Kendo, kenjutsu and HEMA

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Re: Kendo and HEMA

Postby Gordon L » 23 Apr 2012 06:34

Matt/admin wrote:
Gordon L wrote:I got the idea from the fact that Italian duelling sabre is a late-model spadrone.


Sorry Gordon, but I don’t agree with that premise. The evolution of the Italian duelling sabre has little to do with the spadroon. The Italian duelling sabre evolved from the military sabre, not the spadroon or smallsword.
...


Well, I don't agree with that premise. :-)

So... how best to proceed? Hmmm.

Okay - a quick recap of my argument.

The "Spadroon or Cut-and-Thrust" - does it pre-date or post-date the military sabre?

My view is that the sabre is also a derivation of the Cut-and-Thrust - early spadroons are contemporaneous with broadsword and backsword after all. And late model "Scottish Broadswords" are sabres.

A hundred years later, the (British) Infantry officers pattern swords of the late 1700s and early 1800s permit a wide latitude in weight, and blade curvature. You could easily categorise many of them as sabres rather than spadroons.

By then there are even spadroons that can be easily miscategorised as smallswords.

It's quite clear to me that the spadroon covers a wider range of swords, and that the general trend at any point in time, late 1600s, late 1700s, 1800s, the spadroon is seen as lighter than the other single-handed cutting weapons, and the thrust part of its brief is what defines it.

Sabres, on the other hand, often are designed to be pretty much all cut, no thrust.

And the grey area in between, the swords which are clearly and only sabres, and the ones which are clearly and only spadroons, are kind of a case of ... well, how heavy were the swords the other guys had at the time, and then you'd be able to guess.
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Re: Kendo, kenjutsu and HEMA

Postby Gordon L » 23 Apr 2012 06:38

So, Italian duelling sabre - a lightweight, fairly straight cut and thrust weapon, that's derived from a long line of lightweight, fairly straight cut and thrust weapons?

Or a cut-and-thrust weapon that derives from a long line of heavier, heavily curved, principally cutting weapons?
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Kendo, kenjutsu and HEMA

Postby NeilG » 23 Apr 2012 08:06

Gordon L wrote:
NeilG wrote:...
Now I understand that kendoka aren't the only JSA people using shinai but the others tend towards things like fukuro shinai which are even heavier.


Not in my experience of a couple of Itto Ryu derivations, intermittently since the mid 80s, and Katori Shinto Ryu in the past few years.

Of course, ymmv. :-)
itto ryu is largely where modern kendo comes from. AFAIK TSKSR does not use shinai although it is one of the most commonly faked schools and the charlatans have been known to use shinai.
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Re: Kendo, kenjutsu and HEMA

Postby Gordon L » 23 Apr 2012 09:56

Well, modern kendo is a combination of several descendant schools of Itto-ryu, plus some others.

And, as I've said before, I seldom use shinai. But shinai are used by modern sports kendo as a result of their earlier use by the ryu as kenjutsu training tools, rather than vice versa.

I suspect a lot of the use of modern sports shinai rather than the older traditional forms by schools who seldom use shinai is due to the fact that more modern styles of shinai are produced in greater numbers, and are available more cheaply.

I also suspect that the lower frequency of use means a longer life-span, and the fact that they do not have to comply with the recent changes in the sport kendo competition rules for shinai means there was no wholesale replacement of them in the late 90s.

(In fact, Neil, could you perhaps clarify for me when the last change in minimum weights was?)
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Re: Kendo, kenjutsu and HEMA

Postby Gordon L » 23 Apr 2012 09:58

In the Western world, derivations of Itto Ryu are almost certainly the most common form of kenjutsu, as that is what aikidoka train in.
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Postby NeilG » 23 Apr 2012 15:09

Gordon L wrote:But shinai are used by modern sports kendo as a result of their earlier use by the ryu as kenjutsu training tools, rather than vice versa.
Duh.
[snip] to the fact that they do not have to comply with the recent changes in the sport kendo competition rules for shinai means there was no wholesale replacement of them in the late 90s.

(In fact, Neil, could you perhaps clarify for me when the last change in minimum weights was?)
You make it sound like the rules are constantly changing. Shinai specs haven't changed significantly in the nearly 30 years I have been practicing. I think as of the 2003 or possibly 2006 rules the minimum weight went up 10 g for men's shinai. Even if they changed yearly it wouldn't matter - shinai are consumables and break all the time. It's not like "crap, my trusty 5 year old shinai is no longer legal". Plus as they are natural you still need to check that a particular one is within spec if you are competing somewhere where they check like nationals. Most local comps don't bother.

At any rate it seems like your experience is not so much with real koryu as it is with schools doing some of the waza. There's a difference.

As far as aikido goes, what they do generally bears no resemblance to itto- ryu or any other style. Aiki-ken most of the time is just drills aimed at helping better understanding of the empty-hand techniques.
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Re: Kendo, kenjutsu and HEMA

Postby Gordon L » 24 Apr 2012 04:40

Yes, aikidoka principally practice waza with bokken for understanding of empty hand technique, of defence against armed aggressors, of stick technique, and of defence with found objects.

I find your charactisation of schools that put primacy of iaido and waza over sparring as untraditional and impure, hmmm, interesting.

Ineffective? Sure. Not "real koryu"? Geezabrek.
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Re: Kendo, kenjutsu and HEMA

Postby Max C. » 24 Apr 2012 04:53

I haven't been able to find any indication that he ever had studied kenjutsu or kendo, sources usually mention only his exposure to sumo and naturally judo. So it is very strange that Maeda posed with kattana, against a sabreur.


In Maeda's time kendo had already been introduced in schools and many different governmental bodies. It is also common for schools to share the same halls, and so I wouldn't be surprised if he came to learn it between classes. Whatever the reason his position in the picture is clearly kendo in nature.

After checking Wikipedia Commons it is painfully obvious that it would be almost impossible or impractical to find this Japanese book on Maeda


I gave a link to where you can get the book. You do need to read Japanese though.

It is worth noting the strange mask worn by the "kendoka".


I see an old sabre fencing mask. Something a bit like this perhaps: http://www.etsy.com/listing/86597441/an ... sabre-mask
Logical given he is facing a fencer. His Katanna also seems to be made using a modified sabre, it doesn't look like a bokken or shinai.
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Re: Kendo, kenjutsu and HEMA

Postby Gordon L » 24 Apr 2012 05:40

On YouTube, there are a few fairly recent vids of people squaring off, shinai against sabre.

For some reason, they don't realise that, for safety, they have to swap masks.

It's good to see that the folk in that old picture had more common sense.
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Re: Kendo, kenjutsu and HEMA

Postby Gordon L » 24 Apr 2012 05:46

NeilG wrote:You make it sound like the rules are constantly changing. Shinai specs haven't changed significantly in the nearly 30 years I have been practicing. I think as of the 2003 or possibly 2006 rules the minimum weight went up 10 g for men's shinai.


It was pre-2006, but i don't know when.

The safety gain from a 10g increase doesn't sound significant. So perhaps there was another, earlier change?

And yes, I agree - given that I said it myself in my earlier post - that for kendoka, shinai are short-lived. But I also pointed out that older shinai last a lot longer with people who only use them intermittently.
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Postby NeilG » 24 Apr 2012 06:56

Gordon L wrote:I find your charactisation of schools that put primacy of iaido and waza over sparring as untraditional and impure, hmmm, interesting.

Ineffective? Sure. Not "real koryu"?
That's not what I said. The impression I get from your posts and the PM you sent is that you have been involved with people who practice some of the techniques of various koryu. That is not the same as practicing a koryu even if the waza are identical (highly unlikely). You either are a member or you're not.

For more on this, read some of the articles found here, particularly this one.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 24 Apr 2012 07:42

Max C. wrote:In Maeda's time kendo had already been introduced in schools and many different governmental bodies. It is also common for schools to share the same halls, and so I wouldn't be surprised if he came to learn it between classes. Whatever the reason his position in the picture is clearly kendo in nature.

"As early as 1889, Kano had addressed the Japanese Education Association on the educational value of teaching jujutsu as part of the public school curriculum. He argued that his methods presented pupils with a balanced approach to physical education, competitive matches, and mental cultivation. This initial attempt to introduce martial arts to the public schools failed.

After examining many different styles of jujutsu and swordsmanship (gekken or gekiken) in 1890, the Ministry of Education ruled that martial arts were physically, spiritually, and pedagogically inappropriate for schools.

This sweeping denunciation is important because it documents how methods of martial art instruction at that time differed dramatically from Kano’s ideals and from modern educational standards. Instead of martial arts, the Ministry of Education devised a physical education curriculum based on military calisthenics (heishiki taiso). The Ministry stated that these gymnastic exercises would promote physical health, obedience, and spiritual fortitude."
http://what-when-how.com/martial-arts/r ... tial-arts/

Another source for this:
Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia of History and Innovation, Volume 2
Thomas A. Green,Joseph R. Svinth, 2010

Also
"In November 1907 it was finally decided that judo and gekkiken (kendo) would become a school subject. There was a distinct lack of teachers of both at this point..."
http://kenshi247.net/blog/2011/05/25/ta ... 1862-1950/

Based on the above it is highly unlikely that Maeda learned kendo at school. Maybe in Tokyo, at Waseda University or privately at some stage of his life.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 24 Apr 2012 07:50

Gordon L wrote:On YouTube, there are a few fairly recent vids of people squaring off, shinai against sabre.
For some reason, they don't realise that, for safety, they have to swap masks.

It isn't always necessary to swap masks. Another good solution is to provide the kendoka with a fencing mask, and stipulate "no tsuki" rule. This setup works reasonably safe with an Olympic sabre.
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Re: Kendo, kenjutsu and HEMA

Postby Gordon L » 24 Apr 2012 13:39

NeilG wrote:
Gordon L wrote:I find your charactisation of schools that put primacy of iaido and waza over sparring as untraditional and impure, hmmm, interesting.

Ineffective? Sure. Not "real koryu"?
That's not what I said. The impression I get from your posts and the PM you sent is that you have been involved with people who practice some of the techniques of various koryu. That is not the same as practicing a koryu even if the waza are identical (highly unlikely). You either are a member or you're not.

For more on this, read some of the articles found here, particularly this one.



I'm happy to quote the heading of the final section from the specific article you recommend:

"You can't generalize the koryu bujutsu"
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Re: Kendo, kenjutsu and HEMA

Postby Thearos » 24 Apr 2012 14:40

Gordon L wrote:So, Italian duelling sabre - a lightweight, fairly straight cut and thrust weapon, that's derived from a long line of lightweight, fairly straight cut and thrust weapons?

Or a cut-and-thrust weapon that derives from a long line of heavier, heavily curved, principally cutting weapons?


This is getting lost among discussion of kendo,and probably it should be in another thread, but I'm genuinely interested in this question. Is it not the case that other threads are establishing the genealogy:

military sabre ---> gymnastics sabre-----> Olympic sport sabre ?

Especially the detailled evidence about measurement, showing that a lot of Olympic sabres at the beginning were clearly gymnastics sabre.

In parallel, I always thought that the spadroon (the one always mentioned is the "last spadroon", the 1796 infy officer's sword) was a militarized smallsword, used rather like the old rapier. The typology of the sword (e.g. the shape of the guard, e.g. in the hinged 1796 version) clearly indicate its origin. In addition, I always thought that the spadroon, in evolutionary terms, was a dead end, disappearing because of various factors (end of smallsword as item of gentlemanly dress, infantry and artillery officers being armed with basically sabres, e.g. the 1822 pattern in Britain).
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 24 Apr 2012 15:55

Thearos wrote:This is getting lost among discussion of kendo,and probably it should be in another thread, but I'm genuinely interested in this question...

We can discuss it in the Early history... topic.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 24 Apr 2012 16:13

Max C. wrote:I see an old sabre fencing mask. Something a bit like this perhaps...

Very nice pictures! Thanks.
It is unbelievable that people used to fence in those masks.

Maeda's opponent wears an easily recognisable old fencing mask. An additional padding along the edge of the mesh etc. I cannot see these things on Maeda's mask. His kattana is very straight, and yes, it doesn't look like a bokken. Definitely not a shinai.
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Re: Kendo, kenjutsu and HEMA

Postby Max C. » 25 Apr 2012 04:24

I found a connection between Judo and kendo which could explain Maeda's case.

(Talking about the transformation of kenjutsu into standardized kendo) Many people were involved in this modern transformation, but the one who exerted the greatest influence was Takano Sasaburo (1863--1950) of the Onoha Ittoryu. Takano was an instructor at the Tokyo Shihan Gakko (Tokyo Teacher's College). The president of the college was Kano Jigoro (1860--1938). It housed the first department of Physical Education in Japan and was the first school to train martial art instructors for public schools.
(taken from this post by William Bodiford UCLA: http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthread. ... #post14251)
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 25 Apr 2012 11:42

Ulrich von L...n wrote:"In November 1907 it was finally decided that judo and gekkiken (kendo) would become a school subject. There was a distinct lack of teachers of both at this point..."
http://kenshi247.net/blog/2011/05/25/ta ... 1862-1950/

The continuation of the story:

"There was a distinct lack of teachers of both at this point, so there was a need to train more quicker. At this time, Tokyo Shihan Gakko’s principle Jigoro Kano (the inventor of Judo) asked the gekkiken department boss – Minegishi – to find an instructor for the school (“shihan gakko” or “higher normal schools” were schools that educated male school teachers). Minegishi sat down and wrote a list of the top kenshi in the country, and invited each to the school to fence the gekkiken students. If they passed this physical test, they would be invited to sit a more formal interview. Sasaburo came to the school on the 19th of March 1908 and was selected almost immediately 3 days later on the 21st (an indication of the impression he made). At the time Sasaburo was 47 years old and kyoshi."

So we are talking about 1907, then 1908. At that time Maeda was somewhere in Europe.

"Tomita, Maeda, and Satake sailed from Yokohama on November 16, 1904, and arrived in New York City on December 8, 1904." (Wiki)

I would love to know: Did Maeda learn kenjutsu/kendo? From whom? Currently it seems that it would be close to impossible to answer.
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Re: Kendo, kenjutsu and HEMA

Postby Max C. » 25 Apr 2012 16:16

So there was already a gekiken department. There is still a link between judo and at least the ancestor of kendo which could explain Maeda's proficiency.
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