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Swordwork
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Recently, I have had a forced change in methodology for swordwork. (I lost my training swords including fukuro shinai T_T)

Before I started training me and friends would just wail on each other with shinai. When I started training we gradually moved towards bokken. They were easier to get, our instructor used them and it was funnier when people got hit. Newer students would get a bokken and a shinai but mostly a boken would be used.

Over the past year or two (or three...) fukuro have been easier to get in our dojo, shihan use them at seminars and so they have become the norm. I succumbed to the sexy new weapon and used them a majority of the time. New students now get a shinai until they decide it is worth the investment for fukuro.

Now that I have no fukuro, I'm changing back to using bokken and I am noticing a difference between the students that learnt using fukuro and my self and I'm wondering about other practitioners thoughts on training weapons? Do people recommend students begin with one kind or the other? Does anyone have a strong preference? What are peoples thoughts on padded weapons in general?

My thoughts are that people should learn with bokken. They have a better feel, allow you to see with what part of the sword you are using, makes you more edge aware and instills a bit more 'danger' into swordwork.

I have been thinking about it for a while and welcome other peoples views.
Cheers

Posted on: 2009/1/3 9:07
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Joel Gruber

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Re: Swordwork
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The sword is a part of our art mainly because it was a major weapon in Japan. It also has some other things to teach us, like distance and timing. That said just how much of your time should be spent on sword work? How much does such skill really impact your life and your possible experience? Only you can answer those questions. Are you training in sword merely because it is "cool", or was "traditional"? Or are you training in sword for what it can teach you? How much can you learn from a padded weapon? Then again a padded weapon will not seriously injure you, and what value do you put on that?
It again comes down to, in my opinion, just what are you seeking to gain from the study of our art?
Injuries are things that will ALWAYS stay with you and that can't be stressed enough.

Posted on: 2009/1/3 14:26
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Re: Swordwork
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Quote:

Juuloo wrote:
My thoughts are that people should learn with bokken. They have a better feel, allow you to see with what part of the sword you are using, makes you more edge aware and instills a bit more 'danger' into swordwork.


I agree with you here.

Primarily I think it is best to train with bokken for the reasons you stated but shinai are also needed for certain types of practice. In the same way mogito (blunt practice sword) and even shinken (live blades) also have their place in training.

Maybe a breakdown may be something like ...
Bokken 50%
Shinai 40%
Mogito 10%

Posted on: 2009/1/3 16:48
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Re: Swordwork
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Here´s my thoughts.

Bokken should be used for beginners to get a feel for the kamae, basic cuts and movements. Shinai for randori and similar practises and Mogito for solotraining. I think one should refrain from using shinai as much as possible.

Regards / Skuggvarg

Posted on: 2009/1/4 7:44
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Re: Swordwork
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Personally, I value the use of bokken in ken jutsu practice.

When working with people who are relatively new to the art, various ukemi or evasion drills, or to speed up movement while minimizing risk of injury, a shinai is beneficial.

A lot depends on the control of the person/people wielding the weapon. Some new students require using shinai with each other for protection, because they lack the ability to tell what kind of damage they risk inflicting upon their uke or their self.

When working with the goal of only cutting the wrists, shinai and a pair of padded gloves can be nice for everyone involved.

As Ed said: “Injuries are things that will ALWAYS stay with you and that can't be stressed enough.” Speaking as someone who has experienced injuries, I wholeheartedly concur.

The appropriate weaponry differs for everyone, as our peculiarities that we need protecting, learning or growing from will differ. And this is in constant flux, as are we. There is no one path.

Ultimately, the goal is the same for all of us, no matter how we get there.

Solace.

Posted on: 2009/1/4 8:25
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Re: Swordwork
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If you are interested in kenjutsu and swordsmanship, then neglecting the use of real blades will retard your development.

If your interest is less specific than the use of bokken will probably be adequate.

If you don't work with shinken, then you really should not claim any expertise in swordsmanship. It is like doing surfing drills on the beach, good for beginners, but hardly adequate beyond that.

You can easily tell that Hatsumi sensei and the Japanese Shihan have handled shinken. When they work with bokuto or shinai, they know where the ha and mune are.

I cannot say the same for others I have seen doing sword work in taijutsu practice.

As Martin sensei has said, it really does depend on what you want from your training and what your goals are. Just be honest about it and realize that there is ALWAYS something that you can learn.

Posted on: 2009/1/4 13:19
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Re: Swordwork
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i like practicing solo with the metal sword (mogito or shinken), as for partner practice, we tend to practice slower with bokken than with shinai. BTW: one has to understand that shinai have the tendency to break when hit very hard and splinters from bamboo can cause real, life threatening injuries. AFIK, this is one of several main reasons for using fukuro shinai ("shinai in a sack"): to prevent the splinters from getting stuck in a human body, cutting veins etc... other advantages of using fukuro shinai over just shinai is that drawing is a bit more smooth and that the hit is more amortized because bamboo inside is supposed to be prepared a bit differently (my English is not good enough to how i would need to look for words in the dictionary...).

Apart from the reasons already mentioned by other posters (improving tijutsu, timing, distance) I really like solo practice with the sword since it is also a great joint mobility and stability and balance exercise. I actually practice several times a week and do it symmetrically (i.e. also with he left hand closer to tsuba) - just to balance my body. However, i must admit I am adding lot of tai chi sword (mostly dao) to such drills.

mn

Posted on: 2009/1/4 15:34
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Re: Swordwork
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Quote:

solace sylum wrote:

As Ed said: “Injuries are things that will ALWAYS stay with you and that can't be stressed enough.” Speaking as someone who has experienced injuries, I wholeheartedly concur.

Solace.


I agree with the general message of not messing up your body and avoiding injuries (esp. in the context of shinken and bokken!) ... of course a scar tissue is always a scar tissue not the original tissue. If you cut off your limb or head it is gone almost for sure (although in some rare cases microsurgery can help a bit).
However, I would like to say that once you have an injury, believing that it "will always stay with you" is not always best healing strategy. It may actually become a self fulfilling prophecy!
I personally, as a healer, would never say anybody (including myself) "your injury will stay with you" that is not the way to treat injuries. Having had many injuries myself in about 30 years of martial arts (many of them very stupid years ) I can say that I managed to fully heal most of them (but not all YET). One of the injuries required a surgery, but it is healed. Another was hurting for 25 years but a Japanese Shihan healed it in one short session... go figure

peace

mn

Posted on: 2009/1/4 15:35
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Re: Swordwork
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Mariuz,
Happy new year!

You got me thinking with your response to this thread and Mr. Martin's comment about injuries so I though I'd add something:

An injury might be the most indellible lesson on proper timing distance you can get, providing you survive and/or keep training. The pain and a maybe even physical deficit may be worth the cost. I have injuries but most of them are from repetitive motions of practice. Again, I accepted that there's no free lunch.

I've personally learned a lot in training situations that I found to be terrifying with qualified teachers and using wooden weapons.

I think that it will be tough for any practioner who doesn't live in Japan to raise the level of his/her swordsmanship in the areas of iai and batto unless they spend some time with a shihan who spends time on the basics. Someya sensei or one of his students are the more obvious options.

The real obstacle is actually not access to good information though, it the acceptance that some of what has been passed off as basic Bujinkan swordmanship may not be authentic. I learned this the hard way a few years ago when I was trying to find someone who could teach me something as basic as kyu ho kiri.

It might be tougher to find someone who knows the proper way to insert the saya into the obi, what to do with the sageo, chiburi, nuki for each of the Bujikan ryu that have sword. Nevermind the tachi issue. This level of classical minutea may be beside the point anyway, I just put it out there for the purpose of discussion.

And Fnord325, I disagree with your strong statement about the importance of training with shinken. Otake Risuke and Shigetoshi Kyoso might disagree as well.

Posted on: 2009/1/4 17:09
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Re: Swordwork
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A new beginner should use boken to know the cutting parts of the sword, where is ''mono uchi'' Habaki, Tsuba etc. what must the cutting angle, distancing etc. with Boken he can understand all these and he can even start iai techniques with a plastic saya (or without it).

Sometimes you need to train fast, than you can not use boken I think as you may end up even dead (remember Musashi Miyamoto). We use padded weapons for that in our Dojo so we can train real fast with power. If you use a Fukuro Shinai you can still get really hurt, especially a good Kote Uchi or a Tsuki can take you out! I also agree with the chipping of the Shinai, I know that a kendoka got killed in a Shiai.
For Iaijutsu training after using boken for a while (in my Dojo we start at 4th Kyu)a student can start to use iaito to see the difference of balance (of course solo training). A Boken has a straight balance but a steel blade will have a different balance and doing all the saya biki, chiburi, Noto and etc. also student learns to properly hold the sword (without hitting the saya around or taking care of his kissaki). training with this kind of a blade also gives the student a better understanding of the blade, how it is dangerous and can cut so easily.
We also do some Tameshigiri around black belt level as it is also different than iaijutsu.

Posted on: 2009/1/4 21:28
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