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Lorien Lowe
09-05-2013, 02:19 PM
I've moved to Portland from Northern California, and in visiting a new dojo I saw that their strike style was vastly different from what I'm used to. The strike there describes an arc, like the belly of a 'D' when seen from the side, as opposed to the whiplash, 'L' shaped strike that I'm used to seeing (and have had pounded into me). Any comments on the respective strengths/weaknesses of these two styles?

Cliff Judge
09-05-2013, 02:40 PM
I've moved to Portland from Northern California, and in visiting a new dojo I saw that their strike style was vastly different from what I'm used to. The strike there describes an arc, like the belly of a 'D' when seen from the side, as opposed to the whiplash, 'L' shaped strike that I'm used to seeing (and have had pounded into me). Any comments on the respective strengths/weaknesses of these two styles?

I think you are saying that at the new dojo, they raise their swords all the way back over their heads so they are facing behind them?

And in your old dojo, they would raise their swords vertical, and the bring them down vigorously?

And in both cases the end of the cut is parallel to the ground?

Well different groups do it different ways, and everybody has a schpiel about why this way or that way is better. Even classical sword schools.

Some people will pooh-poo the "D" shaped cut, because there is not usually a good combative argument for hauling your sword all the way back there. You are going to lose time, and you have to make it rise before it can fall onto your target. Some schools will tell you that any further back than 45 degrees is bad.

But you get a nice range of motion and if your swordwork involves keeping your shoulders relaxed (if it is any good at all it will be mostly about keeping your shoulders relaxed), you can feel what happens way back there.

Iaido people do cuts like this. But it is not unheard of in classical kenjutsu either, to bring the sword to at least parallel to the ground - so your opponent cannot see it.

The other cut you are describing, the "L" shape, what might be a problem there is your description of it as a "whiplash." You can get something like a whiplash by putting lots of upper arm and shoulder into your cuts. That's really really bad. But if your swordwork is more along the lines of "just let the sword fall straight down" that is fine stuff. I just don't usually get a whiplash that way.

If you have your shoulders tight, you will see the blade of your sword do a crazy zig-zag on its way down. That is easier to see and feel with a bigger, broader "D" shaped cut IMO.

Millsy
09-05-2013, 08:45 PM
Lorien When you say L and D are you meaning as Cliff said or:

L: The arms come down the center line of the body with the sword sort of vertical and the wrist "snap" out at the bottom of the cut. The classic Saito type shomen seen performed by a lot of aikidoka. See at 1:40 on the video below:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDeX8mAyNP8

D: The hands and wrist "cast" out from the head and the sword is bought down almost in an elliptical motion. As seen in most Iai and Kendo: See 1:25 in this video :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTblzOvQe4c

The first I see as aikido training, building that extention from the centre for open hand technique, tanren training. As a sword cut itself the mechanics of the cut mean maximum extention and power of the cut occurs near the belt level. With the D cut the maximum speed and extension of the blade is at the forehead (shomen) of the opponent and the blade then slices back towards your belt.

Two different cuts for two different purposes. Not bad or good, different.

You'll see a lot of people when they have someone in front of them checking their range and practicing their distance, extend their arms and sword to the forehead as if they were doing the D shape cut. An interesting exercise have an uke stand in front of you and check your distance to their forehead by extending arms and the sword to the forehead. Then cut with the L cut slowly, if your uke is my shape you'll hit about the top of the belly, if uke is fitter about the bellybutton :) Then without moving do the D cut and you'll strike shomen.

Lorien Lowe
09-06-2013, 02:02 AM
As Tony said, and as demonstrated in the videos he posted. Definitely not involving upper body tension in either case.

The exception is that I've been taught to do the L-shaped cut at any level, not just to the bellybutton; part of the point of the strike (so I thought) was that one could control the finishing point of the strike by extending asymptotically out to ground and simultaneously to any point in front of oneself, without clamping down on the sword and tweaking one's arms.

It sounds like the finish of the D-shaped cut is more of a drawing slash, as opposed to the more tsuki-like finish of the L-shaped cut?

Cliff Judge
09-06-2013, 06:09 AM
It sounds like the finish of the D-shaped cut is more of a drawing slash, as opposed to the more tsuki-like finish of the L-shaped cut?

Yeah...like casting with a fishing rod.

Krystal Locke
09-11-2013, 11:53 PM
I've moved to Portland from Northern California, and in visiting a new dojo I saw that their strike style was vastly different from what I'm used to. The strike there describes an arc, like the belly of a 'D' when seen from the side, as opposed to the whiplash, 'L' shaped strike that I'm used to seeing (and have had pounded into me). Any comments on the respective strengths/weaknesses of these two styles?

You are aware that your NorCal sensei's weapons style is rather unique, aren't you? I learned some stuff from him back in the day that has served me very well for a long time, but can occasionally get me in trouble for being different. He's the first teacher that put weapons work into a physics and mathematical framework that I can really understand.

Off the cuff opinion, learn both, take the good from each, and make your sword work a new dipthong...

Lorien Lowe
09-14-2013, 05:40 PM
Yes, I know Read Sensei's stuff is unique, but I think that the differences we've already talked about answers my question: tsuki vs. slash. I think you're right that learning both would be a good idea :)

Keith Larman
09-14-2013, 10:51 PM
A lot depends on why you're moving that piece of wood through the air, neh?

If you're trying to use it like a sword as in an edge weapon intended to cut stuff, well, it does impose some restrictions on use. Not the least of which is doing things that won't damage your blade, doing things that will actually cut stuff, doing things that will actually cut through stuff.

But that said, there's lots of reasons to swing that piece of wood. And they get complicated really quickly.

Most I've seen swinging bokken in Aikido would at best knock a cutting target off the stand if not also damage the blade and mount. Heck, many I see in Aikido have no idea of maai and would be dead before they ever even started to move. A lot of disarms I see start off with the person so bloody close they should have been perforated from repeated thrusts.

But again, all that said, that doesn't mean there aren't all sorts of valuable lesson to be learned by all sorts of styles of practice.

So if you're actually thinking you're doing swordsmanship as in what would work with a real blade, well, now we get in to a much more restrictive and sometimes rather contentious discussion. If we're talking about learning really cool stuff about mechanics, movement, connection, etc., well, hell, all bets are off. Have fun and experiment.

I think that's about all I want to say on this... I'm gonna go finish a sword I'm working on right now instead of watching for responses... Later!

Lorien Lowe
09-17-2013, 04:22 PM
I'm planning on playing with some kendo and/or iaido, so I'm curious to see how my views might change on this.

Keith Larman
09-17-2013, 05:41 PM
Well, I'll point out that even some iai and certainly some kendo folk are often rather surprised to find out how swords cut for real... The iai folk I know tend to adjust pretty quickly to actually cutting targets, but one kendo fella I know had a devil of a time getting away from that snapping "cut" of his. He tended to launch targets across my yard, much to the blade's disappointment... So to speak...

patrick de block
09-20-2013, 11:17 AM
Forget about style. Have a look at Saito's body movement in the slow motion sequence 1:56 - 2:17

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDeX8mAyNP8

Millsy
09-20-2013, 12:44 PM
Forget about style. Have a look at Saito's body movement in the slow motion sequence 1:56 - 2:17

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDeX8mAyNP8

Hi Patrick, would be interested in you elaborating.

To me it seems his body movements and posture are very similar to his open hand movements and posture. And I would have thought it is all about Saito's "style"?

Keith Larman
09-20-2013, 01:32 PM
Forget about style. Have a look at Saito's body movement in the slow motion sequence 1:56 - 2:17

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDeX8mAyNP8

Okay, fine, I'll put on my flameproof undies... The question remains -- is he demonstrating an aiki movement? Is he demonstrating a movement to push down someone else's weapon? Or is he cutting with the sword?

#1 -- fine, no worries.

#2 -- fine, no worries.

#3 -- No cut.

My point is that style does matter because style exists within a larger context which indicates what the hell it all means. Context. And if you look at it through the eyes of different contexts such an example can range from fantastic stuff to total crap... And everything in between.

Have fun...

patrick de block
09-20-2013, 01:51 PM
Hello Tony,

I have never trained with Saito nor with anyone who trained with him. Take my comments with a grain of salt, since I am Tomiki 'style'. Tomiki talked about Aiki Age and Aiki Sage, or rising and falling energy and that's what I saw.

And I don't recall where I've read it, probably on this forum, but Mike Sigman considers the suburi exercises of Saito as 'internal strength' exercises and in that sense he also says that the sword kata of Saito are not 'real' kata but paired suburi exercises.

And if this is all true, it is no wonder that his open hand movements and posture are very similar.

And about style, I don't care. Put some people together and let them train whatever and they will develop a 'movement dialect'. I recognize anyone who does Tomiki Aikido from miles away, but some show a functional expression and others a formal expression. And usually the formal expression is called style.

patrick de block
09-21-2013, 12:13 AM
Hello Keith,

I had another look and I think I agree. He goes up and down and back and forth which is not the same as Aiki Age and Sage which I thought at first. My answer to your first question would also be 'no'.

Keith Larman
09-21-2013, 07:26 AM
Hello Keith,

I had another look and I think I agree. He goes up and down and back and forth which is not the same as Aiki Age and Sage which I thought at first. My answer to your first question would also be 'no'.

Well, for me there are a lot of confounding issues when discussing whether something is "aikido" or "aiki". There are so many different understandings of those terms. Then there are also issues of why one does what one does within the context of Aikido. Meaning the "value" of something often has a lot to do with a variety of other things, and some of those things we are no doubt not aware of. Finally, "swordwork" in Aikido has its own form and definitions. And when I see a senior person in Aikido doing something, well, by definition almost that is Aikido (for better or worse sometimes). Not saying that's the case here, mind you, just that when senior folk in Aikido do what they do, well, what they do is aikido for that style. I have no problem with that notion. So when I see stuff like this, well, I have zero problem with it, I'm not sure I'd want to use an actual sword that way to try to cut something. But then again that may not be the intent at all in the first place...

So when we talk in this thread about sword "striking" style (and I really don't like the word "striking" as you don't tend to strike with a sword), well, the way some things are done will work better than other ways. And fwiw I have trained with folk who use a more short "slashing" style rather than the larger casting cuts you see in some iai (not all). And a variety of methods in between. Some seem to have varied ideas with respect to how to cut, but most would work well enough I suppose. But a "cut" with no draw (or push for that matter) that simply lands flat will do some damage but will be very unlikely to cut through much at all -- it's simply a matter of how blades work (which is why I added the caveat above about pushing down the opponent's sword as an interpretation of the movement). The Japanese sword doesn't work all that well as an axe -- wrong blade shape and design. And an awful lot of Aikido Bokken "cuts" I've seen over my time would really not work well with a real blade against, well, most anything as a target.

So all that said I have no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Saito had tremendous skill, power, etc. And I think the weapons work they do is fantastic in the context of Aikido training. No doubt at all because the context is large, wide ranging and includes a lot of training in how to move the body, connecting up, blending, flowing, timing, etc.

But if an Aikido student wanders out and joins a koryu sword style or a more modern sword style, you'll likely find that the first thing they do is start tearing apart the person's cutting form and building it back up.

Enough from me. Have a grand day everyone.

SeaGrass
09-22-2013, 08:57 AM
But if an Aikido student wanders out and joins a koryu sword style or a more modern sword style, you'll likely find that the first thing they do is start tearing apart the person's cutting form and building it back up.

Yup! It was a shocker (in a very good way) for me when I started Koryu after a number of years in aikido. The way I do suburi now is very different than what I did a few years ago.

phitruong
09-24-2013, 06:31 AM
But a "cut" with no draw (or push for that matter) that simply lands flat will do some damage but will be very unlikely to cut through much at all -- it's simply a matter of how blades work (which is why I added the caveat above about pushing down the opponent's sword as an interpretation of the movement). The Japanese sword doesn't work all that well as an axe -- wrong blade shape and design. And an awful lot of Aikido Bokken "cuts" I've seen over my time would really not work well with a real blade against, well, most anything as a target.
.

i always have the urge to attach a battle axe blade to my big bokken. wonder if it can be done. it must be my barbarian dna sneaking in somewhere. is there such thing as aiki-axe? i would drop the aiki-ken and jo just to learn that, aiki-axe that is. does japanese use axe in battle?

Keith Larman
09-24-2013, 07:10 AM
I was watching a demo one day sitting next to a friend who did a koryu sword style. The nice guy up on the stage was doing a fairly conventional aikiken type demo. The koryu fella looked at me and asked why it is some aikidoka tend to swing the sword like we're trying to axe murder a munchkin. Yeah, I could only laugh at the comment and nod in agreement.

The problem now is that every time I watch that style of "swinging" a bokken I flash back on that image. Can't quite "unsee" that one.

lars beyer
09-24-2013, 08:40 AM
I was watching a demo one day sitting next to a friend who did a koryu sword style. The nice guy up on the stage was doing a fairly conventional aikiken type demo. The koryu fella looked at me and asked why it is some aikidoka tend to swing the sword like we're trying to axe murder a munchkin. Yeah, I could only laugh at the comment and nod in agreement.

The problem now is that every time I watch that style of "swinging" a bokken I flash back on that image. Can't quite "unsee" that one.

Almost got me hooked into another fruitless argument about aikiken and aikido. Which was never meant to be koryu anyway.
Cheers
Lars

Janet Rosen
09-24-2013, 09:27 AM
...like we're trying to axe murder a munchkin.

Thanks, Keith, I don't think I can unsee that either now :D

Walker
09-24-2013, 12:04 PM
I was watching a demo one day sitting next to a friend who did a koryu sword style. The nice guy up on the stage was doing a fairly conventional aikiken type demo. The koryu fella looked at me and asked why it is some aikidoka tend to swing the sword like we're trying to axe murder a munchkin. Yeah, I could only laugh at the comment and nod in agreement.

The problem now is that every time I watch that style of "swinging" a bokken I flash back on that image. Can't quite "unsee" that one.

In our best Looney Tunes Wagner: "Kill the Munchkin! Kill the Munchkin!!" evileyes

Keith Larman
09-24-2013, 07:00 PM
Almost got me hooked into another fruitless argument about aikiken and aikido. Which was never meant to be koryu anyway.
Cheers
Lars

As I have written many times, each has their own place. Their own context. Their own value within that context. Confusing contexts is what causes problems.

So no, I do not confuse traditional swordsmanship with aikiken. Although I've seen some who do aikiken in a way that I'd say also contains some aspects of decent swordsmanship. But I've also heard any number of people chopping munchkins who claim their aikiken is also good traditional swordsmanship. Which it simply isn't. I have gone to great lengths in this thread to make this distinction. And it still bugs you?

The question is not whether it is koryu or intended to be koryu. The question is whether a specific style of cut is "effective" as a cut with a specific weapon. That answer depends on what you're intending to do. If you're intending to cut something with a sword, no, it isn't. Everything else is perfectly fair game, however.

Cliff Judge
09-25-2013, 08:26 AM
As I have written many times, each has their own place. Their own context. Their own value within that context. Confusing contexts is what causes problems.

So no, I do not confuse traditional swordsmanship with aikiken. Although I've seen some who do aikiken in a way that I'd say also contains some aspects of decent swordsmanship. But I've also heard any number of people chopping munchkins who claim their aikiken is also good traditional swordsmanship. Which it simply isn't. I have gone to great lengths in this thread to make this distinction. And it still bugs you?

The question is not whether it is koryu or intended to be koryu. The question is whether a specific style of cut is "effective" as a cut with a specific weapon. That answer depends on what you're intending to do. If you're intending to cut something with a sword, no, it isn't. Everything else is perfectly fair game, however.

I will quip, here, that some of us also do not confuse traditional swordsmanship with iaido or battodo. :D

Keith Larman
09-25-2013, 09:58 AM
I will quip, here, that some of us also do not confuse traditional swordsmanship with iaido or battodo. :D

I wasn't going to go there given the reaction to what I posted already. Posting that might cause some to burst in to flames... ::D

Gerardo Torres
09-25-2013, 01:28 PM
I will just point out that not all "iai" styles are conceived or practiced in the same way, not even close. There are also "traditional swordsmanship" styles that contain iai within their curricula. Not everything is public domain, so opinions of what constitutes this or that will vary based on available information.

Keith Larman
09-25-2013, 01:58 PM
I will just point out that not all "iai" styles are conceived or practiced in the same way, not even close. There are also "traditional swordsmanship" styles that contain iai within their curricula. Not everything is public domain, so opinions of what constitutes this or that will vary based on available information.

Of course... but in the end there is still the question of whether a particular means of "striking" with a sword will actually cut effectively and do so without damaging the blade. The answer to that question doesn't care much about who is doing it. Just how. And it's quite reproducible. You know, physics and all that.

Cliff Judge
09-25-2013, 02:05 PM
Of course... but in the end there is still the question of whether a particular means of "striking" with a sword will actually cut effectively and do so without damaging the blade. The answer to that question doesn't care much about who is doing it. Just how. And it's quite reproducible. You know, physics and all that.

I also didn't want to bring up the mystery of why it is that EVERY traditional sword school besides the one I train in seems to spend hours every week learning how to make it easy for me to kill them. Insult to injury is just not my style. :p

Gerardo Torres
09-25-2013, 04:38 PM
Of course... but in the end there is still the question of whether a particular means of "striking" with a sword will actually cut effectively and do so without damaging the blade. The answer to that question doesn't care much about who is doing it. Just how. And it's quite reproducible. You know, physics and all that.
I agree that actual cutting ability (and taking care of the blade) are essential no matter the style or performer. I also think it's important that the cutting technique works well in a martial engagement (this is also reproducible) as opposed to just proper target cutting. There's a lot to consider wrt the original topic, hence the different approaches including the use of swords for tanren or for aikido technical study as has been mentioned before.

Keith Larman
09-25-2013, 05:05 PM
I agree that actual cutting ability (and taking care of the blade) are essential no matter the style or performer. I also think it's important that the cutting technique works well in a martial engagement (this is also reproducible) as opposed to just proper target cutting. There's a lot to consider wrt the original topic, hence the different approaches including the use of swords for tanren or for aikido technical study as has been mentioned before.

No doubt about it. Again my only point is that people not conflate them.

Michael Varin
09-27-2013, 03:43 PM
Just a few comments. . .

My teacher trained in Iwama for about seven years. He insisted that they used the bokken as a weapon in its own right; a blunt impact weapon not a cutting weapon, obviously.

Aikido is the only art I have trained that uses weapons. At the time I first tried target cutting with a sword, I had been training very regularly in Iwama style aikido for about four years. After adjusting to the weight and balance of the sword, I cut the target on my first attempt easily and with no damage to the sword. Did it look like James Williams? No. But it was better than most of the first time tameshigiri videos I've seen. And that was after a number of people told me how bad it was going to end for me and the sword.

Watching Saito in the video today, I realize I have slightly tweaked my cut. It's still mostly Saito style, but not quite.

I'm not sure why Iwama bokken work couldn't be applied to cutting with a sword. I did it. I am in no way addressing koryu or any other sword styles. There are many reasons why they would want to rebuild someone's form that have nothing to do with cutting a target.

Riai Maori
02-07-2014, 10:41 AM
Just a few comments. . .

My teacher trained in Iwama for about seven years. He insisted that they used the bokken as a weapon in its own right; a blunt impact weapon not a cutting weapon, obviously.

...and further more, an Iwama first generation student told me that the Bokken is only a "body movement exercise tool" used in Aikido and is not a sword or cutting weapon.

Keith Larman
02-07-2014, 10:56 AM
Showed my wife basic safety about the swing, had her line up and she cut targets with no problem either. She has zero martial arts experience whatsoever. Anyone can cut a target. Most can be shown in minutes how to do it without damaging a blade. That's not the point. Never has been.

Riai Maori
02-08-2014, 12:26 AM
"Showed my wife basic safety about the swing, She has zero martial arts experience whatsoever"

...not no more friend...me prefer wife have zero sword experience. Sleep much better at night.:p

Keith Larman
02-08-2014, 07:20 AM
I've been married for over 25 years. Hate to tell you this, but spouses don't need a sword to be dangerous... That's the least of your worries.

Janet Rosen
02-08-2014, 06:27 PM
I've been married for over 25 years. Hate to tell you this, but spouses don't need a sword to be dangerous... That's the least of your worries.

True dat.

p00kiethebear
05-30-2014, 05:09 PM
If you're snapping your sword with your wrists you are not cutting.

The katana is designed to cut. If you don't cast, you will get your sword stuck in a target.

Snapping is hitting technique. Casting is cutting.

In my dojo we cast, always treating the bokken as if it were a live blade.

kewms
05-30-2014, 09:48 PM
Of course... but in the end there is still the question of whether a particular means of "striking" with a sword will actually cut effectively and do so without damaging the blade. The answer to that question doesn't care much about who is doing it. Just how. And it's quite reproducible. You know, physics and all that.

It's also testable. Get some straw mats and a live blade, and see what happens. I think doing this would be an excellent exercise for many of the people (from many disciplines) who like to opine about swords on the web.

There are many potentially useful ways to swing one's arms while holding a piece of wood. Only some of those will make for effective cuts.

Katherine

Keith Larman
05-31-2014, 09:36 AM
It's also testable. Get some straw mats and a live blade, and see what happens. I think doing this would be an excellent exercise for many of the people (from many disciplines) who like to opine about swords on the web.

There are many potentially useful ways to swing one's arms while holding a piece of wood. Only some of those will make for effective cuts.

Katherine

Yup. And saying that I realize I'm overdue to invite a bunch of fellow instructors and students over to my place for a BBQ and cutting session. I've got about 50 mats in the garage at the moment. Makes for a lovely afternoon. Safety discussion first, going through a few things about *not* keeping that forward leg out there, etc., actual cutting, and *then* and only then beer and BBQ... Good reality check. And it usually only adjusts one's form a bit if they're well trained. But you quickly find out what works and what doesn't work nearly as well.

All that said I fully understand that there are many reasons why one would swing or train with a bokken (or jo or whatever) in order to improve one's empty hand art. But as you said, actually cutting with a sword can be done in many ways, some better than others, some different than others (meaning styles differ and not all styles involve a casting movement, for instance), and some that don't work at all. Physics is physics and, yes, it is reproducible and repeatable.

Bokken usage to teach something in terms of *aiki* (or whatever) is a valuable teaching tool, but one should be very careful not to conflate that with good *cutting* in the *different* sense of the requirements for proper usage of an actual steel weapon when those approaches diverge. That is all. Unfortunately too many tend to interpret that sort of discussion as a critique or dismissal of the "quality" or value of bokken work in Aikido. I don't see that at all and train in it and teach it myself as well. It's just putting things in the correct context.

Dan Rubin
05-31-2014, 04:34 PM
But a "cut" with no draw (or push for that matter) that simply lands flat will do some damage but will be very unlikely to cut through much at all -- it's simply a matter of how blades work.... The Japanese sword doesn't work all that well as an axe -- wrong blade shape and design. And an awful lot of Aikido Bokken "cuts" I've seen over my time would really not work well with a real blade against, well, most anything as a target.

I was under the impression that a sword cut to the top of the forehead would not require a draw or push because the slicing action is provided by (1) the curve of the blade, (2) the roundness of the head, and (3) the vertical rotation of the swing. Apparently I'm wrong.

Do these factors enter into sword cuts at all?

Cliff Judge
06-01-2014, 10:10 AM
The idea of cutting through things is not actually an important part of combative swordsmanship anyway.

Keith Larman
06-01-2014, 11:29 AM
The idea of cutting through things is not actually an important part of combative swordsmanship anyway.

Yes and no. The first factor is the school's philosophy of combat. Some have larger cuts, others more slashing cuts. Kind of the lop it off vs. death (or incapacitation) by cuts to important areas. So saying it's not important begs the question of the style in question. Secondly, the reasons for practicing tameshigiri (test cutting) vary tremendously from style to style. Some use the test cutting to use analyze the cuts later to evaluate hasuji, angle, etc. This also gets to Mr. Rubin's comment. People hear things like "don't pull the cut so much" (sometimes told to those who cast the blade too much). They infer from that statement that the blade isn't to be "pulled". That may or may not be true depending on how the style actually performs the cut. Sometimes the very structure of a "proper" cut in a style results in the "natural" arc created by the way the cut is performed to result in a more subtle drawing of the edge across the target. This is of course also facilitated by the shape of the blade and to some extent the shape of something being cut, but the shape to the thing being cut isn't nearly as important.

If you really want to get complicated, talk about arts that originated much longer ago where the cuts are also at times intended to deal with an armored opponent. Now we're talking harder targets and specific ways of cutting to deal with the pieces sewn together hanging down to protect the throat, for instance, vs. a cut that may in fact be more of a percussive strike to deal with a head possibly wearing an iron helmet. Do either of those wrong and you will "fail" in your "goal" of the cut (whatever that might be) and in some cases you dramatically increase the risk of damaging or even breaking the blade.

So again it is rather complicated and it always cries out for a larger context.

The purpose of cutting practice varies rather extensively from style to style. Some do it rarely only to check on form. Others do it vastly more regularly (think the Toyama and Toyama derived groups). So not only are there all sorts of differences in why the cutting is done the way it is done, there are also differences in how they evaluate what would be a "successful" cut, using considerations that often greatly transcend the rather mundane "I cut it" aspect and are usually completely opaque to the casual observer outside the tradition.

And on cutting the head. Take a slightly curved blade and slam it down straight down on a tomato and let me know how well that works. Next either push or draw it through. Try lots of draw, a little, etc. Next try it on different things and you start to understand the interplay between sharpness, moving the edge, downward pressure, and then other factors as well. And how the balance of those things will vary tremendously depending on what you're cutting, why you're cutting it, whether you're trying to score it, cut it halfway, or all the way.

But I'm done on this topic. I've received enough angry emails from those who feel I'm putting down Aikido as a global thing. That is not the case as it seems to vary tremendously in my experience. I also recognize that not all styles are concerned even one little bit on how it would work with a live blades as their considerations are more on aiki, blending, etc. Yup, and that's all good. So basically, *(#$ it all. Y'all carry on with whatever you're doing. Obviously from some of the emails I've managed to generate I've either got to quit putting my identifying info on posts or just quit talking about it. Carry on, you're all beautiful snowflakes and your swordsmanship is fantastic. No one will ever defeat you or your sensei/sifu/grandmaster/professor. Carry on.

kewms
06-01-2014, 12:26 PM
And on cutting the head. Take a slightly curved blade and slam it down straight down on a tomato and let me know how well that works.

Yep. I have really good kitchen knives, and keep them very sharp, but they still work a lot better as slicers than as bashers.

And tomatoes don't even have any hard bony bits. To bash through those, you need a cleaver or an axe; a katana or a chef's knife will need to slice to make any progress at all.

Katherine

Dan Rubin
06-01-2014, 01:24 PM
Yep. I have really good kitchen knives, and keep them very sharp, but they still work a lot better as slicers than as bashers.

And tomatoes don't even have any hard bony bits. To bash through those, you need a cleaver or an axe; a katana or a chef's knife will need to slice to make any progress at all.

I agree, but I thought that the downward stroke with the katana would alone provide that slicing action.

So again it is rather complicated and it always cries out for a larger context..

I hate it when that happens. :)

Thanks for your response, Keith.

PeterR
06-01-2014, 01:57 PM
I have never trained with Saito nor with anyone who trained with him. Take my comments with a grain of salt, since I am Tomiki 'style'. Tomiki talked about Aiki Age and Aiki Sage, or rising and falling energy and that's what I saw.

Hi Patrick

Do you have a reference where it clearly says that Tomiki used those terms. What I have are people relating basic Tomiki exercises to those principles but I am drawing a blank with regard to what he said. If you have a reference that I've missed it would make my day.

Another interesting point is that different Aikido styles are affected by how sword work was learnt and how that knowledge was applied. If you were to talk about sword work of Tomiki's koryu goshin no kata one really has to consider Ohba's adeptness with the sword and where he learnt it. He was considered a superior swordsman. A similar thought has to be applied to Kobayashi H. who was a far better swordsman than certain other aikido teachers famous for the weapons work (a paraphrased quote).

That deviation aside - it can't hurt for any aikido person who enjoys weapons work to spend an afternoon or two doing cutting. Its great fun and does not take much to put things in context. Peter Boylan introduced that to me so many years ago on a get away weekend. I wonder if he remembers that.

Eric Winters
06-01-2014, 02:57 PM
Hi all,

Keith is spot on. I have studied and continue to study Iwama Ryu aikido for almost 25 years, I did some modern battodo and I am a shoden level licensed instructor of a late Edo period koryu jujitsu/sword art. In my experience aikido weapons are for training a certain set of body skills and are not all that good for sword fighting. Koryu arts are for how to use a sword to kill. In koryu you will use the sword differently depending on the time period and if there is armor or not.

Best,

Eric Winters

phitruong
06-02-2014, 07:03 AM
To bash through those, you need a cleaver or an axe; a katana or a chef's knife will need to slice to make any progress at all.

Katherine

that would be me. i feel right at home with a cleaver or an axe than a sword. can't really use the sword for chopping vegetables and meats. well you could, but it kinda hard to stuff the thing into the dish washer. i wonder if those swords are dishwasher safe or not. when you look at a sword, you kinda thinking that it probably would hurt but you kinda detach to it. but when you see someone holding a cleaver or an axe, deep down in your guts, the primadial part of your brain, said "that is going to hurt and hurt a lot!" then other parts of you wonder what for dinner.

kewms
06-02-2014, 11:22 AM
I agree, but I thought that the downward stroke with the katana would alone provide that slicing action.

Not all downward strokes are created equal. Without actually seeing what you're doing, all I can say is "test it and see."

(No, obviously you shouldn't test a live blade on a human skull. But animal carcasses aren't all that hard to come by. Probably shouldn't use your grandfather's heirloom blade, though.)

Katherine

Dan Rubin
06-02-2014, 07:11 PM
Without actually seeing what you're doing, all I can say is "test it and see."

I'm not doing anything. I don't practice with the sword. If I did, I would have known that...

Not all downward strokes are created equal.

:)

Cliff Judge
06-03-2014, 09:02 AM
I agree, but I thought that the downward stroke with the katana would alone provide that slicing action.


I believe it would if you connect with just the tip of the blade, actually....but you have to take into consideration that if your target is trying to kill you then they are not likely standing still.

jonreading
06-03-2014, 10:36 AM
I resisted the urge to post in the fall because Keith said everything I would have; I figured he could catch hell for me. :)

Some day, aikido people who use weapons will be called to answer for their skill. When that day comes, I think it valuable to be prepared to answer for what you do and why you do it. The problem is when you change your answer, depending to whom you are answering. If you tell that doe-eyed newbie tales of yore about aikido's history on the battlefield and the prominent role of weapons in aikido, you should expect to spin the same yarn for the koryu guy you bump into at a seminar. Uh oh.

I love ASU weapons. I will continue to work on my weapons because I feel they have educational value for bodywork, they represent an introduction to weapons, they provide a foundation for instruction and they preserve the culture of aiki. I circle those elements and seek to match my weapons to those expectations. Right, wrong, or ugly. Variety is not necessarily the problem; in fact, cutting variety is often part of a larger curriculum. Rather, I would look at the reasoning behind the sword strike more.

I have heard a variety of reasons for a variety of weapons work in aikido. I am not sure any of them are 100% correct (including mine). I think ultimately, the question is are you prepared for the reckoning? When hoards of koryu people swarm the lands and ask simple questions like, "you don't even know where is the center line, how can your sword be on it?" Or, "why do your rotate your hips?"

Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!

PeterR
06-03-2014, 10:41 AM
Please not the hoards. I beg you. :D

Context and delusion.

hughrbeyer
06-05-2014, 09:25 PM
Yes and no. The first factor is the school's philosophy of combat...

Y'know, the rest of us just keep rabbiting on about this and that and pretending to know what we're talking about and every now and then someone comes along and unloads a whole freightload of actual information on us and it just seems to me (and Green Flash Brewing) that some acknowledgement and appreciation of your contribution would be appropriate. So thanks for this. I'm sorry to understand from your last paragraph the the illegitimati are carborundumizing your ass, but I suggest you ignore them.

Stephen Nichol
06-10-2014, 12:07 AM
I noticed the differences in cutting 'types/styles' in practicing and just observing various gendai arts that use swords. Each has their own reasons for them and I just accept those at face value as I have no basis for an educated judgement one way or the other.

I am interested in learning a lot more about sword work for actual combat for various applications and through that learning... come to understand the clear difference between 'systems for :stuff: other than actual sword word (using a bokken or iaito to develop body skills) and systems for combat. I really enjoyed Keith's detailed posts about the various reasons and would like to subscribe to his newsletter. Is there a newsletter? Well, I will go back to using the search button on this forum to see what I can find.

I am currently practicing the Iwama system for body skills along with its weapons. My teachers, every single one of them all the way up to our Shihan who studied with Saito Sensei, are all very clear on 'this is not an actual weapon system and we use it as a tool teach body skills, distance, timing, etc...' So no illusions there. This is especially clear with 'sword taking techniques'.. no one even jokes about 'you may get lucky and pull this off with a real sword wielding expert...', just no. Once again, only training how to move, judge distance and timing.

Just curious to see real sword work and have someone kind enough to break it down for me when some things are not so obvious.