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Use or not use

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Dear fellow members, I am curious and grateful to know your views on the following question:

 

Should the katanas be used ( iaido, kata, tameshigiri, etc etc) or not?

 

It’s an open question and there’s no absolute right or wrong. Rather I am interested in your views.

 

For starters I am new to nihonto and Iaido and I am leaning more on the use side, because, among other reasons, there’s an Asian concept that a nice weapon will need to be used to keep its spirit, which in its most basic form means it needs to cut through bodies and savour the blood. There’s also this saying about your enemy when he’s cut, it does not matter whether it’s by a jumyo or a showa. And lastly some shinshinto master smith said something like a nice sword should have the blade fashioned like a sickle or an axe because it needs to cut through armour in field.

 

On the other hand, the not use arguments would be those are antiques, and it’s more a piece of history and culture than a piece of weaponry; and because of all the polishing and so on, it might not even be good to use them.

 

I am interesting to hear more views and reasons for both sides.

 

Best

 

TY

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No question to use a live blade till you are senior black belt. To use a live blade (antiques) will ruin its polish, cost : more or less 2000$ and if misused can ruin it which means k$

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Thanks Jean for your input.

 

I’d like to be able to say when you love you don’t count but alas, I am not born rich.

 

By the way, the shinshinto master I talked about above is 水心子正秀.

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there’s an Asian concept that a nice weapon will need to be used to keep its spirit, which in its most basic form means it needs to cut through bodies and savour the blood. 

 

No, there is not. There are no records I am aware of, and thus arrogantly assume they are either deviant or non-existent, that clearly demonstrate such concern among the documented, major historical collections, and such things as taking out a precious tanto from the early Soshu master or even a major Bizen Ichimonji blade and cutting someone with it simply to keep up its spirit belongs to the world of manga and various O-sensei. Nobody was taking blades out of Shosoin in the mid-Muromachi to keep them alive a bit longer, or else they suffocate. The cutting was sometimes conducted with major names, but for the reasons of testing rather than saving a blade.

 

There is a Mongol-Manchurian originating tradition to sacrifice people to the banner, likely similarly originating traditions to eat enemy's liver, display heads and so on.

 

This being said, an average Bungo blade or something of similar kind will do the job of cutting quite well enough and with no serious risk to the heritage.

 

Kirill R.

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No use of any antique blade. There are enough modern swords that will be perfect cutting anything you want for a decent price.

Antique blades are for preservation and given further to the next generation. We are keepers and not destroyers. And no, i don't think a master swordsmith exists these days. I didn't heard of someone who kills enemys with a katana and didn't end in jail. All these people who cutting around are sportsman or weekend samurai.

 

  :)

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No,no,no and no! :)

 

There are plenty of Chinese blades that will do the job and have no artistic value. They are made for tameshigiri and are very good at what they do.

 

Not that the Japanese wouldn’t do the job, but I have (almost) no reservation about breaking a Chinese $400 blade. A Japanese Blade is made to be preserved and cared for. Using it, even if you don’t harm it, will cause scratches, maybe a nail catcher or two. A polish will be necessary and thus, you’ll bring this blade closer to its own death as metal will be lost. So...

 

 

No, no, no and no! :)

 

And to quote Yojimbo (Sanjuro actually): “the best blades are kept in their sheath!”

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Does your sensei even allow live blades? I've trained in two iaido ryuha for three decades, & have not seen Nihonto, or even shinken, allowed in a dojo. I agree with the others, of course, that using Nihonto in any martial art is a no-no, as this forum is for the preservation of these blades.

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Does your sensei even allow live blades? I've trained in two iaido ryuha for three decades, & have not seen Nihonto, or even shinken, allowed in a dojo. I agree with the others, of course, that using Nihonto in any martial art is a no-no, as this forum is for the preservation of these blades.

Ken, you are absolutely right, in our dojo we need to be 5th Dan or above to qualify using shinken. Unfortunately I still have a long way to go to achieve that.....

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So I understand it’s a more or less resounding no......

 

Now a follow up question, would the same apply to Gendaito or Mantetsu?

 

If my questions seem offensive to some of our fellow members, please be assured it’s not my intention to offend, i am just curious to know.

 

Thanks

 

TY

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My reply is the same for Gendaito or Mantetsu. Preservation is needed. They are the antiques of tomorrow.

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Unless you're in Japan there is no reason to use an antique sword for Tameshi, modern chinese blades are superior in so many ways (cost, performance, construction etc etc) it would be mad to cut with an old sword.

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Modern steel didn't break or bent. There are many videos in the net which shows that spring steel proprties. 

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Stick with iaito until you're a lot further down the pathway. Too easy to lose a body part when you're not paying 100% attention.

????????????

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Gentlemen,

I use a non-expensive (Chinese) IAI-TO with a blunt steel blade. It is lightweight like an original and has a BOHI which allows for a nice TACHIKAZE. It is still dangerous enough to cause damage if you are careless, but this applies also to a heavy red oak BOKKEN. As we all know, this latter can be considered a deadly weapon.

I don't feel so much the need to cut through something, but in that case I would simply use one of the better Chinese models. It is so easy to bend a blade in TAMESHIGIRI if you don't get the correct angle!

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Stick with iaito until you're a lot further down the pathway. Too easy to lose a body part when you're not paying 100% attention.

 

 We have a few practitioners and ex-practitioners in our branch of the To-Ken, and everyone of them has a story of the day they ended up in hospital with an accidentally self inflicted wound.

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We have a few practitioners and ex-practitioners in our branch of the To-Ken, and everyone of them has a story of the day they ended up in hospital with an accidentally self inflicted wound.

Thanks Dave and Ken and everyone. I’ll follow my dojo rules and your advice.

 

Still, and to go back to this impertinent and frivolous thread of mine, I for one still use antique cameras when it comes to that, or ride in antique cars. Granted, they are only 50 or so odd years old, but it helps to explain my curiosity in the matter....

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.......I for one still use antique cameras when it comes to that, or ride in antique cars. Granted, they are only 50 or so odd years old, but it helps to explain my curiosity in the matter....

I can understand that, but those are factory made items which probably could be replaced in case they are destroyed (if not too old).

 

Handmade Japanese swords are always one of a kind! It is the same with old ceramics.

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Superglue, gauze, and duct tape do wonders for the shop repair of lacerations from working with swords....fortunately no hospital trips needed yet. :o I do not recommend using live nihonto for training or anything short of apocalyptic no notice emergencies :fit:

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Yup, superglue is my go to gu..glue when I have a cut. Works better than band aid!

 

Hey, you have to prepare yourself! You never know. There could be a Zombie outbreak! :)

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Does your sensei even allow live blades? I've trained in two iaido ryuha for three decades, & have not seen Nihonto, or even shinken, allowed in a dojo. I agree with the others, of course, that using Nihonto in any martial art is a no-no, as this forum is for the preservation of these blades.

I agree re: training with antique nihonto, but would like to share that many kenjutsu styles that practice tameshigiri (and even some that do not) use live blades for all aspects of practice. Toyama Ryu Battodo is a prime example. Once students are competent enough to use a shinken, that’s all they use, with one exception for the practice of kumitachi. But even for kumitachi, after a few more years of training, folks are expected to use shinken.

 

It absolutely changes the nature of the training, mentally and physically. For example, when it comes to nukitsuke (drawing cuts), a shinken will teach you very quickly (and profoundly) if your technique or patience is lacking. This is not to say one way is better than another or to denigrate any approach. Rather it’s just some styles focus on this or that.

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I agree re: training with antique nihonto, but would like to share that many kenjutsu styles that practice tameshigiri (and even some that do not) use live blades for all aspects of practice. Toyama Ryu Battodo is a prime example. Once students are competent enough to use a shinken, that’s all they use, with one exception for the practice of kumitachi. But even for kumitachi, after a few more years of training, folks are expected to use shinken.

It absolutely changes the nature of the training, mentally and physically. For example, when it comes to nukitsuke (drawing cuts), a shinken will teach you very quickly (and profoundly) if your technique or patience is lacking. This is not to say one way is better than another or to denigrate any approach. Rather it’s just some styles focus on this or that.

Thanks for the information Michael

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TY, I differentiate between iaido & tameshigiri. My Sensei tasked me with teaching tameshigiri to those members of our dojo who were ready for that level, but he never equated that with the Muso Jikiden Eishin-Ryu in which we train.

 

At first, we all used one shinken (my Cold Steel blade), because it was the only one that resisted bending ( :glee: ), but eventually, other senior members bought their own shinken, & we all have our own now. Learning the correct kinematics of cutting is essential, & it doesn't happen quickly. As Michael pointed out, nukitsuke is one of the most difficult cuts to make correctly, requiring incredible power from hara, rather than your arm, & this just isn't a concept that is easy for your brain to learn. That's why Mae (or your ryuha's equivalent) is watched so closely when you're testing for rank.

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TY, I differentiate between iaido & tameshigiri. My Sensei tasked me with teaching tameshigiri to those members of our dojo who were ready for that level, but he never equated that with the Muso Jikiden Eishin-Ryu in which we train.

 

At first, we all used one shinken (my Cold Steel blade), because it was the only one that resisted bending ( :glee: ), but eventually, other senior members bought their own shinken, & we all have our own now. Learning the correct kinematics of cutting is essential, & it doesn't happen quickly. As Michael pointed out, nukitsuke is one of the most difficult cuts to make correctly, requiring incredible power from hara, rather than your arm, & this just isn't a concept that is easy for your brain to learn. That's why Mae (or your ryuha's equivalent) is watched so closely when you're testing for rank.

Thanks a lot Ken.

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Definetely iaito for iaido and when you progress to tameshigiri a chinese made sword is what should be used.

I use a nice iaito I got from a member her a few years ago but was originally from Tozando in Japan, they have a great selection of iaito on their website. I use a few different chinese made blades for tameshigiri but my favorite is made by Simon Lee from ebay, he has a very good selection. Good on you for asking here before making a regrettable decision.

 

Greg

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JP, never fear, on eBay there are many Zombie Apocalypse swords advertised for sale. Why don't you get one before they sell out. 

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That’s why I said that! The amount of Zombie Apocalypse swords is huge. Something must be coming! :-)

 

Unless people watch too much TV?

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Thanks to everyone for your input. while there are different views on how and when to use shinken for practice, using old nihonto is a big no no. And I have learnt quite a bit in the process.

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I would like to add one thing no one else has regarding the structural integrity of antique blades.  Depending on the age, construction methods and number of polishes over it's lifetime an antique sword will certainly be less sound than it was originally was. 

 

A sword which was constructed using the technique of wrapping harder blade steel around softer core steel and subsequently subjected to several polishes over the centuries looses a good deal of the harder blade steel (think Hizen). This results in a weakened, or at least an uncertain state of durability. 

 

Even one-piece construction after polishing becomes structurally weakened. 

 

Think of a sword which started out with a 6-8mm kasane and over time is polished down to 4-5mm, add the length and leverage of your arm and the sword, kinetic energy produced when it is used, force of impact . All of these factors produce a significant load on the blade. 

 

Even more so on a structurally compromised blade, thus increasing the likelihood of damage to the sword, yourself or others.

 

So, to answer your question, no! 

With so many good, modern options available, please reserve antiques for preservation and study.

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