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Thread: Origin of Iai arts

  1. #1
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    Default Origine of Iai arts

    From http://www.shobi-u.ac.jp/~tnagae/iai/iai.html


    The civil war state of Japan was ceased by the final winner, Shogun Ieyasu, by the middle of the 17th century. Some new styles of Iai arts were introduced and merged in. In almost cases the assassin is supposed to be a mission sent to the enemies' house. The guest would make his best effort to persuade, disarm, or arrest the host. It was of course a dangerous task. When the host would refuse or resist, the guest should use force to complete the mission, as well as to defend himself. These situations seem very common even in the peace period of Edo, so the arts of Iai would have been still developed, or at least maintained. Some also liked to preserve and inherit the techniques in a style of art.
    The guest and host would be sitting and talking to each other face to face (the original meaning of "Iai" comes from this situation; "I" in "Iai" means sitting, and "ai" means facing). The sudden attack is sometimes effective when the opponents are relaxing or not facing directly, e. g. when bowing or saying good bye...


    is this a true story? What is your opinin please?
    regardz

    Szczepan Janczuk

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    Question True story on what??

    Hello.
    I am unsure of the question but will try to put across a possible answer to the question I think you asked.
    "Was Iaido used indoors, or when greeting a person as part of a 'pre-emptive' attack?"
    Basically, NO. Iaido is a system that was devised to be used on the battlefield or in the street, but on FOOT no seated in 'Seiza'.
    Although many schools included 'Seated waza' the techniques were never intended to be used indoors.
    During the Edo period Samurai were required to leave their long swords (Katana) at the door or with a servant as a sign of respect to the host. Short blades were permitted to be worn and several ryu have Iai techniques for use with the 'Wakizashi' or 'Tanto' (Takenouchi ryu is one of these).
    Indoors, Samurai would not have used the Iaido techniques as the possibility would never have arisen.
    There is much debate about this but exactly why the Iaido Seitai gata were formed using the seiza sitting posture is still not really certain..What is certain is that (modern) Iaido was never intended to be used by an assassin or by a soldier/bushi. It is generally accepted that the modern forms allow the development of spirit, techniques and accuracy that can 'help' the trainee and society at large in creating a 'decent-focussed individual'.
    'Iai' as a term consists of two Kanji, the first 'I' means 'to be present, exist', the second 'Ai' meaning 'to match, fit, agree with, be correct'. The term Iai is a complex one to understand but one that does not mean 'seated facing'. (Although it would be good to hear Iai practitioners on their beliefs on the terms meaning..)
    Basically the story above is not correct, and fails to grasp the meaning of Iaido/Iaijutsu in its entirety. (Like I have!!)
    Complex. But not what is written above.
    Abayo.
    Ben Sharples.
    智は知恵、仁は思いやり、勇は勇気と説いています。

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    Exclamation This might help

    szczepan

    There is a discussion over on swordforum.com on this same subject. You will find it at this address “Knee Brusing Iai”

    It may help in answering some of your questions

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    Thank you very much for answers and link. This is really fascinating subject.
    regardz

    Szczepan Janczuk

  5. #5
    m a s a m u n e Guest

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    I was just going to post it here at e-budo also so as to get some others opinions, but I guess with that link, there's no need to. Thanks for posting it!

    - Alex Guillermo -

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    Wink Some small points..

    Hello all,
    Just a couple of points about the 'swordforum' answers to the question...
    1. I was not aware that Seiza was a 'battlefield' seating posture.
    I thought that its use was derived solely from the Ogasawara Ryu's formal ettiquette patterns.
    2. Seiza (as you all know by now..) is not an easy technique to use in comfort and the practitioner will lose feeling in the legs after a time (depending on training). This would surely make it dangerous to use in an 'assassination' attempt as movement and escape would be severely hampered.
    The question is one that is virtually impossible to answer...No one ever knew the reasons behind its usage and it may well have been a personal preference of Eishin Sensei..
    hmmmmm....
    Ben Sharples.
    智は知恵、仁は思いやり、勇は勇気と説いています。

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    Seiza is not a battlefield position. Non-iai dominant koryu that are knowledgable of combative history will confirm this. I've never heard of or seen documented evidence to support this theory.

    BTW, this discussion at swordforum began in the following thread:

    "Searching for a style"

    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)

  8. #8
    Ben Bartlett Guest

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    Hey, some of us in iai-dominated koryu know it wasn't a battlefield position, too.
    I study a branch of MJER, and so of course we practice the Omori-ryu waza. They are our shoden waza, and were the last to be added to the curriculum. I can only speculate as to why they were added, but they are performed slower and tend to be simpler than the chuden or okuden waza, so it may be that the head of the school at the time thought they were a good way to start practicing. If you want a battle-ready explanation, they could be modified for use with a tanto or wakizashi, but from what I've read, they weren't meant to simulate actual combat. That doesn't mean they aren't important; they were put there for a reason (even if I can only guess what that reason was). This is only my opinion, of course, but while I think that a koryu art should teach one to be "battle-ready" so to speak, that doesn't mean that every aspect of the art has to simulate real combat. I can't speak for all schools, but in ours, the shoden waza weren't meant to be studied in isolation. There are also the chuden, okuden, and kumitachi waza, all of which do start from battlefield positions. Overall, you are learning a "battle-ready" art, and the waza starting from seiza are only a component of that art, not the sum of it.

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    Hello Mr. Bartlett,

    You made some good points, and I tend to agree with you. It does not seem as though Iaido was intended to be a comprehensive study, but rather a subset of skill/situation specific methods, most likely intended to be combined with existing knowledge of the other areas of swordsmanship.

    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)

  10. #10
    ben johanson Guest

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    Just a word on Iai and the battlefield.

    I don't think the word 'battlefield' should ever be brought up when discussing Iai. The simple fact of the matter is, Iai was never intended to be used on the battlefield. I asked Karl Friday many months ago about the relationship between batto and the battlefield, and he said that Iai or batto techiniques would be useless in battle because 1) a 'draw and cut' motion would not even come close to providing enough power to do any damage whatsoever to an armored opponent. Its nearly impossible to cut through Japanese armor with a sword to begin with, let alone on the draw using one hand. And 2) because there just simply was no opportunity to use a draw and cut motion in battle. There either would have been plenty of time to draw the sword normally, or there would not have been enough time to draw it at all.

    If there ever was a practical application for Iai, it most certainly was off-battlefield in nature.

  11. #11
    Ben Bartlett Guest

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    Yes, that's a good point. From what I've read, iai was developed during the Edo period (it actually was created slightly before that, but much of its development would've been during this period). The emphasis on drawing the sword became important because one wasn't generally walking down the street with one's sword already drawn. Even the waza which start from tatehiza, where one would presumably be wearing armor, use the assumption that you are sitting away from the battlefield and are attacked unexpectedly (or at least the ones in my school do). So yes, you are correct, "battlefield" is not the correct term in this situation. Perhaps "outdoor postures" would have been more suitable.

  12. #12
    Dan Harden Guest

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    I think you will find Koryu that predate the Edo period that include Iai in their syllibus of study. I do believe you won't find the forms the same however. MJER seems to be somewaht unique in its decision to spend so much time percentage wise on its knees.

    I see no need whatsoever to be sliding about on my knees for any rational pragmatic reason- let alone doing it for years. It would appear that in the majority of extent Koryu training the developement of hips, Hasuji, Maai and many many others things are able to be developed quite well while standing. In fact methods I was taught seemed to have worked quite well without anytime on my knees. And Iaigoshi is no piece of cake either. But thats just an opinion. I find several of the MJER and SMR rather exacting methods for techniques of walking down stairs while drawing and drawing in an alley, and ways to go through openings, rising up out of a postion you would never be in in the first place to cut at an opponent to the side who would never be there either-all done with with wierd body and foot angles, on to one handed Uke nagashi, etc etc... to be more curiosities of anocronism than any practical methods to inculcate anything substantive. Granted its all a bit archaic to be sure-but that said, I'll take the more (in their day) combative forms-they seem more rational to my mind. I consider Iai to be just a small part in the study of sword, a very small part, and to do it for years on my knees reekng havoc on them and my elbows to boot to be a rather burdonsome and unecessary means to train in the use of a sword. But others seem to just eat it up.

    The points about drawing and cutting single handed while facing an armored opponent being "out of place" were good but they left off some other significant points of what you could be doing after a draw as well. Dealing with the armor is a basis for study in Koryu, and the effective use of a weapon against it is perhaps best done without big cutting motions-at all-since that power will do you little good against armor. The type of training used against armors would have stood you good stead in an unarmored confrontation as well. It would be faster and more cutting to the heart.
    The cut-return point behind you-cut return point-seems to be a rather slow means to get anything done. I think of it as the equivalent of the John Wayne wind up "punch you from downtown" approach to fighting. You'll get nailed in the middle of the wind up.



    The full Monty:

    I cannot speak about MJER since I know nothing about it but it seems that over the years here many people of that group have written about not being able to find teachers who know the full curriculum-the lack of qualified teachers of the Tachi uchi-no-Kurai and Tsumeai No Kurai being the most common refrain of those looking. So I found it curious to hear the teaching of its full cirriculum spoken of in a sort of common place reference in this thread. I was led to believe that "percentagewise" a teacher of the complete art was a rather rare find by serious senior exponents of the art here.

    Ben

    It would seem that Seiza wasn't much prefered by men in the eras under discussion-at least according to those who research such things-it being a relativevly modern derivation. So it would appear that both the position, and the techniques that eminate from them as well, have no historical validity other than it was developed for dojo training somewhere. Am I understanding you to say that this knowledge -that it was an affectation added for training only-is actively taught to iai students in MJER?
    I would find that illuminating as several I have met not only did NOT know that- they argued the point.
    I also recall a thread here years back where several MJER exponents were discussing the "sword across the body" 45 deg wear so commonly seen. Several other Koryu exponents commented that swords were not worn that way in everyday use.
    In the ensuing debate MJER exponents quoted their most senior teacher of the art in Japan who supposedly disseminated the information that this was the "correct" way that Bushi wore their Daisho.
    To which, A very well known Koryu exponent chimed in that he wore his swords into this very same MJER teachers dojo in Japan in the more vertical position and the aformentioned MJER Top dog Blurted out "Ahhhhh... old style!! this how they really wore them in the old days you know!"

    And the debate continued anyway...... Oh well

    I say have fun, train and stay out of sword fights!.... hah

    Dan
    Last edited by Dan Harden; 24th January 2002 at 12:07.

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    Dan:

    It depends on what is meant by the "complete" MJER curriculum. MJER as it now exists, is a creation of Oe Masamichi who, in early Meiji, "rationalized" the Tosa iai curriculum with a view towards making sure that it continued to exist after the abolition of the warrior class. In this I would say that he was successful.

    In any case, as I have written elsewhere, the original MJER was a kind of sogo bujutsu which contained in its curriculum paired kata pitting longsword against longsword and shortsword against longsword from both seated and standing positions, a large kogusokoku/taijutsu/koshinomawari type component, bojutsu, and torinawa. The solo iai forms, which now seem to be considered the "entire" MJER curriculum, were actually fewer than the paired forms.

    In any case, it seems clear that a great deal of the orignal stuff has been lost.
    Earl Hartman

  14. #14
    Dan Harden Guest

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    Nice to talk to you again Earl


    I purchased a copy of Mitani's book on MJER for a friend and student of mine and liked it enough to buy one for myself. Unfortunately, I see little evidence in this "definitve book on MJER" of it being a Sogo bujutsu. Is there any densho with Short sword, bo, naginata, spear, taijutsu and the like? Is it taught anywhere?
    Your comments seem to line up with everything that has been offered here and elswhere by the MJER exponents posting.
    I have read and been told that it pretty much degenerated into a Solo Iai kata art. What is left of the paired forms being very difficult to find. It would seem that an organized effort to preserve and disseminate whats left would be a worthwhile pursuit.



    BTW I purchased this book and several other items from Mugendo Budogu
    http://www.budogu.com/
    For those who do not know The fellow who runs the show is Peter Boylan "The Budo Bum." It is an excellent source for things we would be interested in, and run by a fellow who studies these fine arts. I know several people who have dealt with him for wearing apparel to book to videos etc.
    Good stuff at reasonable prices


    Dan
    Last edited by Dan Harden; 24th January 2002 at 12:30.

  15. #15
    Ben Bartlett Guest

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    Ahh, so much to reply to. I'll start with the question that was actually directed at me:
    It would seem that Seiza wasn't much prefered by men in the eras under discussion-at least according to those who research such things-it being a relativevly modern derivation. So it would appear that both the position, and the techniques that eminate from them as well, have no historical validity other than it was developed for dojo training somewhere. Am I understanding you to say that this knowledge -that it was an affectation added for training only-is actively taught to iai students in MJER?
    Well, that's what I've been taught. Naturally, I can't speak for all iai students in MJER. If I remember correctly, however, it was the 17th head of the school (Oe Masamichi) who officially added the Omori Ryu waza to the curriculum. My branch is up to the 20th head of the school now, so we're not talking ancient practice here.

    So I found it curious to hear the teaching of its full cirriculum spoken of in a sort of common place reference in this thread. I was led to believe that "percentagewise" a teacher of the complete art was a rather rare find by serious senior exponents of the art here.
    In the particular branch I belong to (the Jikishinkai), we study all the waza, including the tachi uchi-no-kurai. I have heard that this is not so for all of the branches of MJER, but not having trained in any of the other branches, I cannot comment on this.

    As for the statement of MJER no longer being a sogo bujutsu, that seems like a fair enough statement to make. At the very least, the only aspect of the school I study is iaijutsu. And it does seem reasonable that at one time there would have been more paired forms. I personally feel that the paired forms are one of the most important parts of the curriculum (after all, how else would one learn proper timing and distancing?), so if there were more, it's a shame that they are no longer taught. One of these days I'll search out a school that teaches kenjutsu so I can practice more paired sword work (not to mention I'd love to learn some other aspects of traditional Japanese martial arts), but for now I am still a greenhorn and I'm happy to have found a school that teaches Japanese sword arts at all! (And actually, I really like the dojo I train at, so I have no complaints. )

    As for the practical reason to be sliding around on your knees, honestly, I don't know what the reason is. As I said before, the best I can do is speculate. I just practice what I'm taught. And yes, iai is only one aspect of the study of the sword, but frankly, I'll take any aspect I can get. Although, I think if you look at the chuden, okuden, and kumitachi waza, you'll see that they do get more practical from a combative standpoint. Or at least so it seems to yours truly, who is by no means an expert in the arts.

    Okay, I think I've pretty much covered everything now. Hope I made at least some reasonable amount of sense.

    (Late addition: While we don't have as many kumitachi waza as most koryu sword schools appear to, at my dojo we do a lot of non-kata bokken-on-bokken work. We really are trying to keep it as authentic as possible.)
    Last edited by Ben Bartlett; 24th January 2002 at 13:25.

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