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  • Holding Shinken vs holding Shinia

    Remember I said I would be asking a lot of stupid questions from now on, lol, well here I go.

    Just recently I have asking around to see what the differences were between holding and cutting with Shinken and with holding and "cutting" with shinia. Now, I have heard many times on this board some conflicting things, but I am going to talk about some things that I heard out in my area. Some people say that in Kenjutsu, that the way you hold the shinken is totally different than the way you hold the shinia. Yet, I have had other qualified people tell me that you hold them allmost Identically when cutting. Some say that the hands must have a squared grip while cutting with katana, while I have heard others say that this way of holding the sword is incorrect for doing cutting and that the way we kendoists grip our shinia or boken, is quite right, in the context of Kenjutsu.

    I have heard of an Iaido sensei say that, the cut in Iaido is Identical to the way you should cut in kendo. Also, in the book of 5 rings, the way Miyamoto explains to hold the sword seems mostly similar to how we grip our shinia.

    I would like those who have experience in both Kendo and Kenjutsu, to give me there understanding on this matter. If thats Ok.

    Cheers.

  • #2
    Originally posted by ahmed61086 View Post
    Remember I said I would be asking a lot of stupid questions from now on, lol, well here I go.

    Just recently I have asking around to see what the differences were between holding and cutting with Shinken and with holding and "cutting" with shinia. Now, I have heard many times on this board some conflicting things, but I am going to talk about some things that I heard out in my area. Some people say that in Kenjutsu, that the way you hold the shinken is totally different than the way you hold the shinia. Yet, I have had other qualified people tell me that you hold them allmost Identically when cutting. Some say that the hands must have a squared grip while cutting with katana, while I have heard others say that this way of holding the sword is incorrect for doing cutting and that the way we kendoists grip our shinia or boken, is quite right, in the context of Kenjutsu.

    I have heard of an Iaido sensei say that, the cut in Iaido is Identical to the way you should cut in kendo. Also, in the book of 5 rings, the way Miyamoto explains to hold the sword seems mostly similar to how we grip our shinia.

    I would like those who have experience in both Kendo and Kenjutsu, to give me there understanding on this matter. If thats Ok.

    Cheers.
    From the perspective of someone who has been doing both disciplines (kenjutsu and iaido) for a short while I'm not sure I'd want to use a shinken for kenjutsu. Get it slightly wrong and you could end up with slicing someone in two or slicing someone's limbs off (and they can be difficult to sew back). As for iaido, only people who have been practising for 5 to 10 years or more use a shinken and then, even then from I can gather, not everyone feels the urge to do so.

    I'm only a relative beginner in both disciplines so I would be grateful if someone more experienced could comment on what Ahmed has said.

    Comment


    • #3
      One quick thing: Your left hand with a sword is held higher up, maybe half an inch to an inch from the kashira (Just above the knot holding the kissaki on) as opposed to kendo where I believe you hold the very bottom. As for cuts: IMVHO your generic kendo strike and actually cutting are as different as night and day (I'm sure this isn't as true for more advanced people). The tenouchi and total feel/motion is quite different, you'll have to start an iaido class to really get a feel for cutting with an actual sword (where of course you'll use an iaito, not a shinken, or you may lose some fingers). Hope that helped a bit.

      Comment


      • #4
        Short answer: it depends on the style. There are hundreds of koryu and each has their own way of doing things. I study MJER iaido, and the first thing I had to do when I had a go at HNIR kenjutsu was learn a different way of holding the sword. So it depends on which school you are studying: go with what your sensei tells you.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by neko kenshi View Post
          One quick thing: Your left hand with a sword is held higher up, maybe half an inch to an inch from the kashira (Just above the knot holding the kissaki on) as opposed to kendo where I believe you hold the very bottom. As for cuts: IMVHO your generic kendo strike and actually cutting are as different as night and day (I'm sure this isn't as true for more advanced people). The tenouchi and total feel/motion is quite different, you'll have to start an iaido class to really get a feel for cutting with an actual sword (where of course you'll use an iaito, not a shinken, or you may lose some fingers). Hope that helped a bit.
          Im not saying you are wrong, or that Iaidoka dont know how to cut, but someone told me recently, that there was a test where they took Iaidok and Kendoka, and had then all try tameshigiri, and the kendoka had a much easier time cutting than the Iaidoka. This is just one thing that I have been told about that shows that the kendo cut is similar to a real cut used in tameshigiri. And Like I said, there was a high ranking Iaido sensei that said that the two cuts are the same, or atleast should be the same in mechanics.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Oroshi View Post
            Short answer: it depends on the style. There are hundreds of koryu and each has their own way of doing things. I study MJER iaido, and the first thing I had to do when I had a go at HNIR kenjutsu was learn a different way of holding the sword. So it depends on which school you are studying: go with what your sensei tells you.

            Ok, that makes sense. But I dont have a kenjutsu sensei yet, with time though, I hope to remedie that.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by ahmed61086 View Post
              Remember I said I would be asking a lot of stupid questions from now on, lol, well here I go.

              Just recently I have asking around to see what the differences were between holding and cutting with Shinken and with holding and "cutting" with shinia. Now, I have heard many times on this board some conflicting things, but I am going to talk about some things that I heard out in my area. Some people say that in Kenjutsu, that the way you hold the shinken is totally different than the way you hold the shinia. Yet, I have had other qualified people tell me that you hold them allmost Identically when cutting. Some say that the hands must have a squared grip while cutting with katana, while I have heard others say that this way of holding the sword is incorrect for doing cutting and that the way we kendoists grip our shinia or boken, is quite right, in the context of Kenjutsu.

              I have heard of an Iaido sensei say that, the cut in Iaido is Identical to the way you should cut in kendo. Also, in the book of 5 rings, the way Miyamoto explains to hold the sword seems mostly similar to how we grip our shinia.

              I would like those who have experience in both Kendo and Kenjutsu, to give me there understanding on this matter. If thats Ok.

              Cheers.
              I'd already been been practicing kendo for 4 years when I started iai so, when I first held my iaito, I used the same grip as in kendo and I still do (ie thumb and index fingers making a 'v' shape pointing back at me). I've also heard a variety of thoughts on kendo vs iai grip but any other grip than a kendo one would feel odd to me, especially a 'square' grip. It's possibly just habit...

              Just my two yen.

              Comment


              • #8
                Just wondering: what exactly is a 'square grip'?

                Comment


                • #9
                  I am a n00b in both kendo and iaido, but here are my thoughts on this topic...

                  Is the way of using a shinken (or iaito) versus the way of using a shinai the same? Depends on the style of kendo . . . some styles of kendo seem to emphasize striking and angles of "cutting" that are nothing like iai as I know it. Other types of kendo emphasize hand motions that are strikingly similar to iaido.

                  However, while the school I call home seems to strongly believe in the union of iaido and kendo, even within these teachings I find subtle differences. Yes, the fingers both make an upside-down "V" in gripping the sword. Yes, in both cases the pinky and ring fingers are the "gripping" fingers while the other fingers only tense up momentarily when cutting (part of tenouchi), but in kendo, the pinky covers up the tsuka-gashira, and based on the mechanics of the length of the tsuka on a shinai, your hands are relatively far apart. Conversely, on a shinken (or iaito) in our school (the ryu we study is Muso Shinden Ryu), the hands are only an inch or so apart, and the left hand pinky finger is resting on the top part of the knot in the tsuka-ito (don't know the name of this) just below the kashira. Also, in kendo, "cuts" still seem more "forward" and "pushing through" whereas in iaido, cuts are more "circular" and "pulling in". Also, in kendo, the stance of the feet is very close, whereas in iaido the stance of the feet is more spread out.

                  Nonetheless, even with these differences, I feel that the practice of kendo and iaido are two halves of the same coin, two wheels of the same cart (to borrow from old sayings). For example: tenouchi. If you develop strong tenouchi in one (iaido or kendo) you have it at your whim in the other. Both are shadows cast on a different part of the wall from the same original thing, and both therefore offer incomplete reflections of what was once a complete thing (though this in itself is quite arguable, but I digress). However, in today's society the complete budo (or whatever you want to call a fully martial lifestyle) is impractical, illegal, and impossible. Therefore, the only glimpses we can catch of the traditions that linger on in their continually reincarnated forms are through such pursuits as iaido, kendo, and ... maybe the third "thing" is tameshigiri (I don't consider this part of iaido, really - it's mainly a study in hasuji and other technical lines of what the blade does, though it is useful in helping iaidoka to see their own flaws in blade management, and it's also useful for kendoka in a similar way).

                  While cutting is a component of both iaido and kendo, the focus diverges towards different aspects of japanese swordsmanship, namely in self-awareness / kinesthetic qualities (iaido) and perhaps the communication and empathy one can have with an opponent (kendo). So I suppose I see three wheels to the same cart in cutting (tameshigiri), body control / awareness (iaido) and opponent management and interaction (kendo). Or maybe you could even say that tameshigiri is simply the human need to destroy and be effective at it (ever see the beauty in the shark?), iaido is just meditation (zen influence?) and kendo is just a sport (points !)

                  In the end, all are about the sword - how to avoid breaking it when it's used, how to responsibly deal with the power that comes from it, or in some ways just by avoiding chopping off parts of your own body, yet in other ways knowing when and when not to commit to using a sword. To me, they are all various roads that eventually lead to a very similar place, but what very different roads they are! If you have ever heard of the story of the 6 blind men and the elephant, think about it. Each blind man touched a different part of the elephant (side, tusk, trunk, knee, ear, tail) and disputed with the others another about what an elephant really was. Such is the way of the japanese sword, it seems.

                  Be aware, of course, that I've only been studying kendo and iaido for a very very short time, and have had VERY little exposure to tameshigiri (once formally and in person, to be exact). I'm also an incredible idealist deep within the cynical crusty armor I've built around my psyche which pragmatically and methodically guides me in this world. Not to mention, I'm too young (many scholars say true understanding happens at 40 or more) to really know a gosh-darn anyways. So I am probably very wrong on a great many things when it comes to these subjects.

                  Still, I thought I'd share yet another perspective on this whole set of concepts.

                  Time for more keiko !
                  Last edited by dohrt; 24th May 2007, 04:42 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As Oroshi stated before, it depends on the ryuha you study. Each has its own methods for specific reasons. For example Katori Shinto Ryu wrap the left hand's little finger round the end of the tsuka if I remember correctly. Of course tsuka size is not uniform so this had to be accounted for as well.

                    Shinai and mogito/shinken are completely different tools. The length, weight, size and shape of the tsuka, etc are all very different. Also you don't tend to wear kote holding a shinken.

                    Find a good teacher, do what he says, then think about it when you've spent enough time practicing.

                    Ahmed, are you in New Jersey? Have you seen this dojo...

                    http://www.shutokukan.org/index.html

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ahmed61086 View Post
                      Im not saying you are wrong, or that Iaidoka dont know how to cut, but someone told me recently, that there was a test where they took Iaidok and Kendoka, and had then all try tameshigiri, and the kendoka had a much easier time cutting than the Iaidoka. This is just one thing that I have been told about that shows that the kendo cut is similar to a real cut used in tameshigiri. And Like I said, there was a high ranking Iaido sensei that said that the two cuts are the same, or atleast should be the same in mechanics.
                      As someone who did kendo and now does iai and cuts regularly (iai cutting as well) I can assure you that the use of a shinai to score a point in kendo and the use of a shinken in the test cutting of a target are more different than similar...but don't take my word for it. Find a dojo and start training.

                      Regards,

                      r e n

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I've heard fairly advanced iaido people say "look at <kendo-nanadan>'s cuts, it is exactly how we do it". So as someone says, it seems to rely somewhat on level.

                        Personally, my kendo- and iaido cuts are very different, but then again: I am not high level

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Oroshi View Post
                          I had a go at HNIR kenjutsu was learn a different way of holding the sword.
                          Or the "skinny stick."

                          Im going to modify another of Oroshis statments: "Short answer: it depends on the style" to "Short answer: it depends on the style, the person, the cut, the tool you use (sword, bokuto, chopsticks) and the situation."

                          ZealUK -> id recommend one to the other but not the other way round.

                          Ahmed -> instead of the "stupid questions" on the forum, get thee to a dojo. You already have beautiful kendo so theres nothing in your way. oh, and listen to Ren.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Surely in general iaido and kendo the grip should be very similar i.e. the "V" of your index finger and thumb alligned along the back of the tsuka.

                            I think the difference to me seem to be more about the "cut". In my experience kendoka use more of a strike than an actual cut. This may change as they progress and have more experience with tameshigiri and/or exposure to iai.

                            But that's not necessarily true for everyone...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Thanks for all the responses guys. Im looking into a dojo around my area. The one ZealUK put up, Im going to check it out, and there is also a Dojo in NY NY, but I might have to just go to the one whihch is most convenient. We will see. I might start in a month or in a year, but I am definitly going to try and practice some type of JSA other than kendo. Its something that realy holds my interest.

                              Untill then, no more stupid questions.

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