I recently asked you about your expectations about the videos and texts that I do. To my surprise, you are 90% willing to have more insights on History in Budō. In this first article, I will address a point that might change your vision of sword fighting.
Only the Kukishinden and the Togakure Ryū have sword Denshō. And we use the concepts and the body flow of each other school to get their specific biken jutsu.
Here are the few points for you to keep in mind when using a sword:
#1 Taijutsu is a tool for the training of the young Samurai aged 6 to 15 before they could wear the Yoroi. Or have the muscles to use the massive weapons.
#2 Taijutsu became a significant fighting art during the second half of the Tokugawa period.
#3 During the Edo no Jidai (1), there was peace and no more battlefield encounters.
#4 Peace time is the reason for the creation of “martial arts” as we know them today. Historical reasons explain that:
a) Hideyoshi killed his major rivals (2),
b) Shimabara rebellion (3),
c) the need for the former soldiers to survive during peacetime. (4)
#5 The Tsurugi (Chinese sword) has been in use in China and Japan for more than 4000 years.
In the myth of the creation of Japan, Jimmu sent by Amateratsu comes to the archipelago with a Tsurugi, the famous 草薙劍 Kusanagi no Tsurugi.
#6 The Tachi replaced the Tsurugi around the end of the Heian no Jidai (794-1185). (5)
#7 The way of the Tachi benefits from the Tsurugi experience developed for more than 40 centuries.
#8 The Tsurugi and the Tachi were used on horseback with Katate, only one hand. There were used for stabbing. (6)
#9 The Katana began to be used in the 16th century. It replaced the Tachi with the Tokugawa peace.
#10 The last sword technique of the Kukishin biken jutsu, “Tsuki no Wa” is a Tachi technique.
#11 The Sanshin no kata is a Tsurugi and a Tachi set of movements, it was then adapted to the Katana, and then to Taijutsu.
#12 The Katana was used standing up, not on a horse. So it didn’t need to be as long as a Tachi. The Katana was used to stab and to cut.
#13 My sword teacher told me that the two-hand grip on a smaller blade, increased speed and precision. The triangle uses the power and flexibility of the wrists. (7)
#14 With peace, the Yoroi stayed home. The Samurai could now use their sword to cut the opponent. Before the Edo period, it was not possible. (8)
#15, As a result, the quality of steel improved even faster.
#16 My sword teacher said that “cutting with a Katana is easy, after all, it is made for that. But that genuine expertise is to know how to stop the blade after the cut.
For over 45 centuries warriors used the Tsurugi and Tachi for fighting. Without this knowledge, the Katana would not be the same. You must train all three swords if you want to understand about sword fighting.
This is a Sanshin.
- Edo no Jidai (1603-1868)
- Hideyoshi killed three Daimyō opposed to him. As a result, a lot of Ronin began to wander all over Japan.
- Unemployed soldiers began to teach Martial arts to the civilians. This situation led to the creation of many Dōjō. The technical level was not always “high level.” “By the end of the Tokugawa era, there were 718 swordsmanship schools, 52 archery schools, 148 spearmanship schools, 179 unarmed combat schools.” p26 In “The truth of the ancient ways” by Anatoliy Anshin, Kodenkan Institute NY. We can imagine that the majority of these schools were not the best.
- Katate: 片手, one hand
- He lived in Japan for 17 years. As a Frenchman, he was a member of the Japanese Kendō team, vice world champion of Kendō (for Japan). Teacher of the Musō Shinden Ryū, and 35 other older Kenjutsu schools, teacher of 5 styles of Battōdō. Only to let you know that when he spoke, I was listening.
- The Yoroi is designed to parry the Yari, the most dangerous weapon on the battlefield. I read a paper explaining that the Yari accounted for about 60% of the casualties in comparison to the 21% of kills with the swords. (data from 10th to 17th century).