View Full Version : Other Samurai Movies: question for sword experts.

6th January 2004, 17:45
Unsatisfied by The Last Samurai, my appetite was whetted to sink my teeth into some real samurai meat.

My thoughts while watching TLS were that I wished Kurasowa had made it.... so I went back and rented Yojimbo and Sanjuro, old samurai films made by Kurusowa in the 1960's (and incidently set at about the same period in history as TLS).

As I am a mainly Judoka, my question is for the Iaido and Kendo experts out there. Toshiro Mifune, the Clint Eastwood, Jean Paul Belmondo and Marcello Mastriani of Japan (and star of the aforementioned films), appears to this untrained eye to know what he is doing with a sword. Can some of you experts give me an accurate assessment of his skills?

I have been able to pick up on some subtle actions relating to the sword that do appear to be very authentic, ie when the Samurai character enters a "friend's" house, he takes off his sword and lays it on his right side (or carries it in his right hand), indicating that he will not be able to draw it quickly (with his right hand) because of the standard cross drawing technique.... Stuff like that rings true yet is very subtle, especially to the uninitiated.

I look forward to your thoughts on Toshiro Mifune's skill with the sword, good or bad.

6th January 2004, 17:56
Although Kurosawa had experts on-site for advice, Mifune was not a swordsman. If I recall correctly, Mifune emphasized he was an actor, but that the sword movements were easy for him to replicate.


6th January 2004, 18:40
What you see in movies is a performance art: It's a dance.

Even in Japanese movies, they have fight coordinators just like we do in the West. They just happen to base what they do on their own sword arts (seems logical, no?).

One appreciates movie fight scenes for the choreography and not the realism. :D

Besides, a real fight would probably looked like what was shown in Rashomon... the version as told by the woodsman.

6th January 2004, 19:09
On the other hand, I remember reading somewhere that Toshiro Mifune was practicing Iaido. But this can also be a wrong piece of information. What style I have no idea though.

6th January 2004, 20:02
Said choreographer being Sugino Yoshio of the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu:

"He has also provided martial arts instruction for many of Japan’s most popular historical movies, including Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai, adding dynamism and reality to what had been staid and poorly stylized fight-scene choreography. He has also appeared frequently in the media as a representative of the world of Japanese kobujutsu. In such ways he has contributed much toward introducing the truly wonderful aspects of Japanese martial arts to the public."

Aikido Journal Home --> Articles --> The Last Swordsman: The Yoshio Sugino Story

by Tsukasa Matsuzaki


6th January 2004, 20:09
Anybody know what Shoji Yoshihara's sword background is?