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Thread: Regarding Performing Noto During Iaido...

  1. #31
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    Drawing a mune with burrs (from receiving too far beyond the shinogi, so that the other blade actually digs into the softer steel of the spine) across the koko held at the koiguchi, can be like dragging a blunt saw (unpleasant). Not making contact with flesh can be beneficial in those cases.
    I think we need to consider, though, that noto has no combative component whatsoever, really. If your worried about noto because you've actually used your sword in combat, you probably have too much time on your hands.

    The weapon gets put away when the dance is done, so no real need to worry about where you are gripping...simply change your hand position to avoid the burrs (which is not done in kata...hand position is an important detail), or simply look and guide it in when all the bad guys are gone.

    Noto seems to me to be a training mechanism...it is simply the action of putting your weapon away after the need for it is over. The pedagogical aspects are important for training zanshin and being aware of little details, but I don't think an actual warrior would fret over his noto the way we do. He put the thing away and moved on. It is a weapon, so you treat it carefully, but the numerous "important" things about noto in the dojo wouldn't necessarily apply when you are done with your slashing for the day and heading in for some sake.

    (Even if we assume some combative need to put the sword away quickly, to pick up a spear or something maybe, the mechanics would be bare-bones simple. If it is really that pressing a need, chuck the sword away. It's training nowadays. Although it goes to the combative mindset, certain concerns can be overblown, I think.)

    Kevin Cantwell

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Lovato View Post
    Most koryu Iv'e seen do touch the blade. I was taught in Yanagi Ryu and Shindo Yoshin Ryu not to touch the blade during noto and that works fine for me.
    So perhaps that may help to explain why James Williams mentioned that from a classical perspective it is incorrect to touch the blade during noto.

    According to his biography, James Williams also studied Yanagi-ryu under Don Angier. Perhaps based on his experience of not touching the blade during noto while training in Yanagi-ryu in the US, he extrapolated on it and incorrectly assumed that the same must be true for all of the koryu schools that have iai in Japan.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nii View Post
    I reckon when James Williams said the "blade" he actually meant the "ha" of the shinken. Then it all makes perfect sense.
    Sorry, but that is even more confusing for me. In the original quote, James Williams also said:
    "... for noto or returning the saya, a lot of styles especially modern ones have some tendency to rub their finger on the blade prior to the mouth of the saya."
    If these practioners of "a lot of styles" were "rubbing their fingers" aganst the ha, or the sharpend edge of a live sword, then I still think there would be little reason to worry about the cosmetic appearance of the blade. Instead, it would be quite likely that the same practitioners would instead need to quickly stop the rapid loss of blood after dismembering themselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Karazozis View Post
    We should not forget that, not only do we see many Koryu perform noto by dragging the mune along the hand(about where the 1st Interossei dorsal is situated) and create a slight pinch with the thumb and index finger, but we also see alot of touchin' of the blade in various waza in many different "classical" schools.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVBox1dnEd4

    I see alot of touchin' going on in these waza performed by Otake sensei.
    So, not touching the blade is NOT a "classical perspective", it's a James williams perspective.
    That is another very good example of touching the blade. Ellis previously gave the example of the Buko-ryu technique where the mune is slide along the palm of the hand. If I remember correctly, Hoki-ryu also has a commonly seen technique where the hand is placed along the mune of the sword apparently to help reinforce a thrust.

    Thanks again to everyone who has responded. I have enjoyed reading all of your comments and found the examples given quite informative.

    Sincerely,

    Ron Beaubien

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgsmith View Post
    Hey Ren,
    Wouldn't that be considered simply advanced technique, rather than an actual attempt to avoid touching the blade?
    6 of one, half a dozen of the other. AKA, same difference?
    Hell, I dunno. I can barely drawn the damn sword let alone do a decent noto.

    Regards,

    r e n

  4. #34

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    FWIW it has long been a topic I've found interesting as a person polishing (wondering about the role of burnishing the shinogi ji and mune). I've asked a lot of my customers over the years about their styles of noto and I've heard a very large variety of answers (keep in mind that my customers include those in koryu, gendai arts, and some who fashion themselves martial artists but with no formal training and also collectors). Anyway, I've heard no-touch styles, little touch styles, and even a few that have said they sometimes "pinch" a bit along the shinogi-ji feeling the blade. I have also, however, had a number say they pinch the "blade itself" (meaning the ji surfaces). These guys are the ones who do not seem to have any real training. So I've always thought that it is a somewhat common conception among non-practitioners.

    I had one guy tell me at a show that in "his style" they pinch the ji surfaces during the draw so they can feel when they hit the yokote and then they know it is clear of the saya for the draw. I think most of his formal training involved a mirror in his mom's basement while wearing his ninja turtle underoos however... I told him it was probably a better idea not to pinch it during the draw...

    I'll also add that I have been asked whether you "pinch the blade" during the draw on a couple occasions when I've been asked to give a basic introduction to swords kinda presentation to non-martial artists. My answer to that has always been that you don't touch the blade itself (meaning the ji surfaces). But that many styles have some degree of contact or another with the mune and/or the shinogi-ji surfaces.

    But touching the ha at any time is downright Darwinian...

  5. #35
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    Not my forum, so just a friendly reminder. Other forums have given warnings on language/cursing usage. So, please remember to watch the words.

    Thanks,
    Mark

  6. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ellis Amdur View Post
    Then I unsheathed the sword, and evidently the heat of the sun precipitated all the moisture out of the saya's wood, where it "found" the surface of the blade with the moisture of my hand. That side - and that side alone - was literally "furred" with rust that pitted the sword. 15 minutes! You probably could have watched it grow, were it not in the saya.
    Just fwiw, skin oils *are* corrosive. Some people are much worse than others. Another thing you'll find if you work with finishing fine metals (not just steel, but on newly polished shakudo for instance) is that things like lotions used by some people can really create some interesting patterns in the metals... Anyway, thumbprints on blades are not uncommon. And they are remarkably difficult to get out. It isn't the moisture per se, but the skin oils. And don't get me started on blood -- that can create nasty rust patterns on steel.

    Some people can really have problems on hot days apparently because the mixture of sweat and skin oil for some folk is really hard on steel. So on hotter days the combination of sweat, skin oil, moisture in the air and the increased speed of the oxidation due to higher heat is just a bad combination.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by kdlarman View Post
    ...And don't get me started on blood -- that can create nasty rust patterns on steel.
    So, from an historical point of view (obviously), not only should we not be touching the mune when performing noto, we should, under no circumstance's, allow the mune to come into contact with blood...oh wait that wouldnt very useful for killing...hmm!

    And a serious note though, there only seems to be talk here of noto, I know in MJER there are a few cases where the hand contacts the mune during kata other than the noto.

    If from an historical point of view touching the mune during noto is incorrect, and I know there has been comments here questioning the practical application of noto (historically), how would you explain touching the mune during a tsuki or in a kata like Iwanami where the hand first guides the tsuki and then aids the dragging to the floor?
    John Ranford
    兵法二天一流剣術 - 無双直伝英信流居合
    Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu Kenjutsu - Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iai

  8. #38
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    If from an historical point of view touching the mune during noto is incorrect, and I know there has been comments here questioning the practical application of noto (historically), how would you explain touching the mune during a tsuki or in a kata like Iwanami where the hand first guides the tsuki and then aids the dragging to the floor?
    I think you would be pretty hard-pressed to do so.

    I suppose you could say desperate measures or something. Noto should never be done in a "desperate moment," so touching there can be avoided more easily than in an actual combative technique when you have to touch the mune to save your life.

    Seems like it would just be easier to clean your blade, though, rather than have to worry about this type of proscription. Touch away if it gets the job done.

    Kevin Cantwell

  9. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by nico storm View Post
    So, from an historical point of view (obviously), not only should we not be touching the mune when performing noto, we should, under no circumstance's, allow the mune to come into contact with blood...oh wait that wouldnt very useful for killing...hmm!

    And a serious note though, there only seems to be talk here of noto, I know in MJER there are a few cases where the hand contacts the mune during kata other than the noto.

    If from an historical point of view touching the mune during noto is incorrect, and I know there has been comments here questioning the practical application of noto (historically), how would you explain touching the mune during a tsuki or in a kata like Iwanami where the hand first guides the tsuki and then aids the dragging to the floor?
    I was just responding to Mr. Amdur's post about his thought that it was the moisture that caused his blade to rust rather than the skin oil. I was just clarifying that in my experience skin oil *can be* very corrosive under certain conditions. And that blood can be very corrosive very quickly. Which is why you need to clean the sword periodically and correctly. Suffice to say my only point was that minimizing contact with the sword is and has always been a good practice. But obviously you have to handle it in any variety of ways. It is a weapon first and foremost.

    Sorry to intrude...

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Beaubien View Post
    So perhaps that may help to explain why James Williams mentioned that from a classical perspective it is incorrect to touch the blade during noto.

    According to his biography, James Williams also studied Yanagi-ryu under Don Angier. Perhaps based on his experience of not touching the blade during noto while training in Yanagi-ryu in the US, he extrapolated on it and incorrectly assumed that the same must be true for all of the koryu schools that have iai in Japan.
    I think you are right on the money there. Back in the US I have a first generation version of Angier's Kenjutsu video where they very clearly explain basically the same noto that Williams is doing in the YouTube video. "Never never touch the blade, the oils will destory it", etc type of stuff. That video later got chopped up and had some things removed for copyright infringement reasons (I know one of the people who had to deal with getting some footage removed that was used without their permission), so I don't know how the later versions are, but I would assume that part is still included.

    For the record in Hoki ryu we touch the blade a lot in noto and one menkyo kaiden level sensei I know does full skin on blade contact chinugui during noto. He's also sells swords by profession so I tend to trust him when he says it is no issue.

    For what it's worth,
    Rennis Buchner
    Rennis Buchner

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by kdlarman View Post
    I was just responding to Mr. Amdur's post about his thought that it was the moisture that caused his blade to rust rather than the skin oil. I was just clarifying that in my experience skin oil *can be* very corrosive under certain conditions. And that blood can be very corrosive very quickly. Which is why you need to clean the sword periodically and correctly. Suffice to say my only point was that minimizing contact with the sword is and has always been a good practice. But obviously you have to handle it in any variety of ways. It is a weapon first and foremost.

    Sorry to intrude...

    Sorry keith, my post wasn't meant to be directed towards you, I just thought the idea of having to avoid blood because (like touching the mune during noto) it could cause rusting, was quite funny.

    I can see the demo now:

    "Now at this point many ryu will tell we are aiming to cut up the kesa line, but historically this would not be the case. You see there is blood in the human body, and if we were to make this cut the blood has a tendancy to spurt out; and if it gets on the blade then is can cause it rust real fast. So, historically, what we actually do is leave the sword exactly where it is in the saya, that way there's no risk of anything harming the blade ......doh..."
    John Ranford
    兵法二天一流剣術 - 無双直伝英信流居合
    Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu Kenjutsu - Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iai

  12. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by nico storm View Post
    Sorry keith, my post wasn't meant to be directed towards you,
    No worries, just clarifying my position as someone in the craft side who has a lot of martial artists as customers. I get to repair them when it happens...

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by kdlarman View Post
    I was just clarifying that in my experience skin oil *can be* very corrosive under certain conditions.
    You are probably right. My comment about moisture probably being more corrosive than oils in the skin at the beginning of this thread was based on my experience of growing up and working on steel in a tool factory in Detroit. I only glanced quickly before posting, but The Connoisseur's Book of Japanese Swords by Nagayama Kokan had also only made mention of moisture as being corrosive on page 308, but nothing about oils.

    In the end, perhaps we shouldn't be too concerned about what exactly causes sword blades to corrode when they are touched. Human skin gives off a mixture of moisure, oil, salt, etc., in varying quantities and consistencies at different times based on body temperature, physical activity, diet, etc. It would be of little practical use to break it down to try and determine exactly which element or elements are the main culprit, as none of our bodies are giving off any of the above in a pure form anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by kdlarman View Post
    Sorry to intrude...
    No need to apologize. You're unique insights and experience are certainly valued here. Please feel free to post more often.

    Thanks again,

    Ron Beaubien

  14. #44
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    Just to clarify. In Yanagi Ryu there are also kata where we touch the blade, its no big deal, but if we touch the blade during training we make sure to clean it after that class. When we noto, we chiburi and then use paper to wipe the blood from the blade and then we noto. So after wiping the blade it doesn't make sense for us to touch the blade while re-sheathing. Thats just the way we do it, and of course it is not the only way.

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by nico storm View Post
    And a serious note though, there only seems to be talk here of noto, I know in MJER there are a few cases where the hand contacts the mune during kata other than the noto... how would you explain touching the mune during a tsuki or in a kata like Iwanami where the hand first guides the tsuki and then aids the dragging to the floor?
    There are certainly many kata where a hand touches the mune to help in an attack. Some of them, like techniques in Katori Shinto-ryu, Buko-ryu, Hoki-ryu were mentioned briefly before.

    Here are some pictures that I ran across on Flickr from the Meiji Shrine demonstration in 2006 that just happened to show kata where the practitioner's hand touches the blade during iai:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/22191489@N08/2191566734

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/22191489@N08/2191567762/

    Here are two more showing the same during kenjutsu kata. (Although they are using bokuto, I am assuming that the technique would be similar when done with a live blade.)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/22191489@N08/2190779329/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/22191489@N08/2190777165/

    I hope that helps.

    Regards,

    Ron Beaubien

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