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Difference Between European And Japanese Swordsmanship

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  • Difference Between European And Japanese Swordsmanship

    I've heard it spoken many times that the difference between European and Japanese swordsmanship is that in the European style that the sword is the extension of the arm, whereas in Japanese that the arm is the extension of the sword. In other words,in Japanese swordsmanship, the human is guided by the sword. So my question is, how can a person be guided by an INANIMATE object?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Spencer
    I've heard it spoken many times that the difference between European and Japanese swordsmanship is that in the European style that the sword is the extension of the arm, whereas in Japanese that the arm is the extension of the sword. In other words,in Japanese swordsmanship, the human is guided by the sword. So my question is, how can a person be guided by an INANIMATE object?
    Because what you said is not right. The sword is an extension of the body, the body an extension of the mind. It's the saint-trinity man! When they say
    "let the sword do the cut" they mean to not apply unecessary force, (that would "break the pattern"). Just like a golf swing.

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    • #3
      whereas in Japanese that the arm is the extension of the sword. In other words,in Japanese swordsmanship, the human is guided by the sword. So my question is, how can a person be guided by an INANIMATE object?
      i think what this means is, that the arm is part of the sword not guided by the sword. people who take up the sword practices how to master it.

      ~taganahan

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      • #4
        If you follow a river to the sea, the river guides you.

        What you are talking about is an East vs West thing, not so much a swordsmanship thing.

        If you want to eat some bit of food, you might take the food and make it taste the way you want by seasoning it, putting sauce, using special preparation, and so on. The chef controls the flavor. The chef first chooses the flavor, and then coerces the food into it. This is like French food.

        Alternatively, you might take fresh ingredients and highlight the flavor of the food. Simple preparation, light flavors. In this case, the chef works to harmonize with the food's "nature." The food has a flavor, and the chef works to bring it out, not replace it with a different one. In other words, the food controls the chef. This is like Japanese food.

        This is just one example; it is easy to find others.

        Honestly, I have no idea how this might apply specifically to swordsmanship.
        Last edited by hyuna; 4th August 2004, 11:44 AM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Spencer
          I've heard it spoken many times that the difference between European and Japanese swordsmanship is that in the European style that the sword is the extension of the arm, whereas in Japanese that the arm is the extension of the sword. In other words,in Japanese swordsmanship, the human is guided by the sword. So my question is, how can a person be guided by an INANIMATE object?
          What you've been told is a nifty play on words, but not especially useful for understanding swordsmanship. Be wary of baseing (sp?) your inquiry on what is, in the end, a purely semantic construct: i.e. a dichotomy. Dichotomies do not actually exist outside the human mind. They are a purely contingent way of understanding reality. Sometimes, if they're very insightful (such as Arthur's cooking analogy), they can be useful. The one you mention certainly is "clever" but not insightful IMHO. I suspect that if you had practical experience of both fencing and kendo, you would have more valuable insight into the difference. In short, if you truly want to know the difference, go and practice both!

          Actually to be entirely correct about kendo from a traditional kendo theory point of view, the sword and the body are one, not two. There is no distinction. For that matter the mind and the body are also one, not two. And your opponent and yourself are one, not two. Or rather all these things are neither one nor two, AND ALSO neither not-one, nor not-two. (How's that for mental construction? hehe!)

          A better distinction might be, in the case of one-on-one duels with live blades, the aims of European and Japanese fencing were quite different. The main one was that a European fencer aimed to survive a duel. A Japanese fencer didn't.

          Oops! Another dichotomy!

          b

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          • #6
            One big difference is that Japanese swordsmanship has been transmitted through a formal set of schools, each head instructor directly tranmitting the curriculum to the next, over hundreds of years. Whereas current western swordsmanship (FIE fencing aside) consists of reconstruction based on old manuals.

            Another big difference is the evolution of weapons and armour together throughout european history, so that step by step each changed the other. Whereas the essential design of the nihonto hasn't changed a whole heck of a lot. So there's a lot of knowledge on how to use a nihonto, but the european swordsmanship is less focussed due to more diverse weaponry.

            My interpretation - there's a lot of cool stuff in the old european methods but the reconstructionists are nowhere near to being as skilled as the koryu students from Japan - how can they be, they're learning from books? However if you look at the pictures you can see a lot of similar stances and techniques, especially when comparing the two-handed weapons.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Spencer
              I've heard it spoken many times that the difference between European and Japanese swordsmanship is that in the European style that the sword is the extension of the arm, whereas in Japanese that the arm is the extension of the sword. In other words,in Japanese swordsmanship, the human is guided by the sword. So my question is, how can a person be guided by an INANIMATE object?
              on the other hand, how can an arm make a cut?
              the actions a body makes depend on the tool you use, can you use a screwdriver to screw in a nail, or will you try to club somebody down with a spear? The tool you use for a purpose is as important as the person in regard to the way you want to achieve a certain end.

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              • #8
                Sex appeal's the difference.

                European swordsmanship sex appeal = http://the-aes.org/images/picture7.jpg

                (Edit: take special note of the graffiti on the hand rail)


                Kendo sex appeal = http://www.choyokan-kendo.org/images/Mvc-002f.jpg
                Last edited by Nanbanjin; 4th August 2004, 06:07 PM.

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                • #9
                  makes me wanna be old and a sensei

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                  • #10
                    man thats one lucky guy...

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                    • #11
                      i bet he's just doing kendo for the chicks...

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mystic_kendoka
                        man thats one lucky guy...
                        That post is only really funny if you can read the graffiti on the handrail in the first picture.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by D'Artagnan
                          i bet he's just doing kendo for the chicks...
                          Hey, that's why I'm doing it.

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                          • #14
                            That post is only really funny if you can read the graffiti on the handrail in the first picture.
                            I cannot see the first part...

                            I see the second part though.

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                            • #15
                              That post is only really funny if you can read the graffiti on the handrail in the first picture.
                              i c it....

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