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  • Iaido and Tameshigiri ?

    I was reading on a Iaido site ( forgot which one ) and it said that it was a big "no no" to do tameshigiri when you were a iaidoka , I dident realy know what to think , is there a unwritten rule that iaidokas shouldent do tameshigiri ?

    Do you ( high ranking Iaidokas ) who uses a live blade iaito ( shinken) ever use it for tameshigiri ?

    thanx in advance

  • #2
    I don't see why a high ranking Iaidoka should not be practicing Tameshigiri. That's like saying no Iaidoka should be doing Kendo.

    Comment


    • #3
      To cut or not to cut.

      Originally posted by Khabbi
      I was reading on a Iaido site ( forgot which one ) and it said that it was a big "no no" to do tameshigiri when you were a iaidoka , I dident realy know what to think , is there a unwritten rule that iaidokas shouldent do tameshigiri ?

      Do you ( high ranking Iaidokas ) who uses a live blade iaito ( shinken) ever use it for tameshigiri ?

      thanx in advance
      I don't know of any unwritten rules. The practice of Tameshigiri among Iaido-ka seems to be a case-by-case situation. If your teacher does it, then you do it; if not, you don't.

      As Tameshigiri is a labor intensive (rolling the mats, soaking them for up to 48 hours before use, hauling heavy wet mats to a site, and disposing of them after cutting), somewhat expensive acquiring mats outside of Japan, and require cutting blades (which is an additional expense as most people do not want to ruin the polish on expensive shinken), it is not a condusive activity for regular practice.

      There are styles of Batto, such as Toyama Ryu and Nakamura Ryu, that include Tameshigiri ar a regular part of the curriculum.

      The is a wonderful DVD available from Quest with old clips of Ueshiba Morihei (founder of Aikido) and Nakayama Hakudo (founder of Muso Shinden Ryu Iaido). The late Nakayama-s. does Jodo, Iaido, and Kendo no Kata. In at least one of the demonstrations of Iaido, he has included Tameshigiri.

      To cut or not to cut is a "religious" question in Iaido. Everyone has an opinion and a rationale for it.

      My personal preference is to cut for that is the purpose of a blade; However, it is also true that if your cuts are correct, then they will cut, so there is no need to cut. I personally prefer the feedback of cutting, being able to "read the cut" where the mat is severed. At the end of the day, there really is a difference between air-cuts and mat-cuts.

      YMMV.
      Last edited by R A Sosnowski; 12th February 2004, 12:01 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Khabbi
        I was reading on a Iaido site ( forgot which one ) and it said that it was a big "no no" to do tameshigiri when you were a iaidoka , I dident realy know what to think , is there a unwritten rule that iaidokas shouldent do tameshigiri ?

        Do you ( high ranking Iaidokas ) who uses a live blade iaito ( shinken) ever use it for tameshigiri ?

        thanx in advance
        Hi,

        That would be the opinion of the author of that website. Personally, I and most (if not all) of the other high ranking iaidoka in this forum wholeheartedly disagree with that opinion. Simply put, tameshigiri provides excellent feedback on how certain cuts are performed in iaido kata. If your blade isn't at the correct angle as you cut, you wouldn't be able to cut a target with it. Additionally, I think that all kendoka should perform tameshigiri at some point in their training to teach them how a sword actually cuts.

        I've had a shinken for many years and have used for tameshigiri many times.

        Comment


        • #5
          I would recommend most people try it after some basic experience and training has sunk in. I'd been doing kendo/iaido for some time before I had a go for the first time. I found it quite easy, however there were two iaidoka, one 4th, one 5th dan, who failed miserably at it, several times. No names (I havent blackmailed the people yet! ) and not in Roshukai before I get any leading questions...
          The feedback tameshigiri gives you is interesting, and I do it from time to time just to make sure my cuts are still correct. Not recommended before basics are in your head as some serious damage to swords can result through bad technique.....they are not the superweapons they are sometimes made out to be.

          Comment


          • #6
            tameshigiri should not be practiced out of respect for the katana.
            the word "tameshigiri" means "to test the blade".
            the blade is tested when it is made by a person with great skill so as not to ruin the blade by ignorance.
            Tameshigiri will not help to train you to cut, unless your fighting a stationary bamboo pole or a straw mat. anyone the pratices tameshigiri has no respect for there katana.
            .end

            Comment


            • #7
              After several years of practice, the Katana would be a part of you. A unity between the swordsman and sword. You become the sword, so it is not the Katana that cuts, but you. So although you can translate tameshigiri as "to test the blade", you are the blade and so you are actually testing yourself.

              Comment


              • #8
                I saw an old clip of nakayama hakudo sensei last evening, doing tameshigiri.
                Three straight kirioroshi, small sliding step beck in between the cuts. Very smooth. I guess noone can accuse hakudo sensei of ever being disrespectful to the sword.
                As a iai-guy, tameshigiri is a natural thing to do, but not all the time. I have enough mess. haha

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by roar
                  I saw an old clip of nakayama hakudo sensei last evening, doing tameshigiri.
                  Three straight kirioroshi, small sliding step beck in between the cuts. Very smooth. I guess noone can accuse hakudo sensei of ever being disrespectful to the sword.
                  As a iai-guy, tameshigiri is a natural thing to do, but not all the time. I have enough mess. haha
                  Sounds like the same clip I saw. Very nice. Very inspiring.

                  In our Batto class, we refer to Tameshigiri as the "Dark Side" of the art - it is very seductive and addicting.

                  Karate had a phase in the 1980's of ever more grandious Tameshiwari -- breaking large slabs of stacked ice blocks. Given the coverage by the print media of the day, you would have thought that Karate we 90% Tameshiwari, and 10% everything else. My instructor of Korean Karate at that time had a good rule of thumb for practice, which I find applicable to Batto and Iaido:
                  • 33% Kihon (basics)
                  • 33% (solo) Kata
                  • 33% pair practice
                  • 1% Tameshiwari (analogous to Tameshigiri in JSA)

                  The numbers are approximate, of course; the bottom line is that all parts are important, but that Tameshiwari/Tameshigiri is secondary (single-digit percentages) as opposed to the other parts of the arts, which are primary (double-digit percentages).

                  Our Batto practice has a set of Kumitachi for pair practice. My former Kendo and Iaido instructor used Kendo no Kata (as I do now) for pair practice for both Kendo-ka (because it's required for grading) and Iaido-ka (to teach Ma-ai in an art that relies on solo Kata). There are Kumitachi in Iaido, but they are rarely taught any more.

                  HTH.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I believe he was refering to this.....

                    This is very long, so I will break it into two posts. I have copied the text from the web page in question, there are two parts. One set of comments from Esaka sensei, and one from another. I will post each seperatly with comments.

                    This may be what this person is referring to. This is posted on the Iaido.org site.

                    ==============================Taken from iaido.org==========================

                    Tameshigiri is the action of using a sword to cut objects (tamesu in Japanese means "try out", while giri means "cut").

                    Iaido is the only martial art where one practices with a sword in order to "polish" ones spirit/heart (kokoro). Tameshigiri is forbidden by the Zen Nihon Iaido Renmei, the only specialist iaido organization in Japan.

                    There are several reasons for not doing tameshigiri.

                    Firstly, one has to consider that the Japanese sword is not a tool, irrespective of whether the blade is live or not. In Japan, the Japanese sword has held a very important, and sometimes mystical, position in society. It is still one of the 3 treasures of the Imperial family, along with the mirror and orb. Thus, a sword is thought to have sacred properties.

                    Taking this into consideration, the act of using a sword to cut something is akin to someone using a Catholic cross to bash a tree.

                    Furthermore, swordsmiths put their heart and soul into making Japanese swords great works of art. Therefore, using a sword to cut something is a most disrespectful act towards the swordsmith and the sword, which samurai thought of as their soul. (In fact, etiquette towards the sword requires one to treat it with the greatest respect at all times; for example, one shouldnt step over it, or touch the blade with ones hands.)

                    --- Esaka Sensei


                    I believe that what Esaka sensei was saying is that they forbid tameshigiri within ZNIR schools.
                    I believe that the reasoning may come from the fact that the ZNIR operates mainly within the confines of Japanese culture and Law.
                    Due to the ban on the possession of Gun-to, or katana which were mass produced for the military during WWII, the Japanese martial arts community has been deprived of inexpensive blades which can be used for the purpose of tameshigiri.
                    The Japanese government does not consider the gun-to to be a nihon-to, thus justifying its confiscation and destruction when they are found. If the Japanese government does not consider these swords nihon-to, then Esaka senseis sacred properties argument falls apart with the ability to use the gun-to to do tameshigiri. The Christian cross was not designed to bash trees, it was an instrument of execution which now holds religious signifigance. However, the Japanese sword is designed to cut, and can not cut without a person wielding it.

                    The other type of sword being produced in Japan today are those which meet the government requirements for production, but which are being produced to be used for cutting. On two recent trips to Japan, I have seen displays of Japanese made blades which are being sold for the purpose of use, which includes cutting. Therefore, if the swordsmith makes the sword for this purpose, whould it not be an insult to the swordsmith not cut with the sword? Would it not be a further insult to not try to perfect your cutting ability? Thus, the insult to a swordsmith argument falls apart.

                    While I can completely understand and admire someone following their instructors directions to the letter, I also know that at some point, the student has an obligation to raise questions to their instructor about flaws in the curriculum. This may not be the Japanese way, but it is the way I was raised. You do not follow blindly without some individual thought. Suffice it to say, unless you know what kind of a blade you have, and understand why and how it was made, you probably should not be cutting with it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      web page referred to....

                      Here is the second comment on tameshigiri, with my comments.

                      =========taken from iaido.org========================================= =====

                      Some thoughts about tameshigiri:

                      Sometimes you can find on the tang (nagako) of old Japanese swords an inscription listing what kind of cuts were performed with this blade during tameshigiri. This test-cutting with a new blade was done to test the blade. In order not to ruin the blade by ignorance a person able to wield a sword efficiently would perform the cuts. However, it was the blade that was tested, not the swordsman.


                      I would agree, it is the sword being tested. However, the swordsman doing the testing was a well known and accomplished tester, who did not just wake up one morning with the ability to cut. He didnt leave his sword in his saya thinking, oh, Ill only practice if I doubt my own ability, therefore I should not practice to develop myself. I know that this sword can cut by itself, just as water is wet without human intervention What a load of CRAP! The only names you will find on Nakago with cutting attestations are those of famous test cutters, who practices, practiced and practiced again!

                      The inscription on the tang describing tameshigiri says nothing else than, this is a sword which cuts well. It is nothing more then a quality sign, like made in Japan or special edition. It has nothing to do with the classical training of a Japanese swordsman.

                      Techniques used in tameshigiri would be very useful if you ever got attacked by a non-moving bamboo stick, or a straw mat. In other words, techniques used for tameshigiri would not be useful for combat against a living, moving opponent.


                      This is a great argument; I get it from Iaido beginners with no martial arts experience all the time. Lets apply it to Iaido.. Iaido is great if you ever get attacked by phantom aggressors, you practice cutting phantasms and empty air in the event you are ever attacked by them. Since Tameshigiri encompasses most of the lessons in Iaido and includes how to actually cut something, the lessons are more applicable than Iaido for an actual counter to an attack. This however is not the reason people practice Iaido or tameshigiri. Why can not this person understand that the reasons people practice tameshigiri are basically the same for practicing Iaido? The tameshigiri practitioner however, is interested in learning the principals a little more in depth. For the same reasons he criticizes tameshigiri, he unknowingly criticizes Iaido.

                      If you would like to adapt tameshigiri to combat training, it would be necessary to change the target to a moving one. Maybe a lemon tossed at you would work, but then a lemon is a fruit and is very small, so a chicken then? But a chicken is not big enough, so perhaps a dead pig swinging on a rope? But a dead pig does not move, so maybe a living one? But a living animal does not fight back This line of thought leads to a violent and despicable end: tameshigiri is bad for personal development.
                      If this is what you are thinking when you do Iaido, then I agree, you need to stay away from tameshigiri.


                      When you do Iaido, do you have a living moving opponent in front of you? I dont think so! Do you imagine one? Do you practice with the feeling that one is there? Do you practice to improve your skill, or to go to combat? This idea that you do tameshigiri to practice going into combat is as ludicrous as asserting the same thing about Iaido. To look at the realism of Iaido in the same manner, would you be admitted into a residence with your Katana? I dont think so, so why do you practice Iaido from seiza?..... To improve your skill. The same reason people do tameshigiri.

                      A Japanese sword is made to cut. Proving that you can cut with a sword is like proving that water is wet. If you feel like you have to prove something, you are already displaying insecurity and doubt about your ability. If you doubt yourself, then you will not be able to react immediately. Tameshigiri undermines trust in yourself. If you do not trust in yourself, you will try to prove your ability to yourself and others. If you try to show others that you are better than them, you will create conflict. Tameshigiri creates an aggressive mind which is not in harmony with its environment.

                      Hmmm we need to go back to philosophy 101 here. I put this idea to a test. I placed my katana. with cutting attestation ( which proves that it can cut without a swordsman), on my tansu next to a cup of water. I watched for a whole hour. The water was wet the whole time without my intervention. Yet I was deeply disappointed to not see the sword cut anything. The sword has to be wielded by a SKILLED person to cut, and a highly skilled person to cut effortlessly! This skill does NOT come from Iaido alone!
                      If this person is practicing Iaido daily, then he from his own argument is a very insecure. By his argument, people only practice if they are insecure in their ability. Well I for one know that I need to practice to better myself. Why would practice of anything undermine trust in yourself. Does this happen when he practices Iaido?

                      Most Japanese swords which still exist today do so because they were never used. Many are 400 or more years old. Every time a sword is used, it must be re-polished. Every time a sword is re-polished, it loses a bit of its substance: eventually, the sword will be polished to such a degree that it loses its ability to cut, its characteristic hamon, and so much of its material, that it is ruined. Todays generations are the custodians of the existing blades from long ago; a part of that history is diminished every time a sword is used. Performing tameshigiri with an old blade destroys an irretrievable part of history.


                      In these comments, Mr. Diamantstein underlines his misunderstandings of the Japanese blade. A sword does not need to be re-polished every time it is used! Using Uchiko is not the same as Polishing a sword. A sword does need to be CLEANED after each use to remove debris, dirt, moisture and human oils. Polishing a sword means using polishing stones, which does take away material. I have three fine swords which I cut with, only one a gun-to. I have cut with them for over 9 years, and I still have not needed to have them polished. No they do not have a mirror finish any more, but then I would not be cutting with an expensive art sword which needs one.
                      I personally believe that these ideas and misunderstandings of the katana are the type of Ideas that are promoted by Hollywood and actors, and those who would like to build the mystique of the Japanese sword. Drop a silk scarf on a sword and see if it is cut in two.
                      I have seen Mr. Diamantsteins Iaido, appreciated it, and had at one time considered practicing with him. However after reading this on his web page, I will defer this until I believe he has developed a little more complete understanding of the Japanese sword and its related arts. Why does an Iaido instructor need to explain why he does not do tameshigiri. Can you find a kendo web page where a kendo sensei explains why he does not to Iaido? These things do not need to be explained. Insecurities with ones abilities may need to be. I have never needed to explain why I do not do Aikido!

                      These are my personal thoughts about tameshigiri. I do not intend disrespect towards others; however, I deeply believe that there is nothing of value in the performance of tameshigiri. On the contrary, I believe it is harmful for the developing of good technique, a mature and peaceful spirit, and respect for others and ourselves.

                      This is why I do not perform tameshigiri.

                      --- Andrej H. Diamantstein


                      Interesting passive agressive completion. Make insulting and ignorant remarks about practitioners who practice other martial arts, then say you didn't mean any disrespect. Not the actions of a swordsman. Say what you mean mean what you say and stand behind it. Honesty and sincerity needs no apologies.
                      A real swordsman knows, "when you create a suki, you deserve the tsuki!"
                      I am now awaiting my tsuki!! Fire away!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I can see Esaka sensei's point but choose to disagree. It is insane to use a rare heirloom, but many modern blades do not fit into this category and never will, even if they are still around many years from now. In particular think of the chinese manufactured blades, apprentice pieces, etc...which most smiths would probably melt down and use the metal again to produce a work of art. Obviously not all japanese sensei agree, as there are batto schools, demonstrations of cutting tests on tv over there, and cutting competitions. Each to his own opinion.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Hiryu
                          Here is the second comment on tameshigiri, with my comments.

                          =========taken from iaido.org========================================= =====

                          Some thoughts about tameshigiri:


                          [SNIP]

                          Techniques used in tameshigiri would be very useful if you ever got attacked by a non-moving bamboo stick, or a straw mat. In other words, techniques used for tameshigiri would not be useful for combat against a living, moving opponent.

                          This is a great argument; I get it from Iaido beginners with no martial arts experience all the time. Lets apply it to Iaido.. Iaido is great if you ever get attacked by phantom aggressors, you practice cutting phantasms and empty air in the event you are ever attacked by them. Since Tameshigiri encompasses most of the lessons in Iaido and includes how to actually cut something, the lessons are more applicable than Iaido for an actual counter to an attack. This however is not the reason people practice Iaido or tameshigiri. Why can not this person understand that the reasons people practice tameshigiri are basically the same for practicing Iaido? The tameshigiri practitioner however, is interested in learning the principals a little more in depth. For the same reasons he criticizes tameshigiri, he unknowingly criticizes Iaido.

                          [SNIP]
                          I love this argument. It reminds me of the late Bruce Lee's comments that boards don't hit back. It's absolutely true, but it's not the purpose of breaking boards. Just because board-breaking was not important to Lee and his goals, does not mean that it is a universal truth.

                          Tameshigiri and board-breaking are not about simulated combat; they are about correctness of technique, and having a metric to measure that.

                          To get simulated combat, Lee went to full-contact armored sparring; sword-swingers don't have that option (I cannot imagine anyone in their right minds going at it with live blades either with or without any sort of armor). Unfortunately, for reasons of safety, the Kendo Shinai has the wrong feeling, and Kendo rules have nothing in common with real combat; however, Kendo allows two people to experience the stress of combat in Bogu without the nasty drawbacks.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            the reasons mentioned above are the main drive to me doing kendo, iaido, and a little cutting work. Individually they cannot simulate combat accurately but each have some of the necessary components. As I progress I notice that the iaido system I practise will eventually include all the components, but it is taking a long time to get there due to the fact I have only limited access to my teacher. This may explain part of the note saying that tameshigiri is unnecessary, it probably is at a high level. I know I have never seen my teacher cut, but he has used a sword (at court martials) and obviously does not need to prove to himself that he can cut. Other sensei I know have demonstrated how to do it at seminars etc, and seem to view it as a bit of fun with a little showing off to each other involved.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Agreed, Iaido, kendo and batto each only hold a part of the truth.

                              I have to agree with you. This is why I practice Kendo, Iaido and have practiced Shin ken do, (yes, I know, a new martial art) in the past. Here is a post from a ways back. I also think that some of the people that practice only Aikido and Iaido, are the type who do not like any type of competition, which may threaten their ststus or perceived status. In Aikido, the Uke falls. There is no method for him to deflate a faulty sempai or sensei. In Kendo, this happens all the time. You thank the kohai who cleaned yopur clock and go back to your basics again. You learn to be humble in the face of defeat. In Iaido without embu, and in Aikido, there is no such ego deflation. I think this may be more of what this guy may be scared of.


                              True swordsmanship...Hmm Difficult to define. True swordsmanship (I believe)comprises many different components, and each sword art, Kendo, Iaido, Batto, Kenjutsu, etc, posess only part of the "whole", and the last part I don't think we want to touch...Ill get to that at the bottom of the post.

                              The previous posts have some flaws, in that it is not nessecary to "Slice" when cutting with a Japanese blade, this is why the curvature is there. Only in some circumstances do you need to "Slice" or pull the blade. In Iaido, you better NOT hit someone!

                              Kendo deals with intent, use of distance, perception of openings, "Reading" your opponent and much more. The biggest thing to me that kendo deals with is the mental attitude while facing another person, which Iaido and Batto do not. Kendo does not deal with the finer points of using a sword which Iaido teaches, and it does not teach you how to cut.

                              Iaido teaches perfection of form and concentration in the face of a perceived opponent, proper sword handeling, how to turn a sword during use..kiriage to kesagiri, or tsubamagaeshi (sp?) concentration and balance among many other things. An Iaido practitioner is closer to cutting than a kendoka, but to assume that because someone can cut air, they can cut even a stationary target is flawed. Put a real sword in many Iaido practioners hands and they do strrrrange things. This is also not to say that there are not Iaido practioners out there who can cut the first time you put a real blade in their hands. on a continueum(ok sp again ?) Iaido ka are closer to cutting than kendoka. Iaido does not teach you how to use distance, the intent to strike a real person staring you down, or to cut a real person staring you down with a sword in their hands. It does not teach you intent in the face of a real person.

                              Batto, or cutting, teaches just that, how to cut a stationary or moving target, proper handeling of the blade, footwork, proper hasuji, and a lot of proper blade handeling....cant make the same mistakes you can in Iaido without feeling a bit-O- pain at the least, (Assuming use of an Iaito in Iai. as many people use shinken.)

                              Each art holds a certain portion of the truth, you could study all of them and still not be a real swordsman.

                              What is a "Real Swordsman?" someone that knows how to use a sword? someone that knows how to cut? someone that knows how to kantei a blade?
                              Lets say you know all of this.... In my mind, your not a real swordsman untill you have once faced another person who holds both a live blade and the intent to kill you in his heart and you have lived to tell the story. It is for this reason that I think looking for "Real" swordsmanship classes, or considering oneself a "Real swordsman" is unrealistic in todays age, unless you consider certain groups of the modern military.
                              Study your art, understand its advantages, benefits,and disadvantages and don't be deluded or disalusioned with it.

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