Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Dropping the shinai after tsuki

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Dropping the shinai after tsuki

    Hello Kendo World,

    Someone posed the question on World Kendo Network on why kenshis drop the shinai when executing katate tsuki, since I am not a member of any other forum but KWF, I am going to share my thoughts here.

    Most senseis that I know will tell you that you should never drop your shinai to the floor because its being disrespectful and rude to the aite. My personal opinion to that is yes and no, that is, I dont feel they are intentionally being rude by doing so, its just the way the body naturally reacts when you execute katate tsuki a certain way. This does not mean you should drop your shinai however; you should never drop your shinai.

    With that said, before I go any further, I know I am going to open another can of worms here but this is something I feel very strongly about and it really needs to be said and that is tsuki in general should only be executed by experienced kenshis only. Tsuki and especially katate tsuki is a very dangerous waza if you don’t practice it regularly in waza keiko. I find it very amusing as well as confusing that that some kendokas will not execute a waza such as nuki/migi doh because its too difficult but will try to execute tsuki. There are so many other waza that you can execute.

    This might sound old school to a lot of you, but in my dojo, we were taught tsuki only when sensei felt we were ready. This was around ni-dan (only a selected few) or san-dan. The general rule here is that the inexperienced kendoka should never try to execute tsuki against another inexperienced aite, that is just a recipe for disaster. If you feel the need to do it, do it against a sensei or against the very experienced if you got the balls to do it. You better not miss. If you dont have the balls to do it against sensei, then why would you think its okay to do it against the less experienced? Thoughts?

    With that out of the way, I will continue my thoughts. The way I was taught tsuki is that the mechanics are actually the same as a small men, only lower. The key for accuracy is knowing how to squeeze and ease the shinai, its the same for katate tsuki. Again this starts with your kamae and maintaining soft hands.

    I have mentioned in my deleted post that I swing the shinai using my left hand and shoulders simultaneously, this is what my tsuki is based on, so if you were not taught this way, you might not understand this. In a nutshell, when I swing the shinai using my left hand and shoulders it makes my swing a little more accurate than if I just push/pull with the left hand only, and since tsuki is a small target, you have very little room for error so your swing must be accurate. In my humble opinion, you must at the very least be able to consistently strike the tsuki 9 out of 10 times on the practice dummy. (uchikomidai) This is a non-moving target, trying to tsuki a moving target is another matter.

    The most important thing about tsuki that I was told is that you never want to over-extend the arms, so you need to understand distance (maai). This means you never want to *reach*for tsuki. If you execute strikes from the hara, you are then executing using the whole body in unison, that is your whole body is what delivers the strike. (Good posture/form) It is not just the hands, arms and feet. (Bad posture/form)

    -Side note: In my opinion, executing strikes using the whole body in unison can also be inferred to as executing strikes with sutemi. Executing strikes with the heart, mind and body as one.

    Going back to dropping the shinai, personally, I prefer to execute tsuki with both hands because I have better control of the shinai. However, there were times when I executed a tsuki in jigeiko where I dropped the shinai to the floor. Why did I do it? I dont know why, it just naturally happened.

    If I executed a tsuki the way we practice it in waza keiko, I would not have dropped the shinai. The way we practice tsuki is we always end up in tsubazeria. For some reason, if you execute a tsuki and dont follow through like in the video examples, kenshis tend to drop their shinai. I really believe it is not done on purpose, its just a weird reaction, kind of like head dodging when you get caught off guard, it is a bad habit to dodge and there are many reasons not to do so, but its just bad natural reaction on my part.

    My 2 cents and Merry Christmas everyone.
    Last edited by G-CHAN; 15th December 2015, 07:50 AM.

  • #2
    Excellent technical points. The note about follow through is I believe key to not dropping the tip of the shinai following katate-tsuki and is a mark of solid kihon for any waza. I practice iaido as well and there are a number of katate cuts (quite a lot since we usually have the left hand on the saya on the first waza). For many of the standing kata, katate waza would be executed with hikitsuke (drawing up the back foot) in order to bring one's kamae back to a stable position as well as for various benefits to the cut itself. Some waza have the kaso-teki/imaginary opponent very close so you need to cut while stabilizing backwards so not all "cutting with the hips" is finished with hikitsuke. So when I attempt katate-tsuki in kendo I do so drawing in the hip and get ready to execute a follow up waza in case the opening is there. Katate-tsuki-(morote)men can resemble the cut to the chin then thrust to the suigetsu in ZNKR seitei iaido kata #6 morotetsuki except that the order of cut-then-thrust is reversed.

    I also think there is an important aspect of tsuki that is implied by the rule for awarding ippon. The aite must be moving backwards in order for a tsuki to be considered ippon. This (to me) means tsuki is intended to be a "win then strike" type waza requiring that the opponent has been mentally defeated by seme in order for the waza to succeed. There is of course also the safety aspect since the opposite of this is mukae-tsuki (tsuki when the opponent comes in to attack), which is prohibited (doesn't stop a lot of grumpy old Japanese men from doing it in keiko though).

    BTW, I have yet to encounter this prohibition against tsuki against sempai or sensei while in Japan (not that I have enough samples to say conclusively). Although people observe refraining from tsuki against vulnerable opponents (e.g. children are not allowed to use it), I am generally encourage to try a wide variety of waza, including tsuki, against those above me. That is not to say that tsuki gets used too often but usually people are good spirited about any attempts at executing it. "Don't try if you can't succeed" isn't expected of other waza and I've never been "punished" for a failed attempt at tsuki in jigeiko. I wonder if this prohibition is more of an outside of Japan thing where the kihon levels of local kendo populations may not generally be strong enough to freely practice tsuki in an effective and safe manner. I also wonder if there is also some face saving behind it since receiving a tsuki implies that one has let one's guard down.

    Lastly, on any katate waza, don't forget a sayabiki type action.
    Last edited by dillon; 15th December 2015, 12:13 AM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Dillon

      I would not regard it as a prohibition, this is how my senseis generally feel about it, I just happen to agree with their reasoning. But like I said if your sensei gives you the green light, then I have no problem with it especially against sempais€™ and senseis€™ because they know how to handle it. My concerns are the kenshi who are not quite ready for it. (giving and receiving) Executing a tsuki requires accuracy and this accuracy correlates to your swing. The less experienced kendoka probably does not understand this, they see tsuki as simply a stabbing motion, which it is technically but there is more to tsuki than meets the eye, you know what I mean?

      In my opinion, tsuki is a waza that needs to be practiced a lot, preferably on a uchikomidai. Receiving tsuki hurts and it is intimidating if you are not used to it. Its definitely not a waza to be tried on a whim. When you first try a tsuki in jigeiko, it needs to be against an experienced sempai or sensei, a kenshi that can handle it. The bottom line is this, it is my opinion that you must have an above average swing (whatever that means) to start executing tsuki. Only under your senseis watchful eye will determine if your swing is decent enough to learn tsuki.

      Tsuki should never be executed by a kenshi who hasnt put in the time in waza keiko or at home. Some senseis might agree with this and some simply dont. Thats just how the world turns.
      Last edited by G-CHAN; 15th December 2015, 07:55 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        G-Chan,

        Apologies, I didn't make myself clear. I am in agreement that tsuki should only be executed under certain conditions: against an opponent who can take it and only if one has the ability to do so safely.

        The prohibition I refer to is this idea that one shouldn't try tsuki against a sensei unless one will definitely succeed because failure will lead to an ass-whooping. I think such a prohibition is only appropriate for people who are not in a position to execute tsuki safely in a jigeiko situation and probably was started as such. Somehow though, what may have started as sound advice for beginners evolved into some mystic general taboo against tsuki. My observation is that, at least with adults, this taboo exists more outside of Japan than inside and may have to do with the differences in average level of kendo. The taboo does exist for children here in Japan and to be fair I think the mindset probably lasts into adult kendo life although with the kendo sensei(s) I admire there is actually an encouragement to have varied waza under one's belt. I was actually expected once to execute tsuki-kakarigeiko. It sounds chaotic and unsafe but as the motodachi knew they were coming he was able to swat my tsuki away fairly easily. Obviously ai-tsuki-kakarigeiko would be too dangerous.

        Having said that, I don't pull out tsuki very often and don't see it that much (once every few months perhaps). As I said, I think it is a win first and strike (or catch your opponent asleep) waza so against good sempai and good sensei the opportunity to use it almost never appears.

        So in summary, I agree that tsuki should be practiced in kihon keiko to a fairly consistent (safe) standard before used in jigeiko. But once that level is reached there is no reason for a mystical prohibition against it.

        Comment


        • #5
          Never actually seen someone drop the shinai (as in letting go of the shinai so that it falls to the floor) as part of tsuki. What I have seen and _do_ endorse is that if the shinai kensen makes it somewhere dangerous (e.g. under the tsuki-dare) to let go of the shinai in consideration of the safety of your partner/opponent. ..by this I don't mean that the shinai has gotten between the tsuki dare and mendare out to the side of the neck but that due to some funky movement by the uhm...victim, they've raised their chin sufficiently for your shinai to strike them in the middle of the neck.

          What I have seen, is some people attempting to recover control over the shinai following a katate tsuki by bouncing the kensen off the floor. This is an action I don't endorse and I've seen video of one of the founders of kendo world (Alex) scolding a student at Kansai Univ. for doing that.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by dillon View Post
            G-Chan,

            ... I was actually expected once to execute tsuki-kakarigeiko. It sounds chaotic and unsafe but as the motodachi knew they were coming he was able to swat my tsuki away fairly easily. Obviously ai-tsuki-kakarigeiko would be too dangerous...

            Well then again, I received a video from Nakamura sensei many years ago of a practice in keischiro. It featured a segment with two members doing ai-tsuki kakarigeiko for several continuous minutes. My kakarigeiko I mean that immediately after comleting ai-tsuki they went again. What to me was as amazing as this practice was that in that interval I did not see a single miss by either side.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by dillon View Post

              I also think there is an important aspect of tsuki that is implied by the rule for awarding ippon. The aite must be moving backwards in order for a tsuki to be considered ippon.
              Just where is that rule?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by JSchmidt View Post

                Just where is that rule?
                Ohisashiburi sempai.

                You got me there. It isn't written anywhere (well, the official rules are quite sparse) and you have way more shiai experience than me. I guess I probably heard it from a sensei at some point. As with everything in kendo, judgement is relative (and can vary between sensei). For me, I still think of tsuki as win then strike being the most important aspect, especially for safety.

                Since your experience with jodan gives you a lot of insight as well, it would be great to hear your views on this. In the meantime I'll check with the various sensei I know and get their views. Thanks for stimulating research.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by rfoxmich View Post


                  Well then again, I received a video from Nakamura sensei many years ago of a practice in keischiro. It featured a segment with two members doing ai-tsuki kakarigeiko for several continuous minutes. My kakarigeiko I mean that immediately after comleting ai-tsuki they went again. What to me was as amazing as this practice was that in that interval I did not see a single miss by either side.
                  I'd love to see that video if it's available in public. Can you share a link?

                  Comment

                  Working...
                  X