Likes Likes:  0
Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 1 2 3 LastLast
Results 16 to 30 of 35

Thread: Kendo, the 18th-Century Way?

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Palo Alto, Ca, USA
    Posts
    1,324
    Likes (received)
    1

    Default

    Personally, with no research to back it up, I think that "kendo" as we understand it today, can be said to have been born when three things happened:

    1) protective equipment was developed
    2) rules, of any kind, were instituted, and, most importantly,
    3) people started training in order to use the practice weapons for themselves as opposed to viewing them as tools to use to learn how to use a real weapon in preparation for the possibility of having to fight with a real weapon.

    Without these three things, I don't think there is any kendo, at least as we understand it today. Historically, I do not know the exact date when these three factors coalesced into what became modern kendo.

    In the same way, training in koryu is not a real swordfight either. There is an element of real danger in kata, depending on a person's level, the attitude of his training partner, etc. So, proplery done, kata can also help to prepare one for a real combative situation. Although I have never been in the army, it sounds as though the purpose is the same as basic training: create as real an environment as possible so that the trainee learns how he will behave in a stressful and dangerous situation. But, it is not a real fight. As you say, only a real fight is a real fight. Who knows what will happen or what one will do when it is all on the line? I certainly don't, and anyone who has never been in that situation and pretends to know what he would do is talking through his hat. I know what I would like to be able to do. I know what I hope to be able to do. But I don't know what I will do.

    Now, based on things I have read, mainly by Ellis Amdur about his experience in Araki Ryu, it certainly sounds that, depending on the ryu, koryu training can be incredibly violent and painful. Even in the free-for-all training he describes in his book "Duelling With O-Sensei", however, they were wearing protective equipment and using practice weapons. The training he describes sounds, frankly speaking, very much the same in spirit, if not in degree, as the kendo training I experienced with the riot squad police. We didn't do a lot of wrestling, but the message was the same: if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

    It seems to me, based on my personal experience, that a lot of budo training is precisely for the purpose of teaching people to take the heat. As such, the person training must be tested to his or her limits of endurance and courage. I hated training with the police most of the time. They were all bigger, stronger, meaner, faster, and better than me, I was afraid of them, I was always tired, it hurt like hell, and I was always painfully aware of my own inadequacies. There was not a single peson on that squad that I could beat if they put their mind to it. And they always made sure that I knew that they knew I was weak. Humiliating and humbling. But I think it toughened me up a bit.

    Anyway, I think that if kendo maintains that outlook it will keep its "soul", since I think that the main purpose of kendo is to instill the spirit of equanimity in the face of adversity and the toughness required to never give up (or at least take a hell of a lot of punishment before giving up, since everyone has their limits). Basically, to the degree that you can conquer your fear, you will be able to fight. I think that that is the main (not the only) thing that kendo has to teach.
    Earl Hartman

  2. #17
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    JAPAN
    Posts
    1,613
    Likes (received)
    106

    Default

    My first time to find a server that didnt take 20 minutes to connect!!!

    I like the fight in Kendo. Fighting others, the fight against yourself to do better.It may have drifted technically but still offers a lot in that face off. Standing on one side with forty or more on the other, one always waiting to replace the one your fighting with just has to be a great challenge that some other arts dont offer. If I see my last minutes out in the dojo I will be happy. Although as is pointed out to me with todays medical technology thats doubtful and I will live far longer than I should have bar some misfortune.

    If we used real swords I doubt if would be here writing this and would have chopped off some poor senseis fingers in the process of learning.

    I don't think we will ever get back to old Kendo and have a difficult enough job keeping it as it is. The main difference being the static twisting back foot movement that I still do in Kenjutsu. There are tiny similarities I find but the main problem is leaving the Kendo techniques of outstretched arms and kikentai-ichi outside the door when I practice Kenjutsu. I would really like to see some more disciplined Kendo which we could bring back. On average the Japanese seem to be a very unreligious lot and sadly lacking in a good family upbringing. Then again the reigi in Kobudo certainly has far more to offer both in discipline and politeness both inside and outside the dojo.

    I would just love to see the two point system abolished. The Jieitai still use one. Can't see the point in getting fataly injured twice! Even in jigeiko one should really get that first cut. The rest is just practice

    The political situation first forced kendo to become a sportlike tradition. Even veneration of Japans wardead (Yasukuni) brings lots of protests now.

    Most of my info on how it used to be comes from the same source as others. I am still waiting for a copy a video of a film made of the Ten Ran Taikai. A friend of mines father was eighteen when he took part in this 1940s event whith Oasa Yuji Sensei, Japan's last living Judan. I could post some pics and perhaps a short video on my home page.

    To my understanding many years before this there were no set target areas and no limitation on shinai length. I did try out a 4 shaku one a few times.

    Even if we did allow kendo to become more physical in shia we would still have to have a pre-arranged set of rules as to what constituted an ippon technique between the two competitors.

    "Warm" regards Hyakutake Colin

    P.s. Latest news from Bali.

    Got a severe skin allergy from holding a mongoose.

    Also everyone asks Why do all the Japanese people have orange hair? Beats me!

  3. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Lindenhurst, Illinois
    Posts
    1,114
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Dear Earl and Charlie:

    Nor does it help when the various sources take differing approaches to the degree to which they emphasize the connection between modern Kendo and the more ancient precursors. I recently purchased LOOKING AT A FAR MOUNTAIN by Paul Budden (Tuttle Publishing, 2000; ISBN 08048-32455) and was both pleasantly surprised as well as confused by the information this slender paperback (128 pgs) provided. The focus of the book was an examination of the modern Kendo kata. However, the treatment of the history and later a series of lineages as an appendix to the text left no doubt that the author saw Kendo as a direct descendent of the Koryo and I felt he
    made only limited distinction between sport and combat applications. Since I am not a pactitioner of Japanese martial tradition I would be very interested to hear anyones' take on the material presented as it relates to our discussion.

    Best Wishes,
    Bruce
    Bruce W Sims
    www.midwesthapkido.com

  4. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    1,654
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    I'll have to check that book out, Bruce. Sounds interesting, and it'll be interesting to see what the author says about the kata, or anyone else's thoughts?

    Earl, thanks to you I am now planning on hunting down a copy of "Dueling With O-Sensei," by Ellis Amdur. I'm thinking I'll order it from his company? I read some chapter excerpts, great stuff.

    You made such very good points, too, thank you. Well said.

    And then the man of the hour chimed in - mongoose rash and all. Thanks for the good points, sensei. You articulated how I feel about kendo, definitely - I also wouldn't be averse to having a one-point ruling for tournament.

    I'm thinking you just have to keep in mind the differences between kendo and other traditions (koryu, iaido) as you go along your path and take from both the best of both, accepting the limitations of both. I think I speak for all of us in saying that we would love to see pics and videos from the Ten Ran Taikai. I know you may not log on again for a while, but may I ask your opinion as an educator and coach? Do you think kendo is in danger? Do you see mainstream kendo as having degenerated to a great degree? It seems to be alive and well in the states; I think most of the Americans you meet that are into kendo would be either like me, very accepting and eager to improve their practice, or, well, arrogant know-it-alls. Your thoughts would be appreciated, if you can tear yourself away from the sun and sand!

    P.S. Some of the Japanese kids over her have green or blue hair!

  5. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Palo Alto, Ca, USA
    Posts
    1,324
    Likes (received)
    1

    Default

    A few other points.

    Technically, kendo can never be the same as kenjutsu. I think it would be wise to stop worrying about that. Also, even in koryu kenjutsu, there are widely varying methods and a great deal of difference between armored techniques and techniques for use when the combatants are unarmored, and the philosoiphy changes from ryu to ryu.

    The main thing kendo teaches is a certain spirit. Part of this is training to develop an indominitable will, the feeling that you can never be beaten and that regardless of the circumstance you will always prevail. Of course, in an actual competition, one competitor will be better than the other, but the goal of kendo is to develop this spirit, since winning in a fight is impossible without it. So, you must train in a way that tests you so that you can develop this spirit. This is the "fight" of kendo that Hyakutake san is talking about.

    That being said, I think that in any kind of fight, you will lose if you do not have this spirit to a greater degree than the enemy. That is why kendo training has to be so tough. You simply do not know what you will do until the situation is so tough that you are left with nothing but your own will to not be defeated. Insofar as it is possible to learn this spirit from a modern budo, I think that kendo, properly done, can teach this.

    As I said, I found training with the riot squad police very difficult. I could not do it now. However, regardless of one's abilities, one can always push oneself to go as far as one can go. That is the important thing. So, while the training was in no way "enjoyable", like going to a movie or the amusement park is enjoyable, it was very valuable, and I am very glad I did it, although I hated it at the time. I wanted to learn what it meant to be tough, and so I stayed. When it was time for me to leave, my sensei said "You know, Hartman, you never got any good, but you never gave up, and I respect you for that." I don't think anything anyone has ever said to me has meant as much to me, and looking back now, I don't think I would exchange the experience for anything.

    Also, I don't think that this spirit belongs to Japanese budo alone. My sons were wrestlers in high school, and I think that they learned more about the true budo spirit by being on the wrestling team than they would ever have learned at a local kendo dojo. They practiced very hard and really suffered. Once, one of my sons was going to quit because the training was so hard, but he screwed up his courage and kept on with it. I think he probably learned more from that one experience than he would have learned from years doing kendo at the local Buddhist church. Both my boys later joined martial arts clubs at college, and were amazed at what most people considered a tough practice. None of it was anywhere near as tough as wrestling.

    Regarding the first point in a match, even in practice: yes, it is absolutely the most important thing in the world to get the first point, even just in practice. Except in kakari-geiko, or when you are trying to improve your technique and spirit by training with your sensei, or working on something specific your teacher has told you to correct, you should never think that it is OK to get hit first.
    Earl Hartman

  6. #21
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    1,654
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Thank you for your comments, Earl. May I pester you for further elaboration on one thing? When you wrote:"Insofar as it is possible to learn this attitude from a modern budo," what did you mean? In what way is a koryu different in this regard?

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Palo Alto, Ca, USA
    Posts
    1,324
    Likes (received)
    1

    Default

    Like I said, rules.

    Koryu and gendai, as they exist today, take different approaches to trying to resolve the problem of how to train as realistically as possible without killing people.

    Gendai uses protective equipment, practice weapons, and rules to allow the maximum degree of freedom compatible with safety. In doing so, the actual combative utility of the techniques will inevitably suffer as the emphasis shifts to winning within the rules. It is difficult to maintain the proper attitude in such a situation.

    Koryu tries to preserve the forms and attitudes through kata, but it's too dangerous to actually fight with wooden weapons. So, there is no sparring. Yagyu Sensei said, however, that when he was young, they would put on kendo equipment and spar using kendo shinai. Sounds very painful. This is not done in Yagyu Shinkage Ryu any more, so far as I know. However, my expeience in Yagyu Shinkage Ryu is quite limited, so don't take what I say as gospel.

    I think both approaches have value. The best way is to train in both koryu and gendai, if that is possible, while understanding the limitations of both.
    Earl Hartman

  8. #23
    Don Cunningham Guest

    Default

    A lot of the discussion here is over my head. I don't have that much experience in kendo. With that said, however, I think most anyone who has done sport kendo is well aware that it is not kenjutsu. Certain strikes which would be harmful, even lethal, are not even scored in sport kendo. I like the example of the head weave to avoid men strikes described earlier. I used this myself when playing kendo. It's fast and easy since there is little actual mass to be moved in order to avoid the cut. In boxing, we used many of the same techniques to prevent scoring. If real fists were used, the damage would have been tremendous. On the other hand, we hit places with the fist that were only possible because of the gloves. Without that padding, the effect would have been broken hands, fingers, etc.

    On the other hand, participation in any kind of combative sport offers an element not available in kata, that is, an uncooperative opponent. While judo has many safety rules and prohibitions, the actual experience of trying to throw someone who doesn't want to be thrown, in fact is trying real hard to throw you, provides a whole new element to grappling. I've seen jujutsu practitioners who are really good at kata techniques just get their butts handed to them when they first try randori.

    The same goes for kendo kata. It is more like the koryu method of training for kenjutsu. However, the opponent's moves are prearranged and never varying. Although the jujutsu practitioner who has never tried real randori may know, even practice potentially lethal techniques, they will still probably lose against a judoka who may not use such lethal moves, but has spent hours fighting real opponents in shiai. It just adds another level, even with prohibited techniques or "lethal" techniques allowed due to protective gear.

    Okay, that's my opinion. I'm sure many will disagree with me, but I would rather learn a sport with some kata on the side than only practice kata.

  9. #24
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Palo Alto, Ca, USA
    Posts
    1,324
    Likes (received)
    1

    Default

    Don:

    That's why I said you need to do both.
    Earl Hartman

  10. #25
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    1,654
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Well, I have to agree completely with that. Thanks, Earl, Hyaku, Don, all, for your thoughts.

    Incidently, Don, you'll probably see more of me at the judo forum. After some previous experience in what I call "tori and uku jujitsu" and some randori, I've found time to join a judo club in my area and have been loving it. The validity of sport training for self defense and character development is pretty much another thread, but I think everyone here would agree with you (see Earl's comments about his sons' wrestling experience). Incidently, Neil Ohlencamp has a good article on this at www.fightingarts.com.

  11. #26
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Kurihara, Miyagi-ken, Japan
    Posts
    210
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Originally posted by Charlie Kondek
    I'll have to check that book out, Bruce.
    It's got some good stuff in it, and good explanations of what's going on in the kata, but suffers horribly from amateur martial-arts book layout (e.g. text and associated picture on different pages). It also has some good suggestions on different ways to train kata other than in order, approach, retreat, ... My personal favorite is the kata in bogu with shinai. "Who cares if shitachi gets out of the way of my men cut in ipponme? I will try to cut him in two as hard and as fast as I can."
    Kent Enfield
    Kentokuseisei

  12. #27
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Osaka, Japan
    Posts
    53
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Hi,

    "Looking at a Far Mountain" is, in my opinion, a very valuable Kendo Kata resource for Kendoka ... BUT - as stated earlier - the ryu-ha lineage charts at the back of the book are *very* odd....... (the yagyu-shinkage ryu one is crazy) there is also no explanation (I believe) as to where they come from. Also, the english used throughout the book is somewhat cumbersome (unedited?). Despite all this I would still say get it for the kata explanations/pictures + the interesting kata-history section at the beginning.
    It has recently been re-published, but was originally released around 1995-ish ... when there was almost nothing of the sort in English available. Even now it stands up to every kata reference in English.

    As for Gendai and Koryu combination (re:Earl et al) I would say that - for me - no matter how much Koryu Ive done/will do I will never give up Kendo, never, because its the glue that makes my Iaido and Koryu training make (mental if not 100% physical) sense. In the same vein I never understand people who do Iaido without Kendo ...... but thats a discussion for another day

    Cheers,

    - George McCall

    Seishinkan Kendo Club, Edinburgh, SCOTLAND
    http://www.edinburghkendo.co.uk/

  13. #28
    Don Cunningham Guest

    Default

    George,

    I don't have the latest edition, but I do have the original first edition of Looking at a Far Mountain, published by Ward Lock in 1992. While Paul Budden, the author, probably could have explained it more clearly, I believe the linage charts in the back of the book are mostly from the Dai Nihon Butokukai's original attempt to standardize kendo kata in 1911-12. Button describes their intent and even presents a translated version of their original edict in the first chapter.

    While you may question it, even find glaring inconsistencies in it, I don't think the author of the book should be held accountable. (By the way, I certainly have no qualifications to even fully understand the linage charts, much less evaluate their authenticity.) Personally, I think it is historically valuable in that it at least provides the basis on which the members of the Dai Nihon Butokukai used to make their decisions.

    The author even notes that the 1981 ZNKR committee charged with revising and updating kendo kata also found the edict confusing. He also mentioned the possibility of misprints in both the Dai Nihon Butokukai's edict and linage charts that may have added to the overall confusion. Therefore, it's not surprising that you and other knowledgable kendoka may also find the charts "are *very* odd."

    While I would never presume to consider myself a kendo expert (I am not even that proficient in kendo), this is one aspect of historical research which fascinates me. It's not all that easy to determine fact from the fiction created by those who later record it. No matter how careful they may be, there is always some personal bias introduced. The more people who get involved in the chain, the more the bias is amplified, much like noise on an analog electronic circuit. Eventually, the "noise" is so integrated within the signal, it becomes very difficult to filter out. The same is true with history. The myths and conjectures introduced by sometimes well-meaning researchers are often repeated as fact later.

    On a sidenote about the English used in the book, I must agree. Of course, half the time any one spoke to me while I was in Scotland, I thought they were using Gaelic. They weren't, but the English was so different than our American version, it was often nearly incomprehensible. Then again, they may have been speaking Gaelic.

    [Cunningham = cunnig (rabbit) and hame (home) in Gaelic. Even my ancestors were early exponents of Crusader Rabbit Ryu. ]

    Earl,

    I'm sorry if I just repeated your point earlier in my own words. I was getting all confused by the unfamiliar terminology, etc.
    Last edited by Don Cunningham; 30th August 2001 at 15:04.

  14. #29
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Lindenhurst, Illinois
    Posts
    1,114
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Dear Don et al:

    Is there a resource that discusses the role (if any) that the Dai Nihon Butokukai might have had in the introduction of Kendo/Kenjutsu to Korea about the time of the Korean Reform Movement (1894)? The Korean Kumdo Association was supposedly started in 1895, and the International Kendo Association reportedly started in 1925 (?). But the Butokukai started in 1896 (?) and I would be curious to know if there is any documented connection between this MA organization and the practice of Jpanaese martial training in Korea arising out of the same time frame. Anybody? Suggestions?

    Best Wishes,

    Bruce
    Bruce W Sims
    www.midwesthapkido.com

  15. #30
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Palo Alto, Ca, USA
    Posts
    1,324
    Likes (received)
    1

    Default

    George, Charlie, Don, et al:

    I think we are all agreeing with each other here. My personal view is that kendo, even if the technique is adapted to the requirements of a modern sport, gives the practitoner something that is not available in a kata-only koryu: the ability to try and hit someone who does not want to be hit and to learn to defend yourself against someone who is determined to hit you. This by itself provides invaluable feedback. However, since kendo technique is to strike rather than cut, koryu techniques will not work. So, a shallow understanding would indicate that modern kendo and koryu kenjutsu are incompatible.

    However, the main thing about kata, again, is the omote and the ura, the visible and the unseen. To the uninitiated, kata are specific sets of choreographed movements and some people who fancy themselves "purists" (I use the term advisedly) will say that if the movements are not exactly as they were 400 years ago it is no longer "pure" koryu. However, while this view is valid up to a point, rigidly holding to it to the extent that modern budo is denigrated as useless indicates a shallow understanding in my opinion.

    Kata are not just sets of techniques alone. Rather, they are, in addition to being a set way to practice technique, illustrations of certain principles of combat. That is to say, the specific techniques, such as he-cuts-here-I-evade-and-cut-here (or whatever it may be), are meant to illustrate certain principles of combat which can be adapted to other techniques and sitiautions. That is, they are intended to illustrate certain principles using technique as a medium. Seen in this way, if the principle, or the "kokoro" of the kata is understood, this can be applied to various situations. Understood in this way, modern kendo, properly practiced and understood, can be an excellent vehicle for understanding universal principles embodied in kata.

    So, George, keep it up. If and when my Achilles tendon recovers from the abuse I inflicted on it trying to pretend I was still 25, I will be back on the floor too. Perhaps one day we can practice together.
    Earl Hartman

Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 1 2 3 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 16
    Last Post: 4th January 2007, 22:05
  2. 18th century katana
    By mdamignani in forum Sword Arts
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 3rd August 2005, 23:30
  3. Deeply Yiddish
    By kabutoki in forum Member's Lounge
    Replies: 50
    Last Post: 18th December 2003, 22:04
  4. Replies: 5
    Last Post: 9th August 2003, 11:45
  5. Origins of Kendo
    By hyaku in forum Sword Arts
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 7th July 2003, 17:57

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •