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Thread: why so many leg defense moves in MSR/MJER and no torso defense?

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    Default why so many leg defense moves in MSR/MJER and no torso defense?

    here is something i always woundered about

    there are 3 solo katas that involve the enemy drawing his sword and trying to cut your right leg, there is no kata where you defend a nukitsuke to your torso, or head. Yet there are no solo kata that teachs cutting somebody leg, the horizontal nukitsuke is always prefered.

    on the Kumitachi sets there are several katas where the enemy goes rushing at you and try to cut your right leg

    the style pretty much teachs that if somebody is about to make a draw he will most of the time go for your right leg, this could lead to some serious problem if you always practice such defense and on a real situation you try to defend your leg while he cuts your neck

    so, why in the schoolīs more or less 95 katas there is not a single one that teachs a defense against the most common and basic iaido move, the horizontal nukitsuke???

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    Hi, Felipe, & welcome to e-Budo.

    It sounds like you've trained in MJER or MSR for awhile, but after 20-something years training in MJER myself, I'm a bit curious why you're asking this question when you're so far along the path.

    In a nutshell, nukitsuke is never meant to be a final/disabling cut, but rather to distract tekki until you're able to perform kuritsuke. Think about this in Mae; your first draw & cut is across or slightly above the eyes, depending on how your sensei teaches it. Do you perceive that to be a cut that will end the engagement? Or does it simply give you enough time & ma-ai to make the final vertical strike? Let's ignore for the moment the little detail that we wouldn't be wearing a katana in that situation, although I could see a modified version being done with kodachi.

    Does this help?

    Aloha,
    Ken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken-Hawaii View Post
    Hi, Felipe, & welcome to e-Budo.

    It sounds like you've trained in MJER or MSR for awhile, but after 20-something years training in MJER myself, I'm a bit curious why you're asking this question when you're so far along the path.

    In a nutshell, nukitsuke is never meant to be a final/disabling cut, but rather to distract tekki until you're able to perform kuritsuke. Think about this in Mae; your first draw & cut is across or slightly above the eyes, depending on how your sensei teaches it. Do you perceive that to be a cut that will end the engagement? Or does it simply give you enough time & ma-ai to make the final vertical strike? Let's ignore for the moment the little detail that we wouldn't be wearing a katana in that situation, although I could see a modified version being done with kodachi.

    Does this help?

    Aloha,
    Ken
    Actually, I think it's a good question (not that I do much iai!!), but the distance of the tip of a sword seems well beyond the typical optimal striking surface - so there's pretty good reach to that cut, and if someone slices your eyes out, I reckon things will go downhill from there. It would seem like there might be a defensive move against that.

    And, yes, let's ignore the basic issue - no one would wear a katana in that situation.

    Hmm... .... ....

    Lance Gatling

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    Lance, if you've ever spent much time in Japan, especially talking with Japanese budoka or, in my case, family, you'll often find that they sit a lot closer than we do in the U.S. And the "story" behind Mae is that you're at a dinner or similar occasion where you would be sitting almost knee-to-knee, with something like food or sake between you. No argument that it wouldn't be the best of manners to suddenly rise & cut the other person across the eyes, but that's what's assumed in the waza.

    Considering the length of your arm plus that of your blade, I can see the tip reaching almost four feet in front of you, & that's certainly a reasonable ma-ai to find your opponent. It's the surprise attacks in Mae through Ushiro that really prevents there from being a defensive move, unlike later waza when one or both of you are in motion. In the fifth MJER Shoden waza, Yaegaki, at least your opponent has the chance to fall or move backwards, & if done right, those first five waza are intended to be close to an assassination. Please remember that these waza were developed in a totally different time, place, & culture.

    Ken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken-Hawaii View Post
    Lance, if you've ever spent much time in Japan, especially talking with Japanese budoka or, in my case, family, you'll often find that they sit a lot closer than we do in the U.S. And the "story" behind Mae is that you're at a dinner or similar occasion where you would be sitting almost knee-to-knee, with something like food or sake between you. No argument that it wouldn't be the best of manners to suddenly rise & cut the other person across the eyes, but that's what's assumed in the waza.

    Considering the length of your arm plus that of your blade, I can see the tip reaching almost four feet in front of you, & that's certainly a reasonable ma-ai to find your opponent. It's the surprise attacks in Mae through Ushiro that really prevents there from being a defensive move, unlike later waza when one or both of you are in motion. In the fifth MJER Shoden waza, Yaegaki, at least your opponent has the chance to fall or move backwards, & if done right, those first five waza are intended to be close to an assassination. Please remember that these waza were developed in a totally different time, place, & culture.

    Ken
    I been here for near 30 yrs, and know more than a couple of budoka.

    Never thought of it that way - and now that I do, makes less sense than than before. A quick measure with my little iaito my outstretched arm puts the point near 5 ft away from my shoulder - OK, good for a couple of pizza boxes or TV trays on the floor between us - perhaps longer than the average sword waver in Japan.

    But if the cut across the eyes is meant as a distraction, not a real cut, then why is it so definitive? If it's a feint, a distraction, then why not a quick flourish, more like Tenshinsho Jigen ryu, with a quicker, final cut?

    Anything like normal seating in Japan, or formally close, a couple of fists apart, a short short sword or regularish tanto is about right. A full sword makes no sense to me.

    Lance Gatling
    Tokyo

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    Hi Ken,

    I havent trained it for that many years, but i have done a lot of study and reading on the theoretical parts of the style, even on katas that are not part of my training.

    i understand that nukitsuke is not suppose to be the fatal cut, and that many kata situtations are not suppose to be practical, they are just exercises, however this is not my point, katas arenīt suppose to represent a 100% accurate situtation, you just take part of the kata and use it according to a real sittuation that you are facing.

    here are two examples of situations

    - the enemy in front of you is drawing his sword aiming at your leg, there is not enough time to cut him first so your best option is to block his low attack and cut him down.

    - second situation, exactly like the first one but instead he goes for your torso, you see his attack coming but you canīt block because at no point in your style you learned the proper technique for dealing with that sittuation, he cuts you first and proceed to kill you.

    thats the point, why learn to protect your leg, and not learn how to protect the rest of your body??

    Iīm aware that this technique exists in other styles, such as Suio-ryu, but I wounder why itīs not taught in MSE/MJER

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    It's a reasonable question, Felipe. Have you asked your sensei? My personal feel on it is that if someone is planning to attack my torso, I really want to get out of the way first, & then attack him with either a kesagiri or kirioroshi strike, both of which are much more powerful than nukitsuke. Yes, a horizontal cut will certainly do some damage, but after training in tameshigiri for many years, I can tell you it's damn hard to make a clean cut through even tatami omote with an MJER nukitsuke. It's just not a really practical strike, & with so many other options, it would be the last one I'd choose in a real fight.

    I have no argument with your conclusions, Lance, but do remember that it wasn't pizza boxes between people 450 years ago, & they sat a lot closer than we do today. Mae would make a lot more sense to me if it was in fact performed with kodachi, considering how close people likely were & the fact that katana weren't worn indoors, but it's not my ryuha, & I have quite a ways before I'll see Menkyo Kaiden & can start my own school (). I've only trained in two iaido/kenjutsu ryuha, & so can't comment on what other schools teach, but it's my perception that most waza are based on fighting outdoors, rather than in an eating establishment, & there aren't many horizontal strikes.

    Now, just for the sake of argument, I happen to have more than 60 years of fencing experience, & if I saw a katana coming at my face horizontally, I would probably be able to draw my kodachi & parry it away. But European fencing has 8 zones for blocking/parrying, which was never incorporated into iaido, & gives me some battle options that others might not have....

    However, we're now actually getting into the reasoning upon which Mae was invented, & as we don't know all of their assumptions, situations, & cultural perceptions, none of us are qualified to judge why that came to be incorporated into iaido.

    Ken
    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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    As others with a lot more experience have stated, it's there!!! At this point I would say focus on what your working on!!! Later you will develop the skill sets and as you contine you will be exposed to different skill sets not to mention different styles as you have the opportunities to go to seminars/ what ever other styles are in your general area!!! There is a lot of things embedded within the kata and waza that you won't see until alot longer time in the style!!

    Jeff Collier

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    Felipe

    I have a "maybe" answer for the leg strikes.

    In many/most cases your leg is going to be the closest target. Your legs extend out from your torso so in most cases your leg is going to be closer than your torso. Sometimes all you need is target just a couple of inches closer.

    If I can injure/damage your mobility then I have a great advantage.

    Also might have something to do with the armor--torso is often fairly well protected---while the areas that need to move--the arms and legs, are often less well protected.

    I would depend on many factors of course.

    Besides, many people don't think about their legs--they protect the torso etc. but fail to protect the legs. You can even see it in karate etc. Styles that allow leg/groin attacks fight differently from those that do not allow such attacks.

    Just a thought/s. Could well be wrong.
    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
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zyklon View Post

    i understand that nukitsuke is not suppose to be the fatal cut, and that many kata situtations are not suppose to be practical, they are just exercises, however this is not my point, katas arenīt suppose to represent a 100% accurate situtation, you just take part of the kata and use it according to a real sittuation that you are facing.
    This is not the way that I understand it to work. The way I have been taught, kata are not there to teach "techniques" or "situational responses". Kata are to teach basic body movements. Where your opponent in the kata is, and what they are doing, is only so that you'll cut or move in the manner in which the creator of the kata wishes to have ingrained in the practitioner. This is why your opponent will often do things in a kata that make no sense from a situational standpoint. It is also the reason that what your opponent is doing will change, depending upon what the head of the school decides needs more emphasis.

    Attempting to deconstruct kata to glean "techniques" from them is begging for frustration, in my opinion.
    Paul Smith
    "Always keep the sharp side and the pointy end between you and your opponent"

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    Quote Originally Posted by pgsmith View Post
    ...kata are not there to teach "techniques" or "situational responses". Kata are to teach basic body movements.
    ...your opponent will often do things in a kata that make no sense from a situational standpoint.
    ...Attempting to deconstruct kata to glean "techniques" from them is begging for frustration, in my opinion.
    Well said, and I agree 100%.

    One of the hardest things I encountered when I first started studying karate-do and later iaido was to turn off my analytical "Western" brain and stop thinking about "why," and instead just do it.

    Whenever I'd ask my sensei "Why do we do it this way?" or "Wouldn't it make more sense to do it this [something else] way?" the answer was always the same: "Because that's the way it's done." I only realized much later how correct the sensei's answer was.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    Interesting answers, Paul & Brian. Both my MJER & Jodo Sensei teach us with situation-based waza, rather than just verbatim. And that is also the way I learned Judo & European fencing. To them, & now me as I teach, understanding why you react a certain way in a given situation is at least as important as learning the basic kinematics of a waza.

    Ken
    Ken Goldstein
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    Judo Kodansha/MJER Iaido Kodansha/Jodo Oku-iri
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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
    Interesting answers, Paul & Brian. Both my MJER & Jodo Sensei teach us with situation-based waza, rather than just verbatim.
    Oh, don't get me wrong; in both solo kata, where we visualized imaginary opponents, and in two-man kata, where we obviously didn't need to imagine them, we were engaging in "situations," but as has been said they were of somewhat unrealistic content...such as sitting seiza while wearing a katana.

    The point wasn't to learn what to do if in the future we were confronted with an opponent while sitting seiza while wearing a katana, but rather to form the neurological pathways and musculo-skeletal development to act appropriately to whatever situation we were confronted with.

    If it were otherwise, there would be no point in training at all, because no one could possibly train specifically for all possible situations.

    That's why asking questions like "Wouldn't it be better to do A instead of B when confronted with C" was discouraged; the training methods had been handed down for generations as they were received, and changing them would change the art itself for no good reason.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    Quote Originally Posted by pgsmith View Post
    This is not the way that I understand it to work. The way I have been taught, kata are not there to teach "techniques" or "situational responses". Kata are to teach basic body movements. Where your opponent in the kata is, and what they are doing, is only so that you'll cut or move in the manner in which the creator of the kata wishes to have ingrained in the practitioner. This is why your opponent will often do things in a kata that make no sense from a situational standpoint. It is also the reason that what your opponent is doing will change, depending upon what the head of the school decides needs more emphasis.

    Attempting to deconstruct kata to glean "techniques" from them is begging for frustration, in my opinion.
    A long time since I did MJER or seitei. But I was told that the seiza nobu was added to educate one to cut from the hips.

    Although one well known Sensei states that sitting down together is to drink tea but........one must always be prepared to draw a Nihonto in any situation. That rather destroys the assumption of not being able to take ones longer blade into a house. Nukitsuke cuts to the eyes but one can assume that the opponent may draw back, hence kiritsuke to finish.

    Perhaps Tim Hamilton or someone could chip in on this. He and others have spent many private hours practicing with the late Iwata Norikazu Sensei. Holder of two Tora no Maki.

    To quote: When recognising the opponents harmful emotions, take immediate action to cut the neck of the opponent, his face or upper arm (depending on his posture). Follow by kirioroshi on the fallen opponent.
    Last edited by hyaku; 18th April 2014 at 17:07.
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    Not to be too cryptic, but the answer lies in one a deeper understanding of the waza in question and that understanding has a lot to do with what you are doing in this particular nukitsuke. The full answer to your question is in fact a matter of Kuden (oral tradition) and the assumption is often that you should have arrived at the answer on your own before your sensei would verify it via oral transmission. All that crypticossity (is that a word?) aside, it is an excellent question and tells me that you are really thinking about this stuff.
    Scott Irey
    Just another one of those "few peanuts short of a snickers bar" MJER guys.

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