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 Post subject: Blade shapes and Contemporary Sword Arts
 Post Posted: Sat May 14, 2011 5:09 pm 
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I used the term contemporary sword arts, not to mean modern styles, but also include 'traditional schools' in their modern day form.

The way that I understand the current situation is that Iai-mogito (blunt swords for iaido) and Iai-shinken (sharp swords for iaido) have evolved into a shape (and weight) for ease of use for the regular practice of iai. This is one of the factors that separate shinken from other traditionally made swords. (However, as shinken become old, they seem to get 'retired' and graduate into what maybe future 'art-swords' in many cases).

This shape is slightly more saki-zori than my kendo standard bokuto which is basically kanbun. My Katori Shinto Ryu and Ono Ha Itto-Ryu Bokuto are also Kanbun. Many people use mass produced gunto as a lower cost alternative to purchasing a sword made in Japan. However, many gunto are kind of tachi shaped, does this not put extra wear on the inside of the koi-guchi when performing nukitsuke due to the straighter mono-uchi?

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 Post subject: Re: Blade shapes and Contemporary Sword Arts
 Post Posted: Fri May 20, 2011 11:12 am 
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Location: Eindhoven, The Netherlands
The type and amount of sori can be a problem during nukitsuke / nuki uchi. Especially beginners can expience problems due to the lack of saya control. However, with proper technique, all types of Japanese swords can be drawn upside down.

Keep in mind that gunto / tachi were not designed for drawing in uchigatana style. Also the mounting to the sash was different, where the gunto was just hung to the side. You could have a look at military iai styles like Toyama Ryu. It's quite noticeable that the drawing happens slightly upwards (also seen in odachi styles), giving the user to more room to compensate the straight mono-uchi.
Lot of other iai styles like MJER and MSR have nukitsuke which can cause problems. Again this can all be compensated by saya control.

Using gunto for martial arts practice can be tempting but a quality mogito is very better for your iai training.

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 Post subject: Re: Blade shapes and Contemporary Sword Arts
 Post Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2011 5:45 am 
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Good morning Paul,

Could you explain the term Kanbun please.

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Malcolm


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 Post subject: Re: Blade shapes and Contemporary Sword Arts
 Post Posted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:30 am 
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Though I am not a specialist:

Kanbun refers to a shinto period which began in 1661 during which a type of Katana suguta was standardized: around 70/73 cm nagasa, the saki-haba is relatively narrow when compared to the moto-haba and there is little sori allowing fast draw (Iaido schools were very much in vogue at this time).


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 Post subject: Re: Blade shapes and Contemporary Sword Arts
 Post Posted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:39 am 
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Thank you Jean

That makes sense now when one compares the difference in shape of many Koryu Bokuto which are almost straight and the modern style Bokuto used in Kendo no Kata.


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Malcolm


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 Post subject: Re: Blade shapes and Contemporary Sword Arts
 Post Posted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:48 am 
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Malcom,

When you have seen hundred swords pictures, you will easily spot classical Kanbun swords by their suguta. Here is one example

http://www.aoi-art.com/sword/katana/11181.html


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 Post subject: Re: Blade shapes and Contemporary Sword Arts
 Post Posted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:53 am 
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Jean,

Thank you for the link, that image explains it perfectly for me.

Cheers

Malcolm


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 Post subject: Re: Blade shapes and Contemporary Sword Arts
 Post Posted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 4:23 am 
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All -
I should like to throw out some different ideas here. Iai developed in the late Muromachi, and Azuchi-Momoyama periods. The exact time that we see uchi-gatana with saki-zori. Why? If you think about the name (Katate-) Uchi-gatana it is easy to see that the swords were made (modified) to suit the new standard of use; a short quick draw straight at your target then a slicing cut.

The closer we get to 1600 the sword becomes longer, along with the handle as there is less battlefield use and more dojo practice and individual duelling. Within the first generation following the fall of Osaka castle it is shinai keiko, not Iai, that was the fad. A popular belief was that straighter swords would cut swifter than curved swords. Practical experience however proved that not to be the case and the fad soon faded, this is why the date Kanbun is used. We generally think of 1661 as the height of the fad and see the change in shape 15 or so years either side of this date.

Post Kanbun we see swords revert to lengths of 2.5 to 2.7 with moderate sori and two handed tsuka - this really is the sword, and I believe the swordsmanship we inherited from our teachers. The draw as has been pointed out can easily be modified to adapt to any shape or length. I think if we look at training manuals from the Toyama Acadamy you will see that while the sword was worn in "redress" position it was drawn katana style and often thrust thru the belt once in combat.

I cannot say that I have seen enough mogito to say that I see any trends but like the saya and tsuba, tsuka-maki that are generally on offer from the Budogu-ya they are shooting for the middle of the road. If there were a "Jiki-den" sword or "Ono-ha" sword you'd think they would offer blade types based on Ryu-ha, instead I think they give us that which fits the most common user.

all above is of course my own humble opinion...
-t

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 Post subject: Re: Blade shapes and Contemporary Sword Arts
 Post Posted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 7:07 am 
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Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 7:51 am
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Good morning Thomas

You say:

Quote:
"I think if we look at training manuals from the Toyama Acadamy you will see that while the sword was worn in "redress" position it was drawn katana style and often thrust thru the belt once in combat."


There is a photograph in Fuller and Gregory's Military Swords of Japan 1868 - 1945 of an Army belt with a loop sewn into it to allow the sword to be worn edge up "hands free".

Cheers

Malcolm


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