that one is walking. In fact, it's necessary to wear it that way if one is wearing daisho (which *was* the norm, after all)." and "Try wearing a shoto the next time you do iai and you'll see that Draeger was right: with two swords in one's sash, it's not possible to wear a daito at the standard "iaido" angle.

    I don't agree, and in addition to point 3 above, I can't see any 'inefficient sequence of movements,' in MSR/MJER techniques (ZNKR Iaido Seitei Gata on the other hand...need I say more!). Most MSR/MJER techniques have the tsuka-gashira heading in the direction of the target, and when the blade is clear of the scabbard it is already on its way to the target. One could say that the Katori Shinto Ryu movement of inverting the open hand (palm-up) momentarily above the tsuka (so the kimono sleeve doesn't get caught on the tsuka...according to some British iaidoka) before drawing the blade, is inefficient and telgraphs the bushi's intention (but I know a bushi trained in KSR wouldn't perform that pre-draw ritual in actual combat). A bit like non-budoka who say korody (read karate) is stupid and won't work outside the dojo because the aggressor can slam the korody guy while he is performing the pre-fight bow! And again I have been shown how to wear the daisho, with the daito at 45-deg's with no problems at all.

    Rennis wrote "Now as far as seiza and such being used with in Eishin Ryu, probably my favorite story on this topic happened about a year ago. I was doing the guest thing at the police dojo in Kusatsu city in Shiga prefecture and training with Omori Masao sensei, a 90 year old, "very" long time Eishin ryu exponent who was teaching a group of new students the Omori ryu kata. He suddenly stops everyone and says "Now these are all done in seiza, but don't *ever* think that this is how you would actually do them. It is for training purposes only and no warrior would even actually use these techniques in seiza".

    I agree, actually no waza within any bujutsu kata system (kenjutsu, jujutsu etc.) has to be done as it is in the kata in actual combat application, that would be defeating the purpose of kata training. And instructors who insist on telling their students that it has to be like this and no other way except as it is in the kata, are giving kata based bujutsu a bad rep.

    In closing I think that there are a lot of genaralisations and mis-information about MJER (a lot of that stems from ZNKR iaido people claiming the old 'Seitei Gata is made up of MSR, MJER & other koryu waza...,' as well) and everyone mistaking MSR/MJER with ZNKR Iaido Seite Gata, which is definetly not the same at all, there's no comparison in my book.

    Also I bear no dis-respect to Don Draeger, I was studying his books in 1984 before it was vogue to do so in Australia, when most so-called martial artists in Australia thought that the Bushi trained in Shotokan Karate-do and wore white gi and kuroi-obi and caught shinken in there bare-hands when defending against a kiri-oroshi. In reference to the "Deification of Don Draeger," article, he was the first to study, train and open the doors for others, and his writings are fantastic (if it wasn't for his books I'd still be training in Kendo and Karate-do) but maybe some of his information is becomming dated and some of his info was biased. But I definetly agree with what he said about post WWII budo.

    Thanks for your comments. All the best.

    Regards,

    Paul Steadman

    [Edited by Paul Steadman on 10-09-2000 at 08:19 PM]
    Paul Steadman

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    Default Re: Sorry Guys


    Hello everyone, I would just like to add that Oe Masamichi reintroduced the Seiza Nobu to educate people to use their hips in cutting. You could say its the Seitei(fundamentals) of MJER (not Seitei Kata)

    Also Tate-hiza has two methods. The toes on the back foot being turned up or down. To differentiate between these methods I think we should simply ask ourselves, Are we doing a techniques that were used inside or outside? Is the opponent sitting or standing. Bringing either the left or right leg forward quickly and raising the body adds impetous to kiriage techniques at an already standing opponent. Unfortunately Iai gives us little freedom of choice. Do these iai forms work in Tameshigiri?

    Do we sit in Seiza outside? Quite a repetitive dilemma for Japanese Iai people that again repeated itself two days ago when I asked a group of Jikiden people Hono Embu at a Shrine. If its mostly Iai, some people usually bring a groundsheet which they put down after I finish my Embu.
    Wearing the sword at 45 degrees with the Tsukagashira centered or the tsuba centered is debatable. If someone grabs you in a bearhug from the front what do you do?

    I have to agree with Mr Skoss on the positioning of swords.

    Wearing two swords is a study within itself. Much like starting all over again with a Shinken. The angle they are worn at. The Obi layer they are put in.The method of tying the sageo. Sayabiki? The Sayas have a sort of locking effect where they fit in together but do not hinder in the drawing of either. If there is a mistake in even wearing them they cannot be drawn quickly and efficiently and will cause injury to the initiator rather than the opponent. Also although Noto is not part of a technique it can not be done effectively. If the Daito is at 45 degrees where are you wearing the shortsword when that bearhug comes?

    I dont want to knock ZNKR Seiteigata, but when it was initially introduced at the first World Kendo Taikai it was clearly stated that it was an introduction to Iai for Kendoka. And that anyone wishing to take up Iai seriously should join a Ryu. It is now well out of hand. This mixing problem is having very serious effects in Japan. Now it is not just a student problem. When asking about the failure and low level of a Taikai it seems that it is not the students that are at fault but the Judges in not being able to recognize what is what!

    As Mr Buchner says it is only the senior Sensei that are capable of clearly differentiating what is Seitei Kata and Iai Waza. With MJER So-Makuri and Nukiuchi being added to Seitai next year, where will it all end? I see no point in bastardizing techniques that already exist in a recognized Ryu. A 7th dan Iai teacher of a recognised Ryu having to do Seitei for his 8th Dan in front of a group of teachers from other Ryu does not go down very well either.

    In Iai and Koryu there are very subtle differences in the use or non use of Kikentai Uchi/Ichi, Hakuryoku, Stance, Kiai etc. Differences that must remain seperate if we are to examine and practice these arts to a high degree and teach them to future generations.

    http://www.bunbun.ne.jp/~sword (Iai Seiza Nobu and Kage Ryu Batto Pics updated.

    Hyakutake Colin (Mista Colin!)



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    Hi Colin,

    You wrote "Wearing the sword at 45 degrees with the Tsukagashira centered or the tsuba centered is debatable. If someone grabs you in a bearhug from the front what do you do?"

    Well at least you can still draw your sword for immediate use.

    Colin also wrote "If the Daito is at 45 degrees where are you wearing the shortsword when that bearhug comes?"

    The MJER guy I refer to wore the daito at 45-deg's and the shoto was snug across the belly (180-deg's maybe). He showed me this without any of the hassles evryone hsa complained about. Also I have often heard it said that the bushi of old actually wore a daito and a tanto (not necessarily a wakizashi)!

    Colin writes "Do these iai forms work in Tameshigiri?"

    I hope so. We train tameshigiri from every posture!

    I'm surprised that not may people experiment with or try to apply their respective koryu kata & waza in novel situations that are not usually alluded to in the kata or don't apply their waza against actual targets. Maybe the majority modern swordsman or iai practitioners don't consider the 'what-ifs,' or 'what would happen,' or 'how would one...' etc.

    Thanks again for your feed-back.

    Regards,

    Paul Steadman







  10. #10
    Meik Skoss Guest

    Default DFD & MJER/MSR

    Colin, you're bang on with your comments re: seiteigata and koryu. The same thing is happening in jodo. Seeing that one can be graded to godan and only have studied the techniques in seiteigata (rokudan is the first time that one is either allowed or supposed to do koryu waza), it begs the question as to whether or not people who practise the seiteigata are doing an art (if one can, indeed, properly call it "art") that has meaning other than to perpetuate a hierarchy or an organization that really has little or nothing to do with a classical martial art.

    As you mentioned, iaido seiteigata were originally created so that kendo people, who are very skilled with the bamboo shinai, would be able to glimpse a little of what it means to use a *real* sword. The same is true of jodo seiteigata: they were introduced, in part, to give kendo folk a taste of what it is like to really train with impact weapons like bokuto and jo.

    Much as I like the Nihon Kendo Kata (I do it with a few of my students " [mostly aikido and karatedo people] as a sort of "generic toho" or "swordsmanship for dummies/non-weapons specialists"), I have to say that watching most kendoka do those techniques is as exciting as watching paint dry. They seem to do it in a pro-forma manner, with all sorts of very odd contortions (the hasso no kamae and weird transition to jodan in the aiuchi in yonhonme comes first to mind) and an awful funny way of using ma-ai and hyoshi -- as though it's the aesthetic performance that counts rather than whether or not the technique "works" -- what's the point? If one is doing swordsmanship, albeit as a means of personal training rather than for practical purposes, one loses all semblance of reality and/or understanding of the lessons to be learnt if one does not practise in the manner and with the feeling that originally permeated the art. It becomes a performance or a type of dance.

    That's what happened with aikido since the Old Man died and only a few of his immediate student're trying to maintain the original vitality of the art. Were something similar to happen to kendo and iaido (or their classical antecedents), it would impossible to recover the original vitality or the severe truth and beauty that those arts contain.

    Mr. Steadman, you missed the point regarding my comments on how one wears a sword. Sure, one can wear the daito at an angle of 45-degrees and the shoto directly across the body. As I mentioned in my previous post, however, that causes a major contortion in the body when drawing and bringing the weapon to bear on target. Here's a simple test: look at the old photographs of the 1800s and examine how the bushi wore *their* swords -- it is pretty obvious that they did so as I've described. Since they were (presumably) concerned with functionality, rather than playing "weekend warrior" one can assume they had some good reasons for doing so. I mean, DUUUUHHHH...

    Finally, to respond to your comment (or was it a question?) about me being a leader of the DFD Anti-Deification League: no, that is NOT true. I have a couple of acquaintances who think Draeger Sensei was inerrant about any/everything budo and I certainly don't believe that. But I both studied and trained with him for years (in hoplology and and budo) and went on to spend twenty-five years in Japan, and I know an awful lot more about what Draeger thought than you do. I'm also speaking from a level of experience that you simply do not have. If you're going to argue the point, you need to do a bit more homework.

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    Wow...guys...great thread! I truly enjoy the friendly banter that goes on between folks of like minds. I think Paul posed a valid question. And then Meik tried to clarify the subject from his point of view based on his own background (trying to help Paul). Very commendable.

    Then Seitei Iai comes into the picture a few posts later and walah! we have an entirley new thread. Only this time with everyone basing their opinions on MJER according to Seitei guidelines, Huh? That just doesn't make sense. Unless it's easier to argue the point based on something you have more familiarity with, like Seitei Iai.

    As a side note, I was taught that the "reasons" the sword was worn at the 45 Degree angle in MJER are as follows:

    1. Protection for the right wrist in the initial approach to the tsuka.

    2. When stepping forward with the right foot in Nukitsuke the Tsukagashira points directly at the opponent. (BTW that doesn't happen when you're starting nukitsuke from seiza in a static position. Except in Tsukekomi, where the nukitsuke is performed after the swordsman is in Kiza, and then steps forward to draw the sword forward and downward.Which puts the Kashira directly facing teki. In Tsukikage the tsukagashira is already facing teki at a 45 degree angle due to the angle of attack. (BTW, what does the swordsman who wears his sword straight forward do if the attacker is to any other angle than facing front? Does he always expect an attack from froward? That seems a bit naive doesn't it?)

    3. When stepping backward with the left foot the tsukagashira points directly at the opponent.(This doesn't happen in Seiza no bu either)

    4. Both hands are equal-distance from the tsuka.

    5. When peforming Nukitsuke the initial motion is a downward pressing motion with the left hand in order for the right hand to clear the kodachi from underneath. This also straightens the right arm for a proper nukitsuke. Nukitsuke should be a pushing motion in MJER not a pulling motion across the body.

    It is true that in a static position (Such as Seiza)the 45 degree angle seems inappropriate. Especially if you keep your hips and shoulders forward during nukitsuke. Then you must change the direction of the tsukagashira during nukitsuke to the left. However if the technique is done from a standing posture, the first thing a swordsman would do IMHO(and the teachers I have studied with) is to either step forward or step back. And during that process the tsukagashira will point directly at teki. If the sword were worn facing straight forward, when you take the initial step forward or back, the sword turns outward away from teki to the swordsmans left side and no longer at teki. That is "if" the timing remains the same for the intial Koiguchi no kirikata in both instances.Try it and let me know what your results are.

    When examining the Oku Iai Tachi waza of MJER, every waza starts with the swordsman stepping forward with his right foot. This puts the the foot in a better position to continue forward into a nukitsuke if necessary. The fact that the cut is usually done on the third or fifth step with the right foot forward in every instance should indicate the styles predilection for this heiho. In those instances where the tsukagashira is not pointing toward the teki, the swordsman's strategy changes to one of baiting the opponent into taking the initiative. The strategy here being that of Go no Sen rather than Sen no Sen or Sen Sen no Sen. The initial part of the nukitsuke in these cases puts the sword in a position to counter with proper Tai Sabaki and a continuous fluid counter attack.

    It would appear that the MJER waza teach Heiho as much as they teach how to properly perform Seiza waza. I must admit, I am only a begining to understand these Heiho and not as accomplished as some of the gentlemen who post here.

    But I must agree with the statement that Meik made "I'm also speaking from a level of experience that you simply do not have. If you're going to argue the point, you need to do a bit more homework." Unless you've studied MJER iai longer than the folks who have taught me my art, and you're going to argue the point, you better do more homework.(25 years doesn't compare!)

    Thanks Guys,

    Carl

    [Edited by Carl Long on 10-10-2000 at 11:04 AM]

  12. #12
    Daniel Pokorny Guest

    Default Re: DFD & MJER/MSR

    Mr. Skoss,

    I have been away from this forum for some time because I hate sifting through all the flamers trying to get some real info. Someone informed me about this thread so I'm back-sliding here a bit and I must say this IS quite interesting. I'm especially suprised with YOUR comments.

    "Finally, to respond to your comment (or was it a question?) about me being a leader of the DFD Anti-Deification League: no, that is NOT true. I have a couple of acquaintances who think Draeger Sensei was inerrant about any/everything budo and I certainly don't believe that. But I both studied and trained with him for years (in hoplology and and budo) and went on to spend twenty-five years in Japan, and I know an awful lot more about what Draeger thought than you do. I'm also speaking from a level of experience that you simply do not have. If you're going to argue the point, you need to do a bit more homework. [/B][/QUOTE]"

    What surprised me the most here is that you seem so committed to your "way" which is based on your what, 25+ years of experience?

    Now, as with Mr. Steadman I certianly do not possess your "level of experience" either, however I have been taught MJER from Miura Takeyuki Hanshi (brief at best), and Masayuki Shimabukuro sensei, Dennis Hooker sensei and Carl Long sensei, which I believe, and please correct me if I'm wrong here, have maybe just a "few more hours" training than you do in an art that is "just a little" older than your 1800's picture of people wearing swords? (by the way, do you know the people in the picture are?)

    Given these facts, while I certainly can not speak for anyone else, logic and a little common sense here says if givin a choice between practicing the arts the way you describe, (or Mr. Draeger) (with all your experience) and practicing the arts the way Miura sensei and the rest of these fine gentelmen describe (with all their experience), well, I guess I'd have to go with.....ah...hmmmm.... Miura sensei and company.

    Perhaps we all need to do some more "homework" neh?

  13. #13
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    Many of the points I wanted to make to this thread have already been made by others, but I thought I would add mine anyway:

    My teacher, the late Masaoka S., was heavily involved in the creation of the ZNKR iai seitei-gata. He did this under great duress, resisting the pressure of the pro-seitei faction within the ZNKR for 3 years before he had to give in. At the time, he warned that doing this would send real iai the way of the schools that had contributed to the ZNKR kendo kata. A few kata were preserved, but the schools that contributed those kata are all gone, for the most part, and no one seems to know what the kata really mean anymore. However, he realized that kendo people needed some rudimentary training in how to handle a real sword. That's all the kata were for. So he gritted his teeth and made the best of a bad situation. Now, as someone else pointed out, things have gotten out of hand.

    The Seiza waza in MJER are not, and never have been, considered "real" techniques. They are done slowly in seiza strictly for training purposes, to ground the practitoner in proper mechanics and to train the legs and hips. By the time you get to the tachiwaza things are done much faster (no 3 hour nukitsuke in tachiwaza, as I recall). In additon to that, in seiza in particular, certain "standard" interpretations of "representative" techniques are done, primarily to illustrate a certain general principle. However, Masaoka S. discussed many possible variations to these techniques, depending on the situation. A good example is Yaegaki, which has henka to deal with the enemy's counterattack, whether it be to the outside of the leading leg (the normal interpretation), the right or left shoulder, or the sword hand. Most people would see these as completely different waza, but they are just variations on a theme. Ukenagashi and Tsukikage have different henka as well.

    The mechanics of the draw is a really interesting discussion, and I would really like to get together and compare notes. Masaoka S. said the draw was done as he taught it for the following main reasons (among others):

    1) To protect the swordhand (someone else has mentioned this).
    2) By leading with the tsukagashira and not rotating the blade until the last moment, the swordsman does not telegraph the target of the cut. In addition, leading with the tsukagashira towards the enemy's eyes helps to threaten him and, it is to be hoped, induce a certain hesitation (much like leading with the point in kendo).

    Regarding iai done with only the daito, in his book Masaoka S. relates how he was asked if the shoto would get in the way of the draw. He said that he tried it and was not hampered in any way. FWIW.

    I only met Mr. Draeger a couple of times, and so I make the following tentative hypothesis regarding his attitude(this is really more of a question to Meik): Having read his books, spent not a few years in Japan, and spoken with numerous people about this, it seems to me that Mr. Draeger was primarily concerned with the dilution of combative efficacy in modern interpretations of the bugei, and so he directed his criticism against those arts that he felt were most infected with that particular virus. In addition, as an exponent of TSKSR, he quite reasonably wanted to make the case that iaijutsu existed in TSKSR before the appearance of Hayashizaki Jinsuke. This probably explains what appears to be the vitriol directed at MJER and MSR. I am sure this is quite obvious to almost anyone who has read his books. In general, he decried the trend towards the "spiritualization" of the bugei and the trend towards separating the "spiritual" from the "physical". This trend reached its zenith (or its nadir, depending on one's point of view), with twaddle like "Zen in the Art of Archery", the single book, outside of Suzuki's "Zen and Japanese Culture", which has done the most to confuse Westerners as to the real nature of budo/bugei. I am sure that Mr. Draeger intended his books, at least to a certain extent, as a blow against that trend.

    All I can say is that Masaoka S. did not tell me to strive to "be at one with the universe" or anything like that. Reigi, towards one's art, one's weapon, the place in which one was practicing, and towards one's practice partners, was just normal behavior. It wasn't fetsihized as being, in and of itself, some "Way" towards "enlightenment" or anything like that. It is just how you acted. He told me to "imagine an enemy in my heart" (mune no naka ni teki wo tsukuru) and learn to draw the sword so that I would be able to cut this enemy.

    Parenthetically, I have a video which features Iwata S. demonstrating all of the solo kata of MJER. In this video, he demonstrates certain waza as they are done today, and often makes the point that these changes were instituted to make the waza more "modern" (huh?) and so that JUDGES IN TOURNAMENTS WOULD BE ABLE TO SEE THE MOTIONS CLEARLY AND THUS JUDGE WHO HAD EXECTUED THE TECHNIQUES MORE CLEANLY. How's THAT for concessions to modernity, sports fans? He would then say "this is how they used to do it" and demonstrate the "old" way. Almost without exception, the "old" way is what Masaoka S. taught me.

    Now, whether one particular system was/is more effective than some other system is a good question. My guess is that this comes down to the exponent as much as the art, and nowadays there is probably no good (read: non-lethal) way to "prove" it. Still, it's damned interestin'.

    Earl

    Earl Hartman

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    G'day Meik, Everyone,

    Looks like I bit off more than I could chew. Sorry Meik, I didn't mean any disrespect, I actually look upto guys like you (koryu.com & related books is required reading by us!), and Don Dreager is my hero not only within Bujutsu in the western world but also hoplology. I did't mean to anger anyone. And I'm definetly not in the same league as guys like yourself, G. Powers, D. Lee, W. Muramoto, D. Lowry etc. But certain questions need to be asked, whether I have 25 years experience or not. I've only been engaged in psuedo-koryu activity for the past 7 years (not very long at all). I'm not going to take Dreager's word for it that all Jinsuke-line Iaijutsu ryu are in-effective, poorly taught, inefficient and concentrate on a modern interpretation of classical koryu budo ideas, without further research by myself.

    The research that I've carried out and the questions that I've asked of senior students of Sekiguchi Komei-Sensei (Komei Juku) and other MJER/MSR practitioners, has proven that what Drager said about Junsuke-line Iai is not entirely 100% accurate (although what he stated is true of a lot of MSR/MJER & ZNKR Seitei Gata practitioners {BUT NOT ALL})!

    Anyway everyones comments have been really helpful. Thanks again all. Take care.

    Regards,

    Paul Steadman

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    Default Uh oh...

    Hello all,

    FWIW, I have very little knowledge of Iaido, but I have cut quite a bit and practice wearing daito/wakizashi and daito/tanto occaisonally in my regular training. I do have experience in other sword arts, though.

    While I understand wearing katana and tanto together was done by some, I believe the habit carried over from the earlier practice of wearing tachi and tanto and that wakizashi may have been the "companion" sword of choice in the later periods at least.

    Wakizashi have larger tsubas (among other differences) than tanto, which for me is the main difference when wearing two blades and drawing/resheathing the daito.

    In regards to the angle at which the katana was worn (generally), my experience and instuction has been as Mr. Skoss has mentioned for a few reasons:

    1) the tsuba of the wakizashi is usually at your center or close to it under the belly button. To move the postition of the katana closer to 45 degrees would cause the tsubas and tsukas of the two blades to conflict. It is actually possible to send your wakizashi flying across the room while drawing the katana if you are not careful!

    Resheathing is also quite challenging in this position, having the wakizashi tsuka directly in the way.

    2) when drawing using techniques like nukitsuke, we are of the habit of generating full power directly in front of us (where the opponent is assumed to be) rather than some place to the right of our body. It has been my experience that this is important for testcutting.

    3) this positioning is simply comfortable against your hip bone and side when worn for any period of time, or walking. Wearing a kaku-obi in this regard makes a big difference (as opposed to the Judo-style obi).

    Anyway, I'd be curious to learn more about how Iaido draws and cuts using this 45 degree method. My comments are drawn from my own experience and research, and are not intended to inflame the Iaidoka here that follow this method.

    I'm planning on visiting Shimabukuro Sensei's dojo soon, so perhaps I'll have a chance to discuss it further with someone there.

    [Edited by Nathan Scott on 10-10-2000 at 07:29 PM]
    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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