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How to hold the sword properly

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  • How to hold the sword properly

    Hello guys
    I'm actually a Kendoka, but some things have been bothering me about the holding of a real sword or iaito, since I'm about to hold a presentation about samurai. Maybe you can help me out.
    My question is: How did the samurai hold their swords? (Placement of the fingers on the tsuka)
    Is it like in Kendo? Was the katana mainly swung with the left arm?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Sasaki View Post
    Hello guys
    I'm actually a Kendoka, but some things have been bothering me about the holding of a real sword or iaito, since I'm about to hold a presentation about samurai. Maybe you can help me out.
    My question is: How did the samurai hold their swords? (Placement of the fingers on the tsuka)
    Is it like in Kendo? Was the katana mainly swung with the left arm?
    TBH there wasn't a strict rule.

    I mean there were no samurai police doing spotchecks before battles...

    "Nah, not today mate, your gripping with your shoulders!"
    That said most people just held it how they felt comfortable, there were a lot of ryu back then so many different "official" ways. TBH i dont think how we hold it today in kendo / iaido is too far off the mark.

    YMMV

    Comment


    • #3
      Well if it's only for a class presentation (and said presentation is tomorrow) just explain it like kendo. Then get your sensei to show you how. You'll have to learn to hold a bokken to do the kata anyways.

      edit: bob beat me to it....love the samurai police spotchecks though +rep

      Comment


      • #4
        As said earlier, opinions vary. Here's one description, though, from Warner & Draeger's "Japanese swordsmanship" (1982, weatherhill):

        "In order that he might develop maximum leverage when using his sword, the warrior gave serious consideration to the manner in which his hands must hold the hilt. He spaced them widely apart, as far as the hilt accommodated them, and this requirement produced the hand grip that characterizes all combative sword-drawing techniques. The left hand must grip at the very butt end of the hilt, and often the little finger is allowed to project beyond the butt end. The right hand takes a position on the hilt that is just about the width of a finger away from the handguard. The resultant grip leaves a wide space between the hands and afford the greatest degree of leverage vital to the many and diverse actions of the hands that are necessary to iai-jutsu technique and to swordsmanship in general."

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Wookiesmurf View Post
          "In order that he might develop maximum leverage when using his sword, the warrior gave serious consideration to the manner in which his hands must hold the hilt. He spaced them widely apart, as far as the hilt accommodated them, and this requirement produced the hand grip that characterizes all combative sword-drawing techniques. The left hand must grip at the very butt end of the hilt, and often the little finger is allowed to project beyond the butt end. The right hand takes a position on the hilt that is just about the width of a finger away from the handguard. The resultant grip leaves a wide space between the hands and afford the greatest degree of leverage vital to the many and diverse actions of the hands that are necessary to iai-jutsu technique and to swordsmanship in general."

          Fecking hell, by the fourth line I was just seeing black and grey lines... i competly zoned out? Too tired to too bored?

          Comment


          • #6
            Haha, roughly translated it reads: right hand at the top, left hand at the bottom. Insert gap between. Leverage ftw. Also, pointy end goes in the other guy:P

            Comment


            • #7
              hehe pos rep to wooky

              as already mentioned it depends on style
              my kenjutsu grip is very different from my znir jikiden grip which again differs from my seitei grip which is similar to the znkr jikiden grip i was once shown

              but yes, from my limited experience, everything is done with the left hand (well not everything, but most things)

              left hand does the power right hand steers it in the right direction

              Comment


              • #8
                It's all fine boys and girls, but didn't we miss anything... like: ASK YOUR SENSEI. Sorry for being a bit rude Sakaki, but your sensei is the best person to ask. He or she can show it to you. This is very important, because we can explain it as much as we want, show pictures, etc. But your sensei is the best person to show you because he/she can actually do it with you. And actually doing it is the best way of understanding the difference. There is a difference between a "kendo grip" and "iaido grip". If your sensei doesn't do kendo and iaido, it's best to ask some one who does. Maybe call a dojo/sensei who does both and explain you question and ask if the sensei can show you when you come by (and maybe practice a bit while you are there). It's also a great excuse to visit another dojo and meet new people Can't tell how old you are, but if you are a minor ask your parents to drive you if it's too far, they might not like the idea of you traveling large distances on your own.

                The way you grip your sword differs a bit from ryu to ryu, but iaido wise they look pretty much alike (I'm not saying they are the same). I've seen little kenjutsu and I have never trained it, so I can't comment on that.

                As I wrote in the beginning, ask your sensei. If he/she can't explain he/she will probably know some one who can.

                Good luck with your presentation.
                Last edited by Mr. T.; 21st June 2008, 06:43 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Sasaki View Post
                  Hello guys
                  I'm actually a Kendoka, but some things have been bothering me about the holding of a real sword or iaito, since I'm about to hold a presentation about samurai. Maybe you can help me out.
                  My question is: How did the samurai hold their swords? (Placement of the fingers on the tsuka)
                  Pointy end away from you is the best option

                  Sorry it had to be said

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Mr. T. View Post
                    It's all fine boys and girls, but didn't we miss anything... like: ASK YOUR SENSEI.
                    errr....scroll back up and reread. It's in there. And it's not like he was asking so he could do iaido. It's for a school presentation. He's probably not going to go out and try and teach himself iai.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Sasaki To answer the question, as far as my instructors have told me its essentially the same as your kendo grip, with the exeption that your left hand does not cover the kashirra or pommel of the tsuka so that it can still be used as a blunt force weapon. As said before your instructor may have a different take on i and give you more detail but that is the gist of it. It should get you thru a talk in class. Good Luck!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by 1stdan View Post
                        Sasaki To answer the question, as far as my instructors have told me its essentially the same as your kendo grip, with the exeption...
                        No.

                        First off, the question is kind of vague, so I'm not sure how detailed he wants to go into grip. If he means left hand at the bottom, right hand near the tsuka then yeah it's the same. He also uses the blanket term samurai, that includes several centuries of warfare and an array of fighting styles, weapons, and armor.
                        Next. My grip for kendo, iai, and koryu are all different. First, because the weapons (shinai, mogito, bokuto) are different and therefore so is the shape of the tsuka (I won't get into to weight and overall shape). Second, although they all represent a sword the way they are used/swung in these three arts is different.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Mr. T. View Post
                          It's all fine boys and girls, but didn't we miss anything... like: ASK YOUR SENSEI.
                          Why?
                          Was his sensei a samurai? If not how would he nkow how swords were held by samurai?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by rottunpunk View Post
                            hehe pos rep to wooky

                            as already mentioned it depends on style
                            my kenjutsu grip is very different from my znir jikiden grip which again differs from my seitei grip which is similar to the znkr jikiden grip i was once shown

                            but yes, from my limited experience, everything is done with the left hand (well not everything, but most things)

                            left hand does the power right hand steers it in the right direction
                            I think having different grips for different styles is going to cause problems later. I would recommend finding something that works consistently. Re-read Musashi (Book of 5 Rings) on the subject of how to hold the sword, he is quite specific on this matter, more so than on anything else. My kendo and Iaido teachers have been quite specific on this too, and in all cases their description and Musashi's are the same. I am surprised at how many people don't hold this way, and get to quite high grades, when the teaching from all sources is so specific and consistent.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Kagerou View Post
                              errr....scroll back up and reread. It's in there. And it's not like he was asking so he could do iaido. It's for a school presentation. He's probably not going to go out and try and teach himself iai.
                              I'm aware of that, so still my advise stands. If he wants to know how to hold an iaito, he should ask some one in person preferably his sensei. His sensei can show him and do it together with him, so he knows what he's talking about during his presentation.

                              Originally posted by bobdonny View Post
                              Why?
                              Was his sensei a samurai? If not how would he nkow how swords were held by samurai?
                              haha, really funny... Not. No one knows how samurai did it (no pun intended). What I mean... Ahhh... what am I saying, you know what I mean.

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