View Full Version : I have some questions

18th August 2000, 00:47
Greetings everyone,
I just found this martial arts forum. I am a 15 year old person and I am asking for some advice. I wish to start some sort of swords martial arts, but since there is so many variations and types of martial arts i am a bit lost. Is anyone willing to explain different types of sword arts. I am guessing most likely that it all srarts with a wooden sword. I am quite curious on the subjects of what you suggest. I took taekwondoe (If that's the correct spelling) which is open hand and non-weapon like martial art at age of 12 but didn't do too well since i only came to orange belt, since then I didn't do any martial arts because my family and I moved and after that I didn't get a chance to pratice any type of martial arts (as a matter of fact I am not quite sure if there is any dojos/schools that train martial arts in canada, ontario, burlington)

Thank you very much in advance

Gordon Smith
18th August 2000, 03:23
Hi Angelo! Welcome to E-Budo.

I guess the broadest way to begin to answer your question is not so much to name the styles of sword arts, but rather to focus on their intents. As I understand it, there are three main aspects of japanese swordsmanship that are taught, sometimes grouped together, and sometimes individually.

This is a solo study, in which the students practice a series of set kata. Regardless of the school you study, generally people are started on what is called seitei ("say-tay"), or standard, forms. Seitei is supposedly consistant across the board, so that the few students of iaido can come together and train without arguing over the advantages of having your sword edge-up, or edge-out. However, I've noticed that seitei tends to vary a bit from year to year, as those in power change ranks and emphasize different aspects.

Generally, you start with a bokken your first week or so, and beg, buy, or have loaned a started sword. Get a sword with a scabbard (saya - "sai-yah") as soon as possible, there are points that you just don't pick up if you have nothing on your hip.

This is partnered fencing, using a bamboo replica of a sword. You and your partner are in armor and padding, and try to score points on each other striking specific targets. I believe the criteria for judging a good "hit" is calling your target (men - "mehn", head; kote - "koh-tay", glove; do - "doh", midriff; and tsuki - "ski", throat), showing good spirit, moving through the opponent as you strike, and cleanliness of the strike.

This aspect teaches you the concept of ma-ai ("mah-eye", distancing), which allows you to get the feel of using a sword against something other than what's in your mind.

Again, you'll get a bokken, as there are partnered kata that use them.

Tameshigiri (or Batto-do)
This is a solo form, with a very sharp sword, that pits you against a target, generally of water-soaked tatami mats. This aspect teaches you to cut cleanly.

That ought to serve as a good start, let's see what others have to add...


Leo Chang
18th August 2000, 08:11
I am under the impression that high ranked Iaido practitioners do use shinken (real swords) in practice, is that correct? I brought this up because the post by Mr.Smith would seem to suggest that Iaido practitioners use only un-sharpened swords. Thanx for any answers.

[Edited by Leo Chang on 08-18-2000 at 03:14 AM]

Joseph Svinth
18th August 2000, 11:21
Hi Angelo. First, the ol' moderator notice -- please use first and last names on the board, it's forum policy. The easy way is to use the signature block. Since you say you're a minor, I can understand your reluctance, so if that's a problem, talk to John Lindsay, the site administrator, and I'm sure you can work something out.

With your address, you actually live fairly close to the University of Guelph Sei Do Kai, which provides training in iaido, kendo, Niten Ichi Ryu kenjutsu, and Shindo Muso Ryu jodo. The head instructor is Mr. Kim Taylor. His e-mail address is kataylor@UOGUELPH.CA and his websites include http://ejmas.com and http://www.uoguelph.ca/~iaido

Evan London
18th August 2000, 11:32
As i mentioned inthe members forum, there is a great article in Sword Forum Online Magazine on Studying Japanese Sword Arts in the West by Kim Taylor (U of Guelph) at:


In the article is mentions a lack of knowledge of the presence of ninjutsu dojos in the west. Beleve me, there are plenty of Bujinkan and Genbukan dojos in Canada. if you are interested just post a request at the Ninpo forum.

Best of luck,

18th August 2000, 14:21
Thank you for the valuable information, I am intrested on the subject, I have just emailed Mr. Kim Taylor. Hopefuly he'll straighten some things out. As I can see things aren't always as they are all the arts have things in common but also differences. I always thaught first that kendo was the general word for sword arts, BUT I was mistaken i learned recently (thats how I found this forum). I also thaught that sword art was always begin with a wooden sword than when at a higher level start with a metalic blade not wooden blade. And I also thaught that all arts teach of various drawing, cutting, defending, striking but seems like some of this specialises in one direction. For example drawing and cutting in one motion. Any other valuable information is most welcome. Also I understand that everyone has different tastes if I may put that way of different martial arts but between the 3 you have mentioned and that are on Mr. Kim Taylor's page which one do you mostly suggest, as you can see I always thaught that a sword art thaught drawing, defending and doing cutting and striking techniques, and of course begining with wooden sword and than gradualy getting to a higher level. I have still little knowledge on the subject.

The last thing I wish to mention is about my name I have added it to my signature, forgive me if I broke the rule I was uncertain to put my real name and Guelph is 55km from Burlington. Please don't mind my bad English. Thank you for the information again.

Joseph Svinth
18th August 2000, 14:50
By Canadian standards, 55 km is next door, especially for instruction in mainstream Japanese sword arts. Yes, it is an hour or so each way, but lots of the folks on the sword forums say you need to move to Japan to receive proper grounding in swordsmanship, and Guelph is not nearly so remote as all that.

But if a weekly trip to Guelph is entirely impractical (and at your age, without a car, it very well may be), then consider taking judo instead. The reason I say judo is that it provides a good basis in fundamentals useful in many things, and probably there is a club much closer to home.

Then in a couple years, after you get a car, up the road you go. (Or, better, attend college at Guelph, then you have four years of simply walking to class!)

As for which art, well, you never know which one you'll like till you try. But be advised that one problem with iaido and kendo is that equipment costs can be staggering. So if money is an issue, then definitely consider jodo (Japanese stick) before iaido (expensive sword) or kendo (expensive armor).

18th August 2000, 16:18
Well I very much agree, and on the part about the equipment expensive you are quite correct. I just looked through many equipment supplier websites and well it ranges from 300 to 1500 for kendo armor and than swords can range from 50 to 600. That is american I am in Canada here. And yes definetely you would get most best training in Japan since it is the source. On the other note you say Jodo I should go for first. To be honest with you I first planned to take something with the Jo Bo staffs. Like when I came to Canada until now I didn't get any martial arts training. When I was 12 as I said I took taekwondoe (sorry if i misspell it) thats what I took and thats it (until orange belt). Since leaving the country I trained in Taekwondoe I didn't get a chance to practice any of it. Recently I planned taking some sort of martial arts but never decided. I got my eye caught with Jo, Bo (japanese stick simply put) since when I look at it, its simple and manuverable you use both and all sides of the stick unlike a sword where you are a bit limited through my vision that is...but than again recently I looked into sword arts and that intrests me very much. I am kind of questioned I udnerstand that each persno has his own liking and style once they experience trying one of this. To be honest I think I might want to try one of these first, second of all do you have any suggestions how to investigate where and when etc.. I can look for dojos or school that taech some of these in my area? Looking on the internet is well...quite difficult looking for example just typing in Ninjutsu or Jodo or something like that will give million of results, yet I barely find any websites related to my city (burlington). I apreciate any information from my close Canadian friends hopefuly on this board :)

Well I want to add Mr. Kim Tyler just emailed me back quite quickly I am glad to hear good news that there is a Kendo school in burlington. He has one of his students in there too! He also mentioned that if I ever want to change direction I can ask one of the teachers there for information how to switch (for example to some other martial arts besides Kendo relating sword arts). I will look into the subject, yet I don't know how they manage equipment as of yet (as you said Kendo armor is expensive and I saw the prices myself...)

[Edited by angelo on 08-18-2000 at 11:32 AM]

Joseph Svinth
18th August 2000, 21:19
One way to find clubs online is to start by typing keywords into your browser. For example, "kendo burlington ontario," "iaido burlington ontario", "jodo burlington ontario" and "ninja burlington ontario" all lead you to the Iaido Newsletter, edited by Kim Taylor and http://www.ucmap.org/info/links.html , which in turn takes you to directly to the University of Guelph Sei Do Kai.

Another way to find clubs is to find the national organization and then work backwards from there. For example, type the keywords "canada kendo", and the very first hit is the Canadian Kendo Federation at http://kendo-canada.com . (BTW, this site is worth visiting just to see the photo of Steveston kendoka taken in 1937; Mr. Tanigami, standing at the right in that photo, is the still active instructor emeritus of the Steveston Kendo Club.)

Now, once on the CKF site you have to scroll down the screen to the hyperlink marked "Member Clubs/Organizations." Click there, and after you get bounced over, scroll down the screen to "Ontario," where you find "Burlington Kendo Club", listing Paul Morgan as the instructor. Click on the link there, and that takes you to http://www.geocities.com/Burlington_kendo .

Judging from what I see there, training in Burlington place once a week (Mondays from 7-9) September to July. (The community center is evidently closed during the summer.)While this sounds like too little time for much to be taught, my guess is that the regional schedule is arranged so that you can get training 3-5 nights a week by simply driving someplace in the neighborhood; some training may be in Buffalo. But judging from the hits made that way, I'm guessing that the training actually goes the other way, from upstate NY into Canada, as at the University of Buffalo's Japan Nite 1999, the event was sponsored by the Japanese Canadian Cultural Center and the Toronto Kendo Club.

Regarding equipment, it is my experience that most clubs have share-wear armor available. This is usually stinky old stuff, but beggars can't be choosers, and if the smell really annoys you, well, you can always volunteer to clean it after every class, I'm sure no one will object. In this event, all you'll have to buy is your own shinai, and that's not too expensive.

19th August 2000, 13:43
Hey, Evan,
I live in a relatively small town in New Mexico and there is a bujinkan dojo here. In fact, there are two who post here on occasion. Since dojo of all kind are scarce, at least the non-commercial ones are, I was surprised. With me, there are three judo dojo and mine is relatively new. Total, there are about fifty or sixty students all round, although we do a lot of sharing so our sponsors will be appeased:D

Well, this was a worthy stop on my rounds. I got a healthy refresher course in the sword, so thanks all round:)