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Old 09-25-2013, 01:28 PM   #26
Gerardo Torres
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Re: bokken strike style

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.
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Old 09-25-2013, 01:58 PM   #27
Keith Larman
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Re: bokken strike style

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Gerardo Torres wrote: View Post
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.

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Old 09-25-2013, 02:05 PM   #28
Cliff Judge
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Re: bokken strike style

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
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.
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Old 09-25-2013, 04:38 PM   #29
Gerardo Torres
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Re: bokken strike style

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
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.

Last edited by Gerardo Torres : 09-25-2013 at 04:46 PM.
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Old 09-25-2013, 05:05 PM   #30
Keith Larman
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Re: bokken strike style

Quote:
Gerardo Torres wrote: View Post
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.

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Old 09-27-2013, 03:43 PM   #31
Michael Varin
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Re: bokken strike style

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.

-Michael
"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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Old 02-07-2014, 10:41 AM   #32
Riai Maori
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Smile Re: bokken strike style

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
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.

Last edited by akiy : 02-07-2014 at 11:00 AM. Reason: Fixed quote tag
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Old 02-07-2014, 10:56 AM   #33
Keith Larman
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Re: bokken strike style

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.

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Old 02-08-2014, 12:26 AM   #34
Riai Maori
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Freaky! Re: bokken strike style

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
"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.

Last edited by akiy : 02-08-2014 at 07:14 PM.
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Old 02-08-2014, 07:20 AM   #35
Keith Larman
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Re: bokken strike style

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.

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Old 02-08-2014, 06:27 PM   #36
Janet Rosen
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Re: bokken strike style

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
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.

Janet Rosen
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Old 05-30-2014, 05:09 PM   #37
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Re: bokken strike style

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.

"Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity"
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Old 05-30-2014, 09:48 PM   #38
kewms
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Re: bokken strike style

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
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
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Old 05-31-2014, 09:36 AM   #39
Keith Larman
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Re: bokken strike style

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Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
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.

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Old 05-31-2014, 04:34 PM   #40
Dan Rubin
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Re: bokken strike style

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
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?
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Old 06-01-2014, 10:10 AM   #41
Cliff Judge
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Re: bokken strike style

The idea of cutting through things is not actually an important part of combative swordsmanship anyway.
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Old 06-01-2014, 11:29 AM   #42
Keith Larman
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Re: bokken strike style

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
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.

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Old 06-01-2014, 12:26 PM   #43
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Re: bokken strike style

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
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
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Old 06-01-2014, 01:24 PM   #44
Dan Rubin
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Smile Re: bokken strike style

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Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
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.

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
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.

Last edited by Dan Rubin : 06-01-2014 at 01:28 PM.
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Old 06-01-2014, 01:57 PM   #45
PeterR
 
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Re: bokken strike style

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Patrick de Block wrote: View Post
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.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 06-01-2014, 02:57 PM   #46
Eric Winters
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Re: bokken strike style

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
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Old 06-02-2014, 07:03 AM   #47
phitruong
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Re: bokken strike style

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
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.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 06-02-2014, 11:22 AM   #48
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Re: bokken strike style

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Dan Rubin wrote: View Post
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
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Old 06-02-2014, 07:11 PM   #49
Dan Rubin
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Re: bokken strike style

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Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
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...

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Not all downward strokes are created equal.
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Old 06-03-2014, 09:02 AM   #50
Cliff Judge
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Re: bokken strike style

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Dan Rubin wrote: View Post
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.
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