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Thread: How long was it before you started using a Shinken?

  1. #1
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    Question How long was it before you started using a Shinken?

    This is mainly aimed at Iai, Iaido etc exponents. But any input would be welcome.

    Cheers
    Sam
    Sam Roberts

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    Default Not yet...

    It is my understanding that a shinken purchase is something one starts to consider after having attained 5th dan, or thereabouts. I could be wrong, though. I wouldn't consider a Paul Chen, Cold Steel, etc. sword a "shinken" in the context of traditional iai. A good shinken, made in Japan, suitable for iaido, will cost $5,000 at the very least, closer to $10,000 if you're the least bit picky. Not really recommended to spend that much money if you've only been practising for a year and a half...

    I'm curious to know whether any iaidoka on the board use production swords for everyday iai practise?
    Aage Bakken

    Ki is like duct tape, it has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together. [yoj]

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    Arrow Re: Not yet...

    Originally posted by A. Bakken
    It is my understanding that a shinken purchase is something one starts to consider after having attained 5th dan, or thereabouts. I could be wrong, though. I wouldn't consider a Paul Chen, Cold Steel, etc. sword a "shinken" in the context of traditional iai. A good shinken, made in Japan, suitable for iaido, will cost $5,000 at the very least, closer to $10,000 if you're the least bit picky. Not really recommended to spend that much money if you've only been practising for a year and a half...

    I'm curious to know whether any iaidoka on the board use production swords for everyday iai practise?
    By 5-dan at the latest, but no earlier than 3-dan are the figures that I have heard.

    I bought a Shinken last year, and am beginning to use it - getting used to it outside of class. Otherwise I use a custom Iaito (4004-model from Swordstore) for Iaido and Batto-do. Kata
    Raymond Sosnowski

    "Setsunintoh, Katsuninken, Shinmyohken."

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    Default depends :)

    One line of MJER expects you to be able to handle a shinken at 4th dan, use it for tests and embu, whether or not you train with it regularly.

    For those who practice iai styles that do not emphasize cutting, I imagine there is no urgent push or pull to obtain and use a shinken.
    For those who do occasionally cut, ...
    In the first iai style I trained in, I began using a shinken after about three months (was in Japan, no production blades allowed). Once you began, that's all you used. Sensei never really gave us a timeframe to work towards. That is the attitude I inherited.
    The second dojo I trained at, I showed up with a shinken, sensei checked it, I trained with it, no questions asked (I was introduced/recommended by a fairly senior person in the style.) About 1/2 of the students routinely used live blades for forms. We would switch to iaito only for kumitachi.
    Third dojo was more traditional, MJER, the sensei occasionally used a shinken (and very well), but no one else did (except me, sometimes, and only with permission.)
    In my group now, I routinely train with a shinken, currently a nice 150-year-old blade, nothing fancy, perfect for iai, but have used a number of production blades as well. I have not set up time requirement to transistion to live blades, but have about six students who all switched to live blades at around six months, another one after about two years (all production blades) and of course, everyone cuts. And I occasionally make dojo 'cutters' available for forms practice, a couple of students go this route. So whether or not they own a live blade, they can still occasionally use one.
    The transition to a live blade seems to have more to do with when a student can afford it (and what they can afford) than when they are 'ready' for it. If you are serious from the beginning about learning/teaching good, safe, realistic sword handling, emphasize attention to detail and focus, it should not need x-number of years to get there, in my opinion.
    Small rant follows - For our group (your mileage may vary), you are doing sword or you are not. You respect the edge or you get 'bit'. You pay attention to the people around you, because, hey, you're all swinging swords and yes, some of them are live blades. Zanshin is real. A live blade is not a 'reward' for training, it is the point of the training. OK, rant off. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

    Oh, and there are some very nice production live blades for iai out there, and the market seems to be getting steadily better. And yes, a decent live blade, production, shinken, or custom, it is a serious investment or commitment, and one should take time (and advice) to decide upon the best one(s).

    Dave
    Dave Drawdy
    "the artist formerly known as Sergeant Major"

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    Default First Class

    Used a live blade on my first day of class. I require the same in my classes.
    Amos Smith
    Kodama Dōjō
    608-345-8807
    www.chicagobudokai.com

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    Default

    First time was when Matsumoto sensei handed me one and told me to practice with it for that class session. I was a little apprehensive but didn't question his reasoning and used it with no problems. No "bites" that is.
    Gary MacMullen
    MJER Jikishinkai
    Big Green Drum Japanese Martial Arts
    (Formerly Aikido of West Florida)

    Mi ni tanoshimi o takamazu - Musashi
    Fortes Fortuna Juvat

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    Default

    Started doing iai using a gendaito - I came to Iai from weapon collecting (yes I have been a criminal guilty of crimes against historical artifacts). Graduated to an iaito after a couple of years. Still use a live blade (my cutter) for iai occasionaly when there are too many beginners needing iaito.

    Aden

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    Default

    Hi,

    Generally, it's up to your school and sensei to let you know when you can practice with a shinken. Some say "get one now" and most let you wait until you reach advanced dan ranking or your first teaching license.

    For me in my previous iaido life, I started using shinken after I received shodan (approx. 3 years or training). When I started with my new school, my sensei was okay with me using shinken right off the bat, but I went back to using a nice, well-balanced iaito a few years ago. I still use my shinken for tameshigiri and occasional embu.
    Dennis Ralutin

    Orange County Buddhist Church (OCB) Kendo Dojo
    Southern California Kendo Federation (SCKF)
    All United States Kendo Federation (AUSKF)

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    Default Re: First Class

    Originally posted by Amos Smith
    Used a live blade on my first day of class. I require the same in my classes.
    you require that beginners use shinken from day one?
    Roar Ulvestad

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    Default

    Indeed - that sounds foolish - I hope you have good insurance!

    I had trouble performing Noto with a bokken for the first months. A Shinken would have been disasterous!
    Mat Rous

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    Default

    How often does this topic come up? Mileage varies greatly between people and dojos. Some people are militant about not letting students use live blades until after they have earned advance ranks, and some schools let students use them as soon as they can afford them.

    I went to one of the "as soon as you can afford one" schools. I personally used a bokken for the first 2 or 3 months, learning the basics, while I saved up a for cheap Paul Chen blade. I've never nicked myself or anyone else. When you know from day one that you can get hurt, you pay extra attention and go a little slower. There was never a problem with anyone getting hurt at my school. It just takes a different attitude to use a live blade.

    Let's not get into a "shinken are dangerous" - "no they're not" argument. Yes, people can get hurt, but I bet the average karate dojo sees more injuries than the average iaido school.
    --Timothy Kleinert

    Aikido & Qigongs

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    Default

    The main time to be aware of using them is at large seminars when you are training with people who do not know you are using one. We tend to segregate out by dan level/experience, but then ask who is using shinken. That way its safe for the teachers as well as the students.
    Personal practise is a shinken,but when teaching I use an iaito or bokken/saya. No-one listens properly if you are waving sharp swords close to them when demonstrating a point of technique...
    Problem with iaito is that it allows for 'careless' technique, ok for beginners initially but bad in the long run.
    Tim Hamilton

    Why are you reading this instead of being out training? No excuses accepted...

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    Default

    In our dojo, it's usually bokuto for the first couple of months or so, then iaito for about the next 5 years or so. Then sensei will start to bug you about a shinken. It's not that simple however. You really have to be training regularly to be told it's time to pick one up.

    Sensei trains with a shinken the vast majority of the time. From what I understand, it is quite common to use shinken quite regularly after a certain point in training. Even if you don't cut, shinken are simply different than iaito. At some point, everyone switches to shinken.

    There are two students at our dojo using live blades now, and we pretty much use them all the time. In my case, I use a Swordstore steel iaito in class. At some point, I do intend to purchase a nihonto, but it will be a while. Gotta stop tearing up this one first

    There are production swords available that are perfectly usable for daily iai training, but they are in the $1200+ range. The less expensive ones don't seem to be well suited for frequent iai training for balance or fitting reasons.

    The two companies that are usually recommended are Swordstore and Bugei for production swords. I have little experience with Bugei, but I hear good things.


    No-one listens properly if you are waving sharp swords close to them when demonstrating a point of technique...
    Oh I don't know... I tend to listen VERY closely at times like that
    Last edited by Charles Mahan; 8th February 2004 at 19:04.
    Charles Mahan

    Iaido - Breaking down bad habits,
    and building new ones.

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    Default

    My understanding is that ZNKR requires a shinken for the godan shinsa.
    Neil Gendzwill
    Saskatoon Kendo Club

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    Default

    Originally posted by Maro
    Indeed - that sounds foolish - I hope you have good insurance!

    I had trouble performing Noto with a bokken for the first months. A Shinken would have been disasterous!

    Strange, as I was encouraged by my Araki ryu sensei to start using Shinken well into my first month of doing nyumon. He let me use his for six months.

    Different sensei have different teaching methods eh?

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