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Thread: Kumidachi with steel blades?

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    With about 25% of Hawaii's population being of Japanese extraction, NHK plays a huge role out here. Abarenbo Shogun mysteriously disappeared last year, & has been replaced by Mito Komon on our basic Time Warner digital service. And each year we have a different taiga drama - right now it's Taira no Kiyomori. They each run from 42 to 47 weekly segments, so we hope & pray that it's a decent plot.

    But we enjoy Japanese movies so much that we gladly pay an extra $5 per month to get the same three full-time NHK channels as they show in Japan. One of them is just news, but often with English subtitles. The second channel has the equivalent of soap opera, but the third has nothing but full-length subtitled movies. Over half of those are the great old ones made in the 40s through 60s, with lots of battle action, so of course that's what we watch: Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, 47 Ronin, etc. Great bargain!

    Ken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken-Hawaii View Post
    You know, Mat, that's a good question. I have to admit that when that chunk of Sensei's blade flew across the floor at me, I wasn't considering which cut had caused the break. We were in MJER Okuden, but that's all I recall. I'm fairly sure it was a kirioroshi cut as that puts the most strain on the blade.

    I wasn't at the dojo when two of the other breaks occurred, & I was leading a different group of kohai when the fourth break happened. Not sure about the fifth. I'll ask Sensei on Saturday if he recalls what he was doing when his iaito broke.

    Ken
    Sorry for the late reply, Server failure last week had me out of action.

    I did have a feeling it was Kirioroshi - we do not use kirioroshi in our Kata apart from some Seizan work.

    All of our Kata use Kesagiri.

    I'd say the stresses put on the sword by the sudden pull in on Kirioroshi is the reason for the failures.

    As for only using Live blades - we follow what our Japanese Sensei instruct us to do. Putting a live blade in the hands of a beginner is not just dangerous, it's uneconomic.

    Most of them will chew right through their saya and need a new one even if they could afford one straight away
    Mat Rous

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    We use a lot of kesagiri in our waza, too, Mat - in fact, before we start each training session, Sensei has us all go up & down the long length of the dojo swinging alternate full kesagiri. He listens for any problem with our hasuji (thank goodness all our iaito have bo-hi!), & makes anyone repeat who doesn't make the cut correctly each time. I honestly don't feel that my kirioroshi is done any differently than my kesagiri, & in both strikes, the tenouchi at the end should really prevent much of any strain on the blade, or so it seems to me.

    The new kohai of course want to do everything as fast & hard as possible, but it's never their blades that break, which I guess is a good thing. But when we train, we're now always very careful not to stand directly in front or in back of anyone else. And for sure no one stands in front of Sensei!

    Ken

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    Nathan - We do not, traditionally, have a name for the technique (tsuka ate, of course, is exactly what it is). Honestly, it's more like, "Araki-ryu no chiburi wa, kou da." (Araki-ryu's chiburi is 'this way.')

    Ellis Amdur

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    Late getting in on this, but....

    To the best of my knowledge nobody is making steel katana specifically for impact training. That being said, you can make very safe steel katana for impact training. I produced a few a couple years back and they held up remarkably well. I wold suggest either 5160 or 6150. Both are exceptional spring steels. Harden them to no more than 48RC and make sure they are properly tempered. The edge should be rounded and somewhat thick. I have one that I still use on occasion when the desire to fence with some WMA type overwhelms me Also, I would suggest a good thick tsuba of solid construction. Mild steel works great for such tsuba. But honestly, I would stick to the bokuto.
    Scott Irey
    Just another one of those "few peanuts short of a snickers bar" MJER guys.

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    Scott, can you please provide some more details on how you produced very safe steel katana for impact training? As far as I know, no one else is making blades of this type, so if you have experience, I think there are several of us who would be interested. Thanks!

    Ken

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    Even real shinken are not made for impact training. If you fashion such a weapon it won't be a Japanese sword anymore.
    Hyakutake Colin

    All the best techniques are taught by survivors.


    http://www.hyoho.com

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    Thumbs down

    No argument on my part, Colin! But that hasn't stopped our MJER Sensei from using cheap $50 shinken to train in kumidachi. The blades are horribly beaten up from just a few sessions, & would not be usable for anything else.

    The students do wear eye protection, but I don't think that's enough. My wife & I are both senior students & yudansha, but we have chosen to stick with the traditional bokken for our kumidachi training.

    Ken

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    They sell Iaito in Japan to do Kendo no Kata. They do take a good impact but look pretty beat up after a while.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hyaku View Post
    They sell Iaito in Japan to do Kendo no Kata. They do take a good impact but look pretty beat up after a while.
    The kendo no kata are relatively light contact but even then mogito look beat after a short time. We have some that we trot out once every year or two for demos and the edges are chipped all to hell from making errors.
    Neil Gendzwill
    Saskatoon Kendo Club

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    Quote Originally Posted by hyaku View Post
    They sell Iaito in Japan to do Kendo no Kata. They do take a good impact but look pretty beat up after a while.

    I don’t want to interfere with the discussion but besides bokuto, iaito and shinken, habiki are used in some schools.

    I think it has been mentioned before but an habiki (刃引き, literally "pulled edge") is a steel (compared to Zinc alloy in an iaito) edged blade sword with an edge that is blunted. It is more robust than an iai-to but in contrast to a Shinken, not sharp.

    In Ono Ha Itto Ryu, although most of the kumidachi are performed with bokuto with uchikata wearing onigote, “habiki” are also used.
    Guy Buyens
    Hontai Yoshin Ryu (本體楊心流)
    BELGIAN BRANCH http://www.hontaiyoshinryu.be/

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    Several ryu use habikito. Maniwa Nen-ryu performs habiki embu with shinken, although they will usually practice with bokuto. Hori-san, the fellow in a recent photo of Nen-ryu on this forum says that it really does not make much difference if a person is well trained. Yagyu Nobuharu Sensei encouraged members of his group to use metal blades in hitorizukai (solo practice) and I have found that a very valuable training method, particularly with shinken. For one thing, because the fukuro shinai are round, and a sword is more elliptical, the feel is quite different. Since it is a steel blade, it is a bit more substantial than an iaito and is different in how it behaves than a bokuto. In sum, habiki training is a great supplement to normal keiko.

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    Meik & Guy, I have to admit that I had never heard of habikito, & am still wondering how they differ from unsharpened steel iaito (if at all). Not much detail available on-line.

    As our MJER Sensei & one advanced student are currently using steel blades for kumidachi, as I've mentioned, Linda & I are still quite worried that they are going to do themselves damage, not to mention the flying steel particles around the dojo. If there is a blade that is made specifically for full-contact kumidachi, I would like to let Sensei know about them ASAP! I'm still not sure if we will choose to participate, other than with bokuto, but keeping bodily damage to a minimum is a good idea.

    Thanks!

    Ken

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    I have been thinking about this on and off since Ken brought it up and think I might have a thought about it. I have had contact over the years with a couple of groups who use steel katana for kata practice and observed some of the received wisdom and teaching around this issue. I don't think it is appropriate to go into here, but I think there is a larger issue. That is that a tradition that has this practice will also have a body of teachings centered on doing it appropriately (which might include how to do it safely) within the confines of the ryuha.

    I really think that if a school does not have a received transmission concerning a type of practice, the group is on dangerous ground (even if the practice is not inherently dangerous). The safest bet is for a representative with full transmission, be it the head of the school or a senior exponent under their direction, to consult with another school that does have a tradition of a practice with a proven track record that is compatible with the consulting school's teaching. The new practice comes in as betsuden and is integrated slowly over time.

    In TSYR we use habikito on a pretty regular basis for batto, some jujutsu forms and in time, for some of our kumitachi forms. Everything can also be done with bokken too and still be 100% true to the kata. We view it as just different aspects to be explored in training. Ken, I would say that there is nothing special about a katana (nihonto or chinese made) that doesn't have an edge. A metallurgist might suggest that a specially made spring tempered blade might be "more safer," but how "safe" is it really going to be without a body of "best practice" to help protect you. Anyway, most of the blades in use in TSYR are produced by one of the Chinese factories, we just tell them not to put an edge on them. They are then inspected and finished by Threadgill sensei before going out to the individual practitioner.

    Hope that is of some help. I share your trepidation about your sensei and hope all remain safe.
    Doug Walker
    Completely cut off both heads,
    Let a single sword stand against the cold sky!

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