View Full Version : About the little finger...
25th July 2002, 05:19 AM
I have been studying the english books about Iaido since 1984. In many of the older texts, particularly Draeger's seminal Japanese Swordmanship and Lowry's Bokken, they expressly say that the little finger of the left hand should not grip the sword. But rather should be curled up tightly off below the handle with the butt resting on it so you can't see the end of the sword at all through the left hand. Both of the above texts even have pictures of this. However, in all my years of studying Iaido, no sensei has ever told me to do this. And, even in the texts themselves, after the section on proper grip all of the photos show the practitioner holding the sword with his little finger.
What do you guys do in your dojo? Does the little finger grip the sword or not?
It probably doesn't matter but since I've had the question in the back of my mind for 18 years, I thought I'd ask. Thanks.
25th July 2002, 02:18 PM
I've also seen such books emphasising the position of the little finger. That said, my 8th dan teacher has told me the main emphasis is on the position of the base (blade section) of you left hand. It should be "on top of the tsuka". (This is where a picture would really come in handy)
So, when cutting, the tsuka is "stopped" by the compressed skin/muscle at the base of your hand/wrist, and doesn't have an opportunity to slip out of your left hand. For this type of grip your little finger must grip the tsuka.
Like Lewis, I've never been told otherwise.
25th July 2002, 10:15 PM
I have always positioned my left hand with the little finger on the tsuka but right at the end of the tsuka both for kendo and for iaido....I keep the grip tight with the middle, ring and little finger and the grip a little looser with the index finger and thumb until striking or cutting when they tighten....if you tighten the grip of the little finger the muscles on the outside edge of the palm will contract and extend inward to cover a portion of the tsuka kashira this will help prevent the tsuka from sliding back out of the hand....if the little finger is beyound the end of the tsuka and ring finger is the last one to grip the tsuka the little finger will not tighten as much and the muscles of the palm will be less tense than with the little finger gripping the tsuka....this could possibly even contribute to the tsuka slipping throught the hand....just the way I learned it....Jerry
26th July 2002, 01:42 AM
In the ZNKR iaido tape the 8th dan sensei performing does grip the tsuka as usual, not below the kashira.
So I think that for shinsa you should do it like that.
27th July 2002, 10:51 AM
The little finger off the bottom is a Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu technique, and should not be emulated in iaido.
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