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Thread: Is Kenjutsu a Sword Art in Itself?

  1. #31
    Darren Yeow Guest

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    Hmmm, this is interesting.

    So general consensus is that kata still has it's combatative value if performed in the correct mindset, but an exponent who only performs kata will never be as adaptive as someone who performs kata and shiai as well?

    DY

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    Dan:

    If the kata doesn`t have any combative rationale, it`s a pretty bad kata, ain`t it? If the particular ryu you study is filled with such kata, or is filled with instructors who cannot explain the rationale for the kata, it`s a pretty bad ryu, ain`t it?

    HOWEVER, and this is a REALLY BIG however, the teaching/learning method in Japan is differnt from in the West, and being a Westerner, I am always running into this problem, even now after all these years. In Japan, it`s "Do first, understand later". In the US, it`s "explain it to me so I can understand it and then I`ll decide whether it`s worth doing."

    In Japan, the teacher will explain the whys and wherefores when he thinks you are good and ready, and not before. For most Westerners, this is usually taken to mean that he is either being mean or that he doesn`t know, and a lot of us say "Well, this really sucks. He just has me stand here every day and do the same damn thing a bazillion times. When is he gonna teach me how to FIGHT, dammmit?" We all know what happens to people like that.

    However, I have found that all teachers and differnt ryu are different. Some explain easily, some don`t. At the same time, I have found that in most cases, what I thought,in my youth, arrogance, and inexperience, to be correct and obvious later turned out to be wrong.
    Earl Hartman

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    Originally posted by Darren Yeow
    Hmmm, this is interesting.

    So general consensus is that kata still has it's combatative value if performed in the correct mindset, but an exponent who only performs kata will never be as adaptive as someone who performs kata and shiai as well?

    DY
    It's a principle that is universal throughout the MAs, Darren. The way you train in the dojo, is the way you'll fight on the streets.

    Not that any of these jamokas plan to fight with swords on the street, mind you, but it translates into unarmed combat as well. Ask any karateka who has gotten his a** beaten to a pulp on the streets, because all he'd done is kata or no-contact one-step sparring in the dojo.

    Neuromuscular wiring that directs timing, distancing, strategy, mindset, footwork and all movement is developed at its basic level in kata, but the element of spontaneity and the ability to "think outside the box" can come only from being thrown into the unpredictable melee of shiai or sparring.
    Cady Goldfield

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    Originally posted by Dan Harden
    The oft-repeated phrase of "You cannot criticize it unless you have done it for decades" is a last gasp of a dying defense. If the very arts hierarchy criticizes its technical emptiness, if its sandans--godans are unable to use it in any real sense, then it IS unrealistic in any practical sense. You do not need to DO IT, to SEE how hollow it is as a martially viable entity.
    Dan

    My only beef here are how some people are offering their opinions.

    Opinions are fine, as long as they are voiced as such and kept in perspective, but grande prognostications about what IS and what IS NOT a viable Martial Art, are not. If you want to make the bold statements, you need representitive samples, and I haven't seen them here. Shure, there are a lot of people out there goofing around with all kinds of stuff, but do you think, for example, your own observations on some Iaidoka(as valid as they maybe) give you the ability to paint the whole art??? From what I have heard so far, they don't.

    And furthermore, would any of us feel comfortable rendering an opinion on an art that is still overwhelingly practiced in another country? We are, after all, really only in the hinterland here.

    [Edited by FastEd on 12-14-2000 at 10:49 PM]
    Nulli Secundus

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    Fast Ed writes:

    And furthermore, would any of us feel comfortable rendering an opinion on an art that is still overwhelingly practiced in another country? We are, after all, really only in the hinterland here.

    Thank you Ed for stating this obvious yet over-looked fact. We can experiment and dabble all we want in the Japanese sword arts and Koryu (or what some of us think are koryu) but the fact of the matter is that only a very very very and did I say "VERY" few people outside of Japan have any idea about what they are really talking about when it comes to this subject. We can certainly enjoy these kinds of discussions amongst ourselves, but the vast majority of those posting just don't "know" what they are talking about. Please refer back to John Ray's request "tell us what it is" but before you answer, or even think about answering really ask yourself, "Do I "know" what it is, or am I just speculating on what it is?"


    Scott Irey
    Just another one of those "few peanuts short of a snickers bar" MJER guys.

  6. #36
    Darren Yeow Guest

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    Hi Cady,

    yeah I understand that shiai and kata go hand in hand to create a better martial artist, I mean I've done it for more than half my life (which translates to a helluva lot of free sparring).

    I guess I didn't make myself clear, but my question relates more to kenjutsu or working with the sword (or substitute) - as I'm not too familiar with kenjutsu in general.

    But how does shiai, or the equivalent of free sparring occur in the sword arts? Do they just teach the techniques to students, then kata, then let them go off and free spar with bokken or shinai? Or do they teach them partnered kata, and try to reach a realistic mindset? I guess that was what I was trying to understand, and didn't translate well out loud.

    Thanks, DY

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    Originally posted by Darren Yeow
    Hi Cady,

    yeah I understand that shiai and kata go hand in hand to create a better martial artist, I mean I've done it for more than half my life (which translates to a helluva lot of free sparring).

    I guess I didn't make myself clear, but my question relates more to kenjutsu or working with the sword (or substitute) - as I'm not too familiar with kenjutsu in general.

    But how does shiai, or the equivalent of free sparring occur in the sword arts? Do they just teach the techniques to students, then kata, then let them go off and free spar with bokken or shinai? Or do they teach them partnered kata, and try to reach a realistic mindset? I guess that was what I was trying to understand, and didn't translate well out loud.

    Thanks, DY
    Darren, you and I have something in common in that we have both spent half our lives, thusfar, in martial arts training and study. With lots of freestyling.

    To address your question, scroll back to Dan's post in this thread, about "Kiri before Kata, Kata before Shiai, Shiai before Iai."

    It translates to the same training philosophy and methodology in which I came up in TKD/karate. If you put a couple of guys with no training onto the mats with bokuto and tell them to freestyle, what do you think they are going to do? Technique and strategy? They have no foundation skills to use yet. Not even the "letters of the alphabet" (the basic sword cuts) with which to write words or sentences. In our dojo, we learned a series of cuts (which we practice on our own at home, mostly), then a series of short kata -- one or two movements -- with which to combine and apply those cuts with angle, ma-ai and footwork practice. Then we learn longer kata that introduce more complex timings, body positionings, angles of attack, and nuances of turning defense into attack.

    Then we do shiai and promptly get all of our fingers broken.

    The formula makes sense to me.
    Kiri/cuts first = you learn the "alphabet" of your system. Kata next = you learn to arrange the "letters" into words, phrases and then cogent sentences (a series of movements using footwork, timing, angles, ma-ai, etc.). Then Shiai = spontaneously writing a story that makes sense, even though you must act and react to a variety of "ideas" that people throw at you. Finally, Iai = polishing the "writing" so that you can draw your pen at any moment and write a cogent work of intellect and skill, regardless of the theme your "editors" (attackers) throw at you.

    Okay, I've squeezed this lame metaphor for all it's worth.


    Cady

    [Edited by Cady Goldfield on 12-15-2000 at 11:10 AM]
    Cady Goldfield

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    Default Ok... I'm not a Iai or Batto Expert, but...

    Forgive me for my intrusion into this conversation, but I am compelled to put my two cents worth into this...

    It seems that many of us here agree that kata has worth, yet there are still some here that feel that they can eliminate kata and still be an effective martial artist. Let me comment here: think about non-martial artists who are athletes - think about Michael Jordan, practicing those amazing jumps, free throws, dribble drills, etc. Do you think he could've become as good as he is by just jumping in there with his friends and playing? Maybe, but I think he'd argue with you. What about an Olympic shooter? Imagine if you HAD to stay in a prone position, drawing back the trigger hours and hours WITHOUT a round in the chamber, just so you can spend more hours actually shooting and learning new ways to hold yourself still enough under pressure, so you could actually shoot in competition.

    For Air Jordan, his battlefield is the court, and he does his "kata" before every game (he's not in the NBA anymore, but he STILL does "kata"... there's a hint for the "instant Grandmaster" club). For an Olympic shooter, he or she isn't in combat, but their "battlefield" is still a fierce one (look up "Camp Perry"). ANY athlete who wants to win, and ANY MARTIAL ARTIST, INCLUDING Bruce Lee when he was alive, MUST LEARN THE BASICS FIRST, even if they digress in the future.

    As far as the sword, I've been lucky enough to have been recently corrected on things I was doing wrong, so I can practice my KATA, so I can learn how to apply the techniques to my FIGHTING techniques, just as I practiced against cardboard targets at Quantico so I could save my life and partners life against "bad guys."

    Just something to think about.

    Carlos
    E. Carlos Estrella, Jr.

    The strength of a man is not measured in how much he can lift, how many he can fight or how much he can endure, but in his capacity to admit his limitations and learn to successfully circumvent them.

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    Originally posted by Janty Chattaw
    my last name Chattaw means sharp edge/sword warrior, my ancestors were swordsman, so I have always had this passions for training in the way of the sword.
    What a fortuitous heritage you come from, Janty. Are you Chetri, then?

    Cady Goldfield
    "Who, unfortunately, does not hail from ancestors who could extract gold from anything, not even tooth fillings..."
    Cady Goldfield

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    Kewl beans, Janty.
    It would be fascinating to compare the style of swordsmanship your culture developed, with those of other cultures including Japan. Do you believe that methodology is strongly influenced by physical environment as much as it is by societal constraints?

    My more immediate ancesters were from southwestern Russia too, for the past 500 years or so, and also weren't ethnic Russians. And, they were slaughtered by Russians, too! Difference was, their group was forbidden to bear arms, and so didn't have any weapons. Until they invented the Uzi, that is.

    Cady



    [Edited by Cady Goldfield on 12-15-2000 at 06:37 PM]
    Cady Goldfield

  11. #41
    Darren Yeow Guest

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    Hey guys, great input, whoa, look at the sze of the thread, it's huge!

    DY

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    Originally posted by Undmark, Ulf
    The 'do' was also used by several koryu before the 20'th century (Abe ryu kendo, Jikishin ryu judo, Kito ryu judo...and what about Kano ryu jujutsu...)
    I may very well be wrong, as I am not very familiar with these variants, but to my knowledge, no kendo or judo style is classified as a koryu...is it?

    A koryu is an art developed prior to 1860.
    Wasn't Judo developed by Kano Jigoro in 1881?
    Can't remember exactly when Kendo came about, but always was under the impression it was a reletively modern sporting derivation. (Does the "Abe" in Abe-ryu refer to the Abe clan, wiped out by the Minamoto by 1062?)If I'm wrong, please correct me... I learn a lot from this site.

    I think some free sparring is good training, but once again, as Japan was in an almost constant state of war for hundreds of years, I feel they had a pretty good idea of what "works" and most ryu were very kata/waza intensive.

    Waza and kata ARE a waste of time the way many martial artists practice them...robotic, and body on auto-pilot. I had a couple of sensei that didn't allow that to happen. They would vary the pace of our two-person waza. Sudden bursts of speed, or worse yet, simply stopping mid-waza (left me feeling like an idiot when Uke is supposed to step backward and me forward- Sensei simply stops with bokken extended and I impale myself.) Also, I have heard of some that will change to a different waza right in the middle of the first. Keeps you thinking.

    I find that there are some techniques which many students will not attempt in free-style sparring, usually because they are hard. Spar with these same guys over and over and you forget how to defend against it, while getting really good at the favorite attacks. Waza teach defences against these less-popular attacks. I think it was Mr. Hartman that said something to the effect that waza teach the correct way to perform technique. This is right on the money, I think.



    David F. Craik

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    Originally posted by Soulend
    Originally posted by Undmark, Ulf
    The 'do' was also used by several koryu before the 20'th century (Abe ryu kendo, Jikishin ryu judo, Kito ryu judo...and what about Kano ryu jujutsu...)
    I may very well be wrong, as I am not very familiar with these variants, but to my knowledge, no kendo or judo style is classified as a koryu...is it?

    A koryu is an art developed prior to 1860.
    Wasn't Judo developed by Kano Jigoro in 1881?


    According to Draeger (Classical Budo, S. 119) Terada Kan'emon, the fifth headmaster of the Kito Ryu and founder of the Jikishin Ryu, was the first known person who used the term judo to describe his art. Kito Ryu - you may already know it - was one source for Kano's Kodokan Judo.
    For Kendo (also mentioned by Ulf), Abe Gorodaiyu (fl. 1668) was the first man known to have used the word Kendo (Draeger, Classical Budo, S. 81). Kendo, or ken no michi, "the way of the sword", describes the teachings of his Ryu, the Abe Ryu. At about the same time, the Heijo Muteki Ryu, founded by Yamanouchi Renshinsai, also used the term Kendo to describes its teachings.
    If we accept, that - to be a koryu - a ryu must have been established before 1868 (the Meiji Restauration), then all the above listed Ryu are koryu (also if one or another is extinct today).

    regards



    [Edited by Ruediger on 12-16-2000 at 06:42 AM]
    Ruediger Meier

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    Originally posted by Darren Yeow
    Hi Cady,

    But how does shiai, or the equivalent of free sparring occur in the sword arts? Do they just teach the techniques to students, then kata, then let them go off and free spar with bokken or shinai? Or do they teach them partnered kata, and try to reach a realistic mindset? I guess that was what I was trying to understand, and didn't translate well out loud.

    Thanks, DY
    I'm sure this will raise howels of protest from some here, but the answer is simple..go do some KENDO. Just remember
    you want to practice cutting Kendo, not tapping Kendo. If you can "walk the talk" with the Kendo guys then people will take you seriously.
    Nulli Secundus

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    Talking

    Originally posted by Janty Chattaw

    The problem some kenjutsuka (including myself)have is with groups that only practice kata.
    There are multiple things involved in becoming a great swordsman, and kata (which is an important factor) is only one of those things.
    I won't argue with you on this point. However, lets compare THIS statement with your original posting in this topic. Do you still feel comfortable standing by it..?, OR do you acknowledge that you are not as informed about Iai as you originally thought....

    Come on man..I need some closure...
    Nulli Secundus

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