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Old 09-28-2004, 07:38 AM   #1
dracones
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Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

Hello!
I've seen a lot of talking around this subject.
Let's say I'm a right-handed swordsman like the most of us.
If I fight against a left-handed swordsman, I'd be very confused.
This would be a great advantage for my opponent.
Lots of people say it's because of the etiquete.
Whell the question is why the left-handed swordsmen hold the katana with the right hand? (against logic, except etiquete).
The problem is very simple:
If you hold the sword with the right hand then you would have the right foot in front, obviously this way you don't expose your heart.
It's as simple as that.
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Old 09-28-2004, 09:37 AM   #2
kironin
 
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

Quote:
Morris Dacia wrote:
Let's say I'm a right-handed swordsman like the most of us. If I fight against a left-handed swordsman, I'd be very confused.This would be a great advantage for my opponent.
If this confuses you then you are not much of a swordsman and lefty or righty you will meet an early demise. It's as simple as that.

many basic stances for a right handed swordsman have the left foot forward so your explanation assuming that a right handed swordsman always starts with their right foot forward to hide the heart just doesn't make any sense.

On so many levels what you said makes no sense whatsoever. I will stop here because I feel like I am just beating up on the defenseless.

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Old 09-28-2004, 01:39 PM   #3
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

Assuming Japanese sword here, right? I`ve been told many times by my sensei in Japan, and others there that there were no left handed swordsmen, i.e. 

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 09-28-2004, 04:10 PM   #4
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

Quote:
Bryan Bateman wrote:
Assuming Japanese sword here, right? I`ve been told many times by my sensei in Japan, and others there that there were no left handed swordsmen, i.e. 
Correctomundo.
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Old 09-28-2004, 05:19 PM   #5
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

http://www.aikiweb.com/weapons/rock4.html

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Old 09-28-2004, 09:50 PM   #6
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

Quote:
I`ve been told many times by my sensei in Japan, and others there that there were no left handed swordsmen,
Not entirely true.

They were indeed few and far between. I wish i could remember this swordsman's name, but he was left handed and was renowned for being able to switch to his left hand on the fly to confuse his opponents. He was rumoured to have "perfected" a left handed thrust.

I wish i still had the book that talked about this. Does anyone know this man's name? He died towards the middle of the meiji era if i remember correctly.

"Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity"
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Old 09-29-2004, 02:39 AM   #7
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

Not sure why my post appeared above, I started to write it last night before putting my little'un to bed but couldn't finish it so I quit without posting, surprised to see it here this morning? I'll finish off what I started.

I may be completely wrong in all this, I'm just repeating things told to me in Japan by my sensei, my father in law and other friends. The reason that all swordsmen learnt to fight right handed was because there are issues in a duel if you have a left handed grip against a right handed grip. I'm sure that there were left handed people who practiced the sword and I wouldn't be surprised if some of them weren't successful at switching at certain points during a duel to gain an edge, but I think the premise that they learned and trained right handed is true, just think about holding a sword left or right handed, and swing a yokomen at each, which way do they meet?

My sensei in Tokyo used to say that when we worked with bokken, we were studying Aikiken not kenjutsu, the difference being that we practiced left and right handed because it was Aikido.

Regards

Bryan

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Old 09-29-2004, 02:57 AM   #8
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

Quote:
Nathan Gidney wrote:
Not entirely true.

They were indeed few and far between. I wish i could remember this swordsman's name, but he was left handed and was renowned for being able to switch to his left hand on the fly to confuse his opponents. He was rumoured to have "perfected" a left handed thrust.

I wish i still had the book that talked about this. Does anyone know this man's name? He died towards the middle of the meiji era if i remember correctly.
I believe Musashi was left handed, which is possibly what led him to develop the handed sword style?

rgds

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Old 09-29-2004, 06:34 AM   #9
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

Quote:
Bryan Bateman wrote:
I believe Musashi was left handed, which is possibly what led him to develop the handed sword style?

rgds
Miyamoto Musashi developed a two-handed style, using swords in both hands. He developed this after seeing some Portuguese fight with sword and dagger. When he was fighting with one sword, he was right handed.

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Old 09-29-2004, 06:54 AM   #10
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
Miyamoto Musashi developed a two-handed style, using swords in both hands. He developed this after seeing some Portuguese fight with sword and dagger. When he was fighting with one sword, he was right handed.
hi Ted,

I posted that today after doing some googling on left handed swordsmen following Nathan's previous post. A number of sites mentioned it, along with this one

http://homepage1.nifty.com/hidex/left/left2e.html

Maybe I should have done some further research first, but I didn't say for sure that he was . Using that as an aid in developing the two sord style was total supposition .

rgds

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 09-29-2004, 07:00 AM   #11
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

While there may have been left handed swordsman, I doubt they were samurai, as the sword was kept (and still is) on the left side of the body. I've yet to see a japanese sword art otherwise.
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Old 09-29-2004, 03:00 PM   #12
dracones
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

Oy! Oy!
I forgot how hard it is to talk to the people!

I know I'm talking to people with a lot of experience, so please forgive my possible mistakes, but I'm standing up for what I believe in, until proven wrong. Not everyone was born with information in his head or skills in his hand. (This one was for kironin).
Now....
Kironin said about "many basic stances for a right handed swordsman having the left foot forward". Ok. How many of them are for attack and how many for defense pourposes?
Consider the foot that sustaines most of the body weight.
Answer this and think about the heart expousure!
Second of all, when I first held a katana in my hand I attacked with the left hand though I'm a right handed, this because a katana is different from an "classic european sword" let's say. It was the first impulse, when my sensei explained to me what a katana is, I thought different, and now it would take me time to learn to fight left handed. But.... I never trained with a left handed so in my first training/fight with such a person I would be confused, but... of course if I'm skilled and trained enough, none could win against me, left or right handed. (So much for kironin).

Now for all the others, if even Musashi was left handed and learned to fight with the right hand why is that?
Though as far as I know he wasn't...
No matter the etiquette there would always be someone to break it for the smallest advantage.
Longer swords: the 47 ronins
Swicthing hands during a fight: Musahsi
It's all about wining.

If I attack I don't care where my heart is because the opponent is further then the ma-ai (let's say) or he is in a position from which he cannot attack.
If I'm waiting or I expect an attack, I really care where my heart is because the opponent is closer to me and he can reach my heart easily and one mm can make the difference.

This one I figured it out myself.
That's why I'm talking to you, a brainstorming is always better than a single brain activity.
But I heard nothing about this, anything else but this.

Last edited by dracones : 09-29-2004 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 09-29-2004, 04:33 PM   #13
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

Quote:
Morris Dacia wrote:
Oy! Oy!
Kironin said about "many basic stances for a right handed swordsman having the left foot forward". Ok. How many of them are for attack and how many for defense pourposes?
Consider the foot that sustaines most of the body weight.
Answer this and think about the heart expousure!

All the ones I am thinking of are for attack but defenses are posssible from them too. I assume the one you were talking about was 'chudan no kame' or 'seigan no kame' that has the right foot forward for a right-handed swordsman and which also has both attack and defensive elements just like gedan no kame and migi jodan no kamae that also have the right forward. Which foot contains more body weight varies with the situation but standard stances have the body weight equally balanced between the feet. You heart exposure idea is still nonsense.

I think if you make a detailed analysis of traditional Japanese armour, this heart exposure argument won't wash either.

so much for heart exposure.

of course I am a lefty with leanings to being ambidextrous. I know how to use my sword with both left and right, but I wouldn't assume anything is a sure thing. Bad things happen.


---

Quote:
Oy! Oy!
1 Samuel 4:7-8, the Philistines are depicted as crying "Oy!" in confused anticipation of an Israelite attack.

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Old 09-29-2004, 07:40 PM   #14
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

I'd have to agree with Craig on the heart exposure issue with regards to traditional Japanese armour. The upper chest/heart area was probably the most protected and reinforced area on the torso in many of the designs.

On another note, from my limited research as well as in speaking with some koryu kenjutsu folks, the heart does not seem to be as common a target as say the neck, head, lower belly or limbs for a many offensive manouvers with the daito. Again this may have something to do with the inaccessibility of the heart from the days of armoured combat. In western fencing however, the heart appears to be a more common target, probably a result of how the weapon was used (one handed vs 2 handed grip) and the body's orientation as a result of those basic postures.

Of course I reserve the right to be wrong.

LC

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Old 09-30-2004, 02:15 AM   #15
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

First off you have to remember that the Katana was designed as a cutting weapon. Thats the reason for it's curved blade, to be drawn from it's saya and cut in one movement. Therefore, if you know what you're doing, exposing your heart could easily become a trap for the enemy, and if he goes for it, could also easily lead to his demise (if you were fighting a duel). I'm left handed and use my right hand...

Quote:
No matter the etiquette there would always be someone to break it for the smallest advantage.
Obviously you haven't heard how much honor meant to the Samurai. They would die for it, and to prevent losing it. Any "cheap" or dishonorable attack I very much doubt would be used.

Quote:
neck, head, lower belly or limbs
I've noticed that too, but for me the most common I've seen is the Neck, Head and Hands.

Plus, western fencing just involves impaling the enemy until he falls over dead, so the only viable target would either be the neck or torso.

As for stabbing [thrusting] (which to reach the heart, you'd probably have to) I've only seen it for the Neck, Face, and I believe the stomach. I'm not sure about any of this, so any Iaido or Kenjutsu students please correct me
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Old 09-30-2004, 02:36 AM   #16
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

I'm wondering if there may be a more mundane reason for the right handed sword thing.

According to my developmental psychology book the breakdown of handedness is 83% right handed, 14% left handed, and 3% ambidextrous. So, if 83% of the people carrying swords were right handed and carried their swords on the their left side that would soon become convention. Especially when you consider that it was a terrible offense to hit your saya on someone elses....which is what would happen if you had one lefty with his sword on his right side walking down a crowded street full of right handed sword carriers. It'd be like me, as an American, going to Britain and trying to drive on the right because that's how I like to do it.

Also consider what has been posted other places on AikiWeb concerning the Japanese attitude toward harmony. It's the individuals responsibility to conform to the group (the nail that sticks up gets pounded back down). If the group decides that right handedness is the norm and the daily etiquette is going to revolve around that then the lefties had to conform...which is what they did.

Not to mention that I believe feudal Japan was an intensely right handed culture (please correct me if I'm wrong) with all sorts of different do's and don'ts for when to use the right or left hand. Again, society sets the norm and the individuals have to conform to it.

Anyway, just some late night thoughts

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 09-30-2004, 02:48 AM   #17
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

Quote:
Thomas Dixon wrote:
Obviously you haven't heard how much honor meant to the Samurai. They would die for it, and to prevent losing it. Any "cheap" or dishonorable attack I very much doubt would be used.
Honor did mean quite a bit to a number of samurai but what they meant by honor you may or may not recognize. As someone mentioned before lots of Koryu have what us Westerners would call sneak attacks in their curriculum.

I do remember learning sword kata where your right arm was rendered useless (just may have been one of the TSKR iaido series but my memory fails me).

The left/right hand thing is a nobrainer in my opinion. You may have been left handed but you learned right but more to the point the vast majority of post-draw situations required a two handed grip - and the draw itself is simplicity in action. I don't think a left handed person would loose enough that a bit of practice couldn't overcome.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-30-2004, 03:18 AM   #18
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

Quote:
Thomas Dixon wrote:
As for stabbing [thrusting] (which to reach the heart, you'd probably have to) I've only seen it for the Neck, Face, and I believe the stomach. I'm not sure about any of this, so any Iaido or Kenjutsu students please correct me
we use thrusts that are generally to the throat or abdomen, but yes it really is primarily a cutting weapon. Finishing move is always a cut.

rather than the heart which is behind the rib cage (see below), the target is more likely to be the descending aorta (either the throracic section below the rib cage or the abdomen section where the armor is weaker for reasons of mobility for which success, not that easy, results in a quick kill.

there is an interesting discussion of this is here in terms of western sword techniques,
http://members.iinet.net.au/~bill/ha.../cuthrust.html

to quote from this --

Quote:
One would imagine the heart is an excellent target for a thrust; and a dead cert for a kill too but... In fact the ribs are excellent protection and you are unlikely to thrust though a rib bone. Of course you could thrust between the ribs. This would mean rolling the sword over to present horizontal to the chest. In this case you would have less than a 50% chance of going between the ribs and then into the chest. Then all you have to do is find the heart or one of the main blood vessels at least. This of course is pretty hard to do. Even if you managed to penetrate the chest the more likely outcome is a mortally wounded opponent who will insist on taking you along for the ride. I have seen some glorious forensic pictures of stabbing victims and the amazing thing is the number of glancing wounds to the chests and the horrific tears in the abdominal wall.

Last edited by kironin : 09-30-2004 at 03:22 AM.

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Old 09-30-2004, 04:27 AM   #19
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

Thanks for the info and the link

And, what I meant Pete was that a Samurai wouldn't do anything to gain an advantage ^_^
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Old 09-30-2004, 05:39 AM   #20
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

Quote:
Thomas Dixon wrote:
And, what I meant Pete was that a Samurai wouldn't do anything to gain an advantage ^_^
Ah and what I meant he would do quite a lot to gain advantage.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-30-2004, 09:32 AM   #21
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

Musashi was left handed, even thought it is true that he fought right handed when using one sword. the reason for this is that, for many of the reasons discussed above, the fighting stlye of the Samurai was to have the Katana on the left-hand side of the body, drawn with the right hand, this is how he would have been taught.

While there was some left-handed Samurai it was very rare for them to use a sword, what many people seem to forget was that the Samurai were experts with bow and spear too, either of these styles would suit a left-hender better than the sword.
im a lefty and while i find using a bokken right handed has become second nature to me i still feel more comfortable with a Jo as its held in the left hand.

Steve
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Old 09-30-2004, 11:00 AM   #22
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

actually as a lefty, for two handed grip it doesn't even seem to me to be right handed because the left hand is doing so much. It means it's more intuitive for me not to overpower a cut with my right hand. Sort of the same thing as happened to me when I played baseball or golf. In a reverse grip, I have the same problem right handers have in a standard grip, not letting their favored hand that is closer to the tsuba overpower the cut.

I practice single hand cuts with either hand alone in my private practice just to maintain some muscle balance between my left and right side.

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Old 09-30-2004, 11:05 AM   #23
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
Ah and what I meant he would do quite a lot to gain advantage.
you mean like the samurai who climbed down into a deep latrine with a spear and waited to kill an opponent when they squatted down for a crap ?

ouch

I forget where I read about that historical tidbit.

Last edited by kironin : 09-30-2004 at 11:08 AM.

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Old 09-30-2004, 01:48 PM   #24
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

On a toilet wall.

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Old 09-30-2004, 04:15 PM   #25
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Re: Left-handed vs. Right-handed swordsman

You mean like "Here I sit, broken hearted..." ?
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