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Old 04-22-2005, 03:01 PM   #1
Mike Sigman
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Traditional Suburi Training?

I'm looking for advice on traditional suburi practice, please. Hopefully, advice from original uchi-deshi (or what they have advised) or their direct students. I'm interested in learning what various grips, weight-shifts, target or no target, responsibilities of each hand, etc., are recommended for good suburi practice. Any and all comments would be appreciated.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 04-23-2005, 01:27 PM   #2
Michael Mackenzie
Location: Calgary
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Re: Traditional Suburi Training?

All right,

Seeing no one has bitten I'll take a whirl at it. My teacher, Doug Skoyles, has a yoshinkan background but has gone on to learn from other teachers, so I don't know where this comes from...

Stand in basic posture, right foot in front, knees bent, weight largely between the feet but slightly more to the front (like 60%).

Hands are the full width of the hilt. left hand at the bottom with the pinky almost off the hilt. There can be a slight feeling of the hands pulling apart. We always grab everyting little finger, ring finger, middle finger, thumb, with some form of extension through the index finger and some form of anchor through the pinky finger.

Practice cuts for us are driven by the breath. On the inhale as the body fills, the sword is pushed up via the legs, hips, waist and left hand. The right hand is basically a guide. On the exhale it comes down the same way, with the left hand pulling this time. The weight shifts slightly to the backfoot on the inhale and the front foot on the exhale, but you really don't need to move much. In our dojo we never use any resistance training, ie hitting a tire.

So there's a rough start. Whose next?!

Mike
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Old 04-23-2005, 07:58 PM   #3
Mike Sigman
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Re: Traditional Suburi Training?

Thanks, Mike. Have you heard of any sources within Aikido where there is a strong focus on suburi?

Regards,

Mike
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Old 04-24-2005, 03:53 PM   #4
Kevin Kelly
Dojo: Aikido of Reno
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Re: Traditional Suburi Training?

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Thanks, Mike. Have you heard of any sources within Aikido where there is a strong focus on suburi?

Regards,

Mike
In my dojo we have 7 ken saburi, and 20(?) jo saburi. Also 13 jo kata, 31 jo kata, plus a multitude of other paired practice with either ken, jo, or ken and jo. Sorry I don't know the names of the paired practice but I'm still relatively new.
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Old 04-24-2005, 05:14 PM   #5
Michael Mackenzie
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Re: Traditional Suburi Training?

Hi,

I guess most people's first reaction would be to say Saito's Iwama Ryu. This makes sense but there are some things in the Iwama suburi and paired practices I'm not clear on, such as allowing the back of the blade to almost slap the back. Perhaps Mr. Amdur or one fo his contemporaries such as Meik Skoss or Dave Lowery could better answer this question.

Mike
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Old 04-24-2005, 05:46 PM   #6
Mike Sigman
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Re: Traditional Suburi Training?

Quote:
Michael Mackenzie wrote:
I guess most people's first reaction would be to say Saito's Iwama Ryu.
I hate to keep admitting that I'm a halfwit, but while looking through my DVD's last night I found a copy of Saito's "Aiki Ken" with the suburi on them (I think I mistakenly ordered it with "Aiki Jo" and put it away since I didn't really want it). So I sat down and watched the seven suburi a couple of times and then I started slashing air. I used to do a little suburi in the past... damned little... but over the past year or so, I've done some more. However, I do it primarily as an exercise with certain exercise criteria that I set for myself and which have almost nothing to do with real ken usage or "correct" suburi.

That being said, it's fun to look at something that is not orthodox (in whatever your idea of the orthodox is) and approach it in terms not of "this isn't orthodox so it must be wrong or inferior" but in terms of "there may be a solid reason for why it's done this way... I wonder what that could be?". I have no idea why someone would swing that far, but perhaps is serves a purpose.

Regardless, those are pretty good suburi, it looks like to my amateur sword eyes, and Saito does things that I don't see noted in some of the online descriptions I find of the seven suburi. He looks pretty powerful, as in the kind of power you develop from doing something correctly many, many times. Pretty impressive.

Mike
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Old 04-24-2005, 06:10 PM   #7
Michael Mackenzie
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Re: Traditional Suburi Training?

Quote:
it's fun to look at something that is not orthodox (in whatever your idea of the orthodox is) and approach it in terms not of "this isn't orthodox so it must be wrong or inferior" but in terms of "there may be a solid reason for why it's done this way... I wonder what that could be?". I have no idea why someone would swing that far, but perhaps is serves a purpose.
Hi Mike,

Please don't take my previous comments as disrespectful of the Iwama ryu. I honestly don't know what the back part of the swing is about, can anyone here make a suggestion?

Quote:
He looks pretty powerful, as in the kind of power you develop from doing something correctly many, many times. Pretty impressive.
Saito was unbelievably powerful. Even a cursory look at footage of Saito shows that he didn't necesarily rely on cooperative ukes... For your research it might be interesting to note that at one time Shioda and Saito were in negotiations for Saito Sensei to take over the Yoshinkan. Ponder the why's and how's of that one, if you will.

Mike
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Old 04-24-2005, 06:17 PM   #8
Mike Sigman
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Re: Traditional Suburi Training?

Quote:
Michael Mackenzie wrote:
Please don't take my previous comments as disrespectful of the Iwama ryu. I honestly don't know what the back part of the swing is about, can anyone here make a suggestion?
Oh, I didn't. I was just thinking about a couple of things lately (like that 60-40 stance and something else) where the more I thought about it, the more I could see how it might be very effective in that manner. Usually I just wind up realizing that there's pro's and con's to every choice you make.
Quote:
Saito was unbelievably powerful. Even a cursory look at footage of Saito shows that he didn't necesarily rely on cooperative ukes... For your research it might be interesting to note that at one time Shioda and Saito were in negotiations for Saito Sensei to take over the Yoshinkan. Ponder the why's and how's of that one, if you will.
Far Out! I'd like to hear the why's of that one.

Mike
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Old 04-25-2005, 12:34 AM   #9
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Traditional Suburi Training?

With all due respect: I did some inquiry regarding the idea of Shioda requesting Saito succeed him. This rumor was certainly was not supported by the Yoshinkan people I spoke with. I personally find it unbelievable. There have been discussions about how Shioda seemed to be doing something different from even his top disciples. Maybe so, maybe not - but one thing is clear. He was extremely meticulous in the curriculum of the Yoshinkan. How it was taught, what was taught. There is no doubt that he had respect for Saito. But to request that he take over the organization would be a betrayal of his life's-work. As if one of the Yang family of t'ai chi sought out a younger member of the Chen clan and asked him to take over the Yang system.

My name was mentioned earlier in regards to commenting on Saito sensei's sword work. I really don't have much to say. I think he used the training (as well as hitting a tire) as a great method in body-building and in developing a weapon's practice which supported his own taijutsu. I was never interested in what he was doing, the weapons training I learned being far different in form and purpose.

Best

Ellis Amdur

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Old 04-25-2005, 06:24 AM   #10
Mike Sigman
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Re: Traditional Suburi Training?

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote:
I think he used the training (as well as hitting a tire) as a great method in body-building and in developing a weapon's practice which supported his own taijutsu.
Bearing in mind that all I've seen is a video of Saito doing suburi, I thought his practice was interesting. Have you seen his swinging and do you have any impressions about exactly what things he was body-building in his practice? Thanks.

Mike
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Old 04-25-2005, 06:42 AM   #11
grondahl
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Re: Traditional Suburi Training?

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Bearing in mind that all I've seen is a video of Saito doing suburi, I thought his practice was interesting. Have you seen his swinging and do you have any impressions about exactly what things he was body-building in his practice? Thanks.
Why not try the webforum on http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums , since they have subforum for Iwama style aikido? With people that actually have spent time in Iwama as uchideshis posting?
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Old 04-25-2005, 06:56 AM   #12
Randathamane
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Re: Traditional Suburi Training?

In the UKA we have several katas that are practiced to see where Aikido was born from.

Boken----
7 suburi
Chiba Kata

Jo sticks-----
20 Jo suburi
9 count kata (2 sides [attacker & defender])
13 count katta (2 sides)
31 count katta (2 sides)


Rumor has it that there is a 29 count or so, but that has not made itslef apparent. There is another for the boken i am sure, but i cannot remember it right now.

Hope that helps.

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Old 04-25-2005, 07:11 AM   #13
Mike Sigman
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Re: Traditional Suburi Training?

Quote:
Peter Gröndahl wrote:
Why not try the webforum on http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums , since they have subforum for Iwama style aikido? With people that actually have spent time in Iwama as uchideshis posting?
Hi Peter:

I was mainly interested in what body skills were developed in Saito's training and while I have occasionally monitored the site you recommended, I haven't spotted anyone whose opinion rings my particular bell. As I'm sure you know, often within a dojo of any art, many people are involved in details and it's hard to find people who are focused on principles. I'm sure there are people like that in Iwama, I just haven't spotted the right one yet, and Ellis mentioned the body-building, so....

Do you have any thoughts on what is being developed in Saito's suburi (other than just "good sword handling", of course)?

All the Best.

Mike Sigman
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Old 04-25-2005, 07:32 AM   #14
Nick Simpson
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Re: Traditional Suburi Training?

I was always led to believe that the 7 suburi cuts with the bokken are not meant to represent "realistic Swordmanship" (whatever that would be these days) but that the movements used for the suburi are there to incoporate with and enhance your hand technique.

For instance you prolly wouldnt want your sword all the way down your back to cut someone in front of you. Maybe if they were somehow disabled on the floor and you really wanted to let rip on them but it wouldnt be very practical in a duel or whatever...

Its self explanatory that there are more efficient ways to use a sword than in the 7 bokken suburi, so my school of thought is that they are for the purpose of learning body movement.

Thats just my limited opinion based on very little knowledge of the subject.

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 04-25-2005, 01:06 PM   #15
Kevin Kelly
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Re: Traditional Suburi Training?

In my limited experience, the Ken Suburi are also there to help you with open hand techniques. We are taught that a lot of the open hand techniques are based on sword movements. When we are actually doing paired practice with ken, it is not moved as extremely as in ken suburi 1. It would be impractical since you need to move the ken a lot faster. So you swing it a shorter distance.
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Old 04-25-2005, 02:13 PM   #16
pezalinski
 
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Re: Traditional Suburi Training?

One thought regarding the "sword down your back" posture: all of the weapons instructors I've ever had, have said that it would be a very inefficient starting point for cutting with a blade; you would have to raise the sword up over your head from behind before cutting down with it. "Wasteful of energy."

However, on a battlefield in mixed melee, there might be an advantage to the position --
a) sword is safely against your back, allowing you to turn (tenkan) without entangling it in another's weapon;
b) sword is not "visible" to opponent in front of you, so you appear "open" as a target;
c) you appear exuberant and energetic, declaring that you have energy to burn, striking fear into your tiring opponents...


A little danger is a knowledge thing...

"Helping the planet make an impact on people, since 1985"
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Old 04-25-2005, 05:38 PM   #17
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Traditional Suburi Training?

Mr. Zalinski -

With all respect, you are wrong - entirely so. There is no extant kenjutsu system which subscribes to any of your three propositions.
1) If you are turning tenkan and trying to avoid your sword entangling with another weapon, that means that it is so close to you that when you raise your arms, that sword will slice right through the arteries under your armpits - for one example.
2) Appearing open to draw in the enemy is an interesting proposition - but you will not be able to deploy that weapon in either offense or defense without getting their weapon skewering your throat (this happens all the time in kendo matches when one person raises their weapon too high - to use a modern example that can easily be seen)
3) Appearing confident. Someone in a high domineering jodan posture may appear fresh and confident. Someone with their sword behind their back with arms raised high appears clueless. Our flagging warrior will merely response with gratitude that this enemy, at least, is easy to kill.

Ellis Amdur

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Old 04-26-2005, 12:48 AM   #18
grondahl
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Re: Traditional Suburi Training?

As far as I have been told, ken only goes behind the back in suburi nr1, and thats because it´s also a warm up and a stretch. In suburi 2-7 and all the kumitachi and awase exercises it should at maximum drop down to horizontal level( but even that feels kind of slow).
Many different dojos practice Iwama-style weapons, not as many practices them as they should be practiced. I have seen some incredibly sloppy and powerless Iwama-style weapons in non Iwama-style dojos.

Purpose of suburi-training that I can come up with on short notice: Integrating hip movement and breathing, developing a feeling of "center", training zanshin, learning to thrust with a whole body movement instead of just the arms. And of course learning basic cuts and thrusts so that you can do the awase and kumitachi/jo (and with them train on rhythm, distance, movements.......)
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Old 04-27-2005, 08:40 AM   #19
Randathamane
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Re: Traditional Suburi Training?

Quote:
I was always led to believe that the 7 suburi cuts with the bokken are not meant to represent "realistic Swordsmanship"
The 7 suburi is not real swordsmanship per say. Think of it as a list of cuts that can be made- sort of like listing the throws/projections of aikido.
Simply listing them and knowing them does not necessarily means you can do them. It is all in the application of technique- that is the real swordsmanship.
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Old 04-27-2005, 11:33 AM   #20
Nick Simpson
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Re: Traditional Suburi Training?

Thanks Richard...did you read my post?

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 04-27-2005, 12:15 PM   #21
Greg Jennings
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Re: Traditional Suburi Training?

Aiki-jo and aiki-ken are learning aids for taijutsu. They are not about learning the direct use of the weapons.

The suburi are to learn basic movements. Suburi #1 is to learn the basic shape of the overhead cut. The bokuto is down the spine to check/learn centerline.

It's the same sort of thing that my first baseball coach had me practice hitting from having the bat "cocked" extra far and the lower part sitting on my shoulder.

I.e., it's a pedagogical tool. One may agree or disagree with its effectiveness, but one should not read any more than that into it.

Best regards,

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