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Thread: Extant iaido kaishaku kata?

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    Default Extant iaido kaishaku kata?

    Hi all

    Please pardon the rather grim subject matter for this one...

    After reading "Blade of the Courtesans" by Keiichiro Ryu, I was pointed to 'controversial novelist' Yukio Mishima who appears to be controverisal because he committed seppuku in 1970.

    Reading about him, I discovered Hiroyasu Koga who acted as his second and I discovered the term Kaishakunin.

    Reading about *this*, I came across this in Wikipaedia:

    "Still preserved in modern-day movements (kata) of the martial art, Iaido, the ritual of performing kaishaku varies very little between Japanese fencing schools, but all of them are bound to the following steps to be performed by the kaishakunin:"

    Is this true? Are their any existing kata that are specificially for kaishaku?

    The (slightly macabre) wikipaedia article is here

    Thank you
    Ben MacArthur

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    Jim Cotter

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    Hello, I can add a bit to this from what I been told and done.

    Seppuku (self disembowelment)the first part of the word comes from Setsu. For example the medical term to cut and open is Sekai. Another word Setsudan is amputation. Fukubu is the word for abdomen. The word Junshi, was also used. Self immolation on the death of ones Lord. Junshi was a relatively short lived custom lasting only some fifty or sixty years. To commit Seppuku after the death of ones Lord was known as Oibaru. Sometimes a retainer died before his lord. Other forms such as departing beforehand were known as Maebaru or Sakibaru. Other words such as hara-kiri (cutting ones stomach) have been loosely translated as ritual suicide. As suicide generally means an act of self destruction usually associated with an imbalance of the mind, it hardly seems to be an appropriate translation of the calm calculating decision of Junshi made by the people concerned.

    As Kaishaku is performed as a service. Preferably a good swordsman was asked. One could usually refuse saying you were not a good swordsman....then accept. At least that way it was acceptable if you botched the job.

    Iwata Sensei MJER tells me speaking from practical experience it's extremely difficult with a lot of power in the one hand and the other used more to stop the blade other wise it will easily go straight through. adopting the ready position the height of the kensaki denotes the rank of the person committing seppuku. Also based on that rank the kaishakunin has disgression on when he cuts. As mentioned when one reaches for the Tanto, as the cut is made etc.
    Cutting and winceing would have exposed the neck for the cut.

    Living in Saga-Kyushu I have done Kaishaku the 'Saga way' This varied from area to area and had nothing to do with sword ryu. Main thing is dont do it for a competition and dont do it at a Hono Embu. It's very impolite.
    Last edited by hyaku; 6th August 2009 at 04:10.
    Hyakutake Colin

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    The subject of kaishaku started a rather interesting thread over at Kendo world recently, entitled Not suitable for iaido it was one of the more interesting and serious topics in recent months.

    Hyaku, based on your studies do you know how much truth lies in that the cut should not completely cut through, but leave a small flap of skin uncut, so that the head does not "fly off"? In the past I have read varying accounts of how realistic this was.

    I know the shinden version of the kata features daki-kubi, but as far as I am aware in my current level or practice at any rate, the jikiden version does not.
    John Ranford
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    Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu Kenjutsu - Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iai

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    Actually, John, the MJER version does indeed include the Kaishaku daki-kubi stroke, but differs from the MSR in that the small flap of skin that is supposed to remain is not removed as the last part of the waza before chiburui & noto.

    Does sound a bit gruesome, doesn't it?
    Ken Goldstein
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    Slightly but not really off topic:

    Yukio Mishima was controversial for many things, including his far-right views, his bi/homosexuality and also the manner of his death, coming right after he tried to forcibly take over a SDF station as some sort of statement.

    Pretty interesting writer, though. I can admire a person's writing without especially liking their work; Cormac McCarthy and Annie Proulx also come to mind here, although they have not yet begun to dress up like samurai. I don't really read any of their stuff for "fun" or even enjoyment. But they all have some nice tricks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nico storm View Post
    Hyaku, based on your studies do you know how much truth lies in that the cut should not completely cut through, but leave a small flap of skin uncut, so that the head does not "fly off"? In the past I have read varying accounts of how realistic this was.
    I was taught that leaving the front uncut is so that the head can be stitched back on and the cut will not show when laid to rest wearing a Kimono. Also that removing the head looked like an execution. That's why the kaishakunin's skill was needed
    Hyakutake Colin

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    Quote Originally Posted by Endboss View Post
    I was pointed to 'controversial novelist' Yukio Mishima who appears to be controverisal because he committed seppuku in 1970.
    Like nicojo said, Mishima was controversial for far more than the manner of his death or even the wacky politics. Having read some of his writing from the late 50s like A Course in Immoral Education (不道徳教育講座) I think I can say he was out to shock his countrymen from the get go. Think of it like reading an essay by an alien who writes better English than you do.

    He was definitely the kind of guy who wanted everyone to know he was the smartest guy in the room, or the nation, heck, probably the world. They say that when the Nobel committee gave the prize to Kawabata, they killed the two greatest Japanese writers of their time. Unfortunately, Mishima's talent in writing did not translate into a talent for picking cronies or kaishaku.

    A fun read by a friend of the "Angry White Pajamas" guy is "Mishima's Sword" by Christopher Ross that kind of romps through all of the trivia surrounding Mishima's last piece of theater.

    (the signature quote is just a metaphor, really...)
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    Also that removing the head looked like an execution. That's why the kaishakunin's skill was needed
    That is what I was taught for kaishaku in Sekiguchi ryu also, which has a kata specifically for that. I understand that Araki Mujinsai ryu also has a kata for kaishaku.
    Paul Smith
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken-Hawaii View Post
    Actually, John, the MJER version does indeed include the Kaishaku daki-kubi stroke, but differs from the MSR in that the small flap of skin that is supposed to remain is not removed as the last part of the waza before chiburui & noto.

    Does sound a bit gruesome, doesn't it?
    Sorry! Im not sure if I have mis-interpreted the term daku-kabi then... Does the term refer to the actual cut itself. I was assigning it to the small movement after the initial cut in the shinden version, where you "pull back" and pull the sword down.
    John Ranford
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    Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu Kenjutsu - Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iai

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    Iwata sensei tells me the neck has a similar consistency to a block of tofu. The reason why it is "sword of the second" is that you do not actually cut the neck, but 'tap' it, as if to say " whenever you're ready". This gives a 'rabbit punch effect', where the performers head 'jerks' back into the sword, thus cutting his own neck with your help. The end of the cut needs to be held very strongly to allow this to happen, and then you pull it back towards you to free the blade. Obviously it has to be held there until the guy is dead, before you pull it out..

    Apparently you get used to acting as kaishakunin after the third one, but have to be careful and not get too clever/proud about your skill at this, or you make mistakes. Don't ask how he knew that....
    Tim Hamilton

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    Nico, take a look at http://tkdtutor.com/06Concepts/Psychology/Seppuku.htm for some interesting detail on daki-kubi, & seppuku in general. Even more interesting is http://correlator.sandbox.yahoo.net/.../concepts/Kubi.

    Tim, I'd also like to know how Iwata-sensei got his info...or maybe not....
    Ken Goldstein
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    Slightly diverting the thread, whilst still staying on theme, I was watching a few Samurai movies the weekend, Samurai Assassin and When The Last Sword is Drawn, and although my ability to understand Japanese (even the few bits I have picked up since starting training) is miserable, one thing I did pick up is that both films used Hara Kiri in the Japanese language instead of Sepukku.

    I had thought that this term, as discussed above, was not used by Japanese, or at least historically by Samurai, is this just a westernisation of modern Japanese language, or was it a term that may have been used from time to time, say when the ritual was forced on a criminal, like the scene in When The Last Sword is Drawn?
    John Ranford
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    Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu Kenjutsu - Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iai

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    Quote Originally Posted by nico storm View Post
    Slightly diverting the thread, whilst still staying on theme, I was watching a few Samurai movies the weekend, Samurai Assassin and When The Last Sword is Drawn, and although my ability to understand Japanese (even the few bits I have picked up since starting training) is miserable, one thing I did pick up is that both films used Hara Kiri in the Japanese language instead of Sepukku.

    I had thought that this term, as discussed above, was not used by Japanese, or at least historically by Samurai, is this just a westernisation of modern Japanese language, or was it a term that may have been used from time to time, say when the ritual was forced on a criminal, like the scene in When The Last Sword is Drawn?
    Think of it like someone in a western being "hung" versus being "executed". "Harakiri" (stomach cutting) is a Japanese word, as is the phrase "hara wo kiru" (to cut the stomach), and likewise "Kappuku" (slit-stomach) and "hara wo waru" (to slit the stomach), and "Tofuku" (rip-stomach).

    One distinction that may be being made in these movies is that "hara-kiri" is being used to refer to actually cutting one's belly. In the Edo period, what was called "seppuku" was actually a highly ritualized and formalized execution wherein the sentenced would not actually cut himself, but reach for a fan or wooden knife as a signal for the kaishakunin to cut off his head. Japanese dictionaries actually list two definitions for "seppuku" - 1) the cutting of one's stomach, and 2) the formalized execution in the Edo period where one didn't actually cut one's stomach.

    Other interesting seppuku words:

    oibara (following stomach) - to commit seppuku to follow one's lord into death.
    ronbara (debate stomach) - to commit seppuku to match someone doing oibara.
    akinaibara (commerce stomach) - to commit oibara so that the fame and praise will provide for one's family (not thought to have actually been done).
    ichimonjibara (straight line stomach) - seppuku with one cut across the stomach.
    juumonjibara (cross-shape stomach) - seppuku with one horizontal and one vertical cut
    aogibara, sensubara (folding fan stomach) - seppuku done by reaching for a fan.
    HRK (Harakiri, BCL2 interacting protein) - a gene that regulates apoptosis, necessary cell death.
    Josh Reyer

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    There is an interesting story about Oe Masamichi written by his daughter...he was asked to 'attend to' 12 people, however after most of them were dead, the crowd was so shocked they insisted that they let the last guy go free...
    Tim Hamilton

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