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-   -   Why no tsuba? (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1070)

JamesB 08-07-2001 04:31 PM

Why no tsuba?
 
Does anyone know why aikidoka typically train with bokken that have no tsuba? Are there styles/schools within aikido that typically do train with a tsuba?

Has anyone trained both ways and has an opinion on which way you prefer and why?

-JamesB
Not even 5th kyu, USAF East

jk 08-08-2001 12:57 AM

Hey wait, wasn't there a thread on this very subject in e-budo a while ago? Here it is:

tsuba, or not tsuba?

My opinion? Some people may regard bokuto as disposable, and therefore do not warrant embellishments such as tsuba. However, given the costs of plastic tsuba and those white rubber tsubadome these days, that isn't a highly convincing argument. A tsuba is a very nice thing to have when your training partner, inadvertently or not, slides a jo down your bokuto. Mistakes do occur during training, so a minimal amount of protection, at very little cost, is better than none at all. Hope this helps.

Regards,
John

JJF 08-08-2001 03:12 AM

I guess there is a number of reasons... One might be simply be lazy (hey it does take a couple of seconds to put it on ;)). Another would be that the average bokken has a rather short handle and if you don't use the tsuba you can extend your grip a little up the sword, thereby gaining better control. I know this is not in compliance with 'realistic practice', but in paired practice I prefer safety to realism.
The way I see it, there is no use in putting the tsuba on the bokken, as it has no or very little practical use when it comes to protection. With my limited knowledge of sword-work I would never rely on the tsuba to protect my hands, instead the protection should be to move out of the line of the attack and take the center. In 'real life' this should be the same. I would be very scared if the tsuba was the only thing keeping my opponents sword from cutting my hand. It is not large enough nor strong enough to be a reliable 'safety-valve' and I don't think the blocking way to use the sword is the kind of technique one should practice.
I have had some experience with both Seitei-iaido, Aiki-toho, Kendo, Aiki-ken tai jo and Aiki-ken tai ken, and in neither of these arts have I experienced any technique relying on the tsuba for anything else than a means to either keep the sword in the scabbard (left hands thumb controls it) or getting the sword out of the scabbard quickly (left hand thumb pushes on the side of the tsuba to get loosen the sword from the firm grip of the scabbard).
Finally when using the bokken while practicing aikido the tsuba could (in theory) in some situations either scratch uke or put pressure on ukes wrist, so to prevent to add discomfort to uke I don't put it on.

In conclusion: I have very little reason NOT to use a tsuba, and slightly less reason to use it - so I don't. (However what put's me over the top might be the 'when in Rome' factor ;))

Andre 08-08-2001 06:26 AM

If you have ever been to a Chiba Sensei seminar where he taught bokken you probably have tsuba on your bokken today. He does a technique (I believe its called tsuri otoshi) where the attacker does a shomen and you do a slightly quicker shomen while pulling your hips. When learning this you get hit a lot OVER the tsuba, I wouldn't even want to try it without a tsuba.

wildaikido 08-08-2001 08:44 AM

In the kenjutsu I do we do have some tsuba fighting techniques, these are from where your swords are crossed at the tsuba and you push and struggle trying to get the advantage in a dangerous situation that might just occur. In the sword work we do in our Aikido (Yoseikan) which is Katori Shinto Ryu we practice a technique where you block low on your blade and use the tsuba aswell. So it does have some practical uses but maybe Osensei just didn't see the need for them in aikiken.

guest1234 08-08-2001 09:49 AM

I've been in both kinds of dojos, and also go with the 'when in Rome' philosophy. My own (probably wrong) theory is that since the Iwama-style dojos do not use tsuba, they probably were not used by O Sensei in Iwama, where I think we'll all agree the main Aikido weapons traditions come from...one guess would be those now cheap and easily available rubber and plastic habaki and tsuba wouldn't have been quite so cheap and available in post-war Japan. Another would be they seem today more to be used for Iaido-like adaptations in some schools (eg, hold and release from an imaginary saya) than necessarily needed to illustrate the sword technique within the empty handed technique.I guess a point in that would either be the focus and dicipline that teaches, or the particular instructor likes Iaido. I think you can mimic the action one person mentioned, the locking of tsubas in trying to gain an advantage, without the tsuba if partners have an increased sensitivity to each others pressure and movement, which is not a bad thing to develop. But then, I have enough trouble in weapons class as it is...I just go with what the instructor prefers.

tedehara 08-08-2001 12:01 PM

Re: Why no tsuba?
 
Quote:

Originally posted by JamesB
Does anyone know why aikidoka typically train with bokken that have no tsuba? Are there styles/schools within aikido that typically do train with a tsuba?

Has anyone trained both ways and has an opinion on which way you prefer and why?

-JamesB
Not even 5th kyu, USAF East

If you've ever seen an actual samurai sword, they have long handles. I've been taught to hold the sword with one hand's width between the hands. On a normal bokken, this grip is usually too long. The tsuba gets in the way because the handle is usually too short. I think the handle is usually made short because of the smaller average hand size in Asia, where most of the bokkens are made. If you spend the buck$ and get one custom made in the USA, the handles are usually longer.

That's why I usually train with no tsuba. Other people may have other reasons.

Brian Vickery 08-08-2001 12:13 PM

Re: Why no tsuba?
 
Quote:

Originally posted by JamesB
Does anyone know why aikidoka typically train with bokken that have no tsuba? Are there styles/schools within aikido that typically do train with a tsuba?

Has anyone trained both ways and has an opinion on which way you prefer and why?

-JamesB
Not even 5th kyu, USAF East

Hi James,

The reason why we don't use a tsuba on the bokken is to prevent the fingers from being injured during Tachidori (sword taking) techniques. The fingers can easily get trapped on the handle of the sword during this type of practice due to a tsuba being there.

The bokken is also used for suburi (individual kata practice) where a tsuba is just not needed.

When it comes to tachiuchi (kumite; paired practice) we opt for a bokuto made out of white waxwood. The waxwood is much stronger and denser material when compared to oak or hickory. It also cracks & splinters something like bamboo, rather than fracture like other woods, making it a much safer weapon to use on a crowded mat. Some students use a tsuba on these bokuto, but not all. (Once they get cracked on the knuckles a few times, they then become BIG fans of the tsuba;) )

Regards,

Tony Peters 08-11-2001 08:57 PM

Tsuba or no tsuba
 
A number of folks have come up with good answers as to why or why not to use a tsuba. My opinion is likely the least liked but perhaps the closest to reality. Since Aiki ken isn't really a sword style just a way of learning movement. There really isn't any need for the protection that it provides. As such there is more reason to remove it for Tachidori yes the tsuba does "get in the way" However I'm not sure that removing it to be "Safer" is neccessarilly the correct thing to do. That's sorta like leaving the training wheels on the bike forever. If you can't do tachidori safely with the tsuba on then you need to work on it. The point of the technique is to take a REAL sword away from someone without

A) Hurting your self
and
B) Hurting your partner/opponent
In the end you are cheating yourself and your technique by making the problem easier to solve before you start.

If your Boken can be fitted with a tsuba and you want to make one it's pretty easy to do so with leather from a weight belt and some Elmers glue. The ones I have made have stood up to some EXTREME abuse in Jodo class and have kept my hands from becoming hamburger. A dremel tool can be used to add decorative shaping if you need.

One last thing a tsuba is really on a sword to ballance the blade not for hand protection (though that is a nice additional aspect of it).

Peter Boylan 08-16-2001 01:56 PM

Hi Tony, nice to see you here.

The tsuba on a shinken serves a couple of purposes. It does protect the hands. If a blade comes sliding down, it will be stopped at best, bounced away at worst, by the tsuba. It also provides protection in tsuba zeriai, when people have moved in tight and are working tsuba to tsuba. Most importantly I think is that if you thrust hard (and why would you be thrusting any other way?), and you run into something hard that makes the sword stop suddenly, the tsuba keeps your hands from sliding forward over the blade and neatly slicing your fingers off.

On a bokuto it does a wonderful job of protecting your fingers from strikes. It's not a perfect job, but I'd hate to do a lot of the MJER tachi uchi no kurai and tsumei ai no kurai without one, and Itto-ryu is even worse. I don't even want to contemplate Shinto Muso Ryu's Hikiotoshi Uchi without out a tsuba. It also makes you aware of the dimensions and properties of a shinken, so you will be more likely to treat it like a proper sword.

As for shinken having long tsuka (hilts), the only ones with really long tsuka are the ones Bugei sells. Oddly, I've never seen swords mounted like that in Japan. The standard tsuka lenght is 9 sun (roughly 11 inches/27 cm). A tsuka of 1 shaku (12 in/30 cm) is exceptionally long, though I have sold a couple to people with really large handes.

I'm not a fan of the little plastic tsuba, a couple of shots of hikiotoshi uchi and they crack and go blasting right off the bokuto and the jo does a nice job on your hand. I prefer the boiled leather tsuba which are traditionally used by Shinto Muso Ryu and Itto Ryu, among others.

I agree with Tony that aiki-ken isn't good swordsmanship, though it can be good aikido. But even if we are practicing to get off the line and take control of the center (nothing particularly special about doing that in aikido by the way, that's a standard operating procedure in every style I've seen), we're not perfect, and a little protection goes a long way if it's the difference between being out for 6 weeks with broken fingers and being out for 15 minutes with a nasty bruise.

Kami 08-17-2001 04:23 AM

GREETINGS TO THE BUDO BUM
 
Hello, Peter! Glad to see you here!
I guess you did sum it up quite nicely.
Best regards and good keiko

Tony Peters 08-18-2001 08:20 AM

Tsuba
 
Hi Peter,
Yup Hikiotoshi will destroy a plastic tsuba right quick. Even with a leather one on you boken your hand can get hit. As for a tsuba on a Shinkin I was under the impression that while hand protection is part of a tsuba's existance it's primary purpose was to adjust the weight center of the sword. I wish I could remember where I read this maybe in the "Samurai Sword" I have to research it some. Anyway whoever said it intimated that the reason that tsuba vary so much in weight, thickness and design had more to do with "tuning" a particular blade to a particular person and less to do with fashion or art.
Boiled leather...harumph. Some of us haven't moved to/lived in Japan (yet, I leave next may) and have to make do with laminated leather. Oh and I was trying to be polite about Aikiken not being kenjutsu.

David Humm 09-04-2001 06:51 AM

Why no tsuba?
 
As some one who studies Iai (British Kendo Association) to compliment my Aikido (United Kingdom Aikikai) I have found that the use of tsuba is of personal choice unless it is stipulated by the Sensei.

There is a technique in aiki-ken called Maki-otosh, this is a deflection of one's opponents weapon (be it bokken or jo) this action quite often extends right up to where the tsuba would be on a bokken (there or not) however, the jo as we know does not carry such hand protection, therefore one has to be considerate of our partner's welfare regardless.

I must confess, during 14 years of study (aikido) I rearly see a tsuba fitted to a bokken, similarly many of the Japanese Sensei I have been fortunate to see, likewise omit the tsuba. Interesting question.

Christo 10-05-2011 09:50 PM

Re: Why no tsuba?
 
I've totally been wondering this myself.
I sometimes train with a couple of friends in our own little dojo, and the three of us have very different styles.

:triangle: Ninijitsu, :square: KungFu and :circle: Aikido.
Good fun, but I wouldn't go near the Ninjitsu chap without a tsuba attached... Its such a violent art and with knuckles exposed they seem to become a target for students in that art.

I use them whenever I can, even in class: but it does make bokken that much more difficult to carry around...

OwlMatt 10-06-2011 07:35 AM

Re: Why no tsuba?
 
I personally like my bokken to have some weight to them. In my (admittedly meager) experience, those bokken which can accommodate a tsuba tend to have thinner blades and therefore are usually lighter than I like them.

There is no rule at my dojo against using bokken with tsuba, but I use an Iwama-style bokken without a tsuba for this reason.

graham christian 10-06-2011 08:28 AM

Re: Why no tsuba?
 
I would say very simply that a tsuba makes you lazy. Learning how to protect your hands and knuckles etc. is all part of the training.

I would even extend this to any form of padding or armour meaning the down side is you get complacent and thus feel that part of your body is protected.

Regards.G.

Chris Covington 10-06-2011 08:50 AM

Re: Why no tsuba?
 
Wow this thread is 10 years old. Interesting.

Some schools such as Itto-ryu use the tsuba in their kata. Other school such as Jikishinkage-ryu do not (well at least not until kodachi anyway). If you don't use it why put it on there?

It seems that "aikiken" has a very broad meaning like kenjutsu or jujutsu and what you do depends on your teacher and your training. I've noticed many aikiken systems allow the students to use any bokuto they want, and they are often made out of exotic woods. More formalized fencing systems could not allow that. For example if you tried to use a Yagyu Shinkage-ryu bokuto (thin as a toothpick) for Jikishinkage-ryu (the bokuto is like a very thick axe handle) you'd have a lot of broken bokuto. Stamp that and reverse it and you could never train with the speed and accuracy you'd need for the kata.

I would just do what my teacher told me was right. When in Rome do as the Visigoths do. No wait...

lbb 10-06-2011 08:54 AM

Re: Why no tsuba?
 
Quote:

Graham Christian wrote: (Post 294095)
I would say very simply that a tsuba makes you lazy. Learning how to protect your hands and knuckles etc. is all part of the training.

I would even extend this to any form of padding or armour meaning the down side is you get complacent and thus feel that part of your body is protected.

Regards.G.

I guess that means that all the bushi who used tsuba and armor were lazy and complacent.

Cliff Judge 10-06-2011 09:01 AM

Re: Why no tsuba?
 
Bokken with tsuba just suck. It's either a flimsy piece of plastic or leather that is pointless, or if you really need a tsuba, its a bulky piece of wood that pulls the center of gravity of the bokken down towards your hands.

Unless I am doing some type of training that explicitly requires a tsuba I don't use one, and whenever i think I am doing some type of training that explicitly requires one, it later turns out that i did not.

OwlMatt 10-06-2011 09:57 AM

Re: Why no tsuba?
 
Quote:

Mary Malmros wrote: (Post 294097)
I guess that means that all the bushi who used tsuba and armor were lazy and complacent.

This is pretty much what I was thinking when I read Graham's post. Pretty ignorant assertion being made there, I think. One of the best (and least lazy) sword instructors I know uses a bokken with a tsuba.

graham christian 10-06-2011 10:08 AM

Re: Why no tsuba?
 
Quote:

Matthew Story wrote: (Post 294107)
This is pretty much what I was thinking when I read Graham's post. Pretty ignorant assertion being made there, I think. One of the best (and least lazy) sword instructors I know uses a bokken with a tsuba.

Then I suggest both you and Mary take more time to think about it.

Then again, maybe you could train in suits of armour.

Regards.G.

Keith Larman 10-06-2011 10:23 AM

Re: Why no tsuba?
 
Oh, dear lord.

Graham, I've trained for decades in aikido and never had a significant hit to my hands training without tsuba. I've also trained with others in other styles as well as people in traditional sword arts. Some of them train with tsuba. In some of those styles I would have received serious injuries to my hands had I *not* had the tsuba in place. Because they do things differently. Not just techniques, but how they train.

The bottom line is that is just depends. It has nothing to do with laziness. Maybe in your astral plane it does, but in my experience nothing could be further from the truth.

JO 10-06-2011 10:30 AM

Re: Why no tsuba?
 
I prefer using my buokken with its tsuba. I like the feel and the obligation to stay on the handle. But I can, and sometimes do, remove it. especially when training with a group that mostly don't use it.

The design considerations mentioned don't hold if you shop around. i have a hefty large enhanced hickory aikiken from Kingfisher that I had fitted with the bamboo tsuba which looks good on the bokken and is very functional (thick and solid).

This is what you need if you do those paired exercises in Chiba's style where the strike is landed against the hand/tsuba.

Gerardo Torres 10-06-2011 10:40 AM

Re: Why no tsuba?
 
I agree with Keith. In my experience the use of tsuba depends on what and with whom you're training. Your sword teacher should be able to explain and demonstrate why you need a tsuba or not. Even within the same style, you might find that for some parts of the curriculum you use bokuto with tsuba, for some you don't (different bokuto, no tsuba). It depends on what you're training. Some training is inherently more dangerous to the hands, or might need a tsuba for other reasons. Then again sometimes you need to put on some armor to train certain things at a certain level. I've had a bunch of those cheap plastic tsuba broken... better than breaking my fingers :D. I have a bunch of plastic tsuba in my bag, I just replace them (maybe I need to get a fancy leather or metal one). :o

graham christian 10-06-2011 10:48 AM

Re: Why no tsuba?
 
Quote:

Keith Larman wrote: (Post 294109)
Oh, dear lord.

Graham, I've trained for decades in aikido and never had a significant hit to my hands training without tsuba. I've also trained with others in other styles as well as people in traditional sword arts. Some of them train with tsuba. In some of those styles I would have received serious injuries to my hands had I *not* had the tsuba in place. Because they do things differently. Not just techniques, but how they train.

The bottom line is that is just depends. It has nothing to do with laziness. Maybe in your astral plane it does, but in my experience nothing could be further from the truth.

Keith. Severe injuries? Sounds like bad training if that's the case.

I have no doubt you have done what you say and thus that is your experience.

I suggest you too read what I said again.

There are times and places where it would be 'helpful' to use a tsuba. Limited. Your example fits to the degree that you din't know or have the experience of that particular sword art.

Bottom line actually is it can and ususally does lead to complacency whether consciously or subconsciously. Unfortunately if you always train with one then one day you won't have one and only then will you understand what I mean.

Reality my friend.

Once again I pose a view where people have to look at something they haven't considered before, ie: the downside of so called protection.

Regards.G.


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