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Thread: Kenjutsu training

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    Default Kenjutsu training

    Hello

    I have been training in Kenjutsu for about 6 months. I truly love it.
    One thing that has been bothering me is the lack of randori.

    I certainly do not underestimate the importance of two person kata. They are an excellent way to train your body to react. I am not suggesting that beginners spar. But certainly, after a kenshi has attained a relatively high level of skill, wouldn't randori, if carefully controlled and kept reality be beneficial?

    My school does not say so. Its really been nagging at me.

    How can you truly learn if you do not spar?

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    Aloha, Paul, & welcome to the forum.

    When you say kenjutsu, are you speaking specifically of kendo, or are you asking about iaido, too (or instead). If iaido, which ryuha?

    I am not kendoka, but my wife has been studying kendo for many years, & she calls the one-on-one competition "keiko" or "ji-geiko." That isn't a formal match, though, but just daily practice. This corresponds with the two-person randori that I teach in judo, by the way.

    In iaido (specifically Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu in my case), there is no such a term, as we all practice against virtual opponents.

    Maybe if you clarify your question, Paul, one of our other illustrious members can explain better.
    Ken Goldstein
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    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."

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    Thanks you for the response. Perhaps i am confused.

    I was taught the following definition:

    Iaido- Quickly drawing, cutting, and resheathing

    Kendo- A modern sport almost entirely composed of "sword-like" sparring.

    Kenjutsu- a classical art which teaches swords from a live-blade perspective.


    In kenjutsu, we train only with kata.

    I do belong to a koryu kenjutsu ryu, though i wish to not expose the ryu, as to not embarrasses my fellow students and sensei.


    Thank you.
    Paul Green
    Last edited by Paul_Green; 30th November 2008 at 02:35.

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    Hmm. That's an interesting response, Paul. On this forum, I estimate that the vast majority of us study & train in at least one ryuha, & I think you may be the first person who feels that he would embarrass his sensei by "revealing the ryuha." I can see not wanting to discuss specific waza, but just naming the school...? Okay, can you at least mention whether you start kenjutsu waza/kata with your shinken drawn or not? And do you also use bokken/kodachi?

    As far as shiai/keiko/randori with shinken, I would really hesitate to have paired practice!! I started my martial arts training in 1951, Paul, although MJER came quite a bit later, so I have quite a bit of experience, & the only time I use shinken is in Shinto Muso-ryu jodo, & then only for practicing the specific kata that Quintin Chambers-Sensei (Menkyo Kaiden) has developed. Even studying Katori Shinto-ryu does not involve shinken.

    With only six months of training, I doubt that your sensei would agree to paired practice.

    By the way, I have only heard the term "kenshi" applied to kendo.
    Ken Goldstein
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    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."

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    Wink

    We have kata that start of with swords drawn and sheathed.

    And i do not for a minute think that it would be a good idea to use shinken for randori. I want realistic training, but i dont have a death with

    And we dont use live blades, except for the rare tameshigiri.


    I personally have done paired kata, but like ive said its pre-set, and rather safe.

    The reason i am not revealing my ryuha is that this is a rather provocative questions. I have asked this question in my dojo, to my sensei, and separately to my sempai, and have gotten the same response "your body learns to react". it seems plausible, but less than satisfying, especially since a spent a year fencing in college. But still, i dont want my sensei to find out, and i dont want people to look down on him or the art itself.

    So anyway, i dropped the subject, not wanting to rock the boat. Its been smooth sailing ever since, and ive been having a really great time.

    But at the back of my mind, it keeps on popping up.

    It really doesnt help that im a compulsive worrier, and i watch bad videos on you tube too often

    Its a habbit im trying to break. Untill then, every other day i change my opinion about whether kata are enough, and whether i truly believe in it.

    I know i will never be in a sword fight, but it bothers me.

    Even so, at the end, i will continue to train, no matter what the outcome, because i love the learning, and my sensei and sempai are really great. Even if its not the be all and end all of sword arts, it will at the very least provide a strong foundation.

    I also would really like to learn HEMA, but there are no schools near me, and there really is no such thing as a legitimate HEMA school, as they all died out.


    So! Anyone with a satisfying answer to my question, and maybe some deep insight on the side? I could really use it!

    Domo Arigato
    Paul Green

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    Paul,

    First of all, congratulations!!! You have actually found a kenjutsu school. I've been looking, but there seems to be a lack of anything Koryu that's not over 4 hours away from my area.

    Also, the fact that you don't want to reveal the ryu-ha is perfectly understandable to me. I look forward to seeing some of the responses to your question. I find the topic interesting. Good luck in your training.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_Green View Post
    ...wouldn't randori, if carefully controlled and kept reality be beneficial?
    Your question contains the answer.

    If jigeiko is "carefully controlled" then it is not "reality." Further, fighting with swords in the modern world is not "reality" either.

    The moment one sets rules by which to spar, the techniques begin to change to favor the rules.

    Koryu bugei are the antithesis of change. They are a living textbook into an earlier time, and kata/waza are the "chapters" of that textbook.

    How can you truly learn if you do not spar?
    By repeatedly practicing what has been practiced for often hundreds of years by those who have gone before you.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    If you're really concerned about the issue, join a kendo club. There's no reason that you can't do both modern and koryu together. Then you can decide what you need for your development as a martial artist.
    Ben Persons

    "Kimi ga yo wa, ama no hagoromo mare ni kite."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_Green View Post
    But certainly, after a kenshi has attained a relatively high level of skill, wouldn't randori, if carefully controlled and kept reality be beneficial?
    Consider this: Seeing as how you got the same response from both your sensei and your sempai, is it possible that they have some insight that you don't? As beginners we tend to analyze and judge a lot, something we are hardly qualified to do. I find it best to just keep my mouth shut, trust in sensei and train with an open mind.


    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_Green View Post
    I personally have done paired kata, but like ive said its pre-set, and rather safe.
    Stick with it and I guarantee that your idea of what kata is will change.

    Also: what Brian said.
    TSKSR - Kakudokan Kristiansand
    Kendo - Kristiansand Kendoklubb

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    Thank you for the responses

    In effect, i have been keeping my mouth shut and training with as open a mind as i can. I certainly agree that my sensei and sempai know more than me. But i was raised to be skeptical, and i fear the answer "your body learns" will not alone be enough untill i hear it from one who has dueled to the death. I doubt that it will happen, so i hope my opinion changes as i progress.


    If a may ask, in the heyday of kenjutsu in Japan, would they train only through kata, or would they also duel?

    I guess if its good enough for samurai its good enough for me.

    Thanks to all
    Paul Green

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_Green View Post
    If a may ask, in the heyday of kenjutsu in Japan, would they train only through kata, or would they also duel?
    Depended on the school, but most of them only trained with kata.

    The problem with sparring is that once you make it safe, you have made it different from fighting with real swords both physically and psychologically. Kendo is proof of that. We are hitting with round, straight, light sticks using techniques that may or may not work well with narrow, curved, heavier swords. There is almost zero danger to our bodies. If we are asked to attack with sutemi, the only sacrifice we are facing is the possible loss of a point. If we are asked to invite an attack and respond with some oji-waza, we can stand steadfast and execute the technique because the stakes are low.

    The problem with kata is that, no matter what level you execute it at, your partner is acting within a known framework. This is how kendo came to exist, because some people thought as you did and went about looking for a way to spar freely.

    So there are valid arguments on both sides. However, we are no longer training to fight wars or duels. We (at least, those of us who are sane) are not training to become some sort of modern samurai. Your school is one of the ones that advocate kata as the method of training. You've now become part of that tradition, so you need to accept that this is the way your school does things.
    Neil Gendzwill
    Saskatoon Kendo Club

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_Green View Post
    ...If a may ask, in the heyday of kenjutsu in Japan, would they train only through kata, or would they also duel?

    I guess if its good enough for samurai its good enough for me.
    I wasn't there, of course (I'm old, but not that old), but my understanding is that those who trained in ryuha trained with kata primarily. Even after the development of shinai, kata was still the norm; the shinai just allowed for a more energetic kata.

    Once one reached a certain level, one would begin to modify the kata into a sort of semi-sparring, and this is still done today in some schools.

    Many schools required prospective students to sign an oath that they would not engage in duels -- not "cross swords" -- with anyone outside the school until they had been given a license of full mastery; some schools still do this today.

    The last major school to still use swords in battle was the Toyama Ryu, and their training consists primarily of suburi, kata, and tameshigiri.

    HTH.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Owens View Post
    The last major school to still use swords in battle was the Toyama Ryu, and their training consists primarily of suburi, kata, and tameshigiri.
    Then again, Toyama Ryu was not put into use against other swordsmen.


    Well, i guess if samurai could learn from kata, it has to be good enough.
    I will force myself to believe.


    On a similar note, does anyone know of any website that talks about the blocking properties of different production swords? I am not looking to buy, i am just curious.

    Of the two uses of a sword (offense and defense), defense seems to be more important. If you can get any hit on your opponent, at the very least it will buy to time to make another. Even wooden work in this respect. On the other hand, if your dead, you cant attack at all.

    No matter how good you are at tameshigiri, and how well your sword can cut, if it breaks when hit, and you do not have the reflexes to block, you will lose.

    It seems strange to me that some people use two different shinken, one for tameshigiri, and one for kata. Why would you train with a sword that you would not use in combat?

    Perhapses a beginner should use a sword that is easy to cut with, to learn proper technique, but once past this stage, a swordsman should be able to everything with one sword.

    Paul Green

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    Have you ever thought of talking to some of your Dojo mates, buy some padded Shinai, some protective equipment, & getting together outside of class to do this? Just a thought.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_Green View Post
    ... I will force myself to believe.
    ??? sounds like your mind is already made up. As you don't want to talk about your style, and have no info in your profile, not really much to compare with, relate to. I primarily do batto and iai, but do some Shinto Ryu kenjutsu within the context of Mugai Ryu and SMR Jodo, have done a little Onno Ha Itto Ryu kenjutsu with the Jikishinkai. Not sure what you have seen in six months, but the kenjutsu I have seen tends to be more powerful, more aggressive than most iai. All the forms are two person forms, and working on the forms allows you to apply the techniques at full speed and power, something you cannot do in sparring. Sword is about many things, but it is not about point fighting.
    Of the two uses of a sword (offense and defense), defense seems to be more important.
    Not at all. Sword is about winning in combat, and that means killing or being able to win through superior technique (that part means lots o practice). You can defend all day, that is not winning. I'd tend to agree with Ben, you might want to look into kendo. Not sure what your criteria are for legit HEMA groups, but there are some very serious ones out there. Some spar, some don't.
    ... does anyone know of any website that talks about the blocking properties of different production swords?
    ???? production swords are not generally made for blade on blade contact.
    Good luck, in whatever.

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

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