We finish the Seitei Gata Jodo notes from the November 2018 seminar with Chris Mansfield sensei, with a discussion of Ran Ai.
This kata begins with the sword in the obi, like in Seigan. When the sword is already out, take the left hand to the obi, place the bokuto into the hand and insert it. The other way is from the bow, Sogo ni rei and similar. In this case, take the sword in the right hand, find the opening and put it in.
In Ran Ai the jo engages when you are about about half way together. Don’t over-reach on this movement, keep the arm flexible. When jo releases the pressure to sword’s eye, sword can come back toward jo. Move the bottom end of the jo to waki bara as if it is attached with elastic. Keep the tension in the jo to the end of the movement or sword will attack.
Both break apart to a 2-step distance.
1. Sword collects the sword overhead and applies seme, jo responds.
2. Sword cuts, jo rotates underneath and catches the hilt. Jo must do more than the sword at this movement, so move sharply, inside and up.
Jo uses leverage against the sword at this point, not strength. How do you disengage the sword from his power? It is a combination of the angle and an upward movement which continues to a reverse kiritsuke.
Jo pins the sword to his body. Both are on parallel lines at this point. You must engage sword’s center. Sword tries a straight step off the jo but jo follows him.
Desperately, sword tries to break out. Jo lets him go, rotates and attacks waki bara. This is an attack on the internal organs so be careful. The feeling is to catch the elbow so that sword is stopped and cannot cut.
The sword resets and tries again. This is “ai uchi”.
The sword tries to cut the head this time. Jo goes to the side and attacks waki bara.
The sword breaks again, jo steps onto the centerline, not back. Because of this, pressure is instantly applied to sword and jo does honte uchi which sword must receive.
Sword sees he has a chance here, so he presses, jo keeps him in check, keeping the pressure on. Jo gets clever here and releases sword, brings the right foot back and the jo overhead. Sword sees his opening and tries to cut the chest. Jo draws his foot back causing sword to miss, then thrusts to sword’s waki bara.
They break again.
The sword steps in and cuts and jo does kuri hanashi. It is curious that kuri hanashi is kihon number 8 but we don’t see it until kata number 12. Sword releases his left hand as he receives the technique, steps back three steps with one of them crossing.
Sword turns and sees a target but cannot step in, jo holds the space, so sword attacks jo’s forward hand. Jo moves back to hiki otoshi no kamae. Sword tries to thrust into the throat. Jo moves back to awase.
If jo simply steps in here he will be cut, he must protect the space between, and apply seme. Sword must step back and as the pressure is released on jo, jo drops the front end and tries to hit sword. Sword avoids and moves to hasso.
Sword then tries to cut jo’s wrist, jo avoids this by taking the jo overhead, feet together and the end of the jo aimed at sword’s eyes. This is a little harassment of sword. If jo now shifts in, the jo remaining in the face, the harassment increases. Jo then drops the stick to thrust suigetsu.
Sword attacks and jo does do barai uchi.
Sword tries one last attack, jo strikes it away and hits suigetsu to end the kata.
This kata is long and hard to do in a continuous way.
Demonstration: Did you count the kiai? There were lots, maybe too many. Do they need all of them? Use kiai at places you consider key to the kata to let the kiai breathe naturally.
Question: If the judges have a different idea of where to kiai than we do, is there a problem? First, judges are required to be impartial. For example, a challenger may have tattoos. A judge shouldn’t like or dislike tattoos, if they have a preference they aren’t impartial and they can’t judge fairly. Budo has always been strict but fair.
Question: After do barai, does the jo open up the center or keep it until sword attacks? Jo can force an end to the kata by keeping center, so the jo moves off the center here, but the angle of the jo strike is such that the tip of the jo is slightly off the centerline when it hits the floor. You should use an angle according to your body size.
Question: What is the shape of the jo movement after the sword attacks? A: What is the right time to hit? You must prepare to hit the sword in the right place. This is harai waza, not suriage men, if you do suriage men you will be hit by the sword. The sword can’t step in on this cut, he must lead with the sword. This is a somewhat unique cut, a reaching cut. Jo hits the sword on that reach, sweeping it sideways like one does in kendo to knock the sword off the centerline.
There are normal cuts, reaching cuts like this one, and pointing cuts. At a kodansha level (do not do this, forget I am showing you this, it is for the seniors) you judge the distance and cut jo just as his attack misses your head.
Regarding distance, it is difficult to get past the opening gambit of Ran Ai. If you do, you know something about jodo. You must examine distance and speed. Severe training can be done with a shinai. You can examine how teki is complying with your movements.
Does your technique work?
Dec 3, 2018
April 6, Seito Bugei Juku seminar in Peterborough.
May 17-20 Annual CKF International Jodo and Iaido seminar and grading, (Kurogo sensei and Mansfield sensei) Guelph.
November 8-10 Annual CKF International Jodo seminar and grading (Kurogo sensei), Mississauga