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lukascrothers
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 6:54 pm    Post subject: Neophyte needs help! Reply with quote
Hi. Although I am a keen iaido practioner (solo, unfortunatley, as I live in an extremely remote area) and have brushed against Japanese history in my studies, I have neglected study in anything other than technique and the traditional requirements of Iaido.
I would like to pursue a more indepth study in both Japanese martial history and signifigant Samurai from different periods.
It is probably a cliche, but I think I should start with Edo period history, and the life and times of Miyamoto Musashi. (I know Musashi was not around in the Edo period, before anyone corrects me. These two subjects just interest me most, and I think thats where I should start)
Can any of you learned folk suggest any easily digestable books concerning general Edo history (or Edo swordsmiths, martial history etc...) and also any books on Musashi (apart from his Book of Five Rings and Yoshikawa's 'Musashi')
Thanks!!!
Also, can anyone tell me the first swordsman to be known by the honorific 'kensei'? As I understand it, although this term is often considered the sole domain of Musashi, it was actually a title given to a Samurai who excelled in battle or single combat. Am I right? :
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JLBadgley
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 8:20 pm    Post subject: Re: Neophyte needs help! Reply with quote
lukascrothers wrote:
Hi. Although I am a keen iaido practioner (solo, unfortunatley, as I live in an extremely remote area) and have brushed against Japanese history in my studies, I have neglected study in anything other than technique and the traditional requirements of Iaido.


Greetings, Lukas!

This probably would be best suited for the Martial Arts forum to begin with, or at least the Edo period. I'm going to ask a lot of questions here, and please don't take anything the wrong way--I just want to try to help figure out the best course for your studies.

First off, you say you study 'iaido'--do you study under anyone in particular (e.g. go to seminars, then go home and train on your own)? Do you study a particular style? There are a few iaido practitioners in Australia that I know of--if you let us know where you are at more specifically I might be able to hook you up with some of them to get you into the wider community.

Also, have you tried the forums at Sword Forum International (http://forums.swordforum.com). They have a wide range of people, but some pretty knowledgable people there regarding the practice of iaido.

Quote:
I would like to pursue a more indepth study in both Japanese martial history and signifigant Samurai from different periods.


This is a good place for that, and a worthy goal.

Quote:
It is probably a cliche, but I think I should start with Edo period history, and the life and times of Miyamoto Musashi. (I know Musashi was not around in the Edo period, before anyone corrects me. These two subjects just interest me most, and I think thats where I should start)


Ummm... actualy, Musashi is early Edo. Edo period begins around the opening of the 17th century. There is some conjecture that Musashi probably fought in the Battle of Sekigahara on the wrong side, but I haven't seen enough to back it up, other than he was contemporary to the battle in his youth.

Quote:
Can any of you learned folk suggest any easily digestable books concerning general Edo history (or Edo swordsmiths, martial history etc...) and also any books on Musashi (apart from his Book of Five Rings and Yoshikawa's 'Musashi')
Thanks!!!


I would recommend reading up on Musashi, but also look at Yagyu Munenori and his 'Yagyu Heiho Kadensho' (I believe you can find translations as "The Life-Giving Sword" and possibly under "Traditions of the Yagyu Family"). I would also recommend reading Takuan Soho's "The Unfettered Mind". These three contemporaries (I believe Takuan is conjectured to have known the other two, though I do not believe there is evidence of Musashi and Munenori having met) laid some of the groundwork for Japanese swordsmanship.

FYI, I would avoid "Hagakure". On the other hand, Sunzi's (Sun Tzu's) "The Art of War" is always good and informed many of the Japanese writers on the subject.

You should probably read the story of the "47 Ronin"--ask WaveTossed for the best sources here Wink A great example of what was going on.

For general history, you might want to start with George Sansom's "History of Japan" (there are three volumes--to 1338, 1338 to 1615, and 1615 to ? (I think 1868)). Also, look through the forums.

Edo Period is most relevant to the growth of iaido; for its birth you really want to look at the Sengoku period (15th-16th centuries, depending on how you count it). Kamakura also has some interesting tidbits, along with the end of the Heian period, but most of Heian is more centered around the court and less on the 'people who use things' as I believe the warriors were occassionally known then.

That should get you started--each of those can be expanded further on, depending on your interests.

Quote:
Also, can anyone tell me the first swordsman to be known by the honorific 'kensei'? As I understand it, although this term is often considered the sole domain of Musashi, it was actually a title given to a Samurai who excelled in battle or single combat. Am I right? :


I am not familiar enough with the historical usage of the term, but I wouldn't get wrapped up in it. 'Kensei' has recently become popular because of "Heroes", I suspect. Previously the word was 'Battosai' from "Rurouni Kenshin". I'd drop it--not really important, honestly.


Hope that helps.


-Josh
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Wave Tossed
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Your inquiries and contributions will be very welcome in the Edo period forum. Check out all of the threads there, some of your questions will be answered, particularly in all of the hot discussions involved in the 47 Ronin topics. Feel free to add in your 2 yen into all of these discussions. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Welcome and glad to meet you.

How long have you been able to practice and from what format are you learning from? I've been learning Kendo/Iaido for almost a year after switching from many years of Aikido. Our dojo teaches Eishin-Ryu Iaido, but has many waza from Seitai Ryu. I've found that beyond learning from my sensei, reading and watching Iai videos increased my skill level. Our sensei gave us a DVD with the 79 waza and it's really helped me along.

As one writer mentioned, I've read Sansom's book on Japanese history and it was very good. There are three books, I believe, that cover different eras. I've also read Stephen Turnbull's books and they also cover a wide variety of periods and topics.

Good luck. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Seitai Ryu? Do you mean Seitei?

Seitei Iai isn't actually a 'ryuha'; it is a 'standardized' set drawn from different ryuha--many of them drawn from Eishin Ryu, so what you're seeing is the other way around.

Good luck with your studies!


-Josh
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kendoka girl
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I had to check our manual that we got, but yes, and thank you for bringing my attention that. I'm fairly new to the art myself and am still working on the shoden waza.

I always love learning more about the foundations of the art and the different styles. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2008 2:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Eishin Ryu is a great opportunity--good luck with it. It is also one of the more accessible in the English language because of the profusion of Western practitioners in the early years (and, I do not doubt, the assistance of people like Nakayama Hakudo who helped popularize Eishin Ryu and Muso Shinden Ryu--some great clips of him on YouTube, iirc).

Referring to the original question, I would recommend looking into Eishin Ryu and Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu--considered by some to be the 'father' of iaido. The various ryuha claiming descent from the Kashima or Katori shrines, as well. Karl Friday has a good book I almost forgot about: "Legacies of the Sword". It focuses on Kashima Shinryu, but it is a great source for the history of swordsmanship in general.

-Josh
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2008 4:49 pm    Post subject: Iai Reply with quote
The orgin of iai is highly debated, and depending on who you talk to it changes. Most people point to Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu to have founded iai, however there are others who founded methods of iai before Hayashizaki. Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu, Tatsumi Ryu, and Takenouchi Ryu all had iai before Hayashizaki (I heasitate to mention Kashima Shin Ryu because thier methods evolved over time, and their Iai curriculim was most likely developed at a later period by the Kunii). People also forget Kanemaki Ryu founded by Kanemaki Jisai Michiie slightly before Shinmuso Hayashizaki Ryu was. There is one style which (if you belive the legends) predates them all. Tameyoshi Genpachiro who founded Shindo Fudo Ryu in the 12th century is said to be the actual founder of iai. This is highly debated becuase the current headmaster of the school never once demonstrated the iai portion of the curriculim and is rumored not to even know it (being that Masaki Hatsumi is the soke of 9 ryu-ha it is more that plausable).

Anyhow just some food for though, good lick with you research.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2008 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
So far, the main thing I've noticed in my studies is that, while 'batto' techniques (drawing the sword and attacking on the draw) are likely older, it was not known as 'iai' in any source I'm familiar with, until after Hayashizaki Shigenobu.

The other thing to remember is that most schools' curriculum were quite sparse until the Edo period. Up to that point, most schools that I've seen appear to have had maybe 8~10 techniques for any given weapon or weapon style. If they had more techniques it seems to have been because they had more weapons. As the schools continued as a living tradition, they added more and more techniques. In some cases this was through the absorption of or building upon other schools (e.g. Mugai Ryu includes the Jikyoku Ryu curriculum, and Eishin Ryu includes Omori Ryu and Hayashizaki Ryu). In others it was because new heads would add their own techniques to the curriculum.

The most difficult thing I've found in trying to study the history of martial arts and martial ryuha is trying to figure out what the 'original' techniques were. While we can trace the history of the people, most people don't worry about keeping track of what techniques were added when, or if they were changed. The best we can usually rely on is oral history. And, since for the actual practice of martial arts, most of this stuff isn't considered relevant, it makes it that much more difficult to track down reliable information.

-Josh
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kendoka girl
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thanks much for the background. My historical knowledge has lagged way behind my practice. Our sensei will give us tidbits from time to time, but I try to do some reading on my own.

Thus far, it was pointed out that some of the practical differences between Eishin Ryu and other Iai styles were in the placement of the iaito in the obi, the angle in which the hands meet in furikaburi, in chiburi, and in how far you bring the saya out to meet the tsuba in noto. To a beginner like me, the differences seemed very small.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 12:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
The other thing to keep in mind is there are several lineages, and I've noticed similarities depending on how close those lineages intertwine. For instance, I see similarities between Mugai Ryu and Eishin Ryu, probably because both are in some way influenced by Hayashizaki Ryu. However, you look at something like Jigen Ryu, and you see something very different.

So, sometimes it is small, sometimes it is big. And sometimes they are exactly the same--but not Wink

-Josh
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lukascrothers
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 1:43 am    Post subject: Huh? Reply with quote
Jigen Ryu??? Thats a new one to me. Can you fill me in? Or m I just confusing myself needlessly at the moment?
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 3:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Jigen Ryu. There are several schools with this name but the one I'm thinking of goes back to at least the 16th century. My understanding is that their technique was designed to create warriors so fierce that nobody would want to face them because they knew that the Jigen Ryu swordsman would readily throw away his own life to take theirs.

One of the key points of their practice is vigorous use of a 'tategi'. Literally a standing tree, or a piece of wood used to stand in. I've heard it said that tradition was a student would practice against a single tree until he caused it to fall--that's when he was ready. Not sure how much truth that has v. propaganda, but if you have enough bandwidth, check out some of the demos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5dAUfTQjSw&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvNm3sQwcv8&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_m3LHFuY3J8&feature=related

And here's some more, with the standing 'tategi' practice shown:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mq6lrpzVfm4&feature=related

Not really 'iai'--but definitely kenjutsu. I really am impressed by the amount of effort put into it. It looks exhausting. And they tend to use sticks as I imagine their bokuto wouldn't put up with that kind of punishment for long, so sticks are probably cheaper in the long run. Then again, many of the old stories talk about two swordsmen picking up sticks in the woods to test their skill in 'friendly' competition.

They also have a very high and distinct kiai compared to other arts I've seen.

Here's some 'Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu Iai' that I've not seen before--it looks more like what I'm used to in iai--might be a different Jigen Ryu:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6k0LJqIZp4

-Josh
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 7:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Just as a clarification.

The Jigen ryu vids you posted first are Yakamura Jigen ryu 薬丸自顕流. This is a style which brnached off of Satsama Jigen ryu Hyoho or 示現流兵法. They make use of nodachi do to the founders combing of Jigen Ryu principles and his family's art which is why its sometimes also referred to as 野太刀自顕流 (Nodachi Jigen ryu).

The second clip is of Satsuma JIgen Ryu Hyoho. This style was founded by Togo Shigetada (Chuui). He was a menkyo in Taisha ryu and went with the lord of Satsuma to Kyoto. Here he met the monk Zenkichi who he studied under, and later returned to Satsuma and created 示現流.

Zenkichi was a menkyo kaiden in Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu (天真正自顕流). This is not however, the Tenshinsho Jigen ryu in the last video that was posted. This is a gendai hybrid of several styles which the soke trained in.

There are other Jigen ryu which derived from Jigen Ryu Hyoho, but as far as I am aware the main line and Yakamura Jigen are still practiced.

Edit: I had a brain fart. Both lines of Ko Jigen ryu are extinct. The line I was thinking of that might still be around in some small dark little hole somewhere was Kasama Jigen Ryu.
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PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2008 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Very Happy Yay, I have just learned Nukiuchi, the last of the Shoden Waza for MJER. I think I'm now at the beginning of my journey.
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