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Gunto At War


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#1 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 02 February 2017 - 05:21 AM

Just watched a British documentary produced for the newspaper Daily Mail with some film footage I'd never seen before. On shot clearly showed a tank driver or pilot (don't know the leather helmets) with a Type 95. Another carrying on his back a gunto with white-wrapped tsuka.

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#2 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 02 February 2017 - 05:24 AM

Couple more

First one shows a Type 32.

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#3 Malcolm

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Posted 02 February 2017 - 10:11 AM

Hi Bruce.,

 

I've also seen white wrapped tsuka.

 

I was told it was done to preserve the itomaki and in some cases there was an aspect of spiritual purification involved.


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#4 Dave R

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Posted 02 February 2017 - 02:41 PM

 Wrapping the Tsuka has a long tradition going back to the Edo period, probably for practicality for the most part, but also a good signal to others that you meant business...... I have a few pictures like this, and sometimes the wrapping is very rough and ready. I suspect it also improves the grip in some cases, as in the middle picture the wrap is probably over the metal tsuka of an NCO sword.

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#5 Stephen

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 01:37 PM

have we seen a close up to know what was used?


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#6 Malcolm

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 09:38 PM

Hi Stephen., 

 

The first time I saw a Gunto tsuka wrapped and used for Iai and Batto was about 1968 or 69 by the late Chiba Kazuo Sensei  at his first Dojo in Chiswick, London.

 

He used a 2 inch wide gauze bandage in a kind of figure eight pattern down the tsuka and back up on itself with a tight folded under knot at the Kabutogane.

 

He said this was the method traditionally used.

 

I used similar, years back on a tsuka that was a bit suspect, and as long as you really keep the pressure up as you wind, it makes for a really solid grip.

 

This was in the days before reliable Iai-To were available.


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#7 Dave R

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 10:13 PM

Hiya Malcolm, when you say figure of eight, do you mean a one end spiral down and then back,(a bit like katatamaki doubled) or a two end wind down and back (a bit like tsuname doubled) ? A photo or diagram would be very appreciated.


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#8 Greg F

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 05:53 AM

If i remember correctly there is a scene in hidden blade where a guy wraps his Tsuka with something before battle. I cant remember what type or how though. All the best

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#9 Malcolm

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 11:13 PM

Hiya Dave,

 

Before I answer your question, let me say to anyone reading this that I was very young and immature in training.

 

I am now quite old and still immature in training (So something's constant!!)

 

I certainly would not now advocate anyone tying tsuka with bandage with the intention of training.

 

It's really quite a dangerous action.

 

Gunto tsuka are now almost eighty years old and in most cases are not fit for any form of suburi or actual training.

 

Good quality Iai -To and Shinken are so readily available that Gunto and Antique Nihonto Koshirae should never ever be used in such a way again.

 

Like I said, I was young, and then (1968/69), it was the only source (Then really plentiful) that we had to train with.

 

That said:

 

I tried it a number of ways and the best way I found for training was to double the bandage in half so that it was about one inch wide.

 

I then got the centre of the length at the top of the Gunto just above the itomaki knots and actually covering the lower part of  the KabutoGane (So it would not slip down into the itomaki)

 

I then tight wrapped it in a double overlapping figure of eight i.e. over itself and then around and repeat this all the way down to the Fuchi (I did not wrap the Fuchi as my Gunto had a Chuso spring clip),

 

I used some large bulldog clips to hold the Bandage on, which helped a bit when I slipped the bandage through itself in a kind of crossover knot and then began to overlap wrap it back up the tsuka all the way to the area of the Kabutogane above the itomaki knots.

 

Then with the bulldog clips in place I proceeded to pull through and make the final knots and cut the bandage and made tidy with the excess ends of the bandage by tucking then under the bandage knot with a thin spill of wood as I recall. 

 

It was pretty close to what I saw the Japanese Sensei in the U.K. using and worked well.

 

However, It would not last more than six to eight weeks of regular training and discoloured very quickly.

 

Hope this sheds some light on the situation all those years ago.

 

:)


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#10 Dave R

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 11:27 PM

 Worry not, I have no intention of cutting with an eighty year old tsuka. They were having problems at the time with refurbished old swords breaking up in the hand. I am however very interested in how swords were really readied for use, the process is often far from what is imagined.


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