View Full Version : kenbu and shibu
02-28-2008, 11:37 AM
If iaido is the middle child of Japanese budo, then kenbu is probably the red headed stepchild. For those of you unfamiliar, kenbu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenbu) is "sword dancing". It's not very well represented in the West, but you'd know it if you saw it. Long very precise kata often done pretty slowly almost always to some rockin' shakuhachi music. Good times. Anyway, a friend pointed me to this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqjJOqO3Y9Q) the other day. I can't confirm which school of kenbu this is from, but it's supposedly from the same line that my iaibattojutsu ryu-ha evolved out of. There are a number of movements that she does that are characteristic of Shinto Ryu (but that could be said of many ryu-ha). Anyway, as I was watching this video, I was reminded of something that a kenbu teacher told me a few years back. It was his assertion that many of the 'secrets' of Shinto Ryu were hidden in the shibu (fan dances) and kenbu. I have to say that I see a lot of *potential* in the movements that she demonstrates in this video as a body training system. In our line, the kenbu (剣武) portion of our ryu-ha eventually split into the kenbu (剣舞) and Iai-Battojutsu (居合抜刀術) lines. We're both part of the same ryu-ha, but it's taught separately by different shihan. My group only studies the Iaibattojutsu curriculum, but this material is based on the earlier kenbu material. I decided to post this link after reading Mike's quote below in the workshop thread.
These skills and methods are also the basis for many qigongs, for sho-do, for iaido, for the tea ceremony, and so on, when they're done correctly.
Anyway, I thought that video and this other kenshibu video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFzEOZq5WE0) might be of interest to some of the folks who have been playing with any of the bodyskill exercises that we've been talking about.
Just to be clear, I'm not trying to imply anything here, I just think there are some interesting movements going on in these videos.
Anyway, as I was watching this video, I was reminded of something that a kenbu teacher told me a few years back. It was his assertion that many of the 'secrets' of Shinto Ryu were hidden in the shibu (fan dances) and kenbu.
Weird. I study kali and my instructor states something similar. That there are a lot of "secrets" in our system within the old dances. :)
02-28-2008, 12:20 PM
Really enjoyed those Chris!
Ron (am I the only one who kept looking at her ankles? :eek:)
02-29-2008, 12:08 AM
Yeah, not just hidden in plain sight -- hidden all over...
Funny, I saw some taiko and kyogen the other night and there it was. Maybe not IT, maybe just potential. Anyway I leaned over to a friend and said look at that, there is all this budo stuff in there and you find it all over the place in the Japanese arts.
It also reminded me of the story of Takeda correcting the stepping of a famous Noh actor. There it goes again.
02-29-2008, 07:32 AM
If iaido is the middle child of Japanese budo, then kenbu is probably the red headed stepchild.
My God, the inherent truth of this metaphor is sublime.
Ron (am I the only one who kept looking at her ankles?
No, Ron, you're just the only one to freely admit your fetishes. :-)
One of my former English students is a natori and heir to a classical Japanese dance (日本舞踊 Nihon Buyo) ryuha. I went to a performance of his ryu, and was amazed. Try this experiment - keeping your back straight, bend your legs and lower your rear end as if you were sitting on a chair. Hold it for a minute, if you can. Be sure to keep yourself from leaning forward and putting your weight over your knees. I dare say even those in fine shape, with strong, powerful legs would find it hard to last one minute, let alone two. Now, imagine holding that pose for lengths at a time, even walking in it, while manipulating umbrellas and prop swords, all without raising your hips. Watching my student do this, I thought back to the Aunkai exercises Rob John showed me, and how standing in a "sitting" position had rivers of sweat rolling down my face after 20-30 seconds. I don't know if the top buyo dancers have "internal strength"; I suppose with enough practice the right muscles just get strengthed. But I do wonder if their training doesn't give them the kind of "structure" so that they could easily adapt to Akuzawa's method. Mind you, I'm talking about the hard core dancers here - soke/iemoto and natori, not just any buyo hobbiests.
02-29-2008, 08:49 AM
Fetishes??? What Fetishes??? :D
I started searching on quite a bit of this, and found it very illuminating. Good points all,
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