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szczepan
20th January 2002, 03:43
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?

fifthchamber
20th January 2002, 13:55
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.

JimmyCrow
20th January 2002, 19:18
szczepan

There is a discussion over on swordforum.com on this same subject. You will find it at this address “Knee Brusing Iai” (http://swordforum.com/forums/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=jsa&Number=88484&page=1&view=collapsed&sb=5&part=)

It may help in answering some of your questions:smilejapa

szczepan
21st January 2002, 01:49
Thank you very much for answers and link. This is really fascinating subject.

m a s a m u n e
21st January 2002, 05:43
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 -

fifthchamber
21st January 2002, 13:53
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....

Nathan Scott
21st January 2002, 22:38
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" (http://swordforum.com/forums/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=jsa&Number=86389&page=1&view=collapsed&sb=5&part=)

Regards,

Ben Bartlett
22nd January 2002, 14:07
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.

Nathan Scott
23rd January 2002, 18:45
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,

ben johanson
23rd January 2002, 20:32
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.

Ben Bartlett
23rd January 2002, 21:16
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.

Dan Harden
24th January 2002, 02:37
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

Earl Hartman
24th January 2002, 03:20
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.

Dan Harden
24th January 2002, 13:22
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

Ben Bartlett
24th January 2002, 14:09
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. :D )

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. :D

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.)

Paburo
24th January 2002, 14:12
I know this question is not somewhat related to seiza, is Iaigoshi a battle ready position or it is just somehow near that idea of seiza waza?

i might open a thread on this.

I heard that some samurai or bushi could fight from standind to iaigoshi to standaing again and so on. I do not know if it is true or not. It will be great to know on this since some koryu school use this stance as a primarily basic stance. (like some use seiza as their basic).

Earl Hartman
24th January 2002, 18:07
Go to the following link for a discussion of the original MJER curriculum:

http://www.e-budo.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?threadid=3055&highlight=Earl+Hartman

In any case, it iseems clear that except for the solo iai component, none of the other components are still practiced in their entirety. The tachiuchi no kurai is only one part of the repertoire of paired forms. AFAIK (and Guy Power and Peter Boylan could probably help here) Nakayama Hakudo learned some of the paired forms; I believe there is a book on Muso Shinden Ryu (the Shimomura-ha of MJER as popularized by Nakayama Hakudo) that contains photos of some of the paired forms.

As far as I can tell from my teacher's book, the bojutsu, yawara, and torinawa stuff was already gone when he was quite young, and he died at age 72 almost 30 years ago. His senior deshi, Noda Sensei, still teaches in Shikoku and his students practice some of the seated paired forms, although not the standing ones (tachiuchi no kurai). If Noda Sensei's group, the MSR people featured in the book I saw, and the Jikishinkai people got together, they could probably piece together a large part of the paired forms curriculum. But I doubt that will happen.

Ben Bartlett
24th January 2002, 18:44
Thanks for the link. It looks as though at one time the curriculum was quite extensive; it's a shame those forms will probably never be recovered. I would've loved to work on them. It makes a lot of sense that there would have been more paired forms at one point, since they certainly would better prepare you for actual combat, plus I can definitely see the advantage of learning to use multiple weapons (in fact, I think jojutsu is still practiced at the Jikishinkai's hombu dojo, but whether it's the same style as was originally practiced in MJER or not I do not know). It's always a shame when once vital aspects of an art disappear. Still, I'm thankful for the aspects I do get to learn. :)

Rennis
24th January 2002, 19:44
A few quick comments,

I think the MSR book Earl is referring to is Danzaki Tomoaki's "Iaido: Sono Riai to Shinzui" which, in addition to the standard sets of iai kata, also contains 6 addition sets of two person kata (52 kata in total).

Regarding seiza, it is pretty much "common knowledge" among all the practitioners and teachers I know and have met in Japan that seiza as it is used in today's iai is simply a training method and not done because it was a situation that might be faced in real life. Many schools have parts of kata or even entire kata that are for the purpose of ingraining a certain technique or style of movement that isn't directly related to combative use itself, but will effect how people move in more realistic kata and combat itself. In fact I have even heard MJER teachers lecture the students on that point when teaching the Omori ryu... "We do this seiza only for training purposes, they didn't actually fight like this in the old days". At some point during the Edo period it seems that a number of ryu simply added seiza into their curriculum. Reasons my vary, but in general it seems like it was simply the thing to do. I believe Liam Keeley addressed this point in his article on Tatsumi ryu in the second Koryubooks book. In Hoki ryu this also seemed to be the case where, even today, the majority of the techniques are either done standing or from tatehiza (I would also add that the Hoki ryu tatehiza is very different from the MJER one, more comfortable and alot easier to move in and out of).

As for iai being used for the battlefield, assassinations, etc. I agree that iai in and or itself is probably not very useful on the battlefield against armored opponents, but I think there are some other points being overlooked here which cause a number of people to simply dismiss iai training. Alot of older ryuha do in fact contain iai training and it is important to look for possible reasons why. Probably the most obvious is the fact that it actually involves using a real sword, rather than a bokuto, which is a very different animal. Few people can deny the value of actually getting used to and farmiliar with using the actual weapon your life will depend on, and standard kenjutsu practice is far too dangerous a method of training to do that in. Also, pre-Edo warriors did not "live" on the battlefield and in fact probably spent very little of their overall time on one. Yes it was the place were their combative skills needed to be the best, but I think it is fairly safe to say that violence in pre-Edo Japan was probably not limited exclusively to the battlefield. One's battlefield kenjutsu training was obviously of extreme importance, but iai training could also impart one with some other skills that could be useful at some point as well. It isn't the sole focus of one's training, but it has value so it is done. I think those two factors alone are probably good enough reason for many schools to have included it in their training.

Regarding it being used in assassinations... Probably it was by someone at some point, as you could much more easily approach someone you are trying to kill with your sword still in your saya than you could if it was drawn, but I really only see this being used in an outdoor setting. Indoors it doesn't seem very likely as one most likely wouldn't have their sword anywhere near by and if a weapon was going to be used indoors it would most likely be a wakazashi type blade one could keep while indoors. Katayama ryu kenjutsu has a number of well illustrated densho and some of the techniques show in them are for dealing with someone attacking your superior in an indoor, seated, setting. More often than not the attacker was using a kodachi and none of the techniques involve either party using a full katana indoors.

Just a few thoughts,
Rennis Buchner

Brian Dunham
24th January 2002, 21:03
Re:Seiza
Seiza (and Tatehiza) are definitive,static positions from which certain kata begin. A kata has to start somewhere. I think one purpose of these seated positions is that they are uncomfortable and not particularly easy to move from. Why train from postions that are easy to move from? If caught in a difficult position, you would be less prepared.It's not supposed to be easy(training,that is) The whole idea is not that you have to be in seiza or tatehiza to apply a technique, but that by training from these postures (especially a combination of postures), you should be able to respond more quickly from whatever crouching, sitting,or transitional position you happen to be in at the moment you are attacked.
Re:Paired kata
Dan, they are not as rare as you seem to think they are. Many,if not most, MJER branches,and some MSR branches, do Tachiuchi no Kurai. Tsumeiai no Kurai seem to be a bit less common, but can still be found occasionally in some groups. Danzaki-S's book shows the above, as well as Kurai dori(which seems to be an alternate set to Tachiuchi no Kurai), Daisho Zume, and Daisho Tachizume. I believe that is all the paired sword kata except the Daiken Dori. I think it is reasonable to assume that Nakayama Hakudo knew at least this much of the curriculum, and perhaps Daiken Dori. One of my teachers has confirmed that Mitsuzuka Takeshi (who studied under both Nakayama and Danzaki) knows and used to teach many of these kata at his dojo years ago. My impression is that there is not much interest in these kata in Japan. It seems that we are much more interested here in the west.

Brian Dunham
MSR SanShinKai

Brently Keen
24th January 2002, 23:25
While iai is not all my specialty, it is a subject of great interest, and I've been following this and other similar threads (some of which have been mentioned or referrenced by other posters) for some time. I would like to comment only on this point that Rennis mentioned:

"Many schools have parts of kata or even entire kata that are for the purpose of ingraining a certain technique or style of movement that isn't directly related to combative use itself, but will effect how people move in more realistic kata and combat itself."

I agree totally with this comment. And would only add that in addition to effecting the way people move, it might also effect how people think and respond in more realistic situations as well. In both my experience and study/research this is very often the case, and is frequently misunderstood by practitioners with limited experience, and even sometimes by those with extensive experience - but limited to a particular style(s). This actually accounts for a lot of misunderstandings and even criticism of certain arts.

I have on numerous occasions seen experienced practitioners (even expert teachers whom I otherwise respect) witness a demonstration of some school's kata and/or methods, and critique the school, teacher, or practitioners demonstrating as "not having a clue", "being worthless for real combat", "not being able to cut that way", "having various openings, bad habits, etc..." yadda, yadda... When in fact they simply didn't understand, appreciate, or realize the purpose or nature of the kata/method(s) they were seeing, or the way in which those kata/methods actually fit into the overall context of the ryu's system.

I also believe it's quite common for practitioners, and even many modern teachers of koryu arts to not know themselves the real (or original) intents, purposes, and contexts of various aspects of the curriculum they study. The kata may have been preserved, but much of the teachings (reasonings) behind and within them have been lost. What's left is the proverbial rice bowl art or dying koryu. At least, that appears to be the case in many traditions practiced now-a-days. I can think of some cases where soft styles have even become hard styles - or at least are perceived by outsiders (and often even their own members/teachers) to be hard styles - and usually it's because of a shallow or limited understanding of the practice(s) in question, and it's particular purpose or place within the over-all curriculum.

One could distill all of this to the simple maxim that war and strategy is all based upon deception - and especially within the koryu arts, appearances as well as practices can be and often are quite deceiving. Correct me if I'm wrong, but perhaps that is partly what Ben was alluding to when he made this comment:

"some of us in iai-dominated koryu know it wasn't a battlefield position, too. ;) "

I could almost sense a "duh!" hiding behind that comment and the wink.

Pardon me if this is a slight tangent, but I thought that Rennis' above mentioned point was a good one that is often overlooked these days.

Brently Keen

Brian Dunham
25th January 2002, 00:07
Brently,

Very well put! I am constantly trying to hammer this exact point into a friend's head when he thinks he knows what he sees.

ps- here is an old picture of my teachers (Mitsuzuka Takeshi and the late Paul Sylvain) doing Tsukekomi from Tachiuchi no Kurai.

Dan Harden
25th January 2002, 13:47
Brently writes

While iai is not all my specialty, it is a subject of great interest, and I've been following this and other similar threads (some of which have been mentioned or referrenced by other posters) for some time. I would like to comment only on this point that Rennis mentioned:
"Many schools have parts of kata or even entire kata that are for the purpose of ingraining a certain technique or style of movement that isn't directly related to combative use itself, but will effect how people move in more realistic kata and combat itself."
I agree totally with this comment. And would only add that in addition to effecting the way people move, it might also effect how people think and respond in more realistic situations as well.
In both my experience and study/research this is very often the case, and is frequently misunderstood by practitioners with limited experience, and even sometimes by those with extensive experience - but limited to a particular style(s). This actually accounts for a lot of misunderstandings and even criticism of certain arts.
I have on numerous occasions seen experienced practitioners (even expert teachers whom I otherwise respect) witness a demonstration of some school's kata and/or methods, and critique the school, teacher, or practitioners demonstrating as "not having a clue", "being worthless for real combat", "not being able to cut that way", "having various openings, bad habits, etc..." yadda, yadda... When in fact they simply didn't understand, appreciate, or realize the purpose or nature of the kata/method(s) they were seeing, or the way in which those kata/methods actually fit into the overall context of the ryu's system.
I also believe it's quite common for practitioners, and even many modern teachers of koryu arts to NOT KNOW THEMSELVES the real (or original) intents, purposes, and contexts of various aspects of the curriculum they study. The kata may have been preserved, but much of the teachings (reasonings) behind and within them have been lost. What's left is the proverbial rice bowl art or dying koryu. At least, that appears to be the case in many traditions practiced now-a-days. I can think of some cases where soft styles have even become hard styles - or at least are perceived by outsiders (and often even their own members/teachers) to be hard styles - and usually it's because of a shallow or limited understanding of the practice(s) in question, and it's particular purpose or place within the over-all curriculum.


********************************


Hi Brently

You and I seem to agree on just about everything, But this is one of the silliest things I have read in a long time. Although I agree that many things in kata are not what they appear to be, have logical underpinnings, and are supposed to be performed differently in force on force, and have discussed this at length- you my friend, have taken it to the sublime. To place them in context, they read like this

Not everything seen
is what it is
Not everything done
is what it looks like
Not everyone who does them (you include experts here)
Knows why they are doing them
Some, most, or no one who sees them (you include experts here)
Knows or can adaquately judge if it can work, or be made to work, or even how to know what criteria to use to establish if it could ever work.

Following this illogic I would add this

Every expert isn't one
Everything that has been taught is therefore unproven and up for speculation since those who know- may not.
Every art is effective and rational by default? For only those who do them know what they really are.....oops they don't either! (your comment above)
Or some really do know the core principles and can show them, but those learning don't know what they are learning, and even if they did they cannot judge it adaquately. This is of course taking your comment into consideration that yet again those who knew -don't- or maybe they do-wait know one can tell if they do or don't. :wink:

So.........
Believe everything you have been told works....oops, you can't do that either since it seems no one knows what does....

******************

To your post Brian commented

Brently,

Very well put! I am constantly trying to hammer this exact point into a friend's head when he thinks he knows what he sees.

*********************

Following Your logic Brently- perhaps the friend is the one who really is seeing, and Brian is stuck in a box with a very narrow field of vision. Or it could be the way Brain says it is. But Brently, your logic obfuscates both at the same time.

Since no one knows, and those who do- may not.
We must try to test what is- to determine what is not. :)

So who gets to do the testing?
And who is qualified to judge?
It goes nowhere......


Sometimes you surprise me Brently.



Earl
Thanks for the input. As always you are a voice of reason.
It still seems confusing in that of the several threads recorded here, and of my own private discussions with MJER people here and abroad, most openly state and whole heartedly agree with your statement that MJER is mostly a solo Iai art these days with a reduced percentage of paired form work being done and few teachers to be found who know them -to which Brian informed us that many, if not most, branches do the Tachi Uchi no Kurai??? And then adds that His senior teacher did them (years ago) and most people don't want to do them in Japan.
I agree with your response to my query about preserving them-someone should make a concerted effort to put them together somewhere before they're lost to us forever. Your link to the other post lists an extensive repertoire of technique-are these being actively pursued by exponents of the art? If not, are there any methods in place to establish teachers?



Assuming of course we can find those who know, and match them up with those who watch but don't know, and somehow have them agree that those who do know really DO know, although they can't know they know either. :rolleyes:

I have a headache

Dan

Ben Bartlett
25th January 2002, 14:39
It still seems confusing in that of the several threads recorded here, and of my own private discussions with MJER people here and abroad, most openly state and whole heartedly agree with your statement that MJER is mostly a solo Iai art these days with a reduced percentage of paired form work being done and few teachers to be found who know them -to which Brian informed us that many, if not most, branches do the Tachi Uchi no Kurai???
These two statements don't necessarily contradict one another. If I remember correctly, in the current MJER curriculum, there are 42 solo kata, and 7 Tachi Uchi no Kurai kata. Even if most MJER branches study the Tachi Uchi no Kurai, it's pretty easy to make the argument that MJER is mostly a solo Iai art these days. As I stated in one of my above posts, at my dojo we do a lot of paired work outside of kata, but the vast majority of our kata are solo. I agree that it would be good if someone would make an effort to put together the other paired kata before they are lost forever. If anyone would offer to teach them, I personally would love to learn them.

As a final note, I'd like to state that one of the problems with having a discussion about MJER is that a) it has split into several branches, and b) it's rather popular, so different people studying it have different agenda. Yes, it has degenerated from it's original form, and yes, kenjutsu does emphasize working with another person to a much greater degree (which is one of the reasons I'd like to study it as well as iaijutsu). However, while some people studying MJER mostly care about the aesthetic and spiritual aspects of it, some of us really are trying to keep it as authentic as possible. We may never be up to koryu kenjutsu standards, but we try hard. I guess I'm just trying to say, try not to paint us all with too wide of a brush. :)

Ian Remi
25th January 2002, 17:05
Originally posted by Dan Harden
Assuming of course we can find those who know, and match them up with those who watch but don't know, and somehow have them agree that those who do know really DO know, although they can't know they know either.

Mr. Harden ~ LOL :laugh:

Can I use that as a quote in my signature?

Earl Hartman
25th January 2002, 17:39
Dan:

There is no doubt that MJER is primarily a solo iai art now. My only point is that this was not always so, and judging from his book, which contains photos and instructions from the densho on how to perform them, my teacher knew all of the paired forms. As I have stated in the thread I referenced above, these were far more extensive than the 10 tachiuchi no kurai, which were only one part of the paired forms, and numbered about 48 in all, as I recall. Even the sword forms were outnumbered by the yawara/kogusoku forms in the original curriculum. It is fairly safe to assume that this part of the curriculum was known to Oe Sensei, but I imagine that that is where it stopped. When you think about how profoundly Japan changed during Meiji, it is amazing that the baby wasn't thrown out with the bath water entirely.

All I can say is, times change. It is simply not possible to deny that for most iai practitioners, combative effectiveness simply is not an issue. Or, should I say, practice is done in such a way that there is no way to test the combative effectiveness of the techniques, even if the practitioner himself believes that he is practicing with full combative intent. That is precisely why my teacher, in his book, emphasized the importance of practicing the paired kata and that they were a vital part of the curriculum. He stated quite plainly in his introduction to that section of his book that without diligent practice of the paired forms, iai would degenerate into a dance stripped of combative effectiveness. That is why he called his art "iai heiho" and not "iaido".

Nathan Scott
25th January 2002, 20:51
Hi Rennis,

I agree with much of what you said, which was well thought out. Your observations on kata were spot on. From what I've seen, it is the subject of misinterpretation by many.

We may never know for a fact why seiza with daito was introduced to iai. However, if exponents of iai find the methodology useful, then by all means keep with it. I don't believe this point is in debate.

Personally, I think the confusion comes from the majority of books written on iai - at least in English (I haven't looked through Japanese language iai books). More times than not, these books offer combative explanations for these seiza forms, with the opponent standing about 3 feet away in jodan kamae: "as your opponent comes forward to cut you down, draw your sword and cut him first" (paraphrased). It does not take much experimentation to find out that the techniques as shown and described are typically not practical. How common is it for 4 enemies to attack you from 90 degree angles, evenly spaced out, at the same time? Good for learning, but such methods should be understood as body movement theory, and not "it is like this when the opponents attack".

I've seen these kinds of unrealistic scenarios in many iai books, and heard them from many iai exponents. I believe this misinterpretation of the methodology to be the biggest source of misunderstanding between iaido and other sword arts.

Also, until recent years, it would seem that most iaido-ka were using alloy iaito (unsharpened), not shinken. The use of shinken is a recent trend, popularized partly by the availability of reasonable quality production shinken (no more overpriced refitted gunto). I don't know if everyone in Japan is using shinken or not, but it was not the case outside of Japan. Performing to speed with an iaito is much different in all regards from performing to speed with a shinken.

But in any event, I would agree that the inclusion of iai in koryu is a valuable practice, for the reasons you stated.

Regards,

pgsmith
25th January 2002, 21:36
Hi Nathan,
I believe (personal opinion alert!) that the reason for the explanation of attack in iaido kata is different than what alot of people now tend to think. It is important when performing solo kata to be able to visualize an opponent to strike at. I can stand and watch and tell when people are not doing that, it changes the entire range of motion. My belief is that the explanation of attacks (bunkei ?) was originally to give focus to the kata, not to simulate an actual situation. I do agree that I have heard people describe a patently impossible situation as the reason for the kata. There it is, my thinking on it for what it's worth.

Cheers,

Dan Harden
25th January 2002, 21:56
Hi Ian

Actually I like this one better after I reread it

"Since no one knows, and those who do- may not.
We must try to test what is- to determine what is not. "

I could put music to it. But feel free to use any quip you like. Please realize I had tongue planted firmly in cheek. Both Brently and Brian are serious practitioners and I was basically having fun stretching a premise that I fundamentally agree with in the first place. As a theory it has merit.

In truth it becomes very difficult to determine what is behind the vale. Brian’s point in trying to hammer this home to a friend of his is valid and not valid at the same time. How can that be? An arts methods for teaching principles and strategy and / or for simply strengthening an exponent may not really express a fundamental combat strategy of the art. So in that vein, you may be criticizing something you are seeing as ineffective, when the very guy who devised the technique to begin with may be agreeing WITH you all the while. There are several cases that can be made in that regard. They are merely training tools.
Inversely, we have techniques that are supposed to have once been effective but so much may have been lost that we don’t know how to adequately put it all back together-therefore some of what we see as sort of inane and problematic, may actually be just that-inane and problematic.

In the end, many of us choose to follow a teacher that has for whatever reason effected us in such a way that we feel we can learn from them. I think many times it turns out to be a focus on an individual who we deem to be superlative in a given venue, and both our level of expectation, and our level of skill will change over time-hence the Budo flow.


Guys, thanks for the explanation as to what appeared to be a confusing state of affairs of the state of MJER-well in truth I am still confused. I think you would be doing yourselves a favor by trying to keep it all together catalogueing it, and expand the teaching base. It sounds like in its fullness it could be very interesting indeed.


Ben

It isn't a question of painting everyone with a big brush, just trying to define what "it" is. As Earl reiterated what has been previously stated here- it seems to be all over the place-yet Brian says the paired forms are practice in many or most of the Dojos. Oh Well

Although we try not to paint a broad picture you must agree with Earl, that there are many many guys who do not engage in it for any semblance of realistic functionality (I hate using the word effective when it comes to swords). Its the way of arts practiced by a very diverse section of people. Different agendas and goals make a very openended art.

*****************
Earl writes:

"All I can say is, times change. It is simply not possible to deny that for most iai practitioners, combative effectiveness simply is not an issue. Or, should I say, practice is done in such a way that there is no way to test the combative effectiveness of the techniques, even if the practitioner himself believes that he is practicing with full combative intent."

******************

Gee Earl, I recall reading very similar comments from "outsiders" who got blasted by MJER people for their trouble.

I am not surprised that we agree on this issue as well.

Dan

Ric Flinn
26th January 2002, 03:45
I hate to take this discussion back to the original question, and I think this has been done to death already, but I find myself writing this down anyway.

We all agree that a bushi wouldn't wear a long sword while seated in seiza. It's generally agreed that when entering a residence that the daito would be removed and handed to a servant at the door (or some similar scenario). But what about bushi "on-duty" in their lord's castle, or visiting the castle of some other trusted daimyo? Would they wear their sword until sitting seiza before their boss/coworker/visiting bushi? Then what would they do with it? Take it out and place it safely to their right side, probably, where it can't be drawn quickly. Or maybe, one might, think, since everyone trusts everyone here and we're only talking for a minute or so, I'll just set it on my left, or hold it loosely in my left hand. Iai techniques would work in those cases as well as if the sword was really in the sash. This of course goes along with the assassination explaination of iai, and doesn't contradict the definition of "iai" given in the first post (which I actually don't believe is correct, but I can be my own devil's advocate). I know formal etiquette dictates that these situations never happen, but I often wonder how strictly the etiquette was really followed.

Of course I don't know if this has anything to do with reality, I just made it up as one possibility, and I'd like to know why it doesn't hold water. I'm perfectly happy practicing iaido without having every movement explainable as being "combat-effective," and I think I get plenty out of it the way it is, but I'm all for discussing the history of the techniques too. As long as we're all here anyway.

Ric Flinn

Nathan Scott
26th January 2002, 07:17
Mr. Smith,

I do agree on the need to visualize a target when practicing solo forms. Don't know if this is what the various iaido-ka and book authors had in mind though, as I have not read this idea written anywhere.

Mr. Flinn,

The thing that allot of people don't get about Ogasawara ryu etiquette, is that it was created by someone of the "samurai" class, and was chosen as the preferred method of etiquette because a great deal of it was based on combative awareness. This meant you got to live longer. Wearing your sword is a condition of readiness, and was not permitted because it was a tactical liability. Allot of the etiquette is like this, and to not follow such manner would be to invite assasination.

If you are friendly with someone, you place the sword on your right so that there is no misunderstanding about your intentions. As far as messengers, or someone you don't trust, there were methods in place to minimize the liability of meeting under such circumstances.

Messengers were one of the types of people that had accepted cause to place the sword on their left side (not in the belt) when visiting someone from the enemies camp. They were typically well guarded, and allowed to demonstrate combative awareness since it was an unavoidable hostile enviornment on both sides.

It is not unheard of to carry your sword inside, but it is unheard of to wear it inside. This is one of the few things that is pretty clear cut. Kind of like taking your shoes off before walking on tatami.

For a tired, worn out subject, it sure does come up allot, and there are still apparently quite a few people that are not up on the "bunkai".

Regards,

Rennis
26th January 2002, 17:05
Another quick point on guarding assassination attempts. In several older historical buildings I have been it in Japan there were often small rooms, more like closets, attached to the main "meeting" rooms of the owners of the buildings in which armed guards waited incase something should happen, in which they would throw open the door and be right there at the lord or whomever's side. in theory someone could be waiting in there with a katana, although the size of these rooms would lead me to suspect it wouldn't be in their obi. All the places in which I have scene this of "guard closet" have been the homes, retreats, etc of major people, not something your average warrior type would have. Another thing I have heard, and for the life of me I can't recall the source right now, is that seiza itself was useful for protecting the lord/whoever of the home, as eventually your legs will fall asleep which will most likely cause problems when you want to suddenly jump up and cut someone. Thus people were made to sit and wait in seiza a bit for the top guy to show up and meet them. Of course I highly doubt this is the sole, or even a main, reason the use of seiza spread (a much more likely reason was the popularization of the tea ceremony, although I haven't really looked into this like I should have, so don't go quoting me on any of this), but rather was simply a useful side effect of the use of seiza.

Rennis Buchner

Enfield
27th January 2002, 01:49
Originally posted by Nathan Scott
More times than not, these books offer combative explanations for these seiza forms, with the opponent standing about 3 feet away in jodan kamae: "as your opponent comes forward to cut you down, draw your sword and cut him first" (paraphrased). It does not take much experimentation to find out that the techniques as shown and described are typically not practical. How common is it for 4 enemies to attack you from 90 degree angles, evenly spaced out, at the same time? Good for learning, but such methods should be understood as body movement theory, and not "it is like this when the opponents attack".

Hmm. In my so far brief iaido career, I havn't come across an "explanation" for any of the seiza kata (or any of the others for that matter) that start with the opponents already drawn and close to you. So far, they've all started with the opponents with swords still sheathed. If you've come across such explanations, I'd agree that the waza are impractical. If the opponents got that much of the drop on you, one, you're pretty much screwed already, and, two, jujutsu rather than battojutsu seems more likely to save your life.

As for the 90 degree spacing, etc., not being "real life," I completely agree. I also don't think you'll find any iaidoka who think a real fight would be all on those nice lines. The point of having 90 degree or 180 degree turns isn't to learn how to turn 90 or 180 degrees, it's to learn how to turn.

To me, this is like when some people criticize iaido for teaching chiburi, because it doesn't really work. We know that it doesn't work, but we also know you need to clean your sword.

- Kent Enfield

Earl Hartman
27th January 2002, 04:02
Dan:

My point about combative effectiveness is mainly that even if someone is practicing the solo forms with full combative intent, it is, I think we can all agree, impossible for solo forms, of whatever kind and of whatever art, BY THEMSELVES, to adequately train a person for what might happen in a real fight. Thus, even if a peson truly believes that he is training with full combative intent, there is no feedback to tell him wheter what he does will "work" or not. Paired practice, of some kind, is really necessary

That is precisely why, in his book, my teacher empahsized the need for the practice of the paired kata to not be neglected. That they have been neglected is just too damned bad.

Nathan:

My teacher always said that you had to "have an enemy in your heart", that is, you had to visulaize an enemy, when you did iai. Maybe you have never heard anyone say that, but he always said this.

It is my understanding that placing the sword on the right, with the ege turned towards oneself, was the proper way to show peaceful intentions. As a matter of fact, I have seen iai foms of the Suio Ryu where the attacker places his sword in just that position, to fool the enemy into thinking his intentions are peaceful, only to initiate an attack and kill the other fellow. It is interesting that 1) he falsely signalled his "peaceful" intent, 2) intiated the attack, and 3) won the fight. Sneaky by "modern" standards where the one who intitates the attack always loses, but it smacks of the real world to me.

Paul Steadman
27th January 2002, 12:13
G'day All,

Can anyone tell me:

1) Was Oe Masamichi an Edo or Meiji era sensei?
2) Was the use/popularity of a katana in Omori-ryu (shodan-waza) training possibly a result of the banning of the wearing of the daisho by the Meiji Emporer?
3) Does anyone have any thoughts on seiza-waza in jujutsu, even the older koryu had them.
4) If suwari-waza are not designed for combat, why did the other koryu besides MJER/MSR develop such techniques (especially in the Edo period)?

I can only think of one place where one would wear a katana in the obi and in indoors and have to defend himself from seiza, the dojo!

Regards,

Paul Steadman

Dan Harden
27th January 2002, 13:39
Earl

You’re preaching to the choir here Bud. You and I have gotten into some deep discussions regarding weapon design and use in various cultures. On any other Day I would be saying the same things. I think you know I am of the pragmatic “take it to the nth degree” persuasion.
If MJER is as you have stated "mostly a Solo Kata exercise these days" or whether it is as Brian states "The paired forms are practiced by many if not most schools" (seems like I'll never know which is which) It would be a shame if most aren't taking advantage of the full curriculum.

As for the visualization tool-while it is worthwhile and a very good training tool for memorization -there are things to consider about the big picture. Sword isn't golf- you can picture the ball moving toward a fixed goal but there is only the wind to interfere. You can practice test cutting for focus but the target doesn't move. The study of weapons needs to be exhaustive or it is really no study of weapons at all. There was a discussion in a similar vein on another BBS about guns. One fellow said it was unfair to say an expert marksman in handguns isn’t practicing gun combatives. I argued they aren’t. They are practicing marksmanship-a single aspect of a larger picture. Targets don’t shoot back. And it would be better to have to perform target acquisition while you were moving, dodging, walking through varying light conditions and lining up targets through skeletal positioning. If you want to practice marksmanship -go for it-But don't kid yourself into thinking your practicing something else.
So it is with sword. Test cutting is only that, knee walking and visualizing is only that. Do them to your hearts content, but that type of study of weapons is rather limited compared to those who explore it more fully.
They say Iai is supposed to be the highest form of swordsmanship I agree it should, but it simply can't be for those who have not gone through the crucible of complete training. For those who have spent the majority of their training time up and down from their knees visualizing an enemy in solo Kata with only a small portion devoted to the rest- Iai will be the lowest form of swordsmanship. A starter course as it were.
A handgun quick draw artist is not a person I would learn gun combatives from. A swordsman who has spent the “majority” of his training time visualizing an enemy is not someone I would want to learn weapons from.
Nice, but hardly what one would consider a weapons study-just an interesting piece of a much broader and deeper study.

I say do it all and keep it in balance.
Cuts
Kata
Shiai
Iai

Cuts- learning to cut is basic; it has its own fixed Maai and develops skeletal aligning, grip, and a rudimentary targeting skill. You can continue to develop power-most of which would have been unnecessary in combat. But since the target is fixed and doesn’t fight back you need....

Kata- Targeting a moving opponent who is cutting back at you, and learning to be positive while moving backward, learning not to be sucked into his suigetsu, to cut in improbable positions, becoming a slave to footwork and your schools methods and then ultimately freedom of movement and flexible mindset in a stressful but choreographed environment leads to....

Shiai- Donning armor and testing what you have learned against unknown and unwilling opponents, learning true intent as opposed to feints, to not overreact nor to lead and telegraph with a weapon, learning to read postures and to wire frame an adversary leads to...

Iai- The ability to not react until it is necessary, and then to do so with the speed you learned over the years, the movements you have inculcated to avoid and yet acquire a target, the cutting power you have so diligently developed, the accuracy to meet your target with a calm mind and resolve

As you can see I agree with most of your opinions. Personally I find it to be more of an all or nothing approach, I don't imagine I'll be getting into a sword fight anyday soon, But I want to get as close as is practical by engaging in a more comprehensive venue for using the weapon in its fullest capacity. Doing it all leaves fewer openings in the man-figuratively and literally.
To IMAGINE you are acquiring the skill to read intent, draw and strike while moving, or to be able to forestall an attack and be able to stand and then maintain target acquisition against a moving committed opponent who has spent years fighting is only that-imagination.
In order to engage someone in any substantive way- it takes years of one-to-one training in a stressfull environment. Any attempt to "simulate" the rewards of that type of training in solo training is bound to fail.
But we have to allow for those who are content with that if it’s all they want out of sword. But for others- picking up a weapon and ultimately facing an unwilling partner is a decisive act, and a more detailed study.

Dan

Ben Bartlett
27th January 2002, 18:04
I was at an MJER seminar yesterday, where Carl Long-sensei was kind enough to correct me on the creation and addition of the Omori Ryu waza to MJER, so I thought I'd share it on here (since I posted an incorrect version earlier).

Omori-sensei was the senior student of Eishin-sensei. Everyone thought that he was going to be the next Grandmaster of Eishin Ryu, but he and Eishin-sensei didn't see eye to eye on quite a few things, and so went their seperate ways. Omori-sensei was heavily influenced by court etiquette and by the ideas of Sen-no-Rikyu. He decided that he was going to invent a way to teach samurai court etiquette. So, he took what are now the shoden waza from Eishin Ryu (which at the time were performed standing), and changed them to be performed from seiza. The next Grandmaster of Eishin Ryu, having studied under both Eishin-sensei and Omori-sensei, saw the value of what Omori-sensei had done, and reincorperated the Omori Ryu waza into MJER. So, that's why there are waza performed from seiza. It should also be noted that all of these waza have standing versions.

This is actually a wonderful example of another problem with trying to examine MJER: different students of MJER possess different amounts of knowledge about MJER. I can tell you what I know about our branch of MJER, but there is quite a bit I don't know. Long-sensei obviously knows quite a bit more, but I'm sure there's stuff he still has to learn as well. Miura-sensei of course knows everything about the branch, but he's none too likely to be found posting on this board. ;) As with many arts, the only way to actually know everything about our branch is to train in it for a very, very, very long time. And while I'm planning on doing just that, I somehow doubt that interests everyone posting in this thread (although I'm sure it interests some of you, in terms of your own respective branches, of course).

I had noticed a few posts about bunkai, so I will throw in a couple of words about that while I am at it. First, as Long-sensei said yesterday, there are several kinds of bunkai. There are, for instance, "form bunkai" and "real bunkai" (I'm trying to quote him, but I may be getting the terms a bit off. You'll have to forgive me). In other words, the bunkai you normally use for a waza do not necessarily reflect the way real combat would probably happen, however, there are ways to adjust the waza to deal with real situations (or at least that's my interpretation of what he was saying). Next, someone on here said something along the lines of, "There are no bunkai where your opponent starts with his sword drawn and close to you." Well, in all of the chuden waza, your opponent starts close to you, and in some of those waza, he has his sword drawn, so such waza do exist. Yes, I learned that yesterday, too. Boy those seminars are useful. :)

As a final note, I'd just like to thank everyone for making this a good thread. I've seen threads like these descend into iai-bashing, but this one has not done so. While I may not agree with all of you on the relative realism (I'm still trying to come up with a good term for what we are discussing here) of MJER, there have been many intelligent and thought-provoking posts. I, personally, have learned quite a bit, both from your posts and from Long-sensei kindly filling in gaps in my knowledge. Hopefully I've gotten at least a couple of you to consider the idea that perhaps MJER is slightly more realistic (again, I really need a good term) than you had previously thought. Or at least let you know that we don't all think that samurai sat around in seiza while wearing katana. ;)

Brian Dunham
27th January 2002, 20:45
Dan,
Please keep in mind that I said that TACHIUCHI NO KURAI are taught in many or most BRANCHES(not necessarily most dojos) of MJER and at least a couple of branches of MSR. Tachiuchi no kurai is only the first set (of 10 or 7 kata, depending on your line) out of 5 or 6 sets of paired kata. The next set, Tsumeiai no kurai, are taught in at least a couple branches. The later sets, while extremely rare, are most likely not completely lost. I'm sure that there are some old timers somewhere in Shikoku that know them. Also, since Danzaki Tomoaki preserved most or all of them within his line of MSR, I think it is likely that there are still some of his students still doing them.
So, it is not a matter of it being as 'I said or what Earl said', it is both. Iai is still a mostly solo kata art, even if the Tachiuchi no kurai are taught in most branches. As Ben said, 10 or 7 paired kata to 42 or 43 solo kata is still mostly solo kata.

Brian

Nathan Scott
27th January 2002, 21:20
Hi all,

Rennis - the guards in the closet could very well have been armed with te-yari or perhaps makura yari (short spears). There is no benefit to having the saya on your hip if you know you are going to draw it in advance - especially in close quarters. It would make more sense to be holding the sheathed sword in the hand, as opposed to in the belt.

FWIW, I have been taught numerous techniques from seiza in which the daito is employed from its position on either side of the body (not in the obi). Also, short sword methods, and numerous ways of restraining/attacking someone who is sitting in seiza or wearing the daito in their belt (from any position). All these methods make sense, and are "historically likely" situations. That is why I am interested in why a method that has no historical application was introduced, and combative scenarios created from positions/situations that are not relevant.

Earl-san, I believe that visualizing an opponent is critical regardless of whether a form is designed to be combative or not. It is the (sometimes) unrealistic conflict scenarios that I read and hear repeated that are objectionable. If visualizing a target/opponent was qualified as such, it would be one thing. But I've yet to see such disclaimers or references.

Mr. Bartlett - didn't Oe create the Omori ryu?

The common story seems to include that Oe was a student of Ogasawara ryu and that, possibly because of this experience, he decided to perform iai from seiza. Ogasawara ryu did not include this type of manner (wearing daito indoors or while in seiza) in its curriculum though, and such methodology, while physically beneficial, would not prove practical since the opportunity to test it would not arise. Again, you would think such an important and unique practice ould have been explained in the densho, being one of the core principles of the style. But it would seem that somehow the original reason has been lost.

If seiza methods are a training method only, then there really isn't any "bunkai". My instructor has always encouraged us to visualize a target, but has not tried to create scenarios for methods that were not intended to replicate a combative series of movements.

I think I haven't changed the subject of focus in my posts, and have more than anything been restating and repeating the same questions!

Thanks for the contributions though. It is nice to discuss the subject without fighting about it.

Dan Harden
27th January 2002, 23:53
Thanks Brian

That makes it clearer. Is there anyway to get the branches organized enough to preserve them though? You know how quickly something like that could die out. There seems to be plenty enough seniors with relationships to get something going. I can't imagine the likes Of Mitsuzuka sensei being willing to let it pass. How about an organization like Kim Taylor’s to bring various Sensei in and start the process? I know you are "doing other things" I heard about your growing family :) as well as the Kobudo stuff-how about vesting some time in getting the paired Kata organized?
Although I have no vested interest in the art, as a bystander I would mourn the loss of yet another art, or even parts of one.

I would echo Nathan's comments that I have been taught Kata from seiza but always with a kodachi or with the idea that the Daito was on the floor. The former were for both formal restraint and seizure as well as defense and the later were more civilain type openly defensive.

Dan

Ben Bartlett
28th January 2002, 14:32
Mr. Bartlett - didn't Oe create the Omori ryu?
No, Omori-sensei did. Thus the name, "Omori Ryu". As for the reason why he did this, as I explained above, it was to teach the samurai courtly etiquette. In fact, you will find that the history of the Omori Ryu waza is in the second paragraph of my previous post. That's really all there is to say on that subject.

Carl Long
28th January 2002, 16:50
Gentlemen,

Perhaps this will help to clear any of the confusion regarding Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaijutsu and the Omori Ryu. There is much information available to those who wish do do a little research rather than speculate and provide false or misleading information. False information leads to misunderstanding and false confidence in those who profess to be experts in their fields of study.


SHIN MUSO HAYASHIZAKI RYU

Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu (c. 1546-1621), is popularly credited as being the originator and greatest expositor of the art of drawing the sword, also known as Iai-jutsu. More than two hundred ryu have been founded in the afterglow of this amazing swordsman.

Jinsuke formally named his sword-drawing art Shimmei Muso Ryu, but his ardent followers renamed it Shin Muso Hayashizaki Ryu. It is considered the foundation for the two major styles of Iaido practiced today: Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu and Muso Shinden Ryu.

In each generation of the Shin Muso Hayashizaki Ryu swordsmen, a headmaster (soke), has been appointed to guide the practice of the art, and each soke has had his own influence on the development of the style.

Here is the lineage up to the 11th headmaster of our style of iaijutsu:


Founder Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu
2nd Headmaster Tamiya Heibei Narimasa
3rd Headmaster Nagano Muraku Nyudo Kinrosai
4th Headmaster Momo Gumbei Mitsushige
5th Headmaster Arikawa Shozaemon Munetsugu
6th Headmaster Banno Dan'emon no Jo Nobusada
7th Headmaster Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Eishin (Hidenobu)
8th Headmaster Arai Seitetsu Kiyonobu
9th Headmaster Hayashi Rokudayu Morimasa (incorporated the Omori Ryu seiza no Bu into Eishin-Ryu
10th Headmaster Hayashi Yasudayu Seisho
11th Headmaster Oguro Motoemon Kiyokatsu


Some soke of the school would not only teach and perpetuate the original style but would also leave behind a parallel style (ryu) with what they considered new improvements on the old style:

- Tamiya Heibei Narimasa (2nd) would create the Tamiya ryu.
- Nagano Muraku Kinrosai (3rd), the Muraku ryu ...


Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Eishin (Hidenobu) , the 7th soke of the Shin Muso Hayashizaki Ryu, named his own ryu the Eishin Ryu. We attribute to him the position of iai tate-hiza and the wearing of the katana with the cutting edge uppermost, thrust through the sash.

His influence on the Shin Muso Hayashizaki Ryu curriculum was such that the following headmaster, Arai Seitetsu Kiyonobu (8th), united the Eishin Ryu to the central line of the Shin Muso Hayashizaki Ryu and it was now referred to has the Jinsuke-Eishin Ryu line of teaching.

The 9th soke, Hayashi Rokudayu Morimasa, after studies under Omori Rokurozaemon Masamitsu (Hayashi Rokudayu's Sempai) of the Omori ryu style, introduced in the curriculum some techniques from the seiza position and for the first time, a ceremonial or etiquette (reishiki).

Omori Rokurozaemon Masamitsu (from the Shinkage school of swordsmanship) had been a direct disciple of Eishin but was expelled by the later for personal reasons. He thus developed his own very distinctive style of sword-drawing art, the Omori ryu.

Before Masamitsu's development of the Omori Ryu, the swordsmen of the Jinsuke-Eishin line used the tate-hiza and tachi-ai postures from which to bring the sword into action. Masamitsu disagreed with the use of these postures in effecting the draw of the sword. He based his starting posture on seiza as he learned it in his study of Ogasawara Ryu reishiki (etiquette).

The techniques of his art became "those he had learned from Eishin" but as conditioned by the saya-no-uchi batto gohon, the five forms of sword-drawing technique, of the Yagyu Shinkage Ryu (Bishu). Masamitsu devised eleven techniques that formed the basis of the Omori Ryu sword-drawing art. This new development brought him back into the good graces of Eishin.

The sword techniques of the Omori Ryu were incorporated in the curriculum of the Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu by Hayashi Rokudayu Morimasa (9th generation soke).

MUSO JIKIDEN EISHIN RYU

Oe Masamichi Shikei (1852-1927), the seventeenth headmaster of the Tanimura-ha, suggested during the Taisho era (1912-1926) that the Jinsuke-Eishin line of teachings be uniformly taught under the formal title of Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu and that its techniques include those of the Omori Ryu as a formal part of the codified curriculum.

To the eleven Omori Ryu techniques, Nakayama Hakudo, one of Oe's student, added a twelfth, and Oe Sensei renamed them and codified them as the shoden, a first level of study in the Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu art of iai-jutsu. Most of the shoden techniques begin from seiza posture.

Shikei, Hakudo, and other swordsmen codified ten techniques of the Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu as chuden, a middle level of study. All of these techniques begin from tate-hiza posture except the last, which begins from seiza. A third level called okuden, the hidden or "secret" teachings, was standardized (eight techniques in tate-hiza and thirteen in tachi-waza).

I hope that some of this information will assist you in your further understanding of the Omori Ryu and it's relationship to Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu and several of the Ryu_Ha associated with the lineage of Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu.

Thank you for reading this very long post.

Sincere regards,

Carl Long
Jikishin-Kai Intl.

Ben Bartlett
28th January 2002, 17:24
Wow, that blew my explanation out of the water. :) Thanks for taking the time to post that, Long-sensei! Now I just have to memorize all of that before Brown-sensei finds this thread and decides to give his students a quiz. ;)

Earl Hartman
28th January 2002, 18:24
Dear Mr. Long:

Excellent and informative post. However, I have a question. I don't have my books in front of me, but I was under the impression that Oe S. originally refused to teach Nakayama S. because he was an outsider (not from Tosa), and that Nakayama S. learned, and then inherited, the Shimomura-ha from someone else (the name escapes me at the moment), which he eventually popularized as the Muso Shinden Ryu. However, your post indicates that Oe. S and Nakayama S. cooperated on arranging the original techniques into what we now know as MJER and that Nakayama S. was Oe S's. student.

This is of more than academic interest to me since when I lived in Japan I learned MJER from Masaoka Katsukane (Kazumi) S., who was a direct student of Oe S. and who received the Kongen no Maki from him. Masaoka S. also had a close and long-term relationship with Nakayama S., who was from Ishikawa Prefecture, where Masaoka S. worked as a teacher (and where I met him when I lived there). Based on what I have read, it appears that Masaoka S's. relationship with the line of the school headed by Hogiyama Namio S. was somewhat strained, and although I have not read anything definitive on the subject, I was under the impression that this may have been due partially to Masaoka S's. relationship with Nakayama S., whose views influenced Masaoka S's. iai in some way. I would appreciate it if you could direct me to any literature, in Japanese or in English, that would shed more light on the relationship of Oe. S. and Nakayama S.

Thank you for your time.

Scott Irey
28th January 2002, 22:34
Carl, I agree with Earl here. Great post! But I have to also agree with Earl on Nakayama Hakudo and Oe Masamichi's relationship. It is well documented that Oe Masamichi refused to teach Nakayama Hakudo, and consequently Nakayama studied under another teacher of Tosa Iai.
I must add however that contrary to popular belief, my studies have lead me to believe that Nakayama and Oe were not at odds with each other, but in fact regarded each other rather highly.

I would greatly like to know what reference source you used in your own research. As those of us who study MJER know, the reference materials for our art is relatively limited as far as public access is concerned. A fact which is evidenced frequently (as you noted) in many peoples misconceptions of hearsay for fact on most threads such as this one.

Regards,

Nathan Scott
29th January 2002, 00:00
Mr. Bartlett,

Thanks for the clarification. I did read your previous post. May I ask what your source(s) are for this information? I'd like to find out more about where this theory comes from.


That's really all there is to say on that subject.

I'm afraid I can't agree with this! This subject has been discussed without resolve for several years now.

Mr. Long,

Thanks for the information. However, I have read the book you more or less quoted from ("Japanese Swordsmanship" - Draeger/Warner. Weatherhill. 1996), but did not attempt to commit all the iaido sections to memory.

It is one of the better books on Japanese swordsmanship in the English language though.


There is much information available to those who wish do do a little research rather than speculate and provide false or misleading information. False information leads to misunderstanding and false confidence in those who profess to be experts in their fields of study.

I hope this comment is not directed at me, but in the event that it is, I'll take a few minutes to defend my intentions (again).

My purpose for posting in this thread is because I don't know all that much about iaido, and have not found the answers to the questions I've been asking here in books. I do study Japanese swordsmanship, but I don't study iaido, and have had questions about certain aspects of the art since I first learned of it many years ago. Your post was a useful reminder of what I've read previously, but did not address the specific questions I've been asking (aside from where Oe fits into the lineage).

I have never "professed to be an expert" in anything, privately or publicly. If I thought that I was, there would be no reason to ask questions on forums such as this, which I do on a regular basis. FWIW, I don't think that Draeger or Warner would have professed to be experts in iaido either.

In any event, I don't see why this subject cannot be discussed without some contributors becoming overly defensive and killing further discussion.

Contributions are voluntary.

Aside from personal curiousity, the only point that might be derived from this line of discussion might be the spreading of a better understanding of what iaido was originally intended to teach, and the historical context of such methodology. It seems to me that such information would be of paramount importance to iaido-ka anyway.

If my tone has come across as aggressive or rude, please understand that it was not my intention, and that we are talking (for the most part) rather generally about iaido, not specifically about any one dojo or line.

Regards,

Carl Long
29th January 2002, 01:22
Hello again Gentlemen,

The information that I posted was actually taken from several different sources including Japanese Swordsmanship. I have been working on gathering this information for one of my teachers upcoming books. I also have several articles from Japan that were given to me regarding the information I posted.They were translated and the info is a combination of printed info as well as that which I have been taught.

I was drawn into this post by one of our students that remarked that some information was being represented that might not be correct. That information did not necessarily reflect well on his teachers and I was asked if I could help to clarify some of the statements that may have been made.

So in reference to Mr. Scotts question regarding who the information was meant for, it was meant for some of my own students that may be a bit overzealous regarding the information they wish to disseminate. The SO-called experts that it may reflect poorly on would be none other than yours truly{ME}and several of the instructors in our organization. I repeat So-called because my name was bantered about a bit. I don't consider myself an expert on much of anything. If you took it personally, you certainly got the wrong impression. After all, I certainly know you are a well respected, high ranking member of the Japanese Swordsmanship community. I have no quarel with you or any of the other folks posting here.

This is one of the reasons that I don't like to post on things like this. Past experience has taught me that someone always takes offense when they think they are being singled out. Unfortunately, the people that the post was most meant for probably didn't get the message anyway.

I understand you had an interesting meeting with my teacher last weekend regarding your possible participation in the AAU Iaido program. Perhaps we will have the opportunity to meet in the future.

I will now retire to my cave and leave you fine gentlemen to your information sharing. I have once again been reminded why this posting thing is a bad idea.

Sincerely,
Carl Long

Yamantaka
29th January 2002, 11:23
Originally posted by Carl Long
I will now retire to my cave and leave you fine gentlemen to your information sharing. I have once again been reminded why this posting thing is a bad idea.
Sincerely,
Carl Long

YAMANTAKA : You have a right to your opinions and we respect that. However, if you allow me, I would like to point a few things.
This is a free forum to ask and try to spread the best possible information, among other things to complement our practical experiences in the dojo. We search for the best information and if people, internationally acclaimed as experts in some specific areas, like you, refuse to participate and help us, we become poorer. Also, such an attitude does not seem very sensible to me. You do not help and worse, you make us poorer by your absence.
Any debate, face to face or written, is subject to misunderstanding and confusion. But if we refuse to participate, we do nothing constructive. In reality, we delay progress. If someone misunderstands you, try to explain your point. If he refuses to accept your explanation, go discuss with someone else and do not participate in that particular flaming. Many people have disagreed with me. I stay in this List, not because it is perfect but because there are a few things to learn (as your posts and the ones by MEIK SKOSS,WILLIAM BODIFORD, KARL FRIDAY, PETER GOLDSBURY and others). Imagine if all of them (quite knowledgeable guys) share your decision and went away)?
As the written method is a dangerous tool, I hope you do not consider me arrogant or that I am censuring you. That is not my intention.
I'm only requesting you to reconsider your decision and stay here to help us, whenever possible. We'll be most grateful.
Best regards

Andrei Arefiev
29th January 2002, 11:24
Gentlemen,

While I have nothing substantial to contribute, I think I can provide a reference for one of the points that were raised. I've been looking in more detail on the history of MJER and MSR in order to (primarily) compile more information for the Russian readers than is currently available in Russian, that's how I came across it.


Originally posted by Earl Hartman
I don't have my books in front of me, but I was under the impression that Oe S. originally refused to teach Nakayama S. because he was an outsider (not from Tosa), and that Nakayama S. learned, and then inherited, the Shimomura-ha from someone else (the name escapes me at the moment), which he eventually popularized as the Muso Shinden Ryu. However, your post indicates that Oe. S and Nakayama S. cooperated on arranging the original techniques into what we now know as MJER and that Nakayama S. was Oe S's. student.

In fact, one of the books I checked for the lineage charts, namely, Mitani and Mitani-senseitachi's "Shokai Iai: Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu" does show Nakayama-sensei as a student of Oe-sensei, although I've found no details on their relation.

Wow, this discussion is stimulating! :) I was going to post a related question, but decided to check what has been said before on e-budo instead. Guess what I found? Not exactly the answer, but, most likely, all that I could have gotten as answers :)

Best regards,
Andrei.

Ben Bartlett
29th January 2002, 13:48
Mr. Scott,
I'm sorry, what I meant was, that's all I can really say about the subject. I am definitely not an expert in the history of MJER. In fact, I should probably be more careful about what I post; I want to clear up some misconceptions about the history of MJER, but of course I then get parts of the history wrong as well, which doesn't help anything. For instance, when I first posted on this thread, I was unaware that the Omori Ryu waza were in fact created by modifying Eishin Ryu waza. I do wish to clear up false beliefs such as Oe Masamichi being responsible for the creation of the seiza waza in MJER, but I don't want to accidently create new false beliefs while I am at it. I am going to try to be more careful about what I post and how I present that information. All I had originally meant to point out was that many iai practitioners do in fact know that traditionally one would not have been wearing a katana while sitting in seiza, but the thread got rather interesting, and I can definitely err towards overzealousness at times. ;) I actually wrote the latest post on the Omori Ryu waza to correct some mistakes I made earlier on in this thread, but Long-sensei's post does a much better job of doing that. At any rate, I apologize if my last post came off as unnecessarily harsh; I was in a rush, and was trying to reply quickly, and so it was not as well-thought out a reply as it might have been.

Nathan Scott
29th January 2002, 23:11
Mr. Long,

I'm glad to find that I had misinterpreted your post.

As you mentioned, communicating effectively in the written word is an art in itself, and sometimes leads to misunderstandings. Hopefully such discussions are more beneficial than not!

I understand you had an interesting meeting with my teacher last weekend regarding your possible participation in the AAU Iaido program. Perhaps we will have the opportunity to meet in the future.

Yes, Erik Tracy set up a meeting with Shimabukuro sensei, Tony Alvarez and myself last Saturday. It was my first time meeting Shimabukuro s., and the first time Erik and I have exchanged more than a couple of words in passing (other than the internet).

It was nice to finally meet with everyone, since we all live in the same basic area. Shimabukuro s. expressed his admirable vision of spreading JSA to a larger audience, and expanding friendships between the various arts.

I suspect such a vision is embraced by many in JSA, and I 've been putting allot of thought into whether or not I am best suited to except a position on the board of directors. I don't normally participate in competitions, and don't really hold seminars for those that are not my students (outside of perhaps in aikido).

But the idea is good, and I'm sure will be fruitfull in any event. I'd like to come back to SD sometime to view one of Shimabukuro sensei's classes and see what ya'll do.

I'd be happy to meet up with yourself and the other Jikishinkai instructors should the opportunity arrise!

Regards,

PS. As far as the Oe/Omori confusion, it would seem that I mixed up "Masamitsu" with "Masamichi". I should have double checked that, but thanks for the correction.

Yamantaka
30th January 2002, 10:16
Dear Long Sensei,

I would like to have your authorization to translate and place in my web page, AIKIDO IN PORTUGUESE LANGUAGE (www.yahoogroups.com/group/aikido-lingua_portuguesa)
your article about SHIN MUSO HAYASHIZAKI RYU.
Respectfully
Ubaldo Alcantara


Originally posted by Carl Long
Gentlemen,

Perhaps this will help to clear any of the confusion regarding Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaijutsu and the Omori Ryu. There is much information available to those who wish do do a little research rather than speculate and provide false or misleading information. False information leads to misunderstanding and false confidence in those who profess to be experts in their fields of study.
SHIN MUSO HAYASHIZAKI RYU

Carl Long
Jikishin-Kai Intl.

johan smits
6th February 2002, 08:12
Hello to you all,

Paul Steadman came up with a question on seiza-waza in (koryu) jujutsu which relates, I think, to the solo forms in iai.
I think it's Kondo Sensei who states in one of his books that one of the points of training in seiza or suwari-waza is that you can't lower your point of gravity, under that of your opponent and so you have to make more subtle movements with your upper-body.
This sounds to me a good reason to practise those techniques.
Also, solo forms in iai, couldn't it be a replacement for actual training just to keep in shape?
Long time ago I used to hunt, when hunting season was closed we used to should clay-pigeons on the track, not exactly the same but it kept up your reflexes.
For what it's worth.

Best regards,

Johan Smits

Nathan Scott
6th February 2002, 19:38
Mr. Smits,


I think it's Kondo Sensei who states in one of his books that one of the points of training in seiza or suwari-waza is that you can't lower your point of gravity, under that of your opponent and so you have to make more subtle movements with your upper-body.
This sounds to me a good reason to practise those techniques.

I don't remember reading this, but in Daito ryu I believe he would be referring to using a lower center to out leverage the opponent. This is a good point, but of course not the reason suwariwaza was created in Daito ryu.

I don't think the issue of leveraging applies to iaido, though as others have stated, there are apparently benefits to the practice.

Regards,

johan smits
7th February 2002, 09:07
Mr. Scott,

I don't have the book here but it's in the only English book (as far as I am aware) on Daito ryu by Kondo Sensei.
In an evironment where people would sit in seiza techniques in idori or suwari waza probably were created with a practical purpose. It would be interesting to know how much weight was given to training kata in seiza compared to training in tachi ai.
Some years ago Kim Taylor wrote a great article on Omori ryu waza, when I remember correctly the general idea was that Omori ryu waza were meant for training, not for fighting.
I think this could be the case for techniques in seiza within jujutsu schools (in general not especially Daito ryu).
There's an article by Yutaka Amatsu Sensei, Memories of Hisa san,
in which he tells Hisa Sensei told him taninzudori (techniques against several attackers) are not high level techniques, something Yutaka Amatsu Sensei thought, but were for performances, a form of propaganda.
I quess, in this world, nothing is what it seems to be.

Best,

Johan Smits

Nathan Scott
7th February 2002, 19:16
Hello,

I believe your referring to the "Hiden Mokuroku - Ikkajo" book.


It would be interesting to know how much weight was given to training [jujutsu] kata in seiza compared to training in tachi ai.

For most jujutsu ryu-ha, probably not much.


I think this could be the case for techniques in seiza within jujutsu schools (in general not especially Daito ryu).

I suspect that many jujutsu ryu-ha have techniques from seiza and other postures. Some I know of have offensive techniques against someone in seiza, while some have purely defensive responses.

For example, Shibukawa ryu has defensive techniques from a variety of resting/greeting positions; ai-seiza, sitting up against a wall, and from a sleeping position (face up). But, they do appear to be a small part of the over all curriculum.

As you can imagine, there were specific situations such as these that a bushi would need to have logical defenses against (or offenses for).

Arts like Daito ryu include a larger percentage of idori techniques because of the position their exponents historically would have been in (for at least the idori/oshikiuchi section of Daito ryu).

Mr. Taylor's evaluation of Omori ryu sounds like what we've been saying here. I'll have to see if I still have that article somewhere.

As far as taninzudori, with all due respect to Amatsu sensei, I would hold off on any firm conclusions about this until this statement can be confirmed by other senior instructors. Perhaps this would be a good question for Kondo sensei at the Aiki Expo?

Regards,

Chidokan
9th February 2002, 23:08
Waza from seiza is 'combat effective'. I think the problem is that you are not thinking through the techniques properly. Consider this, if someone in armour is attacking you, lifts his sword up to cut you, where would you draw to? Surely you would not try and cut the armour, but go for the unprotected armpit etc.. Do not be so rigid in following the waza, i.e. cut to the eyes for mae.. Look at it this way, your opponent is moving, you are moving and you need to cut him before he cuts you! So what if you hit him an inch too high or low? Is he going to ask you to stop because you werent quite right and try again? :-) So long as the technique works whats the problem!
Regarding tachi uchi no kurai sets for MJER. I think we in the west dont practise them because a lot of us havent seen them and not many people know them. I will be training in May with a couple of people in Japan and will be doing all three sets. I practise them regularly here in England but I would say no-one is capable of teaching them here to a competent standard as yet... (give us a few years at it first!) Its a bit like when we all started to learn our art, you think you know whats going on and then someone comes along and throws a real spanner in the works!

Tim Hamilton

pgsmith
10th February 2002, 22:27
Mr. Hamilton,
If you would please, could you tell us exactly where in all of Japanese history there could have possibly been a situation wherein someone would be sitting in seiza while wearing their daito and getting attacked by an armoured opponent? Please don't make 'combat effectiveness' such an important issue.

Thanks!

Nathan Scott
11th February 2002, 02:33
Hello Mr. Hamilton,


Waza from seiza is 'combat effective'. I think the problem is that you are not thinking through the techniques properly.

You might be surprised.


Consider this, if someone in armour is attacking you, lifts his sword up to cut you, where would you draw to?

You wouldn't Mr. Hamilton, you would be dead.

This is a perfect example of why I object to attaching "bunkai" to seiza no bu techniques that, as I think we all agree now, were created as instructional tools and not as practical simulations.


Surely you would not try and cut the armour, but go for the unprotected armpit etc..

Under different circustances, should I have the opening and self control to strike such areas, I would try. However, if you fail to successfully cut these relatively small points, and/or they do not stop your opponent, then you stand a good chance of being cut down (as usual, assuming that we are talking of an opponent of comparable experience and skill).

Regards,

Dan Harden
11th February 2002, 03:59
Mr. Hamilton

I think you should be a litle more self effacing in regards to discussing the "combative" effectiveness of Iai. Many people have problems with it in that regard- both in its "set ups" as you have most recently described and in the many modern exponents who most of us have not only seen but have crossed Bokuto with. Further, you are discussing it here with some people who have many years of training in arts with a more practical combative application to weapons. Add to that the extensive test cutting that many here have done. No one that I know of or have read over the years with that type of experience and who have matched bokuto With Iaidoka has offered much of anything positive to the "combative" attributes of Iai-not the art in general, which I think can be beautiful-just the combatives.
Please be a little more honest with yourself in how you train week to week- in comparison to what others may have been doing for decades.

Iai as a concept is a civilian use or art. Creating imaginary scenarios does everyone a disservice. Theory is just that. Testing yourself and what you have learned with unwilling opponents may change your mind and give you a more balanced perspective. We are not trying to be dismissive-its just that many of us have tried the things Iaidoka talk about-and the combative abilities of the waza tend to fall apart rather easily.
Whether you wish to postulate on a historical level or on a modern practical playing field, comparing the theories and skill you will have attained after twenty years of Iai-with someone who has twenty years of hard contact, and or full speed tactical Kata and freestyle with Sword, Naginata, Kodachi, and Knife, as well as test cutting-may be rather disapointing for you-if your ideas are of "combat effectiveness."

Just train
Dan

Ben Bartlett
11th February 2002, 14:49
Oh Lord, I had hoped this thread would stay dead. I'm not going to even get in to the combat effectiveness issue, because frankly I'm tired of wasting my time trying to convince people who have already made up their minds on the issue. I just want to say to Tim that from my understanding of MJER, the techniques in shoden waza are meant primarily for use against unarmored opponents. Obviously some of them work on armored opponents as well, but techniques specifically meant for armored opponents are found elsewhere (or at least that's my current understanding). Oh, and as for bunkai, if you don't have them, then you are just doing a pretty dance with a sword, and that would be kind of silly, no? They're meant more as a didactic tool than anything else, however. At any rate, sorry for the interruption. I'll let you get back to discussing how ineffective iai is now. :cool:

P.S. Dan, do you really think we don't even do things like test cutting? Sometimes you really crack me up, man. That's just damn funny. :laugh:

Dan Harden
11th February 2002, 16:47
Ben

SO glad I could offer you some entertainment value. I feel the same about much I read here.

Test cutting was just one small point in an overall training regimen which I covered. I think your own people have addressed the point both here and elsewhere that you (meaning the big overall orginazation) are sort of all over the place in regards to what it is you do-that isn't a critisism just an observation of your own people's comments. I do know Eishin ryu people that test cut. While it appears to be an art that you cannot paint with a broad brush. It is fair to say that by your own people’s acknowledgement it is in need of more of the missing or seldom practiced forms-even those being rather limited in number.It is fair to say that an exponent of anything meant to be combative needs input from confrontation. It’s one of the reasons that Iai and kendo practiced together make a healthier combination.
You will find that many of the people who have posted have crossed bokuto with Kendoka and Iaidoka. I have yet to hear any “strong” or significant criticism about Kendo from these people. Inversely, several here have privately and publicly shared their experiences after crossing bokuto with several, experienced Iaidoka. They have found it hard to entertain combative "theories" from your viewpoint after that.
Of all the sword arts-yours is the only one routinely criticized for its exponents lacking any substantive combative abilities. You commented on your "wasting your time trying to convince us who have already made up our minds." Your words haven’t accomplished much of anything because too many of us have felt your techniques. I wasn't convinced until after I crossed swords with 5 Eishin ryu guys from sho-dan to go-dan- after three of you woundup with your swords on the floor I stopped listening....Imagine my surprise to find several others with the same or similar experience.YOU have gone along way in making up our previously open minds for us. You’re not going to hear anyone say that about good kendo players or any of the other admittedly few Koryu that we have seen. Just yours.
If you don’t like hearing the criticism-stop talking about combatives and stay with what you do.
There are some Eishin ryu guys who are VERY interested in making their art sound and combatively rational-they have spoken about it and critiqued your own art. They seem to have a very healthy and balanced outlook on what the art is and what they do. Them I listen to.

Dan

Ben Bartlett
11th February 2002, 18:12
SO glad I could offer you some entertainment value. I feel the same about much I read here.
When you're happy, I'm happy. :)


Test cutting was just one small point in an overall training regimen which I covered.
I know, but that was the only part I thought was funny. :)


I think your own people have addressed the point both here and elsewhere that you (meaning the big overall orginazation) are sort of all over the place in regards to what it is you do-that isn't a critisism just an observation of your own people's comments.
Actually, I think I'm the one usually making that comment.


YOU have gone along way in making up our previously open minds for us. You’re not going to hear anyone say that about good kendo players or any of the other admittedly few Koryu that we have seen. Just yours.
If you don’t like hearing the criticism-stop talking about combatives and stay with what you do.
Actually, I haven't done anything, except for talk on here, and it's not that I mind criticism, it's just that talking on here doesn't change anyone's mind. I can say that you haven't necessarily seen what MJER potentially offers, but you have absolutely no reason to believe me. I never said it's perfect, but I do think people tend to downplay its usefulness too much; the theory is sound, even if the application is sometimes lacking (and I'm sure there are some people whose application is not lacking). But you're certainly entitled to your own opinion on the matter. All I was saying is that since your mind is already made up (which you admit it is), it's a waste of my time to argue with you. I'm not going to change your opinion by talking at you, now am I?

Ben Bartlett
11th February 2002, 19:12
Actually, Dan, I just realized that the main problem may be that we mean two different things when we are talking about the "effectiveness" of MJER. When I say it's effective, I mean that the theories behind it could effectively be used in combat. When you state that solo kata will not prepare you for a real combat situation as well as two-person kata and drills along with sparring will, you are, of course, correct. There's no way any reasonable person could argue with that. But that's not an issue of the effectiveness of MJER itself, that's an issue of the effectiveness of the way it is generally practiced. MJER is not just solo kata, it's just that for some reason that's the only aspect of MJER which a lot of people seem to learn.

Chidokan
11th February 2002, 21:45
Looks like I got several 'bites' on this one!!:D
Ben, you follow what I was saying anyway, the waza must be effective. If it wasn't the instructor wouldnt be alive to pass it on after trying it for the first time would he..:laugh:
I also agree about the kendo versus iaido thing though. As I have done both for over 20odd years now I have seen this argument several times in the past. I tended to agree about 15 years ago with the 'my kendo is better than your iaido' argument but this has been changed by experience. Doing both leads you to realise that each has its advantages. Oe Masamichi was also a kendo teacher although famed for his iaido. My own instructor only has 8dan kendo and 8dan iaido... retired last year from kendo aged 88. Personally I don't see how you can do one without the other, they are so closely related.
Dan, Perhaps the problem with the kendo/iaido 'matches' is as you say the lack of combative experience for iaidoka. Several of my friends who only do iaido (6dan and above), have serious timing issues (mainly slow)while trying to fence me. Interestingly one of them who does well also has jiujitsu experience i.e. close combative work.
There is certainly nothing wrong with the iaido techniques, I use several of them while doing kendo anyway, and no doubt everyone else does as well, although in some cases they may not realise this.
I will slag off kendo over one thing though... some of the so called cuts wouldnt get through butter (if it was melted). As you have done tameshigiri you will appreciate good technique does the bulk of the cutting, as the natural weight of the sword would only cut, say, the skin and maybe an inch of flesh. Some of the points I see awarded are more of a glancing blow which more than likely would just ruin a good suit with a bit of blood:D
Anyway I'm off back to dancing with a sword tonight down the dojo...

Dan Harden
11th February 2002, 23:49
Whether you realize it or not you are both agreeing with me. I am not questioning MJER or SMR either in theory or intent but rather what remains of it as exhibited in the hands of the people that some of us have met. Understand? Not the art, but what appears to be a growing trend of the "Iai only" people with ten years of seiza no bu under their belt who post here of cutting down armored opponents with ippon mae. I just got three more e-mails from people with real life experiences sparring with MJER exponents and they were all derogitory. I have high hopes that the current exponents will see that changed by increasingly challenging themselves and their art.
Again, as both of YOU have stated if an exponent doesn't do more Cutting,Kata, Shiai, with their Iai they are probably not going to be much use as an example of their art- just a lot of theory. And hopefully they don't try to validate their ideas in a one to one freestyle match. Their art deserves better than to just look pretty.
Nowadays its considered gouche to question, argue and challenge theories and tactics. Hundreds of years ago this was more or less a required part of their training.
I say its all good and we should be doing it all.
Come to think of it that is already happening here in the Northeast. There is a group that is doing Yagyu in conjuntion with Iai And I know of two fellows who have explored TSKSR as an adjunct to their Iai. Revitalizing an art with lost portions of curriculum has a precedent in several other Koryu. Nothing knew there

Dan

Ben Bartlett
12th February 2002, 14:24
Yes, I do realize that I'm agreeing with you; I had been misunderstanding what you were saying before (and I think people were misunderstanding what Tim meant by "effective"). Don't get me wrong, the solo kata are important. You need to practice drawing and doing noto with a real sword, or you'd end up cutting off your own fingers in a real fight (well, not that you'd be getting into one of those these days, but from a historical perspective, it was important). But if all you've done is solo kata, you shouldn't go about challenging people to sparring matches (unless it's just to learn), because your timing and distancing will be all off and you'll most likely end up looking foolish (no offense meant to anyone who only does solo kata, but it *is* rather difficult to practice those things without an actual opponent). Not to mention there are just a lot of aspects of swordsmanship you don't see unless you are working against someone else. Minute details suddenly become very, very important. I think this is less of an issue if you are studying iai as a supplement to kendo, because then you are getting a feel for some of these issues in your kendo practice, but if you are studying iai in and of itself, then I think it becomes very important. Actually, that's not entirely fair. I personally want to study all of the aspects of MJER (I have a long ways to go yet, but I do want to get there), but if someone feels like they are getting what they want out of the solo kata, that's fine. Heck, if they feel like they get what they want out of the Omori Ryu, that's fine. It's just important to realize that only doing solo kata is not going to prepare you to duel with other people. I mean, I'm not trying to come off as a jerk here, and I'm no expert at swordsmanship or anything like that, but I think it's pretty easy to see how that's the case. I mean, that's really the case for any martial art with solo kata. If you studied karate, but all you did was solo kata, you probably wouldn't do so well in a fight, because while you would've learned how to block, punch, etc., you wouldn't have learned when to block, punch, etc. I think the same applies to swordsmanship. Anyway, that's my totally non-expert opinion on the subject. If anyone has had experience to the contrary, they can feel free to tell me I'm an idiot who doesn't know what he's talking about. :D

Charles Mahan
12th February 2002, 15:12
As I understand it, traditionally within the Setiokai a student does not begin learning the paired forms until around 6th dan or so.

I'm not sure what the actual reasons for this are, but I suspect that the primary reasons include the potential dangers of two man kata, and the need for the student to have a very firm instinctual grasp of kihon.

Why not use two man kata to teach Kihon? When working on paired practice there is is a tendancy to abandon kihon in favor of "what works". "What works" may be effective, it may not be, but whatever it is, it is not the koryu if it violates kihon and therfore becomes detrimental to the study of the koryu. A student who is still learning kihon is not really qualified to judge whether a 'discovered' technique is superior to kihon. I suspect this is part of the reason that the paired kata are not taught until the student reaches a certain level of skill.

This minimum requirement is at least part of the reason why there are so few instructors within the west who feel comfortable teaching the paired exercises. Most have either not been taught the paired exercises, or do not feel it wise to pass it on to their students just yet.

I assure you that within the Seitokai the paired exercises are indeed taught and practiced, but generally only at the upper levels, although I'm sure there are Sensei who go their own way with this tradition.

So are the paired kata lost to those of us in the west? Will we ever see these, or will we have to move to Japan for a several years to learn them? I think the paired exercises will come to the west, as long as strong ties are maintained with the senior sensei in Japan. Being a fan of the traditional side of the ryu, I hope they don't come until we are ready for them. That's easy for me to say, I intend to be doing MJER for another 50 years or so. I can wait.

Tony Peters
12th February 2002, 23:32
I've stayed out of this mostly because I am too junior to know a lot but Koryu other than MJER do include paired kata much earlier than 6 dan and many that I have seen teach Kihon in this manner. Waiting until a person has perfected drawing a sword before teaching him to use it is akin to teaching a person to draw a gun for 20 years before you give him bullets to shoot it. It just isn't all that smart. Now how does this apply to iai???? Depends on what you want out of it. I like MJER it has a fluidity and grace that many martial art don't have without loosing any semblance of being "Martial"

Charles Mahan
13th February 2002, 03:55
I've stayed out of this mostly because I am too junior to know a lot but Koryu other than MJER do include paired kata much earlier than 6 dan and many that I have seen teach Kihon in this manner. Waiting until a person has perfected drawing a sword before teaching him to use it is akin to teaching a person to draw a gun for 20 years before you give him bullets to shoot it.

I have to disagree with your comparison of using a sword and using a gun. Becoming combat effective with a gun takes far less time than becoming combat effective with a sword. Guns are just plain easier to use. That is why they are called the great equalizer.

I also take issue with the implication that 6th dan is a 20 year commitment. That may well be the case, but I don't think that is standard by any means. As I understand it, and this could easily be very wrong, within the Seitokai 6th dan, depending on the student's skill, hardwork, and luck on exams, could come in as few as 10 years, or less.

Is this the way that MJER was taught a 100 years ago? Probably not. At that time, MJER was a professional skill. Profeciency in the ryu was deemed a survival skill and thus needed to be learned as quickly as possible. Students of the time probably dedicated many more training hours per week than we can maintain in the modern day. As a result, they undoubtedly learned faster. Training methods have adapted over the course of the last 450 years or so. This practice of delaying two man katas until the student reaches a certain level of competency in the basics is a reality in modern times.

I am aware that other Koryu, and even different branches of MJER teach two man kata at a much earlier stage of development. I made not claims about other ryu. I was very specifically refering to the main line of MJER as practiced under the auspices of the Seitokai, although I believe I did suggest that perhaps that is the same reason that two man katas are rarely taught in the states.

I'd also like to suggest that there is a great deal about learning how to use a sword that is accomplished during regular kata workouts. I've met and been fortunate enough to train with a handful of 7th and 8th dans who trained under this tradition, and believe me they definitely know there stuff. MJER kihon and kata are about a great deal more than simply drawing the sword

Ben Bartlett
13th February 2002, 15:15
Nowadays its considered gouche to question, argue and challenge theories and tactics. Hundreds of years ago this was more or less a required part of their training.

That statement has been running through my head since yesterday. I have a problem with that statement. The problem is this: while there may be some people who should question, argue, and challenge theories and tactics in MJER, I am not one of those people. It's not that I think it's "gauche", it's just that whenever I criticize something in MJER, I then discover that due to my own inexperience, I misunderstood what it was I was criticizing. Frankly, I try to speak for MJER way more than I ought to, because I do not have decades of practice under my belt (not even close). I just always feel like someone ought to reply to all the non-practitioners who are discussing the art, and unfortunately, I'm just stupid enough to do so. :D I enjoy discussing, arguing, and challenging things; it's part of my nature. But, in even attempting to question MJER, given my current level of experience, I presume too much. Criticism is all well and good, but criticism needs to be founded in knowledge, and knowledge is something I still lack quite a bit of. Maybe if, like Charles, I study for another 50 years, then I'll be in a position to criticize the art. As for questioning theories and tactics, well, that's all well and good, but questions like those are what a sensei is for. :D So, while there may be some truth to the above statement, I definitely think some people who train in an art (like yours truly) have not reached a point in their training where they can effectively critique that art.

Chidokan
13th February 2002, 20:27
For my visit in May I hve already been given 'homework' to do in preparation, and that is to prepare lots of questions. On his last seminar in Japan he received 89 questions and took 3 days answering them all by post etc... I think this proves how seriously this is taken. If you dont ask you dont find out!
I presume for MJER practise Ben, you try out the techniques using bokken/shinai and a partner? if not try them... go easy mind, dont want injuries! A bokken to the forehead may even penetrate my thick skull:D
I would especially recommend them for tate hiza no bu, if you dont do the technique correctly your opponent will not move at all, although you will give him a nasty gash... Also try uke nagashi from seiza no bu, the timing is extremely difficult with a reasonably skilled opponent, and if he's good-:smash:
I noted 6th dan in 10 years.. interesting. My group does 2years for 1st dan, then add the number of the grade, ie for 4th dan it would be 2+2+3+4 or 11 years.
Our group are trying to get away from the dan grade system and go back to the old way of doing things, ie junior student, senior, master(menkyo), grand master. ( not that any of us will ever hit grand master/ menkyo kaiden!) I think it takes out this stupid obsession some people have with gradings. If you know its going to take, say, ten years to get to senior student, you have already accepted a long term committment to your chosen route. It also might stop the 'Ive got a black belt and am leaving to set up my own dojo as a master' garbage as well. Might run this as a new thread,might give me a laugh
;)

Tim

Charles Mahan
13th February 2002, 21:08
I noted 6th dan in 10 years.. interesting. My group does 2years for 1st dan, then add the number of the grade, ie for 4th dan it would be 2+2+3+4 or 11 years.

This is another example of the idea that dan ranks are simply not comparable from one ryu to another, and sometimes not comparable within different organizations of the same ryu.

As I understand it, their is a time element involved in the dan ranks within the Seitokai, but I don't believe it is as rigid as saying that after such and such years of practice you test for such and such a dan rank. I must admit this is an area of the Ryu that I don't know that much about, so I will keep my guesses to myself. I believe that 10 years of dedicated study is the short end of the range to 6th dan.

Ben Bartlett
14th February 2002, 14:22
In the Jikishinkai association (trying to make that distinction after having read the other thread), it takes about 17 years at minimum to reach 6th dan (which means it'll take me at least 50 :D ).

Yes, we do try out the techniques with bokken, or at least some of them. You mention some interesting ones to practice, I might have to try them in my own free time. The timing on some of that stuff is quite difficult, particularly deflection! But it is good to learn.

As for grading, I think it's kind of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it is nice to have a yard stick, so you can tell you've made some progress. On the other hand, ranks shouldn't be a goal in and of themselves; the goal is to become a better swordsman, the rank is just an indicator of how much you've improved since you started. Even if you reach the highest rank, you can still improve your swordsmanship. Personally, I can take them or leave them. All I really care about is getting better.

Jack B
16th February 2002, 23:07
The 10 years to 6 dan MJER I believe refers to one case, an American who lived in Japan for 10 years, studying constantly under an 8th dan, with periodic workouts under a 10th dan and a Soke, training four days a week, walking home swinging suburito and scaring the locals. I do not believe this is typical even for Japanese nowadays.

Jack Bieler

Charles Mahan
19th February 2002, 15:49
The 10 years to 6 dan MJER I believe refers to one case, an American who lived in Japan for 10 years, studying constantly under an 8th dan, with periodic workouts under a 10th dan and a Soke, training four days a week, walking home swinging suburito and scaring the locals. I do not believe this is typical even for Japanese nowadays.

Agreed. I do believe I used the term, as little as 10 years, but I don't think it was clear enough. My post did make it sound like 10 years was not uncommon. My apologies for not being more clear.