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  • Kamae name meanings

    We all know chudan, gedan, jodan, waki (middle, low, high, side). We also have seigan, hasso, kasumi and maybe some others. I know kasumi translates to "fog". I think hasso translates to "wood". Not sure about seigan. Can anyone confirm? Also, anyone know the reason for some of these names?

  • #2
    jodan - also called Ten-no-kamae, Heaven position,

    chudan - also called Chi- no-kamae, Earth position

    gedan - also called Hito-no-kamae, Man position

    Hasso-no-kamae also called In-no-kamae

    waki-kamae - also called Yo-no-kamae,

    from noma reader. But as neil says no explanation is given.

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    • #3
      I read something different in the Book of Five Rings

      Chudan - Water Komae; Neutral posistion - very good balance of offense and defense. It is important to have a very strong Chudan-no-Kamae. You can go into all of the other stances from this stance.

      Judan - Fire Kamae; Agressive, sword held high in the air. I read somewhere that it was also called the Heaven Kamae? Maybe.

      Gedan - Earth Kamae; Lowered stance, good for hitting tsuki and pulling attention.

      Hasso - Wood Kamae; I'm not sure about this one, I just know it relates to Jodan and it was used in earlier times when it was difficult to go into Jodan with low ceilings and large helmets.

      Waki - Metal Kamae; Basically no use in competition kendo, but used in kata.
      Last edited by icy_flame; 17th January 2007, 04:15 AM.

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      • #4
        Water, wood, fire, earth and metal are the five fundamental elements that appear in Daoism. They underpin everything from traditional Chinese medicine to the tenets of the I-Ching. The following is the cycle among the five elements.

        Water begets wood.
        Wood begets fire.
        Fire begets earth.
        Earth begets metal.
        Metal begets water, and so on.

        There appears to have been some effort to apply Daoist principles to the five kamae. For example, "fire begets earth" could be interpreted as something like "gedan is effective against jodan" or vice versa. You can look at the cycle and the corresponding kamae, but whether hasso is effective against chudan or the reverse may be true ... well, that's certainly up for discussion.

        Water begets wood --> chudan vs. hasso
        Wood begets fire --> hasso vs. jodan
        Fire begets earth --> jodan vs. gedan
        Earth begets metal --> gedan vs. waki
        metal begets water --> waki vs. chudan

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        • #5
          i learnt somewhere that hasso means flagpole
          as it derives from the same position that a flag bearer stands in

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          • #6
            neil, according to some page hasso is written like this: 【八相(はっそう)】 and it would lit. mean something like '8 form'. the name given to this kamae is related to eight because in this kamae the forearms are supposed to be standing in the shape and form of a japanese 8: 八

            on the other hand, seigan 正眼 roughly translates as 'aiming to the eye'. so the name for this kamae is kinda obvious.

            脇の構え waki no kamae: side position
            八相の構え hasso no kamae: 8 shape/form position
            上段の構え jodan no kamae: high leveled position
            中段の構え chudan no kamae: middle leveled (horizontal) position.
            下段の構え gedan no kamae: low leveled position.
            正眼の構え seigan no kamae: aiming-to-the-eye position.
            霞の構え kasumi no kamae: mist position.

            not sure why the last kamae was given 霞. i guess it's because the targets and intentions are sort of unseen and unclear in this kamae...

            btw, these are the literal meanings. not the conceptual fire, earth, etc etc.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Paburo View Post
              neil, according to some page hasso is written like this: 【八相(はっそう)】 and it would lit. mean something like '8 form'. the name given to this kamae is related to eight because in this kamae the forearms are supposed to be standing in the shape and form of a japanese 8: 八
              That's what I've heard as well.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Neil Gendzwill View Post
                We all know chudan, gedan, jodan, waki (middle, low, high, side). We also have seigan, hasso, kasumi and maybe some others. I know kasumi translates to "fog". I think hasso translates to "wood". Not sure about seigan. Can anyone confirm? Also, anyone know the reason for some of these names?
                Chudan - middle level (it doesn't mean "horizontal").
                Jodan - high level
                Gedan - low level
                Waki - side

                Those four are pretty straight forward.

                Kasumi - fog/mist. It's a (modified) Itto Ryu kamae. You'd have to ask someone there why it's called that.
                Seigan - can be written several ways. The common one is "correct eyes". There's probably some esoteric reason, but the sword tip is at about the level of the eyes.
                Hasso - means "eight phases". It's got nothing to do with the shape of the arms. It's a Buddhist term, refering to the eight phases of the Buddha's life. As for how it got turned into the name of a sword kamae, I don't know. You'd have to look at what school the name comes out of, and ask them.

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                • #9
                  Seigan also is a Buddhist term. Apparently in this case "eye" implies not only seeing but also 'knowing'. So it could be translated to mean "to discern correctly", as in perceiving your opponent's heart/mind, rather than just their outward appearance (i.e. RBSO bogu, reptutation in shiai, use of fancy kamae, etc).

                  I'd be interested in some clarification on "hira seigan" and "taira seigan". They are variations on the angle of the blade in seigan I believe.

                  b

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ben View Post
                    Seigan also is a Buddhist term.
                    Doh. I actually knew that. Really.

                    I'd be interested in some clarification on "hira seigan" and "taira seigan". They are variations on the angle of the blade in seigan I believe.
                    Without knowing the kanji involved, I can't be sure, but "hira" and "taira" are readings of the same kanji, meaning "flat" or "level".

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                    • #11
                      Although it isn't the literal meaning of the names of the kamae, heaven, earth and man refers to a Chinese concept called 'sansai' (三才).

                      Sansai, or three powers, describe the relationship between heaven (天) earth (地) and man (人).

                      Heaven is high and infinite, earth is wide and expansive, so man by comparison seems to be unimportant. However due to the fact man was born out of heaven and earth, and is mindful and resourceful, he is in fact the equal to heaven and earth.

                      This is an attempt to describe natural law. I can't describe its meaning, so please look it up for yourself - dont' take the above explanation too seriously.

                      This seems to be a common theme in several traditional Japanese arts.

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                      • #12
                        By the way, I found this ineresting page with plenty of unusual buddhist terms and descriptions.

                        http://www.hm.tyg.jp/~acmuller/dicts/bdict/index.htm

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                        • #13
                          I also suspect that hira/taira are the same thing. I've always heard it called hiraseigan when referring to kata 5.

                          Hasso most definitely started off as Buddhist terminology but I've never really heard an explanation as to how it came to describe that stance. Maybe they just stole the name because it sounded good and fitted in with the looks like the letter for 8/can deal with 8 enemies/can cut in 8 directions conventional explanations that you hear every so often.

                          Here's some other seigan for good measure:

                          正眼 青眼 晴眼 精眼 勢眼 西岸 (never seen the last two in actual text though - the last one seems particularly dodgy, although it might conceivably fit in with some kind of Buddhist scenario with the promised land being in the west etc etc - pretty sceptical however)

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                          • #14
                            Whoa, Neil, did you ever suspect this thread would grow so deep? Time to break out the shovels!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Kent Enfield
                              Kasumi - fog/mist. It's a (modified) Itto Ryu kamae. You'd have to ask someone there why it's called that.
                              Paburos "i guess it's because the targets and intentions are sort of unseen and unclear in this kamae" is closest to my understanding of this kamae. Ive emphasised a portion for a reason. There is not one single Kasumi kamae.

                              I prefer 漫才 over 三才 though.

                              Nice to see an interesting thread.

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