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  • Shinai, bokken & shinken



    obviously I'm not skillful enough to try using a real sword. But lately I spent some time visiting plenty of museums, particularly on the "Arms and Armours" section. I was just wondering... what is the difference between using a real sward and a bamboo one?

    bokken is a closer replica of a real sword. at least it is not round, and it has a curve. eg. consider kendo kata No.3 & No.5 --the mechanism of using the slides of a sword. when we use shinai to practice, will the same mechanism be lost? and is that why we use bokken for kata? In kata No.10 there is a sliding motion for the kodachi, which i think is very hard to perform with a round shinai...

    same for the reverse side of the blade (sorry I don't know the proper name), or the black part. Since japanese swords have blades on one side only, I believe there must be some use for the other side. would be useful for defence? like dodging/deflecting? May be someone doing koryu or iaido can tell me more?

    Thanks

  • #2
    Ming, the following article was written by Dr. Karl Friday sensei and recently published @ EJMAS which I find very interesting:

    Bokuto Jutsu: Straight, Curved, Fat, Thin, Why?

    I remember reading several discussions related to the questions you ask in a few places such as the iado-l list, swordforum and at e-budo. I'll see if I can find some and reference them here. There are some pretty good debates on if the mune (back of the blade) or ha (edge) was used to block or not.

    Cheers.

    Comment


    • #3
      More reading material to keep you busy...

      I managed to dig up a few links worth looking into:Here is a very interesting discussion on iaido-l on the topic of the importance of sori (curve of the blade) to a bokken/bokuto.

      Use the "Next in Topic" button to follow the discussion.
      Hope that helps a bit.

      Comment


      • #4
        Whoops.... that's very heavy reading... with 2 years of martial arts knowledge to catch up with...

        could have been much more easy to understand if kendo was simply a type of sports!!

        thankyou,

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by mingshi
          Whoops.... that's very heavy reading... with 2 years of martial arts knowledge to catch up with...

          could have been much more easy to understand if kendo was simply a type of sports!!

          thankyou,

          Actually, i am glad that kendo is not ant type of sport. It is so much harder to explain what actually it is.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by mingshi


            what is the difference between using a real sward and a bamboo one?


            Thanks


            What is the "sward"?

            Comment


            • #7
              We use bokken for kata because it is a similar size, weight and shape to a real sword and the whole point of studying the kata is to provide a better sense of the reality of swordwork. As you noted, you can't properly do the shidachi side on #3 without a curved sword. If you ever have the chance to do kata with iaito, you will find it different again. For example, the suriagi-kote in #6 feels much different because the sword is so much narrower than a bokken.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by LNGUYEN
                What is the "sward"?
                you're joking right?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Mingshi,
                  your best bet would be to try and cut with a sword. use your suburi style cutting to kote, (make sure you go through a nice extension to men,) and try not to fall over by using a longer stance than okuri ashi. First thing you will notice is that the balance is very different compared to a shinai, and it is shorter so maai is also different. Due to the weight you will also find you cannot cut as quickly as with a shinai. You also cant go point to point like when the kissaki of shinai come into contact.
                  I find the question on blocking interesting. I will ask you if you were in a normal kendo dojo, how many times do you block with a sword? To save time the answer is never, you use it to deliver a counterattack, yes? As an example the nearest thing to a true block would be the third kendo kata, which is a deflection of course. There is a slight variation for tachi uchi no kurai as done in the seven kata done by Oe Masamichi for MJER, which stops the sword level above the head, but this is a philosophical kata that if done for real would be followed by a do cut. Even hasso in kirikaeshi is done merely to lessen the impact against your head, that is still not a true block, and you counter from there if you were using it in keiko.
                  The sword has an edge on one side only as it is originally a weapon used for slashing or stabbing. Have a look at western sabres and they are exactly the same. It is the best shape for giving someone a nasty cut, flat swords dont work as well. No doubt we could go in to the physical cutting properties of curve versus flat but you'd be bored very quickly!

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