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Thread: Ryuha-required conditioning training?

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    Question Ryuha-required conditioning training?

    I was just asked an interesting question by a non-iaido practitioner: He wants to know if there are any specific "foundational conditioning and posture exercises in the iaido curriculum to develop strength, endurance, & training in power (i.e., cutting & striking) generation." He poses this question specifically apart from individual & partner forms.

    I've trained in MJER for many years, but am not aware of any conditioning training that is required by our ryuha. Sensei does have us do a rather intense 10-minute workout before training to loosen up, but that's not what my friend is asking. Do any of you train in ryuha that have foundational conditioning as a requirement?

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken-Hawaii View Post
    He wants to know if there are any specific "foundational conditioning and posture exercises in the iaido curriculum to develop strength, endurance, & training in power (i.e., cutting & striking) generation." He poses this question specifically apart from individual & partner forms.
    To me, all kata from seiza are exactly that (among other things), and you're pretty much required to do them

    I'm under the impression that generally (I know, a dangerous word) koryu tend to just integrate most aspects of training (technical and tactical, including the basic 'conditioning' stuff like that) to kata, so all elements are practiced with a clear context at all times. All examples I can think of of any kind of specific non-kata kihon exercises are a modern era development, like in Shinto Muso-ryu.

    EDIT: And as I pressed submit, I of course immediately remembered the huge furibo Jikishinkage-ryu guys use: http://youtu.be/mlyTVTXa8Ng Not iai, but...
    A. Junnila - No longer the whole iai-faction of Turku universities' kendo club

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    Hi,

    moste ryus trains suburi and suburi and suburi.

    regards
    Oliver

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    To give a better idea of what my friend has asked, I'm extracting the following from his e-mail message:

    For instance, in Xingyi (the Hebei branch I have studied), there are numerous foundational conditioning and posture exercises in the curriculum which ostensibly develop strength, endurance, and train the power generation (the specific mechanics behind striking, pulling, throwing, etc.). By way of example, the Fu Hu Gong (Lying Tiger Exercises) drills include ~15 different types of pushups with an emphasis on opening and closing the back when performing the movements (so when you are at the bottom of the pushup, the shoulder blades are pulled together as if you are "grasping" something between them); alternatively, at the top of the pushup the shoulder blades are pulled apart and the spine extended. This trains not only additional reach in a strike without physically moving the body closer to the opponent, but is also a critical skill in short distance power generation.

    Xingyi also has standing postures (also referred to as standing/holding post). These are static exercises where the feet are rooted the entire time and the arms hold a specific posture for time. The focus is on relaxing into the posture and using the least musculature recruitment possible to maintain structure.

    The Bagua I have studied used some of the same conditioning drills (taught from the same organization), but there were additional drills that were definitely Bagua - like Ding Shi, which we called mud walking. It was slow, grueling, circle walking with the foot landing and picking up toe-heel versus the more normal heel-toe. This was great training not only for conditioning, but also balance, as the upper body was rotated so the center line and gaze was focused on the center of the circle, while the lower body was facing the direction of movement (tangential to the center).

    This is contrasted with my Pekiti Tirsia experience, which involves essentially hitting tires with sticks, striking/catching a cast iron shot put (trains the Pekiti Tirsia slap - I always do this with a pillow on the ground since I don't want to put a hole through the floor... lol). The PTK footwork training is all dynamic - no static positions held.

    Yes, of course we all practice suburi, but that's primarily to get students used to swinging straight, & it's conditioning only for someone who's pretty out of shape. And waza are for both technique & muscle-memory, unlike what's described above.

    Ken
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    Hi Ken,

    The Jigen Ryu usage of Tategi Uchi comes to mind. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHKKEbxSZx0

    Is this what your friend had in mind? I'm not sure of others in other systems, other than kihon gata (such as Katori Shinto Ryu's repetition of Maki Uchi cuts, and others, as well as a high emphasis on kamae training), which would also qualify I feel.
    With Respect,
    Chris Parker.

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    天真正伝香取神道流兵法 Tenshinsho Den Katori Shinto Ryu (https://www.facebook.com/MelbKoryuKenjutsuKeikoKai/)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken-Hawaii View Post
    Yes, of course we all practice suburi, but that's primarily to get students used to swinging straight, & it's conditioning only for someone who's pretty out of shape. And waza are for both technique & muscle-memory, unlike what's described above.
    That's a pretty limited take on suburi, and I daresay not shared by all ryuha.

    Iai itself is a kind of conditioning, and that was really its place historically in the times of complete ryuha.

    Also, many bushi practiced sumo for fun and exercise. Sumo has a number of body conditioning exercises, such as shiko, teppo striking, and suri-ashi.
    Josh Reyer

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    Someone has already mentioned the use of the furibo in Jikishinkage Ryu. This is a conditioning tool that not only strengthens the body but prepares it for movement in very specific ways that are critical to the kata training. Jikishinkage Ryu also incorporates other forms of conditioning, notable its unpo or walking drills. These are very similar, at least on the surface, to walking drills that I've seen in some Chinese arts.
    David Sims

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    Iwata sensei devised some very specific exercises for us to help develop the hara and movement of the body. Some strengthen the back, others focus on tenouchi,etc. The best one however is the "kihon mae" he did to show how the basics really work. If you study this one, it becomes obvious how much of a genius he was as a teacher...problem is you can't write these down, just be shown and do them!
    Tim Hamilton

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    Tim, I would have loved the opportunity to train with Iwata Sensei, even if only with Kihon Mae. I've trained with other hachidan who seemed to do their best to confuse me & the rest of our dojo, but he was obviously someone who really tried to pass on his techniques.

    I have my own homemade furibo which I use for strength exercises, but again it's not something that is required by MJER, unless I've really missed something over the years!

    Josh, I've never had any desire to become a sumotori, but do any of their exercises apply to iaido?

    Chris, I've never seen Tategi Uchi before, but that sure seems fairly close to being "foundational conditioning!" Are they using a jo for their strikes? I'm sending that YouTube video to my Sensei.

    I'm glad that my friend got me thinking about basic training exercises that might improve my techniques - it had honestly never occurred to me before that iaido-specific conditioning doesn't seem to have evolved. This is strange because as I still teach masters classes in fencing & judo, I certainly have specific "foundational exercises" for my students, so why not for iaido?

    This may take some thought.
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken-Hawaii View Post
    Chris, I've never seen Tategi Uchi before, but that sure seems fairly close to being "foundational conditioning!" Are they using a jo for their strikes? I'm sending that YouTube video to my Sensei.
    Ha, no, the Jigen Ryu are very well known for their striking aggressiveness (some teachings of the school say that the first strike is everything, a second strike isn't even considered, as it's felt that first one does the job pretty well! There is also the claim that there are absolutely no defensive or evasive movements at all, everything is attacking!), and this form of training tends to knock around bokken pretty quickly, resulting in damaged or broken ones. As a result, a lot of the Tategi Uchi training is done with a stick roughly the same size as a bokken (in this case for a Nodachi), as if you break it, you've only broken a stick, not a crafted training tool.

    It's really a very interesting school, they take this "you are my enemy" idea and practicality to an extreme level, only performing Rei to the Shomen/Kamiza in the Dojo, and the sword itself, not to an opponent/training partner (the thinking is "why would you waste time bowing to someone you're about to kill.... and is trying to kill you?"), one of the lines Hombu Dojo has an uncovered earthen floor, allowing the practitioners to move striking poles around as desired/needed, as well as practicing on less-than-ideal footing.

    These guys were quite rightly feared in their region for a long time....
    With Respect,
    Chris Parker.

    兵法二天一流剣術 Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu Kenjutsu (https://www.facebook.com/MelbKoryuKenjutsuKeikoKai/)
    天真正伝香取神道流兵法 Tenshinsho Den Katori Shinto Ryu (https://www.facebook.com/MelbKoryuKenjutsuKeikoKai/)
    熟練道場武道兵法 Jukuren Dojo Budo Heiho (www.budomelbourne.com)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken-Hawaii View Post
    I have my own homemade furibo which I use for strength exercises, but again it's not something that is required by MJER, unless I've really missed something over the years!
    I suspect that Jikishinkage-style furibo training would be somewhere between useless and dangerous for an MJER student. It works for us because we move in a very specific way and have had a long time to develop exercises specifically integrated to that way of movement. Trying our type of training with a different school sounds like a recipe for instant tendinitis. I'm sure that you could design an MJER-friendly furibo routine (it sounds like you already have), but the school hasn't developed alongside furibo training for centuries like Jikishinkage Ryu has.

    As an aside, I recently ran across a reference indicating that the proper size for a Jikishinkage furibo is from 25 to 125lbs, and that we should really be doing at least a thousand swings a day. Looks like I need to ramp things up a bit.
    David Sims

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken-Hawaii View Post
    Josh, I've never had any desire to become a sumotori, but do any of their exercises apply to iaido?
    If you desire to generate full body power with a minimum of local muscle usage, then I'd say yes.
    Josh Reyer

    Swa sceal man don, žonne he ęt guše gengan ženceš longsumne lof, na ymb his lif cearaš. - The Beowulf Poet

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    How many are you up to Dave? I've capped at 300 a day a few times a week.

    Quote Originally Posted by DDATFUS View Post
    As an aside, I recently ran across a reference indicating that the proper size for a Jikishinkage furibo is from 25 to 125lbs, and that we should really be doing at least a thousand swings a day. Looks like I need to ramp things up a bit.
    Christopher Covington

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    All views expressed here are my own and don't necessarily represent the views of the arts I practice, the teachers and people I train with or any dojo I train in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kendoguy9 View Post
    How many are you up to Dave? I've capped at 300 a day a few times a week.
    That's about where I am-- I need to get past that, but not much progress at the moment.
    David Sims

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

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    Christopher & David, at what weight are you up to swinging 300 times?

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

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