Likes Likes:  0
Page 3 of 3 FirstFirst 1 2 3
Results 31 to 38 of 38

Thread: Bokken over Shinken?

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    68
    Likes (received)
    5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by cxt View Post
    Wouldn't be the first time somebody highly motivated and armed only with what is essentially a wooden club beat trained fighters armed with metal swords.
    One of of the worst defeats the Roman army ever suffered was an entire army getting more or less wiped out by a bunch of germans armed in large part with wooden clubs.
    I realize that I will be contributing to thread drift with this... But as a consummate Romanophile I have to weigh in on the side of the Big Red Killing Machine.

    The battle of the Teutoberg Wald occured on highly unfavorable terrain for the Romans whilst they were not in combat order. They were surrounded, in the midst of a choke point, not necessarily even wearing combat kit, mixed in with non combatants, seperated from their commanders, not expecting attack and otherwise COMPLETELY outwitted by the Germans and suffering at the hands of a complacent general.

    There is strong archeological evidence to suggest that survivors of the initial rush gathered in local strong points, even fortifying them in the classical engineer-soldier fashion of the legionnaire, and holding out for a time before being finally wiped out.

    Essentially what I am getting at here is that it was not really a german with a club that bested the professional Roman soldier, but a turncoat, Roman educated and trained German who out-generaled and out-politiked his opposition. Not really a case of tactical superiority.

    Also, on the note of Musashi losing to a Jo - just to play devils advocate: everyone loses, even the best of the best. The guy that wins in any competition is just the best today, right now. In martial practice to the death, however, that is more than enough. Either case, roll the dice enough times and you will get snake eyes.

    Thread drift over!

    - Chris McGaw

    Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter.
    ~ Ernest Hemmingway
    Last edited by No1'sShowMonkey; 1st April 2008 at 18:25.

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    The Old Dominion
    Posts
    1,590
    Likes (received)
    3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Gatling View Post
    But my point is how long it would get from zero battlefield utility, just handed a sword or jo, to the point where you could defend yourself and be of some use to the common effort.
    I have a paper written by my sword instructor in which he notes that it has been traditionally taught in Jikishinkage Ryu that it takes a minimum of three years of training before a student can be expected to survive on the battlefield. I've been meaning to ask him if that means three years of training on a daily basis, or if the three years is a modern rule of thumb developed since the time when most people stopped training as if their lives depend on it.

    If it's just basic battlefield functionality that we're looking for, though, I think that it could be achieved a bit faster than that-- if we are training peasants to fight with a spear, we are mainly going to be teaching them to march in formation, to hold ranks, and to thrust correctly. We're not looking for them to win duels, we're looking for them to form a wall of sharpened steel. It would be great if you had three years to drill the peasants in that sort of thing, but a few months would probably be enough to teach them the basics. As far as sword work goes, I imagine that you would probably take a page from Jigen Ryu's training manual and hand each farmer a big stick, stand him in front of a tree, and have him whack the tree as hard as possible while screaming at the top of his lungs. After a few weeks of that sort of thing, if you teach him some basic drills-- all of which would involve him charging the enemy and cutting at an exposed bit of body-- he would probably be ready for the front lines. He wouldn't be able to beat a skilled swordsman, but he would be able to become part of a charging mass of screaming fighters.

    Of course, the longer you have to train them, the better, but the point is that for basic functionality on the battlefield, I think you are looking less for skill and more for the ability to hold ranks and go towards the enemy, rather than running away. If your conscripts stand fast and attack, your skilled troops-- the ones who have spent years honing their skills-- will have an opportunity to bring their abilities into play.
    David Sims

    "Cuius testiculos habes, habeas cardia et cerebellum." - Terry Pratchet

    My opinion is, in all likelihood, worth exactly what you are paying for it.

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Posts
    1,394
    Likes (received)
    84

    Default

    Chris

    Tried to PM you in the name of preventing thread drift--but you don't have that function in use.

    Nobody said it was some kind of failure by the romans..all I was really saying was its not a good idea to dismiss wooden weapons out of hand since in the right hands at the right time and the right place---they can be pretty effective.

    Anything much else is kinda beyond the scope of what I was trying to address.

    Besides, roman wins far outstrip roman losses.
    Chris Thomas

    "While people are entitled to their illusions, they are not entitled to a limitless enjoyment of them and they are not entitled to impose them upon others."

    "Team Cynicism" MVP 2005-2006
    Currently on "Injured/Reserve" list due to a scathing Sarcasm pile-up.

  4. #34
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Quebec, Qc
    Posts
    4
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default Musashi, heihou and the bokken

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Reyer View Post
    Sixty or more "matches" I have absolutely no problem believing. It's the idea of 60 undefeated "duels" that I'm doubting. I suspect that if the original was actually written by Musashi, and not edited after his death by his students, then Musashi probably mixed his actual duels with his friendly matches, and passed over his losses. In the original, the word he uses here is not 決闘 kettou, nor 果し合い hatashi-ai, nor 斬り合い kiri-ai, the usual words for "duel", but rather 勝負 shoubu, which can very easily apply to non-lethal matches. It's made up of the character for "victory" 勝, and "defeat" 負, and the general connotation is that of "contest".

    I wonder if the popular image of Musashi hasn't in fact influenced how he's interpreted. Musashi himself could just be saying, "I've had 60-some matches (of varying seriousness)", but because the image of Musashi is of this scruffy vagabond beating on folks with a bokken, they just assume that 勝負 indicates something as serious as a "duel".
    Indeed, Musashi most probably did mix his non-lethal and lethal duels together, but remember that the sixty shoubu here happened between his thirteenth and twentyninth years... which puts the end of his "dueling" period at about the time of the siege of Osaka in 1614-1615, in which he participated. The restriction on duels was not strictly enforced yet and lethal duels did happen quite often and challenges (lethal or not) were made right and left to prove who was to be the top-dog in the coming Tokugawa-ruled age (though it amounted to not much since traffic of influence won the day almost every time). Those challenges, while not always to the death, were "deadly" serious to say the least, and Musashi did fight a whole school at the same time after having defeated their best swordsmen. Had he lost that group fight, he would probably have been killed or crippled and left for dead to repay for the lost honor or whatnot: no wonder then that Musashi ran like a madman! You can't fight a group at the same time, so he separated them and fought one or two on one in the paddy fields. This was all part of his heihou, though we can wonder if at that point (he was only twenty then) it wasn't more instinctual than rational. What we know is that from that fight he gained a lot of insight, which he set down in the hyoudoukyou, his first writing.

    This brings us to a second point I wanted to make that is in fact more relevant to this thread and which is this: Musashi trained not to be a swordmaster, a "head-slicer", but to be a "warrior", or as he puts it a "follower of heihou". This means, among other things, using the right tools (strategies, techniques, etc.) at the right time. It also means knowing your opponent psychologically and if possible technically. But here the former point is more relevant, as we know Musashi was trained in using the jitte, which is designed to render swords useless, especially their cutting power. So it is not unreasonable to think Musashi would prefer, as a whole, a blunt substitute to the actual jitte like a bokken, since the jitte he knew were quite unwieldy unlike the latter Edo police model. He could also make a bokken himself, and dispose of it after a duel, or break it in the course of the duel without much concern. Hard and thick wood is also excellent at stopping a sword cut right in its tracks if used correctly (and if someone could do it, it would have to be a jitte master! We also know Musashi liked his bokken massively thick and long). The reach and disposability of the bokken could also be a means for Musashi to throw hard shiny pointy metal things, as he seemed wont to do. All in all, if you want to continue to use your jitte style without a jitte proper, a bokken seems fitter than a sword. But you can't rely on always carrying an unwieldy wooden bat with you in the streets, so naturally the next step is using what you're required to wear as a samurai, the daishou. Of course, it's many times more difficult to pull off jitte-like techniques with a wakizashi, so you take 20 years give or take to perfect it and the rest of your non-technical heihou thing! Then you realize you don't even need "weapons" and boom, a legend is born.

    On another - purely lexical - level, I'm not sure the shoubu distinction here demonstrates anything. I know contemporary Japanese, and though I don't know much medieval Japanese, I would tend to think shoubu here is used in a way that should remind us of contemporary political correctness. Not only is Musashi summing up both his lethal and non-lethal duels in one category, but he does not mention killing anyone, only "winning" (uchikachi, which means either metaphorically "winning hands down" or more literally "winning with a strike", but since even in Go or Shougi you "strike" a stone or a piece on the board, it has no direct relation to the sword), even though we know he killed Arima Kihei, his first ever opponent, which he mentions in the opening to the scroll of Earth. This was probably because, at the time he wrote the gorin no sho, the ban on unapproved lethal duels was readily enforced and that saying you killed someone in a duel literally would be in bad form. But no one at the time would have been fooled by the rhetoric: the purpose of the rhetoric is not to hide facts, but to make them more palatable. Everyone knew Miyamoto Musashi had had duels to the death, there was no need to mention them explicitly or mention which were to the death and which not, etc. This last mindset of historical accuracy and utmost respect to the exact factual details and whatnot is very modern and Musashi would not bother wasting paper on something so trivial for him and his educated fellow readers (and there was no other sort of readers back then). The scant biographical details at the start of the scroll of Earth are only there to help him make the point that though he fought to the death since he was thirteen and never lost to his twenty ninth year (he doesn't mention anything specific after that, so he may have lost in his later life), it "wasn't his fault that he won" and that he figured he was still a long way off to being anything close to really invincible or to knowing the Art of heihou. So he stopped fighting and began searching for the unchangeable core that made him victorious in all his different fights, which he won by opportunistic grabs of chance circumstances. So by expanding only this core that made him able and ready to grab at the opportunities presented to him by chance (to the point of creating his own "chances" in his opponent's behavior), he realized his potential and was set on the Way of heihou.

  5. #35
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Posts
    320
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    We've spent a lot more years studying MJER than jo, but Linda agrees with me that it would be difficult for another MJER swordsman (swordsperson?) to win in a fight against either of us using the jo. I spent two hours this morning practicing both jo & sword-side (i.e., getting run through the wringer) with our senior student, & watched particularly carefully to see if I could visualize a situation where the sword-side would have an advantage. The answer was invariably "NO." This thread started out as a question about using a bokken, but as we use the bokken essentially the same way we use our shinken, I would choose the jo over either weapon, followed by the shinken, with the bokken last.
    I've been taught that the sword is the objectively stronger weapon. I've heard that more times than I could count. The jo has a very slim margin for error against the sword and in most kata, the jo just "makes" it by subtle exploitation of ma-ai.

    The kata is set up so shidachi "wins," but there are openings and agreements on both sides. It's training, after all. I've been corrected for giving away too much in those moments in which the kata says I should "lose." It is no way a foregone conclusion and I've been told, "There is stuff you have from here...die for the kata, yes, but not so willingly." The "advantage" is prearranged, but in many kata it goes back and forth and you can see just how easily the sword can push things if it wants to. Jo needs to be a bit more careful since a simple nick from the sword is pretty much the end.

    There are times in our practice that we have worn kodachi with the jo just to see how it would change training. The idea of practicing this way with a long-sword was dismissed out of hand as "weird" because the idea of using a jo when one had access to a longsword was too artificial.

    Go study for even a few weeks under him, Phil Relnick-Sensei, or Meik Sloss-Sensei, & then come back & tell me that you'd still choose a katana, & I'll gladly apologize! But I don't expect to have to....
    I train with Meik and one of the really interesting things he has said is that he prefers the kodachi in many situations to the odachi. I really try and work a lot with it on my own to see if I can get a glimpse of what he is talking about. He can also push the natural advantage of the sword so that the jo has to be spot on. If he smokes the sword, I really have to be accurate with the ma-ai. Pushing with the jo is a bit harder. You can't really get it too far out there...its advantage is in its subtlety more than brute force against the sword. I’m obviously no match for him with either weapon (understatement of the year), but I feel a bit more secure on the sword side when he is pushing me. On the jo, I lose it sometimes, but that doesn’t happen on the sword. I always feel like I can do something besides die.

    (Obviously, the skill of the exponent will be the determining factor, but what I've been expressly told and observed in my training, the sword is the senior weapon in more ways than one.)

    Kevin Cantwell
    Last edited by K. Cantwell; 3rd June 2008 at 14:56.

  6. #36
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Kaneohe, Hawaii, USA
    Posts
    875
    Likes (received)
    35
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Interesting how differently you & I view the advantages of the jo, Kevin. I really think the "subtle ma-ai exploitation" is a lot more than that when it comes to battle. There are many things I can do with a jo that I can't do with a sword/bokken.

    With its greater reach, I can stop a swordsman from even drawing his sword. I can get inside a swordsman's effective cutting range, & then do a number of attacks. I can throw a swordsman's attack completely off-line, & him off-balance. And I can break his grip on the sword in many cases, without killing him if I choose. And these are to name just a few advantages.

    I'll admit that most sword cuts can be deadly, but so are blunt-force trauma, & the jo has the advantage of being controllable instead of always deadly. Certainly when training with Meik Sloss-Sensei or, in my case, Quintin Chambers-Sensei, they are talented enough to overcome anything that I could do with the jo, but I would much rather have an uchidachi who is more experienced than I am so I can continue to learn. And I find that I'm not "dying" quite as often during training as I was just a few months ago . Like you, Kevin, I am much more proficient with a sword at this point, having studied MJER far longer, but even now I can see that I would rather go up against another sword than a jo. And translating to today's world, I'm a lot more likely to pick up a handy stick than a sword if someone attacks me.
    Ken Goldstein
    --------------------------------
    Judo Kodansha/MJER Iaido Kodansha/Jodo Oku-iri
    Fencing Master/NRA Instructor

    "A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it'll annoy enough people to be worth the effort."

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Seattle, Washington, USA
    Posts
    6,226
    Likes (received)
    117

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken-Hawaii View Post
    ...Meik Sloss-Sensei...
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken-Hawaii View Post
    ...Meik Sloss-Sensei...
    Oh, so it wasn't just a typo the first time.

    It "Skoss" with a "k."
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

  8. #38
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Kaneohe, Hawaii, USA
    Posts
    875
    Likes (received)
    35
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Yes, it's a typo, Brian. I was just too dumb to notice it both times.

    Sorry, Skoss-Sensei!!
    Ken Goldstein
    --------------------------------
    Judo Kodansha/MJER Iaido Kodansha/Jodo Oku-iri
    Fencing Master/NRA Instructor

    "A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it'll annoy enough people to be worth the effort."

Page 3 of 3 FirstFirst 1 2 3

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •