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Lord Ruin
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2008 1:29 pm    Post subject: Kendo, Kenjitsu, Iaido, & Weight lifting. Reply with quote
I've been lifting weights for a couple of months now and I was wondering ( since I'm planing on going into Iaido, Kendo, and hopefully some Kenjitsu )if my Weight lifting with hinder or be beneficial for my martial arts plans.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2008 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
If you've only been lifting weights for a couple of months it's unlikely you will have any hindrance from your weight training.

Weight training can be beneficial but it can be done a whole lot of different ways depending on what you want out of it. For something like kendo, explosive power and speed are necessary. However very specific muscle groups are used and it is very hard to work those actual muscles with general weight lifting routines. It is important that you learn correct cutting and footwork technique, and then design a weight routine that exactly mimics those movements. This is why people do suburi (practice swings) with weighted bokken (wooden swords) as cross-training.

Generally, once you start training, your sensei will show you drills that you can practice at home to increase power and stamina. Flexibility and relaxation is at least as important as muscle power.

BTW - it's "kenjutsu" not "kenjitsu". Smile
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2008 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
ichibyoshi wrote:
If you've only been lifting weights for a couple of months it's unlikely you will have any hindrance from your weight training.

Weight training can be beneficial but it can be done a whole lot of different ways depending on what you want out of it. For something like kendo, explosive power and speed are necessary. However very specific muscle groups are used and it is very hard to work those actual muscles with general weight lifting routines. It is important that you learn correct cutting and footwork technique, and then design a weight routine that exactly mimics those movements. This is why people do suburi (practice swings) with weighted bokken (wooden swords) as cross-training.

Generally, once you start training, your sensei will show you drills that you can practice at home to increase power and stamina. Flexibility and relaxation is at least as important as muscle power.

BTW - it's "kenjutsu" not "kenjitsu". Smile
b


Yeah, I have a Saburito. I used to practice with it for about an hour everyday ( doing simple kata like kushigiri. i wouldn't want to develope to many bad habits ). I've been lifting behind my head with 41 lbs on a bar 25x. Then I curl with 41 pounds on a bar 30x. Both 2 handed. Then I curl with each hand 10x with 17lbs.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 3:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Lord Ruin wrote:


Yeah, I have a Saburito. I used to practice with it for about an hour everyday ( doing simple kata like kushigiri. i wouldn't want to develope to many bad habits ). I've been lifting behind my head with 41 lbs on a bar 25x. Then I curl with 41 pounds on a bar 30x. Both 2 handed. Then I curl with each hand 10x with 17lbs.


I don't know if this will help, as I haven't practiced sword arts beyond what little I managed to learn in Bujinkan, however, currently I practice yoga, which requires rather a lot of strength (lots of people don't realize this), and I find that those who do a lot of running or weightlifting often lose flexibility because their joints become tight. I also lift weights, but I always precede and follow the sessions with extensive stretching. The yoga I do often includes extended resistance exercises that require lifting my (not inconsiderable) body weight and holding it in a certain position. I would suggest adding stretching and other flexibility exercises to your weightlifting routine at the outset to avoid the trap many people fall into of becoming musclebound and inflexible. I can't imagine the practice of kendo, kenjutsu or iaido suffering if you implement such a practice. Cheers and good luck!
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2008 10:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Kendo, Kenjitsu, Iaido, & Weight lifting. Reply with quote
Lord Ruin wrote:
I've been lifting weights for a couple of months now and I was wondering ( since I'm planing on going into Iaido, Kendo, and hopefully some Kenjitsu )if my Weight lifting with hinder or be beneficial for my martial arts plans.


I have been taking Kendo and Iaido for just over 15 months, but have been lifting weights for 12+ years now. I've found a regimen of weight training and core work to be very beneficial. For Kendo, leg work has been good - squats, lunges, calf presses, thighs, etc. It helps the overall speed and power of my strike. I do upper body work too, dumbells, lat pulls, curls, seated rows...anything that helps the ability to raise and then pull the arms down.

Weight training certainly helped me develop more speed and control with the shinai and iaito. Strangely, opponents with less arm strength hit harder (but less cleanly) as they are unable to control the weapon and lack te no uchi.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 4:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
There is only one thing that contributes to how hard a strike is, given equal weight of weapons (bokken, shinai or shinken), and that is speed. Muscle strength is needed to initiate momemtum, facilitate control and endurance but training for speed with correct form is the paramount factor. This can only be accomplished by repetition of proper striking technique. Beginners will sometimes hit harder because they sacrifice technique to speed. Once technique is perfected speed can be re-learned, so to speak, and strikes will be fast, hard and accurate. John
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 4:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Weight training will have no real effect on the physical act of sword training per se, other than the benefits that regular exercise will convey to any endeavor. There are specific problems that weightlifters will encounter, and that you'll need to work hard to overcome though. It has been my experience (personally and through teaching) that those who have a lot of upper body strength tend to use it. This is actually a detriment to your swrod training, and something that you'll need to conciously think about whenever you train.

The power in the sword arts comes from the center, not the upper body. Those that have a very strong upper body tend to use too much upper body strength when cutting, which is incorrect form and will slow your cuts as John mentioned. As long as you remember to keep your upper body relaxed, you'll have no problems in iaido. Lower body and core weight training will help you a lot in kendo, as kendoka girl mentioned.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
pgsmith wrote:
Weight training will have no real effect on the physical act of sword training per se, other than the benefits that regular exercise will convey to any endeavor. There are specific problems that weightlifters will encounter, and that you'll need to work hard to overcome though. It has been my experience (personally and through teaching) that those who have a lot of upper body strength tend to use it. This is actually a detriment to your swrod training, and something that you'll need to conciously think about whenever you train.

The power in the sword arts comes from the center, not the upper body. Those that have a very strong upper body tend to use too much upper body strength when cutting, which is incorrect form and will slow your cuts as John mentioned. As long as you remember to keep your upper body relaxed, you'll have no problems in iaido. Lower body and core weight training will help you a lot in kendo, as kendoka girl mentioned.


That's a very good point about relying too much on strength. Some of the waza that we have learned counter strength by using blade angle like ukenagashi or suriage.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Just to throw my rambling two cents in regards to upper body strength, when I went to the Yagi residence in Kyoto, they had one of Kondo Isami's wooden training swords, and it was probably twice as thick as a wooden baseball bat. One of the people there told me Kondo's particular school built up tremendous upper body strength to break through any attempted blocks, and according to this person, it was brutally effective. I can't disagree with the logic that upper body strength has to lead to more force and power behind each blow. If you're trained to swing and cut with power, I can't see that as being any sort of disadvantage. The whole "technique, not strength" platitude that I was fed during my years as a martial artist always seemed to be just that, because when I weighed in a 135 pounds and was hit by someone who weighed in at 200, I would fly across the room, and yet when I hit them, I'd bounce off. Keep in mind I've never had sword training, but the actual application can't be far off - if you're strong as hell AND trained, you have an advantage over someone who is smaller, at least that seems a reasonable theory (not to mention the psychological advantage of just plain looking big and scary) - I mean, heck, you are both swinging weapons, and the speed lost can't be exactly inverse to muscle mass gained (although since you both have sharp weapons the first person to get a good hit probably wins regardless) - But in regards to size and speed, who was that overweight kung-fu actor that was in a variety of Jackie Chan's movies in the 80's? (Samo Hung or something) He look outright fat but moved like a cat. Skill being equal, I'd put my money on the stronger fighter. Of course, I'd put my money on the smaller fighter if s/he was more skilled. But then again, Mark Twain wisely wrote, "There are some things that can beat smartness and foresight? Awkwardness and stupidity can. The best swordsman in the world doesn't need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn't do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn't prepared for him; he does the thing he ought not to do; and often it catches the expert out and ends him on the spot."
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 4:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
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One of the people there told me Kondo's particular school built up tremendous upper body strength to break through any attempted blocks, and according to this person, it was brutally effective.

That sounds like the Jigen ryu. Their philosophy is to train constantly to perfect an overwhelmingly strong downward cut while screaming like a maniac. Smile Although I've never seen them demonstrate in person, those that have say that it's quite effective. The problem is that this is a single school and, as far as I've been able to find out, the only school that trains with this particular philosophy. Every other school of Japanese sword trains technique over raw power.

Here's a YouTube clip of Jigen ryu training basics, just to illustrate what I mean ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5dAUfTQjSw
Compare their training method to that of any other school of Japanese sword that you may have happened to see. Smile
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
I can't disagree with the logic that upper body strength has to lead to more force and power behind each blow. If you're trained to swing and cut with power, I can't see that as being any sort of disadvantage. The whole "technique, not strength" platitude that I was fed during my years as a martial artist always seemed to be just that (...)

The reason for emphasising "technique, not strength", I think, is that many people with a lot of strength try to use it, consciously or not, to compensate for lack of technique. Barring extreme degrees of difference, "good technique+average strength" will beat "poor technique+great strength" consistently. However, "average technique+average strength" isn't very likely to beat "average technique+great strength" all that often, and "good technique+great strength" will probably consistently defeat "good technique+average strength", all else being equal. The intermediate steps in between get pretty fuzzy, though.

In other words, the message behind "technique, not strength" is "don't overrely on strength without developing technique", not "ignore strength because it doesn't matter at all", although the latter misinterpretation appears to be dreadfully common.

To Lord Ruin: I'd agree with those who recommended making sure you also stretch. So long as you retain (or even extend) your range of motion and overall flexibility in conjunction with weight training, I don't see how it could do anything be benefit you. Also, especially for kendo, I suggest working on strengthening your abdominal and lower back muscles.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I am fairly in tune with this subject. Before I began doing JSA I was an avid boxer, so I will use it to demonstrate some ideas. . Boxing is all about power. There are some who would argue that technique is also important, however, if you talk to any seasoned professionals, they all say that a heavy hitter will over power technique. Weight lifting, depending on what you are training for, builds certain muscle groups. And being a bower both lower and upper body strength is essential.

When looking at JSA the concept is the same. Depending on what you are doing, kendo or koryu, you are taught to build muscle groups that will be beneficial to what you are doing. Speaking first about kendo, you are taught proper cutting and exercises that will develop those skills. Suburi is very important to kendo. This develops the muscle groups which yield speed and accuracy. But power is not necessary at all. Mochida Seiji (Monji), the god of kendo, was great in his eighties and said that he did not really get good at kendo until his body became weak.

If you are doing kenjutsu, which most koryu iaido incorporates, you will be taught kata which by repetition creates muscle memory. This is the difference between western and eastern thought. Eastern teachings preach the importance of muscle memory. And instead of building sheer power, you do the same sequence and develop both power and correct technique. But the power you gain is in the muscle groups which will enable efficiency to those things which you are doing.

There are some styles which are more powerful, physically speaking. Jigen ryu, as mentioned, is very powerful and is geared towards overpowering the opponent. However, this strength is developed through their particular type of training. Hokushin Itto ryu have what they call the sliding sword. And this is all about constantly riding the opponent's sword which takes power. But this power is gained through training in the ryu. Ymaaoka tesshu , founder of Itto Shoden Muto ryu, was said to be very powerful. He was said to have thrust a bokken through a two inch board. But again he emphasized technique. Students of the style begin their training by doing shomen uchi, I forget the period of time, but they do it for a long time. This will build proper strength, focus, and proper technique.

So what does all this rambling have to do with the original question? Is weight lifting good or bad for training in JSA? The answer is quite simple. Forget it. Find a ryu, or kendo dojo which you trust and have faith in. Devote yourself to it, and you will learn what you need to know from it. Depending on the style, you will learn what is important to that style. Do what you are told and that is all you need to do.

So simply, train.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I still don't get it - strength is not a disadvantage, I'd go so far as to say that it is an advantage - if you are too weak to swing a sword quickly or effectively, you're done. I still see that "Strength is bad" philosophy. I think Phillipe has nailed it with: "In other words, the message behind "technique, not strength" is "don't overrely on strength without developing technique", not "ignore strength because it doesn't matter at all", although the latter misinterpretation appears to be dreadfully common."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Rikoseishin seems to be saying "Don't exercise or get stronger, just do the stuff in class". Cross-training is essential in my opinion.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I would have to agree with kitsuno here. While training and dedication to the art is extremely important, I think reasonable weight training takes you to the next level in terms of what your body is capable of doing. Weight training not only builds strength, but stamina in the muscle groups to handle prolonged practice. In that sense, you get more out of each session when your arms and legs don't fatigue as quickly.

I think for Kendo in particular, a good calf and thigh regimen enhances your explosive power in attacking.

Just to use an anecdotal example of too much strength, I know a fellow who is very strong and delivers a powerful cut. However, I've found that Nuki waza gives him problems as he over swings, leaving him exposed.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
The answer is quite simple. Forget it.

That's not a proper answer though Jonah. While I agree with your assessment of sword arts training, the original poster's question was whether the weightlifting regimen he already practiced would help or hurt the sword arts training he was eventually going to start. If he enjoys his weight training, I would not advise him to stop doing it in order to train in the sword arts.

Quote:
Cross-training is essential in my opinion.

If you keep in mind the possible problems, cross training can be beneficial to your practice. It is far from essential however, as many generations of Japanese have proven in keeping these very sword arts alive. Some of the most impressive practitioners of the Japanese sword arts that I've ever witnessed have been little old guys that drink and smoke and have never seen the inside of a weight room. Smile
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
RE: Weight training--I think the thing that was pointed out is that it is building a certain set of muscles, and not necessarily those needed for swordsmanship. Depending on what you do, it may or may not get in the way of your swordsmanship.

I'd say that if you want to train the groups of muscles you use in swordsmanship, use a suburito and go through the same excercises. That way, you should be using the same muscles (assuming your technique is correct). When I did kendo, my left arm became quite built up (noticeably more than my right, actually) because I was doing daily practice. Now, my technique wasn't great, so there were also some problems that I had to work through, but I was amazed at how much swinging a 'little piece of bamboo' could do for you.

When I do sword I usually use my heaviest sword for practice, unless there is a specific goal I want to achieve. I find that it lets me use a lighter sword much more easily. That's just my experience.

I also figure that your body will adapt. So, I wouldn't recommend any particular regimen of weightlifting to help you train in sword, but I wouldn't say to stop it, either. If both are what you enjoy doing, do them both. What you should get out it is, well, you.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 8:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Lord Ruin,

I meant only to forgo notions of weight lifting as a beneficiary method to better ones swordsmanship. Once you begin your study of JSA, then you will have to feel it out as to whether your weight lifting will help or hurt you.

But, to add a note of personal experience, when I began JSA I had a terrible cut. And as I went on I began to realize the reason for my bad cut was that the way my muscles in my arms had developed for the above mentioned sport, they were going against each other in the cut. So in my own training I had to stop building those muscle groups.

This is not to say that I have quite lifting weights altogether, but it is no where the amount I did. I do mainly body weight exercises and try to stay quick and flexible, but the main goal is not strength.

As I said this is something you will have to determine for yourself. You may be able to continue your current program, or you may have to tone it down a bit. But you will have to start training before you know exactly how it benefits you.


Paul,

Thanks for catching that. I should stop posting right before bed when my gears are slowing down more than usual.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
JLBadgley wrote:
RE: Weight training--I think the thing that was pointed out is that it is building a certain set of muscles, and not necessarily those needed for swordsmanship. Depending on what you do, it may or may not get in the way of your swordsmanship.


I guess I'm just thinking of real life, where you could get the sword knocked out of your hand, grabbed from behind, had things thrown at you, tackled, etc. When I was a hardcore insane martial artist I trained EVERYTHING. Track and field, handstands, heavybag, climbing, running, knuckles, shins, falling on concrete, jumping, extreme temperatures, throwing, weights, weapons, etc. Pretty much anything that you can think of that will either exercise you or hurt you, I did. Now I'm too old and worn out, but at that point I was iron man (cue black sabbath) Laughing

Basically I had a 'ready for Armageddon' attitude Laughing
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Last edited by kitsuno on Wed Jul 02, 2008 4:25 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
rikoseishin wrote:

But, to add a note of personal experience, when I began JSA I had a terrible cut. And as I went on I began to realize the reason for my bad cut was that the way my muscles in my arms had developed for the above mentioned sport, they were going against each other in the cut. So in my own training I had to stop building those muscle groups.


That sounds like a lack of muscle control usually evident in everyone who just starts out in a martial art, not too much strength.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
I guess I'm just thinking of real life, where you could get the sword knocked out of your hand, grabbed from behind, had things thrown at you, tackled, etc. When I was a hardcore insane martial artist I trained EVERYTHING. Track and field, handstands, heavybag, climbing, running, knuckles, shins, falling on concrete, jumping, extreme temperatures, throwing, weights, weapons, etc. Pretty much anything that you can think of that will either exercise you or hurt you, I did. Now I'm too old and worn out, but at that point I was iron man (cue black sabbath) :lol

Basically I had a 'ready for Armageddon' attitude Laughing


Well, that makes sense. At the same time, you then get into 'what are you lifting for'? I.e. what muscle groups are you developing. If you are developing purely lifting power, then I'd say you are isolating certain muscles above others--if you get to a point where you cannot bend or flex fully because your muscles are in the way, that's a problem, imho.

If you are just 'toning' your body and giving everything a healthy workout, I think that's different.

But when the apocalypse comes--that's when we'll find out who's training really works! Wink

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Kit,

Actually I am not saying strenght is a bad thing. If you reread my posts I think you will see what I am saying. But where we seem to be on a different page is about strenght itself. The idea behind JSA is mainly timing. If you look at all the videos I posted last year, you will notice there is not a great amount of strenght in the kata. However, muscle memory has been developed and allows the exponent to properly preform the kata.

Strength can be beneficial or detrimental. Again, it all depends on the style you do.

And as for the bad cutting, I continued to do so for well into a year after I had stared. And it was not clear to myself, until pointed out to my teacher as such before mentioned.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
rikoseishin wrote:
Strength can be beneficial or detrimental. Again, it all depends on the style you do.

I would disagree slightly. I don't think strength itself is ever purely beneficial or detrimental; it just is. Proper application, or misapplication of strength, is where beneficial or detrimental comes in, I think.

Quote:
And as for the bad cutting, I continued to do so for well into a year after I had stared.

I don't think that's a strength issue. I've been doing kendo for about eleven years now, and I still perform some cuts wrong, not because I have too much strength (never having trained extensively, I'm not especially strong). Nevertheless, if I misapply what strength I do have, I do the cuts wrong. I don't think having more strength would make it harder to apply it properly, or hinder more than current misapplication does, however.

In other words, I don't think strength itself was the impediment, but rather incorrect technique.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 12:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
pgsmith wrote:
Quote:
One of the people there told me Kondo's particular school built up tremendous upper body strength to break through any attempted blocks, and according to this person, it was brutally effective.

That sounds like the Jigen ryu.


Kondo Isami practiced Tennen Rishin Ryu.

http://jp.youtube.com/watch?v=HwoNw3u-1tg

He is reported to have said "薩摩の者の初太刀は必ず外せ" (make sure you always get out of the way of a Satsuma swordsman's first strike).

The video posted earlier was Yakumaru Jigen-ryu by the way.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thank you all for your replies. I really apriciate it. Now, i seen someone say that it depends what mucles I'm building. I'm building my triceps and biceps. By lifting a bar with 40lbs on it. Curling 30x and then holding it behind my head and lifting it upward 25x. Then i pick up a dumbell with 10lbs on it. I lift that 10x. Now, I'm also going to do alot more stretching after I lift aswell.
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kendoka girl
Artisan
Artisan
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Joined: 26 Dec 2007
Posts: 106

PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Good luck!
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