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Thread: Sword Etiquette.

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    Senior Member Senior Member Kurando's Avatar
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    This interesting article is reprinted from GURPS Japan, (1988 Steve Jackson Games).

    Quote At a friends home, the samurai removed his katana in the outer hall and put it on a rack there. At a stranger's home, the samurai laid his Katana beside him as he knelt on the tatami mat. If he put it on his right, so that the sword could not easily be drawn, it meant that he felt some trust for his host. If he put it on his left it meant that he felt distrust for his host, (or that his host should distrust him). If he went into another room, or even another part of the same room, he took his sword with him. The wakizashi remained in his obi, since it was too short to get in his way.

    It was quite impolite to lay the Katana down with it's hilt facing the host, since this implied he was too unskilled to be in any sort of danger. It was impolite for a host to wear swords while receiving a guest, but they were usually kept nearby on a sword rack.

    It was extremely impolite to step over someone's sword instead of circling around it, or to touch it without the owners permission. Samurai whose scabbards clashed in the crowded city streets often drew their swords and immediately tried to kill one another to wipe out the insult.

    When a samurai entered a theater or the geisha district, they usually left their swords outside (much like westerners check their coats at a nightclub).

    A samurai's sword was sometimes spoken of as his Soul, just as a womans mirror was her Soul. Certainly a samurai's katana and wakizashi were usually the gift of his clan lord, either directly to him or inherited from an ascestor who had received such a gift directly. Losing one's sword or having it stolen was a social disgrace that could be wiped out only by recovering the missing sword or by suicide[/QUOTE]

    I've also read somewhere that is was considered impolite to exhale on a samurai's sword. To this end, retainers and servants would commonly carry thin peices of rice paper on their person. If a situation arose when they were called upon to handle a samurai's katana the servants would place the rice paper in front of their mouths to prove that they were not breathing directly upon the sword.

    Modern civilization is a vast conspiracy against silence

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    Southpaw Samurai Member Ii Naomasa's Avatar
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    Given that the sword was a piece of the everyday samurai outfit and also a deadly weapon, it's little surprise that there are so many special rules of etiquette regarding it's handling under various circumstances (especially in Japan, where etiquette is so important).

    Other points include:

    Depending on who was around to notice, the simple act of reaching for your sword or manuevering it with your left hand to make a draw easier had as much social ramification as actually drawing and cutting someone. That's why in some samurai movies you'll see someone angrily grab their for their sword, pause to reconsider, then follow through anyway. In the company that would enforce social etiquette, the act of going for the weapon committed him to the act, so he might as well follow through.

    The most respectful and trust worthy way to pass a unsheathed blade upright, blade upright and towards the one showing/giving the blade, the giver's hand as low on the handle as one can manage while maintaining balance. The receiver then grasps the sword with his right hand in the same position as if he was using the sword one handed (right under the guard). This was to demonstrate that not only did the person giving the sword had no intention of using it, but that he trusted the person he was giving the blade to enough to put himself in a very vulnerable position. Since one really would never give a live blade over to someone you didn't trust, there really is no etiquette for such .

    Giving a sheathed blade involved recognizing status as well, as the junior or inferior samurai would always 'offer' the blade or 'graciously' accept it in an opened, palms up fashion (using both hands), while the senior or superior samurai would 'take' or 'give' the sword with a stronger, palm-down grip on the center, which ensured him the greater control of the motion in either case. During the process, care was taken to keep the swords facing the same direction they would be in if worn (sharpened edge up for katana and wakizashi, down for a tachi, for example).

    Of course, most of these rules were created out of the need to recognize the accessibility of sword at all times. Basically, any time a samurai had the blade at a disadvantage to his own drawing, he was showing that he trusted the situation and those around him, while having the sword in a position that made it easier to grab and draw indicated either distrust of those around him, or outright intent of use. Other factors, such as words chosen and body language would help indicate the more exact status. They also helped keep bloodshed to a minimum by making situations where someone could become hot headed (such as when one is inebriated or in the thrall of the emotions of passion) awkward to either obtain one's blade, or, lacking that, draw it.

    Most of the rules that involved 'dishonoring' the blade (such as breathing on it, touching it, leaving blood or dirt on it) were probably created to give a reason for not doing such above and beyond the simple 'don't do this because it damages the blade'. Even from personal experience (it's funny how quickly I became almost anal about the condition of my blade once I started iaido years ago), it's seems nicer and more polite to ask people nto to touch the blade itself because of the sword's spirit and such than to point how how the scientific reasons why most of the excretions in man's skin and breath are bad for the blade.
    Naomasa Ii
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    Member Member Ai-jin's Avatar
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    Wow...
    Very impressive. Please continue on this thread, its very imformative and pleasent reading.

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    Senior Member Senior Member FwSeal's Avatar
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    Wow, Kurando, I haven't thought about Gurps in a long time...

    This one strikes me as a bit silly, however:

    'Samurai whose scabbards clashed in the crowded city streets often drew their swords and immediately tried to kill one another to wipe out the insult.'

    Contrary to what Hollywood and many would-be ninja masters would have us believe, the samurai were an exceedingly orderly bunch of people. There was at least one good reason to be that way: most law, in the 16th Century and Edo Period, punished personal dueling with death. Simply responding to an attack was sometimes grounds for death (as seen in the codes of the Imagawa, Takeda, and elsewhere) - the offended might have have the sympathy of his fellows... but the law is the law. Also, more important then a samurai's martial prowess or even appearance was his composure. There are many surviving articles that stress the importance of this composure. There was a convention that held that not many sons of samurai were beaten because to beat a child would be to betray anger. That might have been only theoretical, but the Japanese do have a wonderful way of staying straight-faced in front of insult. Losing your cool was tantamount to showing weakness. As we see in those same codes of law, the samurai who kept his head and ignored the slight might well be rewarded. The image of the sword-happy, blindly loyal near-lunatic ready to cut himself (or someone else) open at the slightest insult is, again and in large measure, an invention of Hollywood (or Tohei for that matter) and over somewhat overactive imaginations. Its a bit like the popular American image of the 'wild west', where gunslingers shot up bars and towns as a matter of course. I'm of course not saying that duels and sudden flares up didn't occur from time to time... but its always good to keep things in perspective.

    [This message has been edited by FwSeal (edited 11-09-2000).]

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    Senior Member Senior Member Obake's Avatar
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    Interesting piece from GURPS Kurando! Like Seal-san, I haven't been there in AGES! There are some good points in there, but some misleading information as well. When entering a strangers house the sword was rarely placed to either side. When it was, left or right side was less a sign of distrust than it was outright insult. In addition, no samurai would put their sword to either side with the hilt to the rear. That would be considered too close to being indefensible. What was far more common (and still is today)was the sheathed blade being laid in-front of the samurai, hilt to the left, blade in (toward the owner). This was the most awkward position for a blade to be in for a samurai while still allowing for the possibility of having to defend oneself.

    This particular etiquette was developed (as were virtually all sword etiquettes) for primarily practical reasons. From this position, with the Samurai sitting in seiza, it would be virtually impossible to attack the host before being cut down himself! By the same token, a samurai although not afraid of death, would never walk in to an environment where they would be unable to defend themselves.

    Naomasa-san is right on with his description of how sheathed blades are passed, but my experience has been that the ONLY time live blades were passed were upon examination. I am even more anal than he with my blade and am not in the least bit polite about it. I am trained to handle and use the blade, others are not.

    Thank you Seal-san for the voice of reason with regard to Samurai behavior! Too many people have seen too many chop-sake movies and miss the tree for the forest (no pun intended my friend).



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    Senior Member Senior Member Obake's Avatar
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    As long as we are on the topic of swords and sword etiquette I came across an interesting piece (see below) while browsing the web site of one of the custom sword manufacturers here in the US. These guys are probably the most respected manufacturer of traditional blades outside of Japan. If you want to check them out, they are Bugei Trading Company and you can get to them by clicking here. What follows is a statement written by the owner of the company that really struck me. I edited it a bit for my own benefit, and some of you may recognize portions that I have incorporated into my signature line. Enjoy!

    The Value of Owning a Sword

    Moral Values and the Warrior Ethic in Modern Society

    The sword has defined the warrior for thousands of years. It has defined the power, ethics, duty, and self-defense of a class of people that have shaped the face of civilization on this planet. The skill, exercise, mental development, and sheer pleasure of owning a sword is unique. Hand to hand combat with edged weapons is the most demanding of human physical combat. It not only demands the most skill, both physical and mental, it develops in the adept, abilities that separates him from others and elevates intuition, reflexes, and technique, to the highest degree. For the warrior the sword represents his honor and responsibility. The emotional tie is stronger than with other weapons and the training for it's use strengthens his spirit. Any society that loses these warrior virtues is a poorer one and will soon be a society who's freedoms are lost. The male has a prime directive to protect and defend. Every man is responsible for defending every woman and child. When the male no longer takes this role, when he no longer has the courage, or feels the moral responsibility, then that society will no longer be a society where honor and virtue are esteemed. Laws and government cannot replace this personal caring and commitment. In the absence of the warrior protector, the only way that a government can protect a society is to remove the freedom of the people. And the sons and daughters of lions become sheep.

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    Obake

    We are but shadows of our former selves and the sons and daughters of lions have become sheep. I am the ghost of our past.

    [This message has been edited by Obake (edited 11-09-2000).]
    Obake

    Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level, then beat you with experience.


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    Senior Member Senior Member Kurando's Avatar
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    Lighten up guys, it's just a game... But seriously: thanks for the timely corrections.

    Modern civilization is a vast conspiracy against silence

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    Senior Member Senior Member FwSeal's Avatar
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    As an aside (or should I say, shamelessly OT for a sec), I haven't heard much about GURPS in a long time. I think the last thing was the plan to do Fallout based on the GURPS system. As I recall, Steve Jackson objected to Fallout's content and wanted more control over what went on in the game. Interplay therefore decided to just drop the system and go it alone - which was a pity. The system they went with seemed a lot more flat then it could have been.
    I remember that GURPS: Japan used to be very hard to find, although the Martial Arts and China supplement were pretty common,

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    Senior Member Senior Member Obake's Avatar
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    We coolin Boss! We coolin!

    Of course it's just a game! Just goes to show you how intense some of the stuff the game represents was and in a lot of cases still is!

    Iaido in particular is very serious by it's very nature, you're dealing with live blades that are sharper than most scalpels. Not exactly the environment to screw around in!

    Besides, isn't this the History Forum? If we can't get serious about the background for the game here, where else we gonna do it? I know it ain't gonna be over at Off-Topic! lol


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    We are but shadows of our former selves and the sons and daughters of lions have become sheep. I am the ghost of our past.
    Obake

    Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level, then beat you with experience.


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    Member Member Anssi Hakkinen's Avatar
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    FwSeal:
    Quote As an aside (or should I say, shamelessly OT for a sec), I haven't heard much about GURPS in a long time.[/QUOTE]

    Good old GURPS is still going rather strong. Steve Jackson visited a Finnish game convention in August, and methinks he said that some new modules are in the works. (I don't remember specifically, as I don't play it myself.)

    But, I think someone posted something about swords some time ago.

    One thing that was forgotten here, was the etiquette of actually drawing a sword for other than combat purposes. Which is basically that you don't. If you must show off the blade, you draw it out for an inch or two only (just enough for the heron to show - *very* in-joke). Only with great apologies to everyone present is one allowed to draw the blade out of the scabbard entirely to show it. At all times, even with only the inch-two showing, the edge is to be kept facing the person holding the sword - otherwise, it's a sign of aggression (again).

    But I suppose that the legend of the sword never being sheathed before it has tasted blood (from the owner's palm if necessary) is a Hollywood invention - right?

    ------------------
    "The ancient rule declares that letters are the left hand and militarism the right. Neither must be neglected."
    - Hj Sun
    "It is a good viewpoint to see the world as a dream. When you have something like a nightmare, you will wake up and tell yourself that it was only a dream. It is said that the world we live in is not a bit different from this".
    - Yamamoto Tsunetomo: Hagakure

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    Naughty Little Hippy Senior Member Tachikaze's Avatar
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    I've heard that "drawn sword must draw blood" bit for everything from kukris to katana to some joker with a talwar in a John Huston film.

    Either these guys all liked to wipe their blades clean all day, or non-Western cultures are getting mixed up in Western minds, or Hollywood strikes again.


    Screw luxury; resist convenience.

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    Senior Member Senior Member FwSeal's Avatar
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    I do think the whole 'the sword must draw blood once unsheathed' (too bad there isn't a way of emoting to show a badly dubbed accent) notion is pretty funny. But speaking of movies and such - all one has to do is watch Japanese taiga dramas and movies to see swords coming out all the time without blood being drawn, whether to inspire men, cut branches, or just to show off. The basis here is that, in the sengoku period, the sword was a tool first, symbol second (even merchants could carry swords if they had enough clout). By 1581, Nobunaga was making a point of giving out tea items as gifts to generals such as Hideyoshi for services in battle - nice swords seem to have been considered a bit of a 'second-prize' in this respect. At the same time, the sword a general held could almost be more famous then its owner. Uesugi general Honjo Shigenaga was perhaps much better known for owning a blade by Masamune then for his talents as a general (though he betrayed Kenshin twice and managed to get away with it with a proverbial slap on the wrist).

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    Member Member Dwimmerlaik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Anssi Hakkinen:
    ....(just enough for the heron to show - *very* in-joke). [/QUOTE]

    Hmmm...Hakkinen, a WOT fan I presume? I've always imagined River Undercuts the Bank, Parting the Silk, Wind and Rain etc as moves right out of kenjutsu....


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    Member Member Anssi Hakkinen's Avatar
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    Oh well - wasn't *that* much of an in-joke anyway. But, slightly OT again, your impression is correct (even though the Boar Rushes Down the Mountain looks like a Final Fantasy limit-break more than anything else ). Robert Jordan isn't a kenjutsuka per se, but supposedly has read a lot of books on the subject. Shienaran swords are actually katanas with quillons, and "the greatest swordsman of the age", Jearom, is a Miyamoto Musashi rip-off.

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    "The ancient rule declares that letters are the left hand and militarism the right. Neither must be neglected."
    - Hj Sun
    "It is a good viewpoint to see the world as a dream. When you have something like a nightmare, you will wake up and tell yourself that it was only a dream. It is said that the world we live in is not a bit different from this".
    - Yamamoto Tsunetomo: Hagakure

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    Member Member Heims30's Avatar
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    You guys really need to keep this thread going. I don't know anything about old school Japanese culture, but these sure is a fun way to learn

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    Member Member Anssi Hakkinen's Avatar
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    Well - we'll speak of sword etiquette, then.

    I might be straying a bit, but I'm currently in the process of reading the famous "Musashi" by Eiji Yoshikawa. (My interest in all matters samurai was sparked almost purely by STW - it seems to be developing into quite a hobby, and I wouldn't have it any other way.) Unfortunately, the only version I was able to locate in the Helsinki City Library was a Finnish translation. I've somehow got the impression that it was first translated from Japanese into English and then from English into Finnish - someone has ripped one of the first pages off, so I can't tell for certain. It certainly seems so, based on the text. Obviously, there aren't many qualified translators of Japanese in such a small country, so it may be that a "mere" piece of fiction wasn't worthy of direct translation. The level of translation is decent, in itself (as with almost all Finnish books), but when errors or such do occur, they're almost impossible to backtrack through two foreign languages, the other of which (guess which) I don't even speak. In short, it's a rip-off.

    BTW, please refrain from spoiling me on the book, I haven't yet got past the Fire Book. As a Babylon 5 viewer, I've learned to avoid and fear spoilers to an insane degree.

    But this is all really "good books" -thread stuff, enough rambling and on to the point itself.

    What is the sword Sasaki "Ganryu" Koijiro uses? The translation I have uses the term "battlesword" (thank you so much). I first assumed it was a no-dachi, and my impression has been reinforced by how he uses it in battle (and how he is depicted in the cover with *three* swords), but it is said to be only a meter long. Is it a shortish no-dachi, or doesn't the length include a long hilt? Or did people actually wear a tachi or katana on their backs occasionally?

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    "The ancient rule declares that letters are the left hand and militarism the right. Neither must be neglected."
    - Hj Sun

    [This message has been edited by Anssi Hakkinen (edited 11-11-2000).]
    "It is a good viewpoint to see the world as a dream. When you have something like a nightmare, you will wake up and tell yourself that it was only a dream. It is said that the world we live in is not a bit different from this".
    - Yamamoto Tsunetomo: Hagakure

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    Senior Member Senior Member FwSeal's Avatar
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    Sasaki is described in Japanese versions of the book as using a no-dachi (which he of course called 'drying-pole') - as for its length, I can't say I remember that detail...

  18. #18
    Southpaw Samurai Member Ii Naomasa's Avatar
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    Obake-san, that was mistake on my part in the way of omission. You are most correct that live blades would only be passed for examination (as anything else could be easily be considered an aggressive move). And as Anssi points out, under most circumstances, a samurai showing his blade to someone would only remove it just a bit from the saya. I suppose a live blade may have been passed from samurai to polisher and back (in both cases to determine the current state of the entire blade). It's difficult to know for sure how often a blade out of its scabbard was passed. The technique is the one we were taught, as there's a tendency to pass live blades around more among students...especially early on.

    It's funny how serious people like those who practice iaido get about their swords, especially when its people who are otherwise the kind to joke around. I never get that mad at people nor ever really admonish anyone to their face, but anyone who had even thought of taking practice cuts with my katana (and you can usually see it in their face that they want to) has felt like a child when I took it away from them...and I usually didn't verbally scold them either, it was in my looks alone, I think. .

    I guess we tend to get a little serious about it because the whole practice gives you a certain bonding to the sword (and therefore you grow an attachment to it) and also we tend to take very seriously the fact that, even when used incorrectly, the blades we use can hurt or kill very easily.

    That's part of the logic behind the whole 'a drawn samurai blade has to draw blood' concept, which has been twisted a bit. Wherever the logic first came from, it wasn't meant to indicate that anytime a samurai drew any amount of the blade from the scabbard he had to cut someone down (that would be ridiculous...and those who performed cutting practice with any regularity would look like Samurai Paul back when he was first introduced in the Tick comics with bandaids all over his fingers ). The whole idea was to remind samurai that drawing the blade in the heat of emotion often meant taking a life and such is deadly serious, whether you're in 20th century America or 17th century Japan. When you have thousands of hot headed men walking around, each with a deadly weapon in their belt, you have to truly hit home the fact that killing someone is not the proper way to handle things.

    Chances are that if two samurai bumped scabbards in the street, what you most likely see is them both apologizing for it a number of times (the lesser ranked/younger one most probably doing the greater portion of asking for forgiveness) rather than a sudden swordfight. The whole concept of samurai walking around ready to kill at the slightest chance is a over-done Western idea.

    As FWSeal-san alludes to, many of these rules and philosophies came out of times of relative peace (during either the Ashikaga Shogunate before the Sengoku period or, more often, after the 16th century, during the Tokugawa Shogunate). During warring periods, the sword was considered a tool and a weapon (often a backup weapon to the more popular weapons of the time). Swords were common place and also more often than not of common make. It's the peaceful times that we see the combination of smiths making it an art, swordsmen making their styles an elegant, refined form, and samurai hot heads with nothing better to do than want to duel people. Rules are needed for both the aesthetic aspect and also the pure need to reign in any unlawful use of weaponry.

    Anssi-san, I would assume that they meant the blade was a meter long, as would be fitting. I haven't seen a Japanese version of the work in ages, but I fully trust Seal-san's statement and it matches well with the way the English work describes the blade, including the manner in which he carries the blade along his back. It's funny that in Toshiro Mifune's 'Samurai' trilogy, it's difficult to tell if the blade is really much longer than a katana...Saksaki wears it on his back, but it almost looks shorter when drawn (perhaps to help the actor draw it fluidly)...in any case, it never appears to be of the same length as Mifune's no-dachi in the Seven Samurai.

    'Battlesword' is not thatbad of a term for a no-dachi, as it would be a generally better sword for a mass battle than a standard katana (and 'battlesword' makes me think something more along the lines of a claymore than a longsword, which also fitting enough). Swords made for battle often are longer (and have longer handles as well) than those for regular outfits or just dueling. I've seen Sengoku period tachi that are just short of what one would truly consider nagimaki, as their handles are almost the same length as the blade. If worn like a katana was in the Edo period, you'd definitely be setting some personal space in front of you with your 1.5+' sword handle leading the way.
    Naomasa Ii
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  19. #19
    Standing Up For Rationality Senior Member Ronin's Avatar
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    Great thead guys, keep it up!

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    Member Member Anssi Hakkinen's Avatar
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    Thanks to both Seal-sama and Naomasa-sama for your swift replies. I suppose, with someone continuosly provoking us, we could make this thread run forever.

    So, the "drying-pole" is a no-dachi, as I assumed. What actually got me so confused that the term "battlesword" was used elsewhere for someone elses's sword (might have been Musashi's) that was clearly of tachi/katana length... Go figure.

    So, it would seem that the basic location for a carried sword was on the left side of the obi (unless left-handed, of course), with either both katana and wakizashi inserted through the belt blade up for the sweeping "iaijutsu" stroke, or, the wakizashi as before and the longsword (tachi) hanging blade down for the "disemboweling" cavalry stroke. If a no-dachi was carried (as it would appear, in addition to, not instead of the Daisho), it was on the back.

    But how about the more unusual carrying stances? The western popular culture considers the "Arafellin" two-swords-crossed-on-the-back stance nearly the Japanese standard, but in reality the stance is almost never seen in any "serious" depiction. It must have come from somewhere - would anyone happen to know where?

    Another thing that puzzled me is the fact that in the movie "Kagemusha", Shingen and the other main characters carried a tachi, as is fitting for the Illustrious Takeda Mounted Cavalry, but their other sword was more ambiguously depicted. To me, those shot looked like they had no tsuba whatsoever! They were also significantly smaller than I would expect any sword to be, so the closest resemblence would be to an aikuchi dagger. What use, if any, did this toy have on the battlefield? Was it for the emergency seppuku, should one be required in the nick of time?

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    "It is a good viewpoint to see the world as a dream. When you have something like a nightmare, you will wake up and tell yourself that it was only a dream. It is said that the world we live in is not a bit different from this".
    - Yamamoto Tsunetomo: Hagakure

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    Senior Member Senior Member ShaiHulud's Avatar
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    I have a gut reaction to having a gun pointed at me, even a toy. Many years of training and KNOWING what it is capable of have created in me the greatest respect for guns.
    I'm wondering if that is some part of the aversion you have to allowing another to handle your swords?
    Question...To what degree does Sword training (Japanese) deal with defense? I've read that it is almost completely offensive-minded.

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    Senior Member Senior Member Obake's Avatar
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    In response to Naomasa-san's post, it makes perfect sense to me that someone who would normally joke around would be so serious with the sword. A practitioner of any sword art HAS to be aware at all times. These swords were made to kill!

    This is the philosophical dichotomy of martial arts in general and the way of the sword in particular. Most look at martial arts as a means of self defense or to "learn how to kick/kill somebody's ass". The true goal of ANY DO is SELF mastery and life!

    Like the hunter who is the true steward of the land, a practitioner of the sword arts, by learning to deal death, must strive to preserve it. This is the moral responsibility that is discussed in the post I made earlier about the value in owning a sword.

    To Shai
    I can only speak for myself when I say that you are in part right. My concern is not that I could be injured by someone with my own sword, but rather that someone else could injure themselves because they have not been trained how to handle a sword. should they be injured, the responsibility for that would fall back on me and I'm just not willing to take that risk.

    As far as the offensive/defensive nature of training goes, it depends on the school. Both the Yagyu and Shinto-Ryu schools advocate a responsive stance to sword-fighting. As a result, most moves are defensive and/or counter-striking in nature. There are other offensive schools out there but I am not very familiar with them so I won't go there!


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    Obake

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    Obake

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  23. #23
    Member Member xFedaykin's Avatar
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    Although this is not about swords, it is about Japanses martial arts training, particularly, Shotokan Ryu Karate.

    I don't claim mastery over it, as I only have 3 years of training in it, and I haven't really "begun" training (another common fallacy: achieving blackbelt isnt the goal of martial arts trainig, it is the beginning), but the Kata taught to us are always defensive in nature, with the pattern of Attack/Counterattack. Except in freeform sparring, our training, is always defensive in nature.

  24. #24

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    Quote Losing one's sword or having it stolen was a social disgrace that could be wiped out only by recovering the missing sword or by suicide.[/QUOTE]

    A great example of this sentiment is seen in Kurosawa's "Stray Dog," in which Toshiro Mifune plays a young cop in post-war Japan who has his gun stolen. The whole film is about how his shame and embarrassment drives him to recover the weapon. One of my favorite Kurosawa films.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Senior Member Idaho's Avatar
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    Obake - you said that it is virtually impossible to attack from seiza. That's certainly not true of a style like Aikido which does a lot of practice on the knees and from a seiza start... agony for a big heavy fella like me!

    As for the swords on the back thing; I reckon that's just been invented because it looks cool. Perhaps the Chinese wore them that way? Strikes me as being a very dangerous way to carry a sword. What if you fell on your back?!?

    Shai - is swords attack or defence? It's possible to get quite philosophical about this one... perhaps to much so. But really swords are about attack. You never use them to parry (unless desperate) but move through or away from the strike (a thousand variations) and then slice the other person - nothing defensive about hacking off someones head! Although it shouldn't be a hack - more of a glide!

    Martial arts are an interesting old bag. I used to think that it was all about self defence - but I've come to the conclusion that it's all about having fun and staying fit (mentally and physically).
    "The republicans will draft your kids, poison the air and water, take away your social security and burn down black churches if elected." Gawain of Orkney

  26. #26
    Senior Member Senior Member Obake's Avatar
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    Being Aikidoka myself Idaho, I am very familiar with Suwariwaza.

    What I had been referring to in my earlier post were the practical aspects of attempting to attack with Katana from seiza, especially with the sword placed in front of you, blade in and Tsuka (handle) to the left.

    Practically speaking, to attack from this position would require grabbing the sword, flipping it over (180 degrees with a 180 degree rotation added in), drawing a 3 foot long sword while sitting on your legs and being able to attack your enemy.........all before his guards, or he himself were able to cut you down!

    Besides, even in Aikido, have you ever attempted Atemi, or acted as Uki from seiza with Nage standing? I don't think so!

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  27. #27
    Member Member Tenchimuyo's Avatar
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    This was a interesting discussion and I've learned a lot from it. Thanks to your thoughts.
    A great warrior rarely reveal his true skills....

  28. #28
    Senior Member Senior Member Idaho's Avatar
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    I attack from seiza all the time. SOmetimes if I get angry waiting for a bus I get into seiza and then start kick crap out of members of the public. To make it sporting I give them swords first. Kicking from seiza is the true skill. I do flying kicks from seiza so I can knock out their cavalry atacks - and then I send in the no dachi to break up their Yari... after that shoot them all with crossbows and then liberate the serfs under my command in order to increase the price of grain.

    Must go now, it's time for my 10:30 medication.
    "The republicans will draft your kids, poison the air and water, take away your social security and burn down black churches if elected." Gawain of Orkney

  29. #29
    Member Member Tenchimuyo's Avatar
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    Yeah good luck!

    And I wish I will never have the chance of meeting you at a bus stop.
    A great warrior rarely reveal his true skills....

  30. #30
    Member Member Dwimmerlaik's Avatar
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    Thought I would resurrect this one from the dead...

    I was watching 'Crouching Tiger,Hidden Dragon' (OT I know but there's a reason)and in one scene, tea gets spilled on the scabbard of the Green Destiny sword. The character in posession of the sword did not even blink!

    Here's the question? What would be the appropriate response for a bushi in the same situation?(Assuming they carried their wakizashi into teahouses which i guess they would)

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