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Old 11-20-2010, 09:50 PM   #1
OwlMatt
 
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Question Proper seiza rei with ken

At my last class, we had a sempai from another dojo teaching and he had us bow out without returning our bokkens to the rack (those who could remain were beginning a second class right away). I am vaguely aware that there are rules for where to place the ken on the floor and when and where to move it when bowing, but my training partners and I mostly just haphazardly tried to follow the example of the one or two who seemed to know what they were doing.

Can anyone enlighten me as to the proper way to perform a seiza rei with a sword?
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Old 11-20-2010, 11:32 PM   #2
Michael Hackett
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Re: Proper seiza rei with ken

Matthew,
I suspect that it is like many other things, dojo specific. In ours, we place the bokken on our left side, blade facing towards us and the tsuka pointing forward, even with the knee. I've been told that is the worst position possible to begin a sword strike and thus the reason...to demonstrate that we mean no harm to our teacher or fellow students. You'll probably hear a number of variations, so the best course is to ask your sensei.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 11-21-2010, 01:39 AM   #3
Benjamin Mehner
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Re: Proper seiza rei with ken

I practice Aikido and Iaido. We do things differently in each dojo, I am guessing that differing Iaido and Aikido dojos might do it differently than we do.

My Iaido sensei often points out that what we do is not "correct" as opposed to what other schools do, it is only correct for our school. I agree with the above poster. It never hurts to ask, but it often hurts if you don't.

Then again, if you are a Zen Buddhist monk it often hurts to ask, but you just might find enlightenment. I wonder if that's why my Iaido sensei always warns us to stay away from those dangerous people in the saffron robes.

Let silence be my mantra.
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Old 11-22-2010, 10:26 AM   #4
ninjaqutie
 
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Re: Proper seiza rei with ken

I think it differs with each place you go. In ours, it is on your right side with the blade facing in.

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
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Old 11-22-2010, 12:40 PM   #5
Rabih Shanshiry
 
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Re: Proper seiza rei with ken

As was said above, every dojo is different and most have some sort of underlying reason or philosophy for the way they do things.

In the Doshinkan, we place our swords on the left side with the blade away from our bodies.
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Old 11-22-2010, 03:30 PM   #6
jatucker
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Re: Proper seiza rei with ken

I have seen the etiquette for this vary between each dojo. Everyone follows the other students.

The best explanation I have heard is that placement of the blade reflects the level of trust you have for the people around you. Placing the sword in position easiest to draw (left side blade out) means you trust them the least. Placing the sword in hardest (while still within reach) position to draw (right side blade in) means you trust them the most. With all other positions falling in between.

I would advise following your sensei's habits (at the very least don't put it a more aggressive position).
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Old 01-18-2011, 04:13 PM   #7
gates
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Re: Proper seiza rei with ken

Hi all,
I concur that different dojo's will have differing etiquettes. Hence naturally the correct etiquette will be to follow your instructors example.

I am currently training in Iwama, Japan under Nemoto Sensei. This is the etiquette as he explained it to me, (happens to be the same at my home dojo too). Realize it goes a little bit further than a simple Seiza Rei, but it may be of interest to you.

Bowing in:
Place the Bokken, blade towards you, with the tsuba on the left hand side. This is the hardest position to draw the blade (If you are right handed !).

Kneeling bow to your partner at the start of practice:
Place the bokken right side, curve facing in, tsuba to the front. (Neutral position)

Kneeling bow to your partner(s) during practice:
Place the bokken left side, curve facing in, tsuba to the front.
(ready to attack)

Kneeling bow to your partner at the end of practice:
Place the bokken right side, curve facing in, tsuba to the front.
(Neutral position)

Bowing out:
Place the bokken, curved edge towards you, with the tsuba on the left. (Neutral position)

Holding the weapon during practice:
Hold the weapon at your left side with the curved edge up.
(Ready position)

Holding the weapon before and after practice:
Hold the blade at your right side with the curved edge down. Least offensive position. (Neutral position)

Standing Bow
With the ken at right side. Lean the body forward but don't tip the weapon forward. (Do this with a real blade and watch the shock-horror as you drop the weapon on the floor, which is also why they place their thumb on the tsuba).

Drawing the blade out into ken-kamai:
I have had two ways explained to me, the first is to draw the weapon as if it is in a saya. The second is to just "present" it into position.

We always bow in and out with our weapons at the start of class if we know we are going to use them. If we take weapons during practice we do a standing bow to the Shomen. Raising the blade to eye height and then leaning forward. You do this to any new weapon that you practice with, say somebody hands you a tanto for instance.

You should never step over a weapon. You should never lean the ken on the floor as a crutch.Basically treat it with the respect you would if it were a live blade, obviously its not, but treat it that way. Never grab the bokken with your fingers touching the blade side, especially in tachi-dori. (If you are holding it at your side, fine you assume it is in its saya).

Some dojo's they do a mini bow of acknowledgment every time they pass the weapon to one another (I choose to but not everybody in my dojo does)

The final thing I'd mention is that I consider most etiquette to be like a door. That is to say, if you open it, shut it, if you shut it, open it.
If you draw the blade one way, put it back the same way, don't mix things up. If you bow in with the weapon then bow out with it too. I always get a sense of something not being quite right when the door is closed before it was opened, or opened and not closed.

Whatever the form that the etiquette takes, the most important thing is that it is done with sincerity and genuine intent Which sounds like you are doing and thats the important thing !! .
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Old 01-18-2011, 04:31 PM   #8
gates
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Re: Proper seiza rei with ken

I realized I didn't explain that fully.

Bowing in:
Have the weapon at your side as below, then place the bokken in front of you at the same time the instructor does. Blade towards you, with the tsuba on the left hand side. Once you have bowed to the Shomen and the instructor turns to bow to the group place the weapon back at your side and bow.

Couple of extra notes. The Rei itself can be done with the left hand placed on the mat followed by the right, this is so that if you get attacked at the last moment you can still draw your blade. (provided it is at your left side). Bowing in with the Jo and Bokken, place the jo on the curved side of the bokken, nice and close, this will mean that you can pick up the weapons with one hand without them clattering together.
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Old 01-19-2011, 08:55 AM   #9
Cliff Judge
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Re: Proper seiza rei with ken

The right way is the way it is done at a particular dojo, and the best explanation for anything like this is: because that is is the way it is done at a particular dojo.

At my dojo, our standards of etiquette require that students put their bokken on their right-hand side with the blade facing towards them, like a couple others in this thread. I have also heard that this is considered to be a less threatening / lower trust posture because it would be more difficult to draw a real sword. One of Ikeda Sensei's tapes dramatized this concept.

Though it seems to me that sword on your right side, blade facing AWAY from you would make it slightly more complicated to draw on someone, because you'd have to twist the thing to get the blade on top as you passed it to your lefthand side.

Though having your blade facing the guy next to you is not...nice in some sense. This is good example of why sometimes we just overthink things that are done simply because somebody decided to do them that way and proper students of budo default to imitating their teachers and sempai at the most minute levels without questioning.
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Old 01-19-2011, 04:43 PM   #10
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Proper seiza rei with ken

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Though it seems to me that sword on your right side, blade facing AWAY from you would make it slightly more complicated to draw on someone, because you'd have to twist the thing to get the blade on top as you passed it to your lefthand side.
Draw with your left hand. Not all Japanese sword traditions are rigidly right handed.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 01-20-2011, 08:43 AM   #11
Cliff Judge
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Re: Proper seiza rei with ken

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
Draw with your left hand. Not all Japanese sword traditions are rigidly right handed.
Don't talk about the H-O-N-D-E-N in front of the A-I-K-I-D-O-K-A, Josh!
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