Doing some Aikido sword tonight and we’re around the place where we might begin taking it away from each other. It’s a traditional way of practice in our neck of the woods, but you have to prepare a little bit. First you have to make sure folks can swing the sword straight, then you have to make sure they are swinging at the right target. Nothing less fun than watching a student try to sidestep a diagonal strike or step to the side only to meet their helpful partner missing them on that side. Two lumps on the head and confusion all around. Sword taking relies on having a partner who really tries to hit you where you stand, helpful partners are seldom actually helpful.
Then of course we have to work on distance, it’s no good trying to jump in and take a sword from someone who can already stick it into your chest. Of course when you back folks up to the correct starting distance they find out there is no jumping in from there at all, only waiting for the sword guy to commit.
But… can you really take a sword away from a swordsman?
This comes up time and time again and I keep coming back to the same simple conclusion. If you want to know if you can disarm a swordsman who is competent, find a willing kendo player who has several years under his belt and try it. You won’t die of a strike from a shinai but you might learn something about just how fast you can get hit with a stick. No need for speculation or appeals to historical documents at all, just go try it.
If you figure a shinai is faster than a shinken, ask kendo guy to swing both to a men strike from chuden and time it. You’ll have all the answer you want when you combine those two tests.
But, I hear, getting out of the way of a sword is no different then getting out of the way of a fist.
Umm, well it’s been a while but I seem to recall that for the same degrees of arc per second, a longer radius means the thingie at the circumference is moving faster than the shorter radius. The tip of a cutting sword is moving a lot faster than a fist.
Fist punching is the same as sword thrusting I’ll buy, but roundhouse vs tip of sword…
I’ll take my chances with the roundhouse.
So why do we do it? Just because it’s so difficult. You need proper timing, posture, distance, spirit, arrogance, calmness, discipline… you know, all the good stuff. It’s not as if we are training someone for a situation they might actually encounter on the street. In fact, that’s why I love teaching the sword, the impracticality. If I wanted to teach realistic stuff I’d be doing a lot more self defence classes.