Many many years ago I heard about a couple of the iai sensei from Vancouver who went to Alberta to visit the daughter (grand-daughter?) of Oe Masaji (Masamichi) who was the 17th headmaster of the Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu. From the story I heard, there was a demonstration of iai and the comment was “Kosei kosei”.
Ohmi sensei translated that as “chipmunk” iai. This is small, twitchy but undeniably fast.
I have no particular reason to tell that story but I can never remember the term, so now that I’ve written it down it might stick.
The phrase did show up tonight in class as we went through Seitei iai, working on the fundamentals that bring the art alive and make it such a powerful thing to watch, potentially. Twitchy iai isn’t one of those fundamentals. Using a light sword and making it look light is like “pushing a rope”, it’s kind of silly.
We hauled out the ropes (yuk yuk) once more and pulled them through various movements, then applied that to the sword. Gee, jo ha kyu works. Full speed from zero gets you a smack on the back of the head. I did my stupid sensei trick where I let someone pull the bokuto out of my hands, then nope, then yep, and they don’t see what I was doing because I’m using the little and ring fingers to create friction and those are the muscles under my forearm not above it. As I said, stupid sensei trick but the point is that you don’t have to choke your sword out just to keep it around, you can be gentle. Gentle and soft gets you what you want, my Gran used to say you caught more flies with honey than with vinegar.
I dunno, anyone who has been in class with me for the last 15 years will have heard all I had to say tonight, but I said it anyway and the Pamurai has a couple pages worth of notes done so far, she’s being distracted by the sports show but occasionally she looks down and more green appears. Green being the colour of iaido notes, apparently.
Class notes? Let’s see, Mae, rope sword, drive the hips forward to move the body so that the rope(sword) is pulled taught and thrown forward for nuki tsuke, then drive the body forward to pull the rope(sword) from a horizontal movement to a vertical movement. The hips have to surge forward or the sword doesn’t move well. Stamp on the nuki tsuke to show the “direction of the cut”. Stamp on the kiri tsuke to show the same and to drop more weight into the cut and to stabilize that cut. Stamp and sword meeting the target are “same time”.
Ushiro, same as Mae but the jo in the gut won’t work until the left foot is shifted across and forward, then push the tanden with the jo to see if the posture is stable.
Uke Nagashi. Read the book, when does the sword meet the sword? What is the position of the feet… “I” of Katakana. Shoulders? Then what happens? Finish of the cut with respect to the hips?
Seitei iai is kendo, so hips square for all cuts and thrusts except those where they aren’t (ha ha, where they can’t be). Seitei is kendo, so feet square. What does that look like? There are three possible positions. Foot position and knees and posture, we talked about that. Foot position and judges in front of you and back foot is out of sight and… What should that foot position look like.
So what does the cut of Uke Nagashi look like at the end of the cut? Where are your square hips aimed? What does your left hand look like? Judges look at these.
Tsuka ate. Lift the right hand straight up over your head, catch the end of the tsuka with your left hand, drive your right hand above your left hand (pivot points) and pull the cut forward with your left hand. Simple right? Oh and figure out how to get the thrust out of kasso teki most efficiently. On the thrust the right hand is at the back of your head. After turning and ready to cut to the front your right hand is at the back of your head. Figure that out.
Chiburi REPRESENTS cleaning off your blade. Hence no need to be fast, strong, or make a big swoosh with the blade. What disappears from the mind? (Does not attract the attention of the judges) How about dropping the blade with the acceleration due to gravity?
Kesa giri. First cut is a scratch with the tip, throw it forward, speed it up with the grip, not some sort of choke-out as you pull it out and twist the hip. Push it out with a soft wrist, tighten the ring and little fingers and throw the rope, er, sword tip into the target. SCRATCH the target with the tip.
Morote tsuki. Do we aim at the target? As we turn and cut, don’t drag your skewered enemy around, don’t push him sideways, don’t lift him over your head, don’t pull him along with you. Lift your hands over your head and let the tip come out by itself. Cut without hesitation. The thrust to the cut is “tenouchi”. Cut to cut is “uke nagashi”. Those two I translate as “left hand” and “both hands” or “right hand helps”.
Sanpogiri. First cut is vertical so step under it, lift your hand, don’t aim the tsuka kashira at the target… OMG get that hand higher! OK left hand goes up the centerline and grips as you do the second cut. Now do the third cut with some bigness. The last cut is what lingers in the judges’ minds. Make it big just in case that is what it looks like and they like it.
Ganmen ate. Hit him with your tonker not your hands. In other words, “it’s a pelvic thruuuuusst”. Stop telling me that’s why we have no students, I can’t drive them away if they aren’t here in the first place, damnit.
Turn and when you hit furi kaburi it’s when you are hips square and you are now attacking with body and sword. Furi kaburi is a point around here, not a process (lifting the sword over your head).
Soete tsuki. Thrust at face, lift, cut kesa, kamae (notch of right wrist in front of right hip or rotator cuff problems) Kime, then thrust. If you chase him back and chase him some more he can extend you and cut you when you can’t go any further forward. If he’s going back he can continue to go back.
Shiho giri. Each opponent is a bit further away. Every cut is with hips square. Ushiro tsuki can’t be hips square so it’s not. The last cut should be done as if you are knocking a blade aside as you are cutting.
So Giri. The first cut starts when you put your hands on the tsuka. Nuki uchi, done but not organized.
Sept 15, 2017
Fall seminars coming up for me:
Sept 30-Oct 1 Ottawa iaido, jodo and niten seminars, Taylor
Oct 28-29 Peterborough koryu iaido, Ohmi sensei, Galligan and Taylor
Nov 17-19 Jodo Grading and Koryu Seminar Shiiya sensei and Kurogo sensei, Mississauga location tbd