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  • Wrist breaking and cut height

    Curiosity question.

    I have always thought, from my kendo frame of reference, that you want the monouchi to make contact when you are at full extension. So, whether you are cutting to the chin, to the solar plexus, etc. the wrist extension/position is the same when the cutting arc has reached its apogee.

    In a recent practice, I posed this question.

    I was really surprised to hear that the wrist extension changes on height.

    So, if one was cutting to saythe chin. Looking from the side, the wrist position is such that the middle finger bone in the back of the hand is roughly the extension of the forearm bone. In other words, the plane that is formed by the root knuckle of the left thumb and index finger and the tip the wrist bone thumb side, is not flat with the forearm.

    Now, if one was cutting to say, the navel or lower, looking from the side, the wrist position is such that the index finger bone in the back of the hand is roughly the extension of the forearm bone. In other words, the plane that is formed by the root knuckle of the left thumb and index finger and the tip the wrist bone thumb side, is now flat with the forearm.

    That was a mouthful.

    What Im trying to understand is when should one break the wrist. It seems like Im been doing it for reach, while in iai, it seems to be more for continuing the cutting arc further, when the elbows have reached the body so the cutting arc cant go further without the breaking of the wrist.

    Thanks!

    P.S. If a frame of reference is needed to dispell stylistic differences, let's use Seitei #11 Sou-Giri.

  • #2
    Hmm, I'm thinking this may be a case of over-analysis.

    David, have you tried tameshigiri?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Halcyon View Post
      Hmm, I'm thinking this may be a case of over-analysis.

      David, have you tried tameshigiri?
      Yup, I’ve done it a few times. Don’t have any trouble with single mat except for the occasional Yoko-giri. In fact, you can see the videos and photos on my fb profile :P

      Background for the question.

      Not sure if you’ve seen Miyazaki Masahiro sensei’s kendo book. In part of it, he talks about striking men in such a way that the left thumb root lightly taps the right forearm.

      My old iaito had an 8 sun tsuka, and it always bothered me that my left thumb knuckle was tapping the forearm. At first, I thought it was a function of the tsuka being too short for my hands. But now that I have a longer tsuka (roughly 8 sun 7 bu), that is still happening.

      That’s why I’m thinking about this to see if I’m over-breaking my wrists.

      Comment


      • #4
        There are many ways to cut, not just one. How it is described will subtly affect the micro alignments that you talk about. For example, I try to maintain a wrist position such that the kissaki makes the biggest circle possible and the line of the sword (kissaki to tsuka) extended passes through my tanden at any time that the sword is in it's cutting arc (ie from just before it hits the target until it leaves the target - for vertical cuts that is.

        But that's just me.

        When you ask a hanshi, he will tell you how he does it, but that answer might not be suitable for your physical build and sword. Only his students will have his attention placed in finding their cut geometry, and in fact often they will leave the student to find it for themselves anyway.

        I agree with Halcyon

        Comment


        • #5
          I think you should maybe examine the shape of the grip rather than the arc....if you have a correct natural extension, the grip should be correct, however I think if you try to over extend during the cut you will change the grip shape. See what you have at the end of the cut.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by DCPan View Post

            So, if one was cutting to say…the chin. Looking from the side, the wrist position is such that the middle finger bone in the back of the hand is roughly the extension of the forearm bone. In other words, the plane that is formed by the root knuckle of the left thumb and index finger and the tip the wrist bone thumb side, is not flat with the forearm.

            Now, if one was cutting to say, the navel or lower, looking from the side, the wrist position is such that the index finger bone in the back of the hand is roughly the extension of the forearm bone. In other words, the plane that is formed by the root knuckle of the left thumb and index finger and the tip the wrist bone thumb side, is now flat with the forearm.
            On detailed examination, I agree with this, it does not contradict what I said earlier. But don't think of this as guidance, i.e. don't try to achieve these positions. If your grip is correct (as Chidokan says), if the sword arc and alignment is correct (as I said), and if your body posture remains correct, i.e. you are not over reaching (again as Chidokan says: if you try to over extend...)) then the description above holds good.

            I'm not sure what Miyazaki sensei was referring to, I don't think this happens with a sword, but with the longer tsuka of a shinai and wearing note I can imagine it happening in Kendo Men Uchi.

            Your wrist should have some flexibility to allow the kissaki to fly freely. If your middle finger is tight or stiff your wrist will not move easily and this will hold the kissaki back making it look as though it is dragging and not moving fast and easily. Moving the wrist naturally and "breaking" the wrist are not the same thing. I don't use the word "breaking" but I would imagine this to mean when the wrist is over extended so that the line of the forearm to the base knuckle joint of the thumb on the top surface of your arm, not internally, has extended past a straight line. However, in katate waza (e.g. first cut in Morote Tsuki), the wrist should reach this point of extension or the kissaki is not moving freely and cutting effectively.

            All of this is difficult in words. Watching you in real life would enable a simple "yes", "too much", "too stiff", "a little more/less" etc.

            Comment


            • #7
              Another thought on this:
              If you strike Men uchi with your wrists at full comfortable extension (i.e. not over extended), how can you do that and end kirioroshi (Kiritsuke) with the sword horizontal, or as is current preferred taste, slightly higher? To achieve this the shibori action naturally changes the wrist angle with the sword. Either this or you severely restrict the distance of your target to being closer, in which case the sword doesn't clear the body at the end of the cut.

              Am I missing something here?

              Comment


              • #8
                There is a bit of a functional difference between a kendo swing and an iaido swing. In kendo the arc finishes at the men, and "pops off", in other words, there is no shibori, no continued arc down through the body of the opponent. If you want a maximum strike distance and to maintain the arms high and the shinai to continue on past the target, a straight wrist (thumb lined up with forearm, left thumb tapping right forearm) is a fine thing.

                If you were to continue that arc down through the body the wrists would quickly adjust on the load of the strike/cut to a position more like your middle finger in line with the forearm. It's a matter of what power you can put into the tsuka with your little fingers, and when.

                At point of contact the tsuka aimed at your own throat is maximum extension, maximum distance from you. A good thing if you are chasing your opponent.

                At point of contact the tsuka aimed at your belly button or your tanden (arm length differences I suspect) is maximum power in the tip. A good thing if your opponent is coming to you (as he should be considered to be doing in iaido).

                Correct hand position (Tim's point) for iai gives you this second wrist extension and yes your wrist will change orientation as you continue to aim the tsuka at your tanden (Peter's point) through the strike.

                My suggestion is to get a bokuto and try this stuff out. With your wrists soft, put the tip of the bokuto on something at forehead height. Touch thumb to forearm. Check the hand position. Now drop your arms slowly keeping your wrists soft, do your palms tend to rotate inward as they twist off the tsuka? Now put your hands in a grip with the inside edge of your forearm bones at the wrist over the centreline of the tsuka. Does your thumb touch your forearm? Now slowly move the hands down. Does the alignment of the grip tend to stay in place and keep the hands from twisting? Is there more power flowing into the tip? Which fingers grip in which hand position?

                I was just playing with that last class in relation to the jodo gyakute grip as related to the honte (this grip we're discussing) and I haven't worked it all out yet but try and see if you can understand what works when and for what end purpose.

                As for over-analysing or deciding that tameshigiri fixes grip, you can't and it doesn't. I can cut mats with my palms facing upward, all you have to do is hang on to the tsuka and move the ha in the right direction and you can cut. That doesn't fix the grip. A proper grip needs no "grip" at all, it feels completely relaxed and the blade moves where it needs to move and stops where it needs to stop with no effort, no squeeze, no tennis elbow etc. etc.

                And you need to analyze the hell out of what you're doing to get there, and even then working with formulae (your hands need to be at X degrees when Y happens) can get in your way. A hanshi whispering in your ear is usually necessary at some point. Actually for me, they've been whispering and shouting into my ear for about 5 years now and it's just starting to get through.

                Kim.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Peter West View Post
                  For example, I try to maintain a wrist position such that the kissaki makes the biggest circle possible and the line of the sword (kissaki to tsuka) extended passes through my tanden at any time that the sword is in it's cutting arc (ie from just before it hits the target until it leaves the target - for vertical cuts that is.
                  Thank you very much for the guideline of lining up the axis of the sword with the tanden. That reminded me of the keishicho seminar 2010 video here.

                  http://vimeo.com/album/855915

                  In the Suburi Sankyodo Video (2nd one I think), it was mentioned that if you strike Men Uchi correctly, you should be able to pull the sword from the strike position back to chudan on the same line. That is consistent with what you are saying.

                  While my annoyance at my wrist has informed me that I have a problem with my basics, it is a nice reminder that it is important to take a step back and look at the big picture to fix the problem. Thinking about how the sword relates to the tanden did answer my question regarding what the wrist position should be. Thank you.

                  Originally posted by chidokan View Post
                  I think you should maybe examine the shape of the grip rather than the arc....if you have a correct natural extension, the grip should be correct, however I think if you try to over extend during the cut you will change the grip shape. See what you have at the end of the cut.
                  Thank you, I will pay more attention to my grip shape. I've been playing with how the tsuka sits in the palm through the swing. I'm thinking about the tsuka as a bird and the hand as a cage right now.

                  Originally posted by Kim Taylor View Post
                  There is a bit of a functional difference between a kendo swing and an iaido swing.
                  Unka,

                  Apogee is how I reconcile my Kendo Swing with my Iaido Swing. For me, my Kendo Swing and Iaido Swing is the same up to the point of contact. It is because the shinai can’t continue the arc down through one’s partner that makes the strike finish differently...for me, however, that doesn't mean it is functionally different. It just means I have to practice it differently so my partners are still willing to play with me

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Peter West View Post
                    If you strike Men uchi...
                    Incidentally, what you said in 2008 about the finger sequence made it into my suburi last week I did not understand until I brought up the post in class about the role of the ringer vs pinky finger in nukitsuke....

                    http://www.kendo-world.com/forum/sho...l=1#post338153

                    Making my hand understand and do it naturally is another matter entirely.... :P

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DCPan View Post
                      Unka,

                      Apogee is how I reconcile my Kendo Swing with my Iaido Swing. For me, my Kendo Swing and Iaido Swing is the same up to the point of contact. It is because the shinai cant continue the arc down through ones partner that makes the strike finish differently...for me, however, that doesn't mean it is functionally different. It just means I have to practice it differently so my partners are still willing to play with me
                      That reminds me. I heard from another sensei that the timing of tenouchi for tameshigiri vs. a kendo strike is slightly different in that for tameshigiri, the tenouchi should form before contact to stabilize the hasuji for cutting something. I don't have enough tameshigiri experience to truly comment on this difference, but thought I throw it out there anyway, since you were talking about functional differences. So, while it is not exactly functionally different, the timing is earlier....

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by DCPan View Post
                        Apogee is how I reconcile my Kendo Swing with my Iaido Swing.
                        I'm sorry for this totally unrelated bit of pedantry, but apogee is probably not the word you'd want to use. Not only does it mean the point of orbit farthest from earth (from Greek, apogaion; the general word is apoapsis), it is the point of least velocity and kinetic energy, max potential energy, whereas you'd want it the other way around with your sword.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Are2 View Post
                          I'm sorry for this totally unrelated bit of pedantry, but apogee is probably not the word you'd want to use. Not only does it mean the point of orbit farthest from earth (from Greek, apogaion; the general word is apoapsis), it is the point of least velocity and kinetic energy, max potential energy, whereas you'd want it the other way around with your sword.
                          LOL, I'm glad you pointed it out...that was the word that was actually used to describe this concept to me.

                          What is a better word to use?

                          Besides, that is the point in the arc of the cut where the tip of the sword is the farthest away from my "shoulder". After I cross the point the contact, the tip to shoulder distance would start to reduce.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by DCPan View Post
                            That reminds me. I heard from another sensei that the timing of tenouchi for tameshigiri vs. a kendo strike is slightly different in that for tameshigiri, the tenouchi should form before contact to stabilize the hasuji for cutting something.
                            That's correct. Also, the harder the target, the earlier one has to apply tenouchi, e.g. when cutting bamboo vs. tatami omote.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by DCPan View Post
                              That reminds me. I heard from another sensei that the timing of tenouchi for tameshigiri vs. a kendo strike is slightly different in that for tameshigiri, the tenouchi should form before contact to stabilize the hasuji for cutting something. I don't have enough tameshigiri experience to truly comment on this difference, but thought I throw it out there anyway, since you were talking about functional differences. So, while it is not exactly functionally different, the timing is earlier....
                              Partly, the Beginnings of Tenouchi forms before impact but not FULL. Otherwise, you will be too tense and the cut will jag. Tenouchi for tameshigiri is much more organic than On/OFF.

                              Realistically, you need to arrange a wara horizontally at head-height to really test this via tameshigiri - kesa/kiriagiri/Yoko giri all present different wrist alignment issues.
                              Last edited by Maro; 15th June 2012, 02:45 PM.

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