Page 3 of 8 FirstFirst 12345 ... LastLast
Results 51 to 75 of 198

Thread: The differences between HES and other styles of swordsmanship?

  1. It's my impression that the classical JSA texts are all addressed to readers who are already technical experts, and that is why they concentrate so heavily on psychological factors. Would you say this is a correct understanding?
    "Am fear a thug buaidh air fhein, thug e buaidh air namhaid."

  2. #52
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Nagoya, Japan
    Posts
    221
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Hellman View Post
    As a quick note on the blocking - the still photographs of the blocking linked to above where the sword is being held seem to show something that is rightly considered a no-no in most JSA schools.
    1: holding the blade as he is doing would cut up your fingers pretty badly - the blade is sharp, and you just don't do it.
    From Ellis Amdur's Old School, pp 54-55, 57:
    One of the specialties of Nen-ryu is the ability to cut through an opponent's block. To develop this, they force their weapons together in a kind of isometric training that develops power in both cutting and blocking...Many of the forms end with the instructor holding his sword horizontally while the practitioner cuts downward with all this strength. The instructor resists this cut with sufficient power so that the student uses the maximum power he can without distorting his posture by raising his shoulders or otherwise trying to develop a little extra force in a way that would unbalance himself. The instructor then, still resisting, lowers the sword to waist level. As before, this isometric training develops tremendous strength.
    So the "blocking" shown in the clips is not "practical" blocking per se, but rather using the bokuto as a strength training tool.

    As far as specifics go (perhaps with the exception of German longsword as mentioned above) compared to European (and Chinese) sword schools Japanese schools do not generally go in for defense very much, and this mindset has colored their techniques to a very large degree. If western and Chinese schools can be characterised by a mindset of 'You won't kill me, but maybe I will kill you', Japanese styles tend to think, 'I will kill you, and maybe you will kill me too.'
    I agree and disagree. I do think that the JSA mindset is fundamentally aggressive, or perhaps I should say "attack oriented", but part of that is that, generally, in JSA, a defense is an attack. This is at least the mindset of schools that have the approach called "katsuninken". Rather than a "defend-then-attack" chain of techniques, the idea is to respond to an attack by moving and cutting in such a way as to avoid the attack while simultaneous landing a blow on the enemy, which would then be followed up by further attacks. I think the first kata shown in this clip is exemplary of this mindset. Rather than "I will kill you, and maybe you will kill me, too", it's more like, "I will kill you, although maybe you'll cut me superficially." Or to put it another way, the old saying, "Let the enemy cut your flesh, you will cut him to the bone." Or Yagyu Shinkage-ryu's abara issun - "one inch of the ribs". Although the enemy may cut one inch into your torso, that's as far as he will get because he will be struck down in the same instant. I don't know if this is particularly different from Western styles. Certainly this clip shows some aspects of that in one group's interpretation of German longsword fighting. OTOH, the Bujinkan fellow in the "Paul vs James" clip seemed focused on a "defend and counterattack" strategy that would be abhorrent in the school I practice.

    This is both a hard mindset to develop, and a hard one to face, and not suited to 'friendly matches'. You can see something of it in kendo, where the bamboo swords have completely changed almost everything else about the art. It works combatively by projecting your determination to kill onto the enemy - from this follows the rest of the art. Nowadays, in many schools, students are very much taken up with the technical details, so this aspect is neglected, but without it, in my opinion, JSA doesn't really work as it should.
    This is an excellent point. Many point to kendo and assume that the use of shinai has made it lose combative practicality in favor of point getting. Rather, kendo was originally meant to be part of an all-around curriculum, wherein the matches with shinai would train the ability to project one's intent to attack, remain calm, and make full proper strikes, while the use of two-man kata and iai would train the finer technical points. However, particularly with modernization post-Meiji and the emphasis on the mental and spiritual aspects of budo post-war, those other parts in kendo have been largely de-emphasized, or spun off into their own focused arts dealing with other mental and spiritual aspects, as the practicality of swordfighting has become less and less relevant to people's lives. Modern kendo, for the most part, continues to do what it was designed to do; it's just been removed from its original context.

  3. I just posted a new thread, "China Meets Scotland," which is relevant to this discussion.
    "Am fear a thug buaidh air fhein, thug e buaidh air namhaid."

  4. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Hellman View Post
    However, that is not to say that all JSA is tarred with the same brush. Some of it is excellent - but that is hard to find.
    That hasn't been my experience at all.

    There are two excellent JSA schools that I know of personally in NYC, including the one I am a member of, to which few or none of the problems you described in your post can be attributed. There may be many others. I know of two others just outside of NYC, all in driving distance.

    That's a lot of excellent JSA schools, and while NYC is a large cosmopolitan town where you would expect to find a lot of JSA schools, there aren't as many as you would think, and it is not exactly Japan.

    I have also seen some excellent schools demonstrate at Swordfest in the DC capital area, really top notch stuff. This leads me to believe that the problems you mentioned affect far fewer schools than is commonly believed.

  5. #55
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Hellman View Post
    As a quick note on the blocking - the still photographs of the blocking linked to above where the sword is being held seem to show something that is rightly considered a no-no in most JSA schools.

    2: if that is actually a 'block', rather than some kind of moving guard, one of two things might happen:
    - your sword would get cut through (this did happen, according to my teacher, in a demonstration given by two v. high ranking masters in front of the emperor sometime in the 50's or 60's).
    - if facing someone who had a strong cut, like the Jigen-ryu based in Kyushu, although your sword might hold, your block could be collapsed - this is not a theoretical point, by the way: in one particular incident in the 1860's, a number of people were killed by having their sword guards driven into their heads when trying to 'block' strong downwards cuts. The comment I heard was along the lines of 'Shows how much they knew about using swords!'

    Chris Hellman
    My blog:http://ichijoji.blogspot.com
    Now these are the things that I keep wondering about in relation to Katana and a Sabre/Broadsword. I understand that the systems are different but for these things to be true either the Katana is just made weaker than a Sabre or proper skeletal alignment was not taught in how to make a hard parry. I can parry a hard blow from a longsword so it’s not a ‘two handed blades have so much more power and you can’t parry it.’ Granted if you don’t do it right your guard will collapse and you will die, but this is true with any action be it a parry or a counter cut.

    “having their sword guards driven into their head” That phrase tells me they were trying to parry with the weak of the blade, didn’t use a proper grip/had poor skeletal alignment and thus no support for their parry or were standing under a falling boulder and should have had the sense to deflect the stroke off the blade instead of hard stopping, or just not being there. So I would agree they didn’t know much about using swords.

  6. #56
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    West Yorkshire, England.
    Posts
    375

    Pennyworth

    Sticking my oar in here as a ...reenactor!! one historical difference is the use of shield , buckler and targe in the west. The later seen on the battlefield as late as 1745. I am fairly poo with the buckler, can never get the coordination right, but love the targe or a shield. These are not only comforting defences in a melee, but can be used in a nastily aggressive way as well. Punching with the boss, hacking with the edge, and with the Highland Targe you hold the dirk so that about 10cm projects below the lower edge.
    As I understand it the shield was rarely if ever used in Japan, and not too dominant in Chinese swordplay.

  7. #57
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Falls Church, VA
    Posts
    1,524
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Edelson View Post
    That hasn't been my experience at all.

    There are two excellent JSA schools that I know of personally in NYC, including the one I am a member of, to which few or none of the problems you described in your post can be attributed. There may be many others. I know of two others just outside of NYC, all in driving distance.

    That's a lot of excellent JSA schools, and while NYC is a large cosmopolitan town where you would expect to find a lot of JSA schools, there aren't as many as you would think, and it is not exactly Japan.

    I have also seen some excellent schools demonstrate at Swordfest in the DC capital area, really top notch stuff. This leads me to believe that the problems you mentioned affect far fewer schools than is commonly believed.
    Swordfish is indeed blessed with first rate exponents of all types of swordplay.

    As to Mike clip of Jikishinkage ryu, the exponents are very carefully controlling the distance between them, it may seem close, but stll requires that both advance to strike, the pressure is quite intense, allowing them to feel the best time to strike. Finally, a more reasoned interpretation of the spirit of JSA is not that much different from that espoused by Liechtenauer.

    Steve

  8. #58
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    772
    Quote Originally Posted by David R View Post
    Sticking my oar in here as a ...reenactor!! one historical difference is the use of shield , buckler and targe in the west. The later seen on the battlefield as late as 1745. I am fairly poo with the buckler, can never get the coordination right, but love the targe or a shield. These are not only comforting defences in a melee, but can be used in a nastily aggressive way as well. Punching with the boss, hacking with the edge, and with the Highland Targe you hold the dirk so that about 10cm projects below the lower edge.
    As I understand it the shield was rarely if ever used in Japan, and not too dominant in Chinese swordplay.
    >
    In reference to the use of shields here is an interesting quote that puts the other side of the story. In the early 14th century the priest William Herebert stated that the shield was:

    "rarely carried in war because it hinders rather than helps."

    (he was referring to warriors wearing armour) I include it here purely for interest and not to argue against its use.

  9. #59
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    West Yorkshire, England.
    Posts
    375

    In War

    Interesting comment about "rarely carried in war", they do get in the way in armour, yes, and if you use a hand and a half as I do, they are redundant. In civilian life they turn up in greater Europe including the UK as late as the early 17thC, and in the Highlands 1745.
    See my armour at Cosplayisland.co.uk under the nom de posuer of Joshua, The piccys too big to post here.

  10. #60
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    1,774
    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Reyer View Post
    OTOH, the Bujinkan fellow in the "Paul vs James" clip seemed focused on a "defend and counterattack" strategy that would be abhorrent in the school I practice.
    And yet I actually know one of the instructors "the Bujinkan fellow" trained with, and I asked him specifically about that, and he did say the style was deliberately "reactive"...!

    Paul

  11. #61
    It's my impression that the classical JSA texts are all addressed to readers who are already technical experts, and that is why they concentrate so heavily on psychological factors. Would you say this is a correct understanding?
    By and large, I agree, though there were later ones which included basic instruction. The ones I am aware of were post 1860s. I think that many of them were aimed at military recruits and high school students.


    I can parry a hard blow from a longsword so it’s not a ‘two handed blades have so much more power and you can’t parry it.’
    This is an interesting point, and one that is difficult to test 'in extremis'. In the story I mentioned, it seemed to be an instinctive reaction to impending doom - and one that didn't work. I think the dangers inherent in simply interposing your weapon between you and an incoming attack are well understood in both JSA and HES, but whether or not one will fall back on that as a natural reaction depends on factors which are difficult to test (ie the shock of having a screaming opponent rushing towards you, sword held high and ready to cut you in two).

    Having said that, the clip that Josh linked to showed a couple of instances of things that I haven't seen in JSA, though there was much that was quite similar. It included a couple of 'blocks' or 'parries' that involved a relatively still blade stopping a downward cut. As noted above, and previously, this is not a part of JSA as far as I know - the standard response is that 'This will get you killed' or something similar. Also there were several techniques that involved wrapping and or grasping the opponent's blade - this would not be possible in JSA unless wearing armour, as the blade is sharp all the way down.

    Lastly, despite its Japanese origin, Bujinkan is not generally considered as representative of JSA, and their approach to using the sword seems to differ from the norm in several important aspects.

    Chris
    http://ichijoji.blogspot.com

  12. #62
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Nagoya, Japan
    Posts
    221
    There a few contextual factors that need to be considered with Chris Hellman's example of men having their sword guards driven into their heads. One is technical -- the men doing the attacking were often proponents of Jigen-ryu, a school whose primary method of training was striking a standing wooden pole with a stick many thousands of times a day. I think there a few, if any, HEMA practioners (or JSA, including modern Jigen-ryu practitioners) today doing that kind of training. Also, Jigen-ryu practitioners trained to deliver these powerful strikes with tremendous speed, without big takebacks. Here is a clip of the school in question.

    The other consideration is tactical. The men cut down in these altercations were often the victims of ambush and assassination. So you have a situation where men who train powerful, fast cuts setting upon other men unawares. I think it is easy to imagine the attacked men going hurriedly into defensive, retreating postures, further decreasing their ability to properly block their opponents' attacks.

  13. #63
    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Reyer View Post
    I think it is easy to imagine the attacked men going hurriedly into defensive, retreating postures, further decreasing their ability to properly block their opponents' attacks.
    This and several of the other factors mentioned are irrelevant to Johnny H's criticism, I think. Chris Hellman was simply using that as an example of how certain static blocks fail in combat. Chris' initial claim was that certain static blocks will cause your guard to collapse or your sword to snap. Whether those men performed it correctly is tangential to the point in contention.

    Let's rephrase it to get at the heart of the question: When performed correctly, as defined by the system of swordsmanship in question, do these blocks fail to protect the defender?

    Chris seems to be suggesting that the blocks shown in the pictures are not being performed correctly. Johnny H seems to be suggesting that there are plenty of examples of static blocks in Western swordsmanship which perform that function just fine.

    Although I am hesitant to condemn any JSA technique with which I'm not familiar, my experience tends to agree with Johnny H. To begin with, I am highly skeptical of the idea that one sword might cut through another. It is incredibly difficult to even provide the sort of resistance that this would require without the defending sword being displaced, even before the flex of the blade is accounted for. As for the guard collapsing under stress, this is a very real concern, but one which seemingly every form of WMA addresses. For an example of how one might stop a powerful longsword cut with a lighter, one-handed weapon (in this case, a rapier), I would recommend this short article by Tom Leoni: Parrying a full-intent longsword cut with a rapier? Absolutely.

    However, there's a flip side to this. It's always possible that certain characteristics of WMA which make certain static blocks strong (i.e. factors that strengthen the stance, skeletal support, etc) might be rejected by some JSA in favor of other priorities. As a purely hypothetical example, it may "weaken" a stance if one were to maintain the ability to deliver an effective kick, forcing the practitioner to rely less on opposing force with force. Similarly, various systems of WMA often range in their balance of mobility vs. ability to resist force. So it's possible that the range of available options has been limited by a difference of priorities. What Johnny H termed "proper" alignment may in fact violate other principles of the system.

    That's all a style is, isn't it? They're just sets of different priorities.
    Last edited by MichaelH; 12-25-2010 at 12:35 AM.

  14. #64
    I agree with Michael's restatement of what i was saying, and if I might refine it slightly, the static blocks I am referring to are ones that are at approximately 90 degrees to the on-coming blow - I have no argument at all with various angled blocks, static or not, that deflect or lessen the force of the blow. If HES say these work and JSA say these don't work, then it is an interesting divergence in thinking within the styles. I think that it would probably be a fair representation to say that most JSA do not use these, and regard them as dangerous to the user, for the reasons I outlined originally (and more besides). If HES overcame these difficulties in some way or JSA presents a greater danger from its cuts in some way, once again, this is interesting.

    I have personally never seen such blocks used, or swords being cut through etc. but have had these passed down to me as valid reasons for not doing them. I have seen noticeable scars on historical sword blades where they have been used in angled parries which make me think that the blade could be quite badly damaged if it was set to receive a blow at 90 degrees.

    I am afraid my duty as cook is calling me so that will have to be all for now.

    Chris
    http://ichijoji.blogspot.com

  15. #65
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    1,774
    There are no end of instructions in WMA manuals (esp. British, which are the style I mostly work with) that overtly instruct 90 degree static "stops" (as they are called) of the other guys sword. They work fine, when done properly. They work fine with single sword, longsword, staff, whatever. Even when done improperly, they tend to turn into other things and still protect you.

    The "damage to the sword" thing may be a key difference. There are no end, of, say, real Highland Broadswords with nicks and chunks all up and down the blades, and it didn't seem to bother the users - not only were the swords cheap and relatively tough, but busting one seems to have been no big deal (for example, there are accounts of famous warriors such as Colkitto who broke several swords in a single battle, and just picked up , or was given, new ones to keep fighting). Japanese swords were (I gather) wildly expensive, due to Japan having relatively poor iron ore deposits, and having to use very involved methods of manufacture to get something usable, so busting one would have been a *very* big deal.

    And, as a bit of anecdotal evidence, I happen to have busted 5 swords this year (just been one of those years!). In no case was I struck because the sword broke - and I would have, in real life, at least had a chance to run away

    Paul

  16. I agree with Paul that economics has something to do with it. When you compare the known cost of a broadsword or backsword in that era with the incomes of the men using them, you see that breaking them would not have been a financial disaster. In any case, 90-degree static blocks can stop attacks from everything except large battle-axes in my experience.

    However, it is true that a very strong attack can bash right through a weak parry. I've seen that happen, and I know of one historical example of a swordsman being killed that way. It is mentioned in the anecdote, though, that he was doing the parry incorrectly.
    "Am fear a thug buaidh air fhein, thug e buaidh air namhaid."

  17. #67
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Wagner View Post
    Japanese swords were (I gather) wildly expensive, due to Japan having relatively poor iron ore deposits, and having to use very involved methods of manufacture to get something usable, so busting one would have been a *very* big deal.
    This is no more true of Japan than it is of the late middle ages in Europe. There were tons of swords in circulation and more being made in droves. When the Tokugawa shogunate forbade the wearing of swords to all but samurai, there are descriptions of mountains of confiscated swords being destroyed.

  18. #68
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    973
    I agree with Michael, this sounds to me as another myth of the Japanse sword being an expensive piece of glass. Economy is not only what one has, but what one can trade. If Japan wasn't the most iron rich country, it surely compensated by a vast quantity of copper, gold and silver, which it could easily exchange for what it lacked with other countries. The English tried to sell their iron in Japan during the 16th century. They had to close down because the Japanese were not buying it, seeing it as poor quality. This does not sound like people desperate for Iron.

    There are many myths circulating even among the JSA community, I feel that the precious sword and the suicidal samurai are two of those, being based on putting too much weight on rather marginal sources.

    Also there were several techniques that involved wrapping and or grasping the opponent's blade - this would not be possible in JSA unless wearing armour, as the blade is sharp all the way down.
    I disagree, I have seen several people doing the same with freshly polished blades and not getting a scratch (I have even experimented it myself, although not to the same degree). If you do not slide your hands you won't get cut, same thing with a european longsword. And even then, it seemed to have been a common practice to dull the blade before going to battle, grabbing the blade whole would then be even easier. Not to say that it is common in JSA, as visibly it was not, but I have the distinct impression that the hand was kept open to facilitate sliding movements on the spine.

  19. #69
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    1,774
    OK, if the JSA aren't any more concerned with nicks than the backsworders, why not the 90 degree stop? Any other theories?

    Paul

    (Another anecdote - I did once see a fairly recent, historically convincing looking Japanese samurai movie, and all the sparring in that consisted of pretty simple, sensible parries of the sort i'd happily do - so could it be there are some JSA schools at least where the 90 degree stop is considered fine?)

    Paul

  20. #70
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    772
    Quote Originally Posted by Max C. View Post
    The English tried to sell their iron in Japan during the 16th century. They had to close down because the Japanese were not buying it, seeing it as poor quality.
    >
    Hi Max,
    By coincidence I am following an associated line of research and I would be extremely grateful to you for providing me with the primary and/or secondary sources for the statement/quote above.
    Thank you,
    Terry

  21. #71
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Nagoya, Japan
    Posts
    221
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Wagner View Post
    OK, if the JSA aren't any more concerned with nicks than the backsworders, why not the 90 degree stop? Any other theories?
    Hold up, has it been argued that JSA doesn't employ roughly 90 degree stops? Just to sure what people are talking about, are any of the blocks below considered 90 degree stops? All are from one particular school.

    Clip 1
    Clip 2
    Clip 3
    Clip 4
    Clip 5
    Clip 6
    Clip 7
    Clip 8
    Clip 9

    In clips 7 and 8, uchidachi (the fellow on the right) utilizes a vertical block at incoming diagonal strikes, as well.

    If these aren't "90 degree blocks", or even considered blocks at all, could someone direct me to a clip of HEMA that demonstrates one?

  22. #72
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    772
    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Reyer View Post
    Hold up, has it been argued that JSA doesn't employ roughly 90 degree stops? Just to sure what people are talking about, are any of the blocks below considered 90 degree stops? All are from one particular school.

    Clip 1
    Clip 2
    Clip 3
    Clip 4
    Clip 5
    Clip 6
    Clip 7
    Clip 8
    Clip 9

    In clips 7 and 8, uchidachi (the fellow on the right) utilizes a vertical block at incoming diagonal strikes, as well.

    If these aren't "90 degree blocks", or even considered blocks at all, could someone direct me to a clip of HEMA that demonstrates one?
    >
    They are in my book.

  23. #73
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    1,774
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Wagner View Post
    could it be there are some JSA schools at least where the 90 degree stop is considered fine?)
    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Reyer View Post
    are any of the blocks below considered 90 degree stops?
    Um.... Yes....?

    That looks exactly like the sort of thing in the aforementioned samurai movie (and pretty much to the sort of thing we do in our longsword style).

    Does anyone from JSA have a different opinion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Reyer View Post
    could someone direct me to a clip of HEMA that demonstrates one?
    Er... Yes!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgUq8UTdqk8

    Lots here, in lots of different weapons, but for the purposes for Longsword see:

    0.41
    1.24
    2.26

    Paul

    PS How do you do that link to the exact second of the youtube clip? That is a very cool trick!

  24. #74
    Looks good to me, although #8 gets a little close to the foilable for my taste…

    I basically asked the question because it makes no sense that Europe can figure it out and Japan couldn’t. It also makes no sense because Katana is a descendent of a cavalry sword and 90 degree blocks are a basic when your footwork becomes hoofwork, and you need to protect the horse as well as yourself. I’ll wager if you found written ‘manuals’ for Samurai on horseback you would definitely see hard blocks. But if you don’t first understand how to do a 90 degree block, you will not do it right and get yourself killed.

    Personally I’m cynical and think it came from too much peace and not enough practical battlefield fighting. Samurai spending more time with the paint brush or pen than with the sword.

  25. #75
    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny H View Post
    Personally I’m cynical and think it came from too much peace and not enough practical battlefield fighting. Samurai spending more time with the paint brush or pen than with the sword.
    You don't think that these hard blocks might conflict with other priorities of the system? Certainly we can't assume that JSA all have the same priorities as WMA.

Page 3 of 8 FirstFirst 12345 ... LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •