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Thread: Kenjutsu training

  1. #61
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    90% of the time the answer is... a happy medium.


    In other news, my sensei let me use an iaito today- really nice. Its the first time ive held a real sword.

    Even after all those years of fencing.

    Paul Green

  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_Green View Post
    In other news, my sensei let me use an iaito today- really nice. Its the first time ive held a real sword.
    Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but an iaito is not a real sword. I can relate to the feeling though. It's metal, it's got heft, it's got a scabbard, it looks and feels like a real sword. After exclusively using a bokken, an iaito's special.

    After using my iaito for about a year, I was shocked when a senior showed me his shinken (real sword), which dated back to the 16th century. The weight and balance was wonderful, much, much easier to use than my iaito. The kicker, of course, being that 16th century swords generally aren't that good, being mass produced for the continual warring that was going on. The swords of earlier periods were even better. Visiting the Tokugawa Art Museum earlier this year, it was fascinating to note that all the swords of the Owari Tokugawa lords (who ruled from the 17th century on) were from the 1100s and 1200s. These were the swords of the finest quality, both in form and function.
    Josh Reyer

    Swa sceal man don, ţonne he ćt guđe gengan ţenceđ longsumne lof, na ymb his lif cearađ. - The Beowulf Poet

  3. #63
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    It's nice to know that the swords can withstand the test of time. I'm pretty satisfied with my Iaito, and am curious to see what a shinken handles like. My sensei still uses an Iaito I think. Around how much would a nice antique shinken set me back?
    -John Nguyen

  4. #64
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    Y'all take your training way too seriously. I just think the chicks look cute in hakama. And I like the whistly sound my sword makes when I swing it.
    Everything is just killin' people; no fun at all.
    Regards,

    r e n

  5. #65
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    Josh

    Excellent observation.

    The context seriously effects the training....when people were actually using the sword the danger was all around them so they could easily expect to be fighting for their lives---and maybe already had done so....the needs mave have been seen as different

    I was more focused on the "advanced students SHOULD be sparring" rather than "sparring" per-se.

    Back in the day I used to fence Olympic style saber---then one day my teacher brought in some period repro sabers and had us take off the mask, glove and jacket and "spar"--most of the stuff we used to spar freely with suddenly became waaaaayyyyy to dangerous for to even try.....at least it felt that way from the pointy end of the saber

    People enjoy sparring.....more than fine by me.......I just question its application......esp when its phrased as if the many, many koryu schools that don't advocate "sparring" as missing out on something.

    Maybe they are, maybe they are not..........I'm just not sure that people should be assumeing that they are.
    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.

  6. #66
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    [This is in response to the statement that "advanced students should spar" comment]

    While I practice sparring on a fairly regular basis, I'm not of the
    mindset that sparring is a necessity in the contemporary practice of
    traditional swordsmanship. Many of these reasons have already been given,
    but I'd like to provide my own perspective on the limitations of
    sparring. First, one can not assume that being proficient at sparring
    equates to proficiency at "real" combat/dueling. There are a number or
    factors which emphasize this point:

    - There is no TRUE replication of live combat through sparring. On one end of the spectrum some individuals practice sport chanbara with padded or airsoft swords with a few pieces of protective gear and at the other end of the spectrum you have some that practice habiki gekken with blunted steel weapons with modified and reinforced kendo armor. In this dynamic, safer weapons (padded weapons) allow for minimal protection and therefore greater freedom of movement, but on the same token the weapons in no way resemble how a real sword behaves. While blunted steel weapons for all intents and purposes are basically real, the extra protection needed to use them safely restricts movement (such as in jodan kamae). While there are of course other forms of sparring that are within those extremes (some schools use fukuro shinai, shinai and bogu, bokuto, RSW, etc.), the important thing to consider is that at any point within that spectrum you will be sacrificing one thing in order to gain more of another. Is there a form of sparring which is a perfect balance within that spectrum? I would argue, no there is not. Take an example where there are two individuals, one individual may be exceptional at sparring with fukuro shinai, and the other is exceptional at habiki gekkan. How would you judge who is the better fighter? If the first individual beats the other over the course of several rounds using fukuro shinai, but loses decisively when they practice habiki gekkan, then is there an objective way to decide which form of sparring is better? The first individual could argue that he lost at habiki gekkan because he wasn’t used to sparring with all the armor on, while the second could argue that fukuro shinai don’t behave like a shinken so winning with them is pointless. Neither could reasonably argue that they would have beaten their opponent in live combat. In the end, through sparring all you can hope to achieve is proficiency AT sparring itself, not proficiency at live combat.

    - Uncertainty. Most forms of sparring include some form of rules which determine what is and isn't valid within the context of the battle. Some mandate requiring a "decisive strike" on a predetermined point of the body, while others allow for full body contact. While there are logical arguments for advocating both specific points on the body or full body contact, rules tend to shape how sparring is conducted. I'm sure some of us have accidentally nicked our thumb or hand during the course of training and have noted how easily the sword slices through flesh, and yet when I watch some sparring I tend to see the "blade" make contact quite a bit with the opponent, though not often in what would be considered a decisive strike. I see this and think, "that person would be sliced up pretty bad". This has always made me wonder how the human body would operate when it gets sliced/cut like that. I have sometimes heard, though been unable to validate, that a muscle will stop functioning if it is cut by 25%. So whenever I watch a sparring match and a person gets "cut" (even slightly), it seems that everything beyond that point is subject to uncertainty. In those safe sparring environments, an individual can get cut over a dozen times and still eventually “win” because they landed a decisive strike first. In the case of full-body contact, I have often seen individuals who have found that leg strikes can be pretty easy to perform. In some cases their strategy becomes focused on striking the leg simply because it is a quick "i win" button. In addition, the emphasis is often still placed on a single decisive strike. So the result of all one's sparring training might result in the fact that they may be good at getting the first decisive strike, but the question is whether after sustaining multiple cuts their body will be able to function enough to even execute that cut when the time comes.

    - Unnecessary Risks. The psychology of combat has already been mentioned; however I just want to restate this point of view. Through my own personal experience and observations, I tend to notice that safer sparring environments create incentives for combatants to take chances that I don’t think any rational individual would take during actual combat. This, I feel, is detrimental to the experience. On one end, the individual taking the risks or trying to “force” techniques that might have a very low probability of success or even have a higher likelihood of getting the individual killed is enforcing unrealistic behavior. In general I think this is due to impatience, or due to an eagerness to start swinging. The other individual, on the other hand, is also learning to respond to an individual who is taking stupid risks and not learning how to read and interpret movement of someone who is not only trying to kill them but also not trying to die themselves. This again illustrates how sparring can fail to mimic the potential realities of combat.

    Having said all that you may wonder why I would elect to practice sparring? In understanding what sparring isn’t, I feel it is possible to understand what sparring is. In this respect, I think it is easier to get something valuable from the experience. In tameshigiri, for example, critics argue that targets won’t swing back and some of the cut patterns are something you wouldn’t ever do in real life. However, proponents generally agree with that but also add that tameshigiri helps in developing ma ai, hasuji, blade control, aiming, etc. In that respect, it could conceivably be of value if that is something that is important for your personal training or the style in which you train. It is a supplemental form of training…we don’t/shouldn’t train in swordsmanship just so we can get good at tameshigiri. Conversely, proficiency in tameshigiri doesn't mean that you'd win in a duel. So what is the one thing that separates kumitachi from free sparring; well that would be kumitachi involves prior knowledge of what the other person is going to do and in free sparring there is no prior knowledge. Essentially, sparring MAY help develop technical improvisation and reading/reacting to your opponent. Therefore, at best, it could be considered a form of training to supplement a small set of skills that may have been of use 300 years ago. Again, we shouldn’t dedicate our lives to swordsmanship so we can get good at sparring, and of course we can't assume that being good at sparring has any relevance to being good at dueling. To use a metaphor, I generally equate it to a football player running sprints during practice; obviously in a game he isn’t going to be able to run unopposed up and down the field, but running sprints can help build endurance and speed which are useful to the player. However, just because a player has endurance and speed doesn’t mean they are going to be a star player.

    Ultimately, I find that sparring can also be spiritually rewarding in that it compels me to be fully in the moment (I’m a big fan of Takuan Soho – The Unfettered Mind). Therefore, I practice it with the intention of emphasizing the potential Zen-like qualities of mushin no shin. Of course, all other areas of sword and non-sword related activities can achieve that state of no-mindedness.

    With that in mind (no pun intended), the “virtues” of sparring are eliminated if the emphasis of sparring is only on winning. To borrow a page from Takuan, if your mind is focused solely on winning, then it will become stuck. A relevant quote is: “The effort not to stop the mind in just one place - this is discipline. Not stopping the mind is object and essence. Put it nowhere and it will be everywhere. Even in moving the mind outside the body, if it is sent in one direction, it will be lacking in nine others. If the mind is not restricted to just one direction, it will be in all ten.”

    Sparring can be valuable or detrimental depending not only in how you approach it, but also what you hope to gain from it. Also, something that may be "valuable" shouldn't be confused with something that is "necessary". I might think that working out is valuable to my training, but I don't think that if I can bench press more than Musashi then that would give me any edge against him in a duel.

    Wow, that was lot longer than I thought it would be. I think I'll crawl off my soapbox now
    Yagyu Shinkage Ryu Heiho
    Hontai Yoshin Ryu (Study Group)
    Ishiyama Ryu

  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Renfield Kuroda
    I just think the chicks look cute in hakama.
    Quoted for truth.

    Mr. Baxter,

    Your post was long but worth it.
    Josh Reyer

    Swa sceal man don, ţonne he ćt guđe gengan ţenceđ longsumne lof, na ymb his lif cearađ. - The Beowulf Poet

  8. #68
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    Indeed, I would second that! Very nice post with some very good points Mr. Baxter! Thanks for adding to the discussion!
    Jeff Collier

  9. #69
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    Thirded.

    I love your outlook


    Paul Green

  10. #70
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    I don't think that if I can bench press more than Musashi then that would give me any edge against him in a duel.
    yeah, but how about if you did pilates, too? He'd never have a chance.

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

  11. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by socho View Post
    yeah, but how about if you did pilates, too? He'd never have a chance.
    I wouldn't be so sure about that Dave. I think we all know that Musashi was well known for incorporating PowerStrike: Forza into his training regiment, lol.
    Yagyu Shinkage Ryu Heiho
    Hontai Yoshin Ryu (Study Group)
    Ishiyama Ryu

  12. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Baxter View Post
    I wouldn't be so sure about that Dave. I think we all know that Musashi was well known for incorporating PowerStrike: Forza into his training regiment, lol.
    Whatever next!
    Hyakutake Colin

    All the best techniques are taught by survivors.


    http://www.hyoho.com

  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by renfield_kuroda View Post
    I just think the chicks look cute in hakama.
    r e n

    Agreed!

    Fredrik Hall
    "To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." /Confucius

  14. #74
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    Some discussions never get old. Here's a post from 2000 on the same thing, I wonder if that school in Toronto that sparred with sharps is still around, I've never heard anything more about them.

    http://listserv.uoguelph.ca/cgi-bin/...aido-l&P=19737

    Are the Mensur fraternities not still active in Germany? That is dueling with sharps if anyone is really interested in it.

    Chris Amberger was mentioned earlier and he repeatedly made the point that even duels weren't "real". They were far from freestyle.

    Even war isn't freestyle, there are and have always been rules. If no more than "hey maybe we'd better not use biological warfare or the rest of the world will come down on us like a tonne of bricks".

    Kim Taylor

  15. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Taylor View Post
    ...I wonder if that school in Toronto that sparred with sharps is still around, I've never heard anything more about them. ...
    Maybe in sparring with sharps they all earned Darwin Awards.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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