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Practice Drills for Japanese

Swordsmanship

Nicklaus Suino

Practice Drills for Japanese Swordsmanship

Practice Drills for Japanese Swordsmanship

by Nicklaus Suino

Weatherhill

New York & Tokyo

Warning: The techniques described in this book, and the techniques of any martial art, are dangerous if not practiced correctly. Neither the author nor the publishers of this book are responsible for the results of your choice to practice these techniques. You do so at your own risk. Please use caution when handling any weapons, and be sure to consult a qualified teacher before attempting to perform any new martial arts skills.

First edition, 1995 Fifth Printing, 2002

Published by Weatherhill, Inc., of New York, and Tokyo, with editorial offices at 41 Monroe Turnpike, Trumbull, C.T. 06611

© 1995 by Nicklaus Suino. Protected by copyright under the terms of the International Copyright Union; all rights reserved.

Printed in the U.S.A.

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Suino, Nicklaus

Practice drills for Japanese swordsmanship / by Nicklaus Suino-- 1st ed.

p. ern.

Includes bibliographical references (p. 101) and index. ISBN 0-8348-0339-9

I. Title

1. Swordplay-Japan.

GV1150.S85 1995

796.8'6--dc20

95-11130 CIP

~ Contents

Foreword vii
Acknowledgments viii
Introduction 1
The Purpose of Practice Drills 3
Equipment You Need for Practice 5
Wielding the Bokuto 6
Basic Drill Practice 7
Advanced Drill Practice 9
Stepping Drills 11
Solo Drills 23
Two-Person Drills 53
Straight-Line Drills 57
Angular Drills 80
Closing Remarks 99
Bibliography 101
Index 102 ~ Foreword

There have been many books written on Japanese budo in recent decades, but the principles of the arts are still often misunderstood. Efficient and systematic practice, which is necessary to produce the desired results of understanding and skill, is often missing. The spirit of budo teaches us that by understanding the correct principles, and through protracted training, we are able to apply our techniques in any situation. Moreover, the aim is to be able to use these concepts not only in practice at the dojo or in self-defense, but in all aspects of life. This is what makes budo not only an effective method of learning and problem solving, but truly a way oflife. Too often, these ideas are either forgotten or mistaken, and the martial arts become nothing more than a choreographed dance, neither correct budo nor truthful.

In Mr. Suino's work, however, you will find the spirit of budo correctly and clearly expressed. He has spent many years practicing and teaching, including extended training in Japan with top exponents of the martial arts. He holds a number of dan ranks and teaching degrees in such diverse budo forms as judo, jujutsu, karate-do, aikido, and iaido, When in Japan, he distinguished himself by winning both regional and national championships in iaido, He presently holds the rank of sixth dan in Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu laido.

This book will be an invaluable asset to any martial artist's library.

It contains training exercises to help the swordsperson develop strength and correct form in his or her technique. It is an important extension to Mr. Suino's first book on Eishin Ryu laido. Because of the uniqueness and quality of this series of books, I encourage all martial artists to study them with vigor and absorb their essence in practice.

Karl W. Scott III

Executive Director, Asian Martial Arts Studio Branch Director, Kokusai Budoin, IMAF, USA Councilor, Kokusai Budoin, IMAF, Japan

vii

viii

~ Acknowledgments

I have had the good fortune to meet a number of excellent swordsmanship teachers over the years. The teacher to whom lowe the greatest debt as a swordsman is Yamaguchi Katsuo, my instructor in Eishin-Ryu Iaido.

While in Japan I was also able to avail myself of the teaching skills of Fukui Torao, the sake (hereditary head) of the Eishin-Ryu system, and Eizaka Seigen, his top representative in the Tokyo area. Kawabata Terutaka and his students were kind enough to share the fiercely effective techniques of Jigen-Ryu in seminars, and Joseph and Kazue Cummins ofMuso Shinden- Ryu Iaido helped me a great deal in my interactions with the All Japan Iaido Federation.

Mr. Karl W. Scott III introduced me to aiki sword, and taught me to look deeply into style, system, and technique, to see the common principles that underlie all martial arts.

Introduction

The Purpose

of Practice Drills

Martial artists of every description are fascinated by the sword. Japanese stylists study the sword arts of iaido and kendo, and many own real or replica swords and display them even ifthey don't study these arts. Chinese stylists study the shaolin broadsword or the straight sword of tai chi chuan. The Korean, Southeast Asian and Indian martial arts all have a sword, knife, or dagger component in addition to their empty hand techniques. Whatever the national origin of the art, the beautiful and deadly motions of a blade, in the hands of an expert, are a joy to watch.

Few of us have the means to become expert ourselves, however.

There are not many good teachers in this country, for one thing, and , sorting through the various pretenders to find a good instructor can be

! discouraging. Those who find a worthy mentor don't always have enough time to practice and, in this writer's opinion, even those who do have time usually underestimate the amount of practice required to become expert, both in terms of hours of daily exercise and in years of overall development.

As I stated in my book The Art of Japanese Swordsmanship, one who wants to become an expert swordsman must pay close attention to detail, be highly self-critical, and must practice diligently every day for many years under the guidance of a good teacher. This book offers bokuto (wooden sword) drills, which are useful for such a person. Repetitive practice is the key to mastering all the precise motions required to actually draw the sword, cut with it, parry an opponent's attack, and replace the sword in the scabbard, while maintaining proper physical and mental balance. Real experts have no patience with those who claim to understand swordsmanship, but who cannot remember the details of their forms, cannot cut or block correctly, and who may practice only once or twice a week. laido is a serious and deadly business, and it must be treated as such in order for its practice to be both worthwhile and safe.

3

INTRODUCTION I

4

Well-rounded practice in swordsmanship should include the following elements: forms practice, repetitive drill practice, cutting practice, and some type of randori, or sparring practice. The dedicated swordsman will have to pursue more than one art to fulfill these requirements, however, since very few systems include all of them. laido supplies only forms, although the subset of iaido systems known as batto-jutsu include practice cutting as well. Kendo is an excellent method for developing the physical fitness and reflexes for sparring with a sword, although some kenjutsu purists insist that hitting with a bamboo sword does not prepare one for actual cutting. Only a few kobudo (ancient martial arts) and kenjutsu systems offer repetitive drills such as the ones found in this book. Becoming truly fluent in the physical language of the Japanese sword offers many challenges.

Previous masters have pursued the art in different ways. The legendary Miyamoto Musashi constantly sought out opportunities for real battles, an option that is not available to us today. Yamaoka Tesshu practiced thousands upon thousands of cuts with a wooden sword. My own teacher's teacher, Ota Tsugiyoshi, believed that swordsmanship was well complimented by judo, and his student, Yamaguchi Katsuo, followed the more traditional twofold path of kendo and iaido. All became remarkable swordsmen.

This book, then, fills a gap in the training of most modem swordsmen. The gap lies in the area between prearranged forms and cutting practice, and between the repetitive kendo drills with the shinai (splitbamboo practice sword) and the necessity that the swordsman be able to perform those same techniques with a real sword. The drills presented here include many that are found in arts other than iaido, some that iaido and kenjutsu practitioners commonly use to hone their skills, and some that I have extracted from iaido forms in order to teach my own students the proper way of doing a particular cut, parry, or draw. They do not represent any particular system, but instead are meant as general skill development drills for any person interested in using the Japanese sword.

Only through practice does one develop skill. After the first ten thousand repetitions, the student may begin to think he understands the meaning of the drills, while after one hundred thousand, he will begin to realize that the road to mastery is a very long one. The rare swordsman who cuts one million times with the sword, and who is also very lucky, will develop a very unusual kind of perception that few other people ever experience. It is very difficult to explain this in writing.

Equipment You Need For Practice

These drills are meant to be practiced with bokuto (orbokken, wooden swords). Any ordinary bokuto will serve, but students will eventually want to obtain a better quality weapon, such as those available in Japan and from a few specialty import catalogs. The balance and weight of the well-made bokuto more closely approximates those qualites in a sword. Since a serious student of swordsmanship can expect to spend many thousands of hours with bokuto in hand, a good weapon is definitely a worthwhile investment.

It is assumed that swordsmen will already own much of the clothing used in iaido or kendo training, but a special outfit is not really necessary for practice of these drills. They can be performed in exercise clothing of any type, though short sleeves are recommended in order to avoid the possibility of getting the weapon tangled up during practice. Bare feet are best for sure footing.

Any wide open space with a smooth floor (such as a gymnasium) will be fine for practice. The ceiling should be no less than ten feet high, and more clearance is better. Ample light will make two-person drills safer.

Some students will eventually decide to try practicing these drills with. live blades. This is not recommended for the two-person drills. Although the solo drills can be performed with a live blade, and one can actually benefit from such practice (since a real sword gives a much more precise feel than a bokuto) , these two-person drills are not designed for such practice, and their danger outweighs any benefit that might be gained from using sharp edges. It could also be expensive, since contact between blades results in damage to both weapons.

5

INTRODUCTION

6

~ Wielding the Bokuto

Holding the bokuto properly requires attention to a number of important checkpoints. The grip must be relaxed, though not loose, with more emphasis on gripping with the smaller two fingers on each hand. Use the larger fingers and the thumbs for controlling the motion of the weapon rather than for gripping. The right hand should be as close as possible to the tsuba (hand guard), or to its approximate location if there is none. The left hand should be as far down on the handle as possible, though not so far that the little finger is off the end. Rotate the hands over the handle so that the palms are directly over it at the end of the cut.

When executing the downward strike, begin with the bokuto overhead. The elbows must be held wide apart, with the arms extending upward. The grip is relatively loose at this point, and the baku to is held far enough back that the tsuba (or its equivalent location) is even with the back of the head. During the cut, keep the relative angle of the bokuto and the arms roughly the same; cut with the arms and not with the wrists. Bring the elbows in during the cut, to extend the tip of the bokuto outward. In the finished position, the palms are down (over the top of the handle), the butt of the handle is one fist width from the abdomen, and and the grip is somewhat tighter than at the top of the cut.

~ Basic Drill Practice

Begin by studying the text and illustrations to make sure you understand the checkpoints. Foot placement, the sequence of motions, the exact angles of the sword, and correct grip, are important points to study. Practice slowly at first, repeating the drill until your body moves naturally into the correct position. This may require several hundred repetitions for each drill, perhaps over a period of days or weeks. It is particularly helpful to get feedback from a teacher or another objective observer, especially on checkpoints that are difficult to verify for yourself. such as the position of the rear foot and the angle of the sword behind your head.

A few mistakes are common. In the long stance, beginners tend to keep their legs too close together, but the stance is stronger and more balanced if the legs are farther apart (approximately equal to twice the width of the shoulders). The rear heel in this stance is commonly turned inward, but it should be straight back, pushed toward the floor by a straightened leg, though not touching the floor. In the cut, the palms of the hands are usually not brought far enough over the top of the handle, and too much wrist action is commonly used in the cut. The cut should be made with the power of the arms and body, not with the wrists.

Once the basic checkpoints become instinctive, begin to work on smoothness in the motions. At this stage, however, do not attempt to combine separate motions. Perform each motion as instructed in the text, with appropriate stops between steps. Slide the feet along the floor; do not pick them up to step. Practice the stepping until there is no wobb1ing or loss of balance at any time.

In two-person drills, distancing is crucial. Start each drill by matching swords to establish the correct distance. Start out very slowly, making sure both partners understand the drill, so that no accidents occur. Practice over and over again, at a slow pace, until each partner's moves are exactly synchronized with the other's.

7

INTRODUCTION

8

At first, one may look at the sword or the hands during practice, or stop to examine the feet, but once the motions can be performed smoothly, eyes should be focused straight ahead in solo drills. In two-person drills, look steadily into the other person's eyes, or at his shoulder girdle (which always moves when a person begins a cut or step), without blinking, perceiving the entire scene rather than focusing too narrowly, Eventually, try to see past the physical movements of the person and perceive his intentions as they occur to him. This requires a great deal of training.

~ Advanced Drill Practice

There is no need to add any new motions to the solo drills in this book to make them suitable for advanced practice. Simply performing the drills in accordance with the instructions, paying attention to detail, balance, and a calm spirit, will afford a lifetime's development. The timing instructions, indicating which parts of the motion are separated from the others by a pause, apply to experts as well as beginners. Attempts to speed up the drills or blend the various steps usually result in sloppy technique.

The only advanced element that might be incorporated into these drills is that of correct breathing. For maximum power development over the long term, inhalation should take place while the sword is being raised overhead, and exhalation, during the cut. Nukitsuke, the distinctive drawing motion that becomes a horizontal cut, also requires inhalation. As in all Japanese martial arts, inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Keep the teeth together and press the tongue to the roof of the mouth. Inhale and exhale no more than sixty percent of total breathing capacity. Keep the abdomen slightly tensed to energize and support the midsection.

In two-person drills, more variation is required. Besides the basic safe distance for practice, experiment with varying distances to study their different effects. Many movements can be applied to more than one situation, and knowledge of the full range of applications can only come with practice. Be sure to start out slowly for safety.

Timing can also be varied. A parry and cut that might seem purely defensive when done with one timing could be legitimately applied as an offensive combination with a quicker entry. Try faster and slower rhythms in concert with the different distances, as well.

Kendo practitioners will already have some insight into the various rhythms that are possible. The bokuto travels at a different

9

INTRODUCfION

to

speed than the shinai, however, and its power curve is different, so a good deal of practice isjustified when trying to apply a knowledge of kendo to these dril1s. Remember that fighting with swords is an art of deadly precision, in which a fraction of a centimeter could mean the difference between living and dying. Most modem swordsmen don't practice enough to be able to perform at the level of precision required to be confident of winning a duel with swords; however, even though we no longer allow actual fights, our art becomes decadent if we allow ourselves to aim for less elevated skills.

The art of swordsmanship is meant to be a method of spiritual forging, but the person practicing must consciously decide to throw him or herself fully into the exercise at every session. This does not mean jumping around with wild abandon, but instead means attempting to perform each motion perfectly every time. The positive effect of this mindset seems to increase with the number of repetitions, as wen, which is why so many great teachers have advocated thousands of repetitions of techniques in any single training session. Great fatigue overwhelms the analytical mind. Performing a technique perfectly in the face of exhaustion can reveal a type of power which many consider spiritual, since it seems not to be physical and is not easily understood but, whatever its source, it is the animating force of great swordsmen, and is extremely rewarding to experience. This writer, for one, knows no other path toward such experiences than that of incessant hard training.

Stepping Drills

~ Stepping Drills

These stepping drills are designed to teach the basics of moving into and out of positions required in traditional swordsmanship. They are performed without a sword in hand so that the student can concentrate on the feet, legs, and body. In all the drills, the foot in motion should be slid along the floor, rather than lifted and set back down. Rising motions should progress smoothly, without the upper body tilting or rocking back and forth; the torso should seem to be riding directly atop the hips. When dropping to the floor, gradually slow the body down so that the knee (or knees) set gently down onto the floor. The chin should always be pulled in, the head held upright and, though the arms have no particular role during these drills, the shoulders should be pulled back and down. It is best to practice the first drill until it becomes fairly comfortable before trying to learn the second, practice the second before going on to the third, and so forth.

1. Seiza: Stepping In and Out

2. Seiza: Rising and Dropping

3. Long Stance: Forward Stepping

4. Long Stance: Shuffle Stepping

5. Long Stance: Reverse Stepping

6. Long Stance: Pivoting

14 16 18 20 21 22

13

STEPPING DRILLS

14

1. Seiza • Stepping In and Out

----+--

Purpose. To move smoothly into and out of the seiza position, and to develop the leg muscles.

1. Stand facing straight ahead with the arms at the sides. Heels should be together with the feet pointing outward at 45° angles. The knees should be slightly bent, the back should be straight, the shoulders should be pulled back and down.

2. Bend the knees further while keeping the back straight. Reach down between the knees with the right hand and brush the hakarna back, left side first, then right.

3. Continue lowering the knees. As the weight comes forward, let the heels rise off the ground.

4. The knees should contact the ground without a bump. In seiza, the back is straight and the knees are two fist widths apart.

The hands rest on the thighs with the fingers together, pointing slightly inward. The chin should be pulled back with the head straight, as though as string were pulling directly up on the middle of the head. The big toe of the left foot should rest on top of the big toe of the right foot.

5. Begin to stand up by bringing the knees together.

6. Raise the hips until the body is straight from knees to head. Pull the feet in so that the weight is supported on the balls of the feet.

7. Step forward with the right foot. The foot should come to rest flat on the floor so that the lower part of the leg is straight up and down and the thigh is parallel to the floor.

8. Stand up, without tilting the upper body, by stepping forward with the left foot. The arms should stay relaxed at the sides during this process, and should not be used to assist the leg muscles.

9 - 15. Repeat the process of moving into and out of seiza, alternating the foot that steps forward each time, until the motions become smooth and comfortable.

IN AND OUT

15

STEPPING DRILLS

16

2. Seiza • Rising and Dropping

Purpose. To drop slowly from the long stance into the raised knee position while controlling the balance, and to rise from there to the long stance. Also, to step forward in the long stance without the hips rising, and to develop the leg muscles.

1. Stand facing straight ahead with the arms at the sides. The heels should be together with the feet pointing outward at 45° angles. The knees should be slightly bent, the back should be straight, and the shoulders should be pulled back and down.

2. Slide the right foot forward until it is approximately twice the width of the shoulders from the rear foot. The front knee must be bent, and the rear leg must be locked straight back. The rear heel should be pushed toward the floor, but not touching it. The arms stay relaxed at the sides.

3. Lower the left knee while keeping the back perfectly straight.

The knee must touch the ground gently. without a bump. In this position, the forward thigh should be parallel to the ground while the lower leg is straight up and down. The rear-thigh must also be straight up and down, in line with the body.

4. Stand up by rising straight up from the same position. Keep the body upright and stable, and do not press on the thighs or otherwise use the arms to assist the leg muscles.

5. Slide the left foot forward on the ball of the foot until it is about two inches further back than the right foot. Keep the weight on the right foot, which is flat on the floor. The knees must remain . bent far enough during this process to keep the hips from rising during the step.

6 - 15. Repeat the stepping and dropping process, alternating left and right lead foot, until the motions become smooth and comfortable.

R1SING AND DROPPING

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STEPPING DRILLS

18

3. Long Stance • Forward Stepping

-+--

Purpose. To step forward in the long stance without the hips rising, and to develop the leg muscles.

1. Begin by sliding the right foot forward until it is approximately twice the width of the shoulders from the rear foot. The front knee must be bent, and the rear leg must be locked straight back. The rear heel should be pushed toward the floor, but not touching it. The arms stay relaxed at the sides. Be sure that the hips and shoulders are squared off in this stance; various ready positions and attacking stances in the sword arts involve turning the hips for power or speed, but this exercise does not involve such movements.

2. Slide the left foot forward on the ball of the foot until it is about two inches further back than the right foot. Keep the weight on the right foot, which is flat on the floor. The knees must remain bent far enough during this process to keep the hips from rising during the step.

3. Continue to slide the left foot forward to assume the long stance again, with the checkpoints the same as the right side stance, above. Pay strict attention to the position of the body during this step; a common mistake is to lean forward during this stepping process. To develop balance and power during this step, focus

on pushing off the back foot to dri ve the hips forward. Control the amount of weight on each foot so that the forward foot may slide, and avoid suddenly dropping a majority of the body's weight onto the forward leg. Do not turn the back heel inward; keep it pointed straight backward.

4 - 10. Continue stepping forward, alternating right and left foot leads, until the motions become smooth and comfortable.

FORWARD STEPPING

19

STEPPlNG DRILLS

20

4. Long Stance • Shuffle Stepping

Purpose. To shuffle step forward in the long stance without the hips rising, and to develop the leg muscles.

1. Begin by sliding the right foot forward until it is approximately twice the width of the shoulders from the rear foot. The front knee must be bent, and the rear leg must be locked straight back. The rear heel should be pushed toward the floor, but not touching it. The arms stay relaxed at the sides. Be sure that the hips and shoulders are squared off in this stance; various ready positions and attacking stances in the sword arts invol ve turning the hips for power or speed, but this exercise does not involve such movements.

2. Slide the left foot forward on the ball of the foot until it is about two inches further back than the right foot. Keep the weight on the right foot, which is flat on the floor. The knees must remain bent far enough during this process to keep the hips from rising during the step.

3 - 10. Push off with the left foot to drive the right foot forward into the long stance again. Unlike Drill 3, the same foot stays forward throughout each set of these steps. Continue moving forward until the motions become smooth and comfortable. Practice this drill on both sides by alternating right and left foot leads.

5. Long Stance • Reverse Stepping

-t--

Purpose. To step backward in the long stance without the hips rising, and to develop the leg muscles.

1. Stand facing opposite the intended direction of motion with the arms at the sides. Heels should be together with the feet pointing outward at 45° angles. The knees should be slightly bent, the back should be straight, the shoulders should be pulled back and down.

2. Begin by sliding the right foot backward until it is approximately twice the width of the shoulders from the left foot. The left knee must be bent, and the right leg must be locked straight back. The right heel should be pushed toward the floor, but not touching it. The arms stay relaxed at the sides. Be sure that the hips and shoulders are squared.

3. Slide the left foot backward until it is about two inches further back than the right foot. Raise the left heel as the foot slides back so that it comes to rest on the ball of the foot. Keep the knees bent so that the hips do not rise during this step.

4 - 10. Continue sliding the left foot backward until it is locked back in the long stance position. Continue stepping, alternating the feet each time, until the motions are smooth and comfortable.

REVERSE STEPPING

21

STEPPING DRILLS

22

6. Long Stance • Pivoting

---+-

Purpose. To pivot in the long stance while staying in balance.

1. Stand facing forward with the arms at the sides. Heels should be together with the feet pointing outward at 45° angles. The knees should be slightly bent, the back should be straight, the shoulders should be pulled back and down.

2. Slide the right foot forward until it is approximately twice the width of the shoulders from the left foot. The right knee must be bent, and the left leg must be locked straight back. The left heel should be pushed toward the floor, but not touching it. The arms stay relaxed at the sides, the hips and shoulders squared.

3. Tum the toes of the right foot inward by pivoting on the heel.

4. Push with the ball of the right foot while turning the body toward the left. Continue turning, bending the left knee and straightening the right leg, until facing opposite the original direction.

5. Finish the tum by turning the left foot to face all the way forward.

6 - 10. (Following reversed numbering of illustrations.) Repeat the exercise, alternating the leading foot and direction of tum each time, until the motions are smooth and comfortable.

Solo Drills

1. Seiza: Drawing the Sword 26
2. Seiza: Downward Cut 28
3. Seiza: Rising and Dropping Cut 30
4. Long Stance: Drawing the Sword 32
5. Long Stance: Rising Draw 34
6. Long Stance: Downward Cut 36
7. Long Stance: Forehead Strike 38
8. Long Stance: Forward Stepping Cut 40
9. Long Stance: Shuffle Stepping Cut 41
10. Long Stance: Pivoting Cut 42
11. Long Stance: Kaishaku Cut 44
12. Upright Stance: Forward Stepping Cut 46
13. Upright Stance: Forehead Strike 47
14. Suburi: Downward Cut 48
15. Suburi: Forehead Cut 50
25 ~ Solo Drills

These sO.lo drills. are.meant to familiarize the swordsma.n with the basics of wielding the Japanese sword. They are simpler than complete kata (forms) and formal techniques of iaido so that students can concentrate on the most critical points; they are safer as well since they are practiced with the bokuto.

Iaido, and any other type of swordsmanship, requires a high degree of care. The danger of wielding a one-meter long, razorsharp weapon can only be moderated by the swordsman's deep awareness of the weapon's position in space at all times, and by his ability to control that position. Any part of the sword can cause injury to the swordsman or to people around him; the tip, the edge, and the butt of the handle are particularily dangerous. These drills can teach time-honored methods of using the sword to cut an opponent, but only hundreds or thousands of focused repetitions will form the necessary link between sword and swordsman.

SOLO DRILLS

26

1. Seiza • Drawing the Sword

Purpose. To move from the seiza (seated) position into the kneeling position while drawing and cutting with the sword, and to develop the leg, back, and arm muscles.

1. Sit in seiza, facing forward, with the back straight and chin tucked.

The sword is thrust through the obi at the left side of the body. The hands should rest flat on the thighs, with the fingers together.

2. Grasp the sword just below the tsuba with the left hand.

3. Grasp the handle of the sword, just above the tsuba, with the right hand. Rotate the edge of the sword outward about 30° while moving the knees together.

4. Begin to draw the sword directly ahead and toward throat level while rising onto the knees. Move onto the balls of the feet. Rotate the edge of the sword to 90° (flat) just before Step 5.

5. Draw the sword on a horizontal line in front of the body.

Simultaneously step out with the right leg. The finished position should be as follows: the shoulders square; the right arm extended toward the right front corner, level with the floor; the blade level, pointing straight ahead.

6. Bend the right wrist to bring the sword back to a position near the hip on the left side of the body.

7. Slide the right Jeg straight back toward its original position.

8. Continue sliding the right leg back to return to the seiza position. Bring both hands to rest on the thighs.

9 - 15. Repeat the drawing process, alternating the leading leg, until the motions become smooth and comfortable.

Comments. There are three major points that must be incorporated into the drawing motion: the continuous forward motion of the sword's tip, bringing the sword to a horizontal position before cutting, and the gradual increase of speed throughout the cut.

To keep the tip moving forward throughout the cut (and thereby ensure that there is no opening for a counterattack), be sure that the right arm moves forward throughout the draw, and stops at a position extending 450 forward and to the right. Any backward motion from this point will create a weakness in the defensive purpose of the technique.

Since the sword must move on a horizontal plane during this draw, it is important to bring it to a horizontal position as soon as possible. This is done by squeezing with the little and ring fingers of the right hand as soon as the tip of the sword clears the scabbard (or as soon as the bokuto clears the grip of the left hand). This detail should be practiced over and over until it can be incorporated into the entire draw in one smooth motion.

The All Japan Iaido Federation states that nukitsuke (drawing) should begin slowly, pick up speed gradually as the sword leaves the scabbard, and pass through the final cutting motion very quickly. The sword must also stop cleanly in the finished position. A great deal of practice is required to include all of these components in the execution of the cut.

DRAWING THE SWORD

27

SOLO DRILLS

28

2. Seiza· Downward Cut

-+----

Purpose. To use the body to provide power for the downward cut in the seiza positon, and to develop the leg, back, and ann muscles.

1. Start by kneeling on the ground with the left knee, keeping the left foot on the ball of the foot. Step out with the right leg so that the right foot is flat on the ground. Holding the sword in both hands, raise it to the overhead position. Slide the right foot forward about two inches.

2. Pull in with the right foot to dri ve the hips forward while cutting downward with the sword. At the finished position, the butt of the handle should be one fist width from the abdomen, and the tsuba should be level with the right knee. Do not allow the body to wobble while moving.

3. Raise the sword to the overhead position while sliding the right foot forward about two inches.

4 - 10. Continue this drill, concentrating on smoothness and precision rather than speed, until the motions become comfortable. Be sure to practice equally with the left leg leading and keep the back foot on the ball of the foot at all times ..

Comments. Some knee pain is normal when first practicing this drill, but be careful not to injure the knee with excessive practice at first. Practicing on tatami or wearing knee pads can help to moderate the pressure on the downward knee.

Be attenti ve to the following checkpoints when making any downward cut: let the elbows flare out to the sides when raising the sword to the overhead position; stop when the tsuba is even with the back of the head; grip the sword more firmly with the left hand than with the right, providing most of the cutting power with the left hand; try to maintain the same angle of the sword in relation to the arms throughout the cut; and rotate the hands so that the palms are atop the handle at the end of the cut. This will help to ensure that the cut is being made with the power of the body, rather than being whipped through the air with the wrists.

DOWNWARD CUT

29

SOLO DRILLS

30

3. Seiza • Rising and Dropping Cut

-+--

Purpose. To rise and drop while cutting without losing balance, and to use the dropping body movement to provide power for the downward cut. Also, to develop the leg, back, and arm muscles.

1. Start by kneeling on the ground with the left knee, keeping the left foot on the ball of the foot. Step out with the right leg so that the right foot is flat on the ground. Hold the sword in the correct finished position for the downward cut.

2. Begin to stand up by stepping forward with the left leg while rising. Keep the knees bent during this process to preserve balance. Begin raising the sword straight up the center.

3. Continue the rising motion until standing, with the sword in the overhead position. Most of the body weight should be on the right foot, and the left foot should be on the ball of the foot.

4. Begin the dropping motion by stepping out with the left foot to a distance equal to twice the width of the shoulders.

5. Drop onto the right knee in a controlled fashion, so that the knee does not strike the ground, while cutting according to the checkpoints stated in Drill 2 of this section.

6 - 10. Continue this drill, concentrating on smoothness and precision rather than speed, until the motions become comfortable.

Comments. This drill should be practiced for control. By moving slowly through the checkpoints, the leg muscles will get accustomed to controlling the rising and dropping motions throughout the drill, which will lead to smoother, better balanced execution. The transitions from kneeling to standing (Steps 1 through 3) and from standing to kneeling (Steps 3 through 5), which are represented in three parts for clarity, should be performed as one motion, but there should be a definite pause at Steps 3 and 5 to help cultivate balance at these points. This drill is not meant to be performed quickly.

RISING AND DROPPING CUT

3l

SOLO DRILLS

32

4. Long Stance • Drawing the Sword

1- --

Purpose. To move from the standing position into the long stance while drawing and cutting with the sword, and to develop the leg, back, and arm muscles.

1. Stand facing forward, with the back straight and chin tucked.

The shoulders should be pulled back and down, the right arm held relaxed at the side of the body. The sword is held at hip level on the left side of the body with the left hand.

2. Grasp the handle of the sword, just above the tsuba, with the right hand. Rotate the edge of the sword outward about 30°.

3. Begin to draw the sword directly ahead and toward throat level while stepping forward with the left leg. Rotate the edge of the sword to 90° (flat) just before Step 4.

4. Draw the sword on a horizontal line in front of the body, while stepping fully out with the right leg. The finished position for the draw and cut should be as follows: the shoulders square; the right arm extended toward the right front comer, level with the floor; and the blade level, pointing straight ahead.

5. Bend the right wrist to bring the sword back to a position near the hip on the left side of the body.

6. Return to the original standing position by stepping back with the right leg.

7 - 10. Repeat the drawing process, alternating the leading leg, until the motions become smooth and comfortable.

Comments. As in the the seated draw, there are three major points that must be incorporated into the drawing motion: the continuous forward motion ofthe sword tip, bringing the sword to a horizontal position before cutting, and the gradual increase of speed throughout the cut.

To keep the tip moving forward throughout the cut (and thereby ensure that there is no opening for a counterattack), be sure that the right arm moves forward throughout the draw, and stops at a position extending 45° forward and to the right. Any backward motion from this point will create a weakness in the defensive purpose of the technique.

Since the sword must move on a horizontal plane during this draw, it is important to bring it to a horizontal position as soon as possible. This is done by squeezing with the little and ring fingers of the right hand as soon as the tip of the sword clears the scabbard (or as soon as the bokuto clears the grip ofthe left hand). This detail should be practiced over and over until it can be incorporated into the entire draw in one smooth motion.

DRAWING THE SWORD

33

SOLO DRILLS

34

5. Long Stance • Rising Draw

-1-

Purpose. To draw the sword in a smooth, sudden, rising arc while stepping forward. The cut travels from the lower left to the upper right. This specialized drawing motion is found in a number of swordsmanship styles, and though not used often, is included here because it is so difficult to perform correctly.

1. Stand facing forward, with the back straight and chin tucked.

The shoulders should be pulled back and down, the right arm held relaxed at the side of the body. The sword is held at hip level on the left side of the body with the left hand. Grasp the handle of the sword, just above the tsuba, with the right hand.

2. Step forward with the left foot while drawing the sword straight ahead, parallel to the floor. When the sword is about halfway out of the scabbard (imaginary, in this case), use both hands to rotate it outward until the edge faces down.

3. Continue drawing the sword while stepping forward with the right leg. When the tip clears the left hand, draw a large forward are, rising from the left to the right. In the finished position, the right arm extends upward and forward from the shoulder, the wrist is in a straight, strong position, and the sword extends straight ahead, parallel to the floor.

4 - 10. Repeatthese motions many times until they become smooth and comfortable.

Comments. One of the most difficult requirements of this technique is that of keeping the tip of the sword moving in a smooth, rising arc, while at the same time keeping the wrist in a strong position and keeping the edge aligned with the angle of the cut. Concentrate on the straightness of the wrist and using the arm and body to make the cut. It is important to practice slow ly, with careful attention to checkpoints, many times before bringing this drill to normal speed.

RISING DRAW

35

SOLO DRILLS

36

6. Long Stance • Downward Cut

--+----

Purpose. To cut strongly in the long stance, and to develop the leg, back, and ann muscles.

1. Stand facing forward in the long stance, right leg forward.

Holding the sword in both hands, raise it to the overhead position.

2. Cut downward with the sword. At the finished position, the butt of the handle should be one fist width from the abdomen, and the tip should be lower than the handle. Palms should be over the top of the handle at the end of the cut. Do not allow the body to wobble while cutting.

3 - 6. Raise the sword to the overhead and repeat the cutting motion, paying careful attention to the checkpoints throughout the cut, until it is smooth and comfortable. Be sure to practice with both the right and left legs forward.

Comments. Pay attention to the following checkpoints when making any downward cut: let the elbows flare out to the sides when raising the sword to the overhead position; stop at the top when the tsuba is even with the back of the head; grip the sword more firmly, with the left hand than with the right, providing most of the cutting power with the left hand; try to maintain the same angle of the sword

in relation to the arms throughout the cut; and rotate the hands so that the palms are atop the handle at the end of the cut. This will help to ensure that the cut is being made with the power of the body, rather than being whipped through the air with the wrists.

DOWNWARD CUT

37

SOLO DRILLS

38

7. Long Stance • Forehead Strike

-+--

Purpose. To cut to the forehead in the long stance, and to develop the leg, back, and arm muscles.

1. Stand facing forward in the long stance, right leg forward.

Holding the sword in both hands, raise it to the overhead position.

2. Strike straight ahead with the sword. At the finished position, the arms should be extended out in front of the shoulders, with only a slight bend at the elbows. The tip of the sword should be extended as far as possible out in front without hunching the shoulders or bending at the waist Stop this cut sharply and cleanly, and do not allow the body to wobble while cutting.

3 - 6. Raise the sword to the overhead position and repeat the cutting motion, paying careful attention to the checkpoints throughout the cut, until it is smooth and comfortable. Be sure to practice with both the right and left legs forward.

Comments. This cut, like the downward cut, must be done with the strength of the body rather than of the wrists. Once again, it is important to practice moving the arms and the sword as one unit, rather than trying to whip the sword through the air with a lot of wrist motion. The most common mistake in practice of this cut is

lack of extension. Since in a sword-fighting scenario the opponent would also be armed, it is important to make one's own effective reach as long as possible. This is a cut that requires thousands of repetitions to master.

FOREHEAD STRIKE

39

SOLO DRILLS

40

8. Long Stance • Forward Stepping Cut

-+--

Purpose. To step forward and cut in the long stance, and to develop the leg, back, and arm muscles.

1. Stand facing forward in the long stance, right leg forward, with the sword in the finished cutting position.

2. Step forward with the left leg while raising the sword to the overhead position. Most of the body weight stays on the right foot during this step, and the left foot rests on the ball of the foot.

3. Cut downward with the sword while stepping out with the left leg. At the finished position, the butt of the handle should be one fist width from the abdomen, and the tip should be lower than the handle. Palms should be over the top of the handle at the end of the cut. Do not allow the body to wobble while cutting.

4 - s. Continue the stepping and cutting, alternating the lead foot each time and paying careful attention to the checkpoints throughout the cut, until it is smooth and comfortable.

Comments. The feet should slide forward during this drill, and the knees should stay bent to keep the hips moving on one level while stepping. At first it may be necessary to complete the step just before executing the cut, in order to follow all the checkpoints but, over time, it is important to practice the hand and foot motions together. This will help develop the proper power source for the cut, which is the forward movement of the hips and torso. Do not let the body rock forward while making this cut.

9. Long Stance • Shuffle Stepping Cut

Purpose. To shuffle step forward and cut in the long stance, and to develop the leg, back, and arm muscles.

1. Stand facing forward in the long stance, right leg forward, with the sword in the finished cutting position.

2. Step forward with the left leg while raising the sword to the overhead position. Most of the body weight stays on the right foot during this step, and the left foot rests on the ball of the foot.

3. Cut downward with the sword while stepping out with the right leg. At the finished position, the butt of the handle should be one fist width from the abdomen, and the tip should be lower than the handle. Palms should be over the top of the handle at the end of the cut. Do not allow the body to wobble while cutting.

4 - 5. Continue the stepping and cutting, maintaining the same lead foot each time and paying careful attention to the checkpoints throughout the cut, until it is smooth and comfortable. Practice sets with the left leg leading, as well as the right.

Comments. The feet should slide forward during this drill, and the knees should stay bent throughout, to keep the hips moving on one level while stepping. Do not let the body rock forward. While both Drills 6 and 7 involve moving forward, it is usually easier to get the feel of pushing off the back leg in this drill. Think of pushing with the back foot while moving forward to provide power for the cut, and eventually incorporate this element into all the forward stepping drills.

SHUFFLE STEPPING CUT

41

SOLO DRILLS

42

10. Long Stance • Pivoting Cut

--t--

Purpose. To pivot in good balance while raising the sword overhead, leading to a downward cut.

1. Stand facing forward in the long stance, right leg forward. Hold the sword in the finished position for cutting.

2. Stepping forward with the left leg, raise the sword to the overhead position. The left foot should stop about two inches further back than the right, with the heel slightly off the floor.

3. Step out with the right foot (as in the shuffle step), while cutting downward. Do not allow the body to wobble while cutting.

4. Turn the right foot inward in preparation for the pivot

5. While raising the sword overhead, pivot to the left until facing in the opposite direction. The left foot remains turned inward.

:

6 -15. (Following reversed numbering of illustrations.) Tum the left foot to face straight ahead, then repeat the drill, this time leading with the left foot, next time with the right, until the motions are smooth, comfortable, and well-balanced.

Comments. It is easy to move into a weak position while making this kind of tum .. To avoid weakness, be sure to move the sword into a strong position overhead. Do not move the sword too far back (past the point where the tsuba is even with the back of the head). Be sure to adopt a forward attitude throughout the tum so that the knee which becomes the front knee is always bent and bears at least half the weight of the body.



PIVOTING CUT

43

SOLO DRlLLS

44

11. Long Stance • Kaishaku Cut

Purpose. ThIS specialized cutting motion is found in only a few forms in various styles of iaido, and is meant to be used when performing kaishaku (acting asa second in a ritual suicide). The rigid formality ofthe motion and the specific angle of the cut make this technique very difficult to perform correctly. The cut must start and finish In synchrony with the forward step, and must cut the neck of the seated person, who is leaning forward in a seiza position, strongly enough that the neck bones are cleaved, but must also be stopped cleanly enough to leave a bit of skin intact at the front of the throat, thereby preventing the head from rolling around in an undignified fashion.

1. Stand facing forward in a ''T'' stance, with the right foot back, pointing to the right, and the left foot forward, pointing straight ahead, about shoulder width apart. Hold the sword behind the head in the right hand, with the blade parallel to the floor, pointing to the left, with the edge upwards. The right arm should form a right angle, with the upper arm parallel to the floor and the forearm extending straight upwards. The tip of the sword should just be visible in the peripheral vision of the left eye.

2. Slide the right foot quickly forward until itis twice the shoulder's width in front of the left, in a modified long stance (the hip is turned and the rear heel is down). At the same time, cut with the

sword by swinging It In a wide arc that travels at a 45° downward angle in front of the body. Be careful to keep the blade edge at the same angle as the angle of travel during the cut, to make the cut clean and precise. Stop the blade when it points straight ahead and downward from the hands, with the butt one fist distance away from the abdomen.

3 - 6. Step back to the original position, raising the sword to its position behind the head. Repeat this sequence of motions until the cut and the step are smooth and begin and end at exactly the same time.

Comments. Move the left hand from its position at the side of the body to grasp the sword handle just as the sword reaches its position at the end of the cut. Grasping the handle with the second hand too early, and thus slowing the motion of the sword, is incorrect.

KAlSHAKU CUT

45

SOLO DRILLS

46

12. Upright Stance • Forward Stepping Cut

-1--

2

4

5

7

Purpose. To cut smoothly and with good balance while moving forward in an upright stance.

1. Stand facing forward in an upright stance, with the right foot slightly forward. The left heel should be slightly off the ground. Hold the sword in the overhead position.

2. Step forward with the right foot, keeping the left heel off the ground.

3. While cutting downward, sLide the left foot forward until it is almost even with the right. Stop the sword and the foot cleanly at the same moment.

4. Raise the sword to the overhead position without stepping.

5 - 10. Repeat the stepping and cutting motions until they are smooth and comfortable. Be sure to practice with the left foot leading as well.

Comments. The most important principle in this type of cutting is to drive the cut with the power of the hips. Always keep the hips moving just ahead of the rest of the body, with the knees bent. See Long Stance, Downward Cut (page 36) for cutting checkpoints.

13. Upright Stance • Forehead Strike

---+ -

2

3

5

Purpose. To perform the forehead strike while moving forward smoothly and in good balance in the upright stance.

1. Stand facing forward in the upright stance, with the right foot slightly forward. The left heel should be slightly off the ground. Hold the sword in the overhead position.

2. Step forward with the right foot, keeping the left heel off the ground.

3. While performing the forehead strike, slide the left foot forward until it is almost even with the right. Stop the sword and the foot cleanly at the same moment.

4. Raise the sword to the overhead position without stepping.

5 - 10. Repeat the stepping and cutting motions until they are smooth and comfortable. Be sure to practice with the left foot leading as well.

Comments. The most important principle in this type of cutting is to drive the cut with the power of the hips. Always keep the hips moving just ahead of the rest of the body, with the knees bent. See Long Stance, Forehead Strike (page 38) for striking checkpoints.

FOREHEAD STRIKE

47

SOLO DRILLS

48

14. Suburi • Downward Cut

f--

Purpose. To strengthen the arms, legs, and cardiovascular system. Usually practiced in sets of one hundred or more.

1. Stand facing forward in the upright stance, with the right foot slightly forward. The left heel should be slightly off the ground. Hold the sword in the overhead position.

2. Step forward with the right foot, keeping the left heel off the ground.

3. While performing the downward cut, slide the left foot forward until it is almost even with the right. Stop the sword and the foot cleanly at the same moment.

4. Raise the sword to the overhead position while stepping backward with the left foot.

.'

5. Step back to the original position with the right foot.

6 - 9. Repeat Steps 1 through 5 at least one hundred times, at a fairly fast rhythm.

Comments. It is easy to fall into mechanical repetition in this drill, but in order to derive maximum benefit from practice, it is important to concentrate on making every cut properly; rather than simply swinging the sword, be sure to move through all the checkpoints of a correct cut every time. Fatigue and loss of concentration are natural consequences of this type of practice, so one must constantly strive to stay focused and to repeat the drill energetically.

DOWNWARD CUT

49

SOLO DRILLS

50

15. Suburi • Forehead Cut

1--

8

9

7

Purpose. To train the arms, legs, and cardiovascular system. Usually practiced in sets of one hundred or more.

1. Stand facing forward in the upright stance, with the right foot slightly forward. The left heel should be slightly off the ground. Hold the sword in the overhead position.

2. Step forward with the right foot, keeping the left heel off the ground.

3. While performing the forehead strike, slide the left foot forward until it is almost even with the right. Stop the sword and the foot cleanly at the same moment.

4. Raise the sword to the overhead position while stepping backward with the left foot.

5. Step back to the original position with the right foot.

6 - 9. Repeat Steps 1 through 5 at least one hundred times, at a fairly fast rhythm.

Comments. This drill is an excellent conditioning exercise, especially for the arms and shoulders. It may be more difficult to perform this drill cleanly than the full downward cut, so begin with fewer repetitions and at a slower pace than with that drill. Once control increases, increase numbers and speed. Both these drills can be practiced at varying rhythms, and the size ofthe steps can be varied to practice sudden entering or retreating skills.

FOREHEAD CUT

5l

Two-Person Drills

~ Two-Person Drills

These two-person drills are not formal techniques from any particular system. Rather, they are parts of techniques or kata, borrowed from formal techniques or created by iaido teachers to teach certain principles of sword interaction. Distancing, timing, angles, and extension, are some of the skills that can be learned through practice of these drills. Long term practice can give swordsmen a good basic understanding of attack and defense principles.

It is important that anyone who tries to practice these drills is already comfortable with the solo drills in the previous chapter. Swords, even wooden swords, are dangerous weapons, and are particularily dangerous in the hands of a novice. These drills should be practiced slowly, with great care, many times, until the participants are completely familiar with the motions and the distancing required to perform them safely. Only after a significant period in practice should students begin experimenting with realistic timing and speeds of attacks and counters.

There are two types of drills in this section: straight line drills, in which the stepping and cutting is all done along the same line (though some sword actions, such as the parry, may not be linear), and angular drills, in which the major motion, either step or sword action, is executed on an angle relative to the opponent's attack. The word tori refers to the "doer" (the person performing the action the drill is meant to teach), and uke refers to the "receiver," who initiates the attack and ends up "losing" when an engagement finishes with a killing stroke.

Straight Line Drills:

1. Matching

2. Advancing

3. Entering

4. Misdirection

57 59 62 65



55

TWO-PERSON DRILLS

56

5. Parry and Counter Attack • Overhead Attack

6. Parry and Counter Attack • Rising Draw

7. Wrist Control to Counter Attack

8. Overhead Control to Counter Attack

Angular Drills:

9. Angular Matching • Entering 80

10. Angular Matching • Parry and Counter Attack 83

11. 45° Counter Attack 86

12. 45° Parry and Counter Attack 89

13. Rising Draw • Counter Attack 92

14. Rising Draw • Parry and Counter Attack 95

68 71 74 77

1. Matching

+ -- - 1-
/ ~ ~ ~
t ~ •
2 1--

- I

4

--1

STRAIGHT-LINE DRILLS

57

TWO-PERSON DRILLS

58

Scenario. A swordsman and an opponent face off against each other. They step in to engage, then disengage.

Purpose. To step in and engage an opponent at the correct distance, and with the correct timing. Also, to develop the "big picture" way of seeing when practicing swordsmanship, in which the eyes are trained on the opponent's eyes or shoulder girdle, but still take in his entire body and the surroundings.

1. Uke: Stands ready with bokuto extended.
Tori: Stands ready with bokuto extended.
2. Uke.: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.
Tori: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.
3. Uke: Steps forward, extending bokuto to match with tori.
Tori: Steps forward, extending bokuto to match with uke.
4. Uke: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.
Tori: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.
5. Uke: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front.
Tori: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front. Comments. The simplicity of this drill is deceptive. The myriad factors involved in matching two swords are difficult to appreciate without sufficient practice.

Begin by trying to match the timing of the other swordsman exactly. Over time, experiment with delaying or hurrying the timing, to see the effect on the other person. Practice this drill with partners of different sizes, as well, to see how this affects distancing. Above all, do not become complacent; there is always something to be learned from this drill.

When matching swords in this drill or in the beginning of the following drills, only about two inches of each sword should extend pastthe other. Any closer position during engagement would allow the opponent to attack by simply sliding forward, while the correct distance means that there is time and distance enough to take defensive action as an attack begins.

2. Advancing

2

------r-- -----t--

-+-- -+----

-+--

-+--

59

STRAIGHT-LINE DRILLS

TWO-PERSON DRILLS

60

---+---

-t----

6.

----+-

Scenario. A swordsman and an opponent face off against each other. They step in to engage and, when the opponent. begins to retreat, the swordsman advances, forcing a second engagement. They then both move back and disengage.

Purpose. To build on the distancing lessons of Drill 1 by teaching engagement from both an advancing and retreating point of view. Timing and balance become more important, since there is more movement in this drill.

1. Uke: Stands ready with bokuto extended.

Tori: Stands ready with bokuto extended.

2. Uke: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.

Tori: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.

3. Uke: Steps forward, extending bokuto to match with tori.

Tori: Steps forward, extending bokuto to match with uke.

4. Uke: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.

Tori: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.

5. Uke: Steps backward, extending bokuto to match with tori.

Tori: Steps forward, extending bokuto to match with uke.

6. Uke: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.

Tori: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.

7. Uke: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front.

Tori: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front.

Comments. Whatever lessons are learned from Drill 1 should be reinforced through practice of this drill. Effective variations that are discovered through practice can be applied to any of these drills, though it may be helpful to limit the variations to one partner at a time since a free for all could result in at least one partner being hurt. It is important to remember, though, that both partners are practicing and learning at all times, and that the uke's role is never a passive one. Once this drill becomes smooth and comfortable, it is helpful to vary the speed, distancing, and rhythm.

STRAIGHT-LINE DRILLS

61

TWO-PERSON DRJLLS

62

3. Entering

-+---

--t-

2

-+--- --1

---r-- -t-

4

-+----r--

1. Uke: Stands ready with bokuto extended.
Tori: Stands ready with bokuto extended.
2. Uke: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.
Tori: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.
3. Uke: Steps forward, extending bokuto to match with tori.
Tori: Steps forward, extending bokuto to match with uke.
4. Uke: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.
Tori: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.
s. Uke: Does not move.
Tori: Steps forward, striking toward uke's forehead, before uke
can respond. 63 - -

----1-

-+---

Scenario. A swordsman and an opponent face off against each other. They step in to engage and, when the opponent begins to retreat, the swordsman quickly enters, striking the opponent on his forehead.

Purpose. This drill introduces students to two important concepts in swordsmanship: entering, which is primarily accomplished through variations in distancing, and broken rhythm, in which expectations are created with an early move or moves, and then exploited by changing the timing of subsequent movements.

STRAlGHT-L1NE DRILLS

TWO-.PERSON DRILLS

64

6. Uke: Remains in place.

Tori: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.

7. Uke: Steps backward, extending baku to out in front.

Tori: Steps backward, extending baku to out in front,

Comments. In order to practice this drill safely, the initial sessions must be very controlled. Uke should pause after disengaging to give tori the chance to enter without being forced to rush. Tori must attack without force until the drill is comfortable enough to assure that there is no danger of striking uke,

Once the fundamentals of stepping and attacking in this drill are mastered, students can then begin to add speed to the tori's role. Ideally, tori enters quickly enough to "freeze" uke (this happens when uke, facing the tip of tori's sword, is unable to mount a counter attack without being cut). This requires tori to execute two steps (Steps 4 and 5) while uke executes only one (Step 4).

4. Misdirection

~ - -1
~ t ~ ~
• • ~
2 1 -

-\

4

STRAIGHT-LINE DRILLS

65

TWO-PERSON DRILLS

---!- ~-
~ • ~ ~
J ~ ~ ~
7 ---!-

Scenario. A swordsman and an opponent face off against each other. After stepping in to engage, the swordsman retreats to encourage his opponent to attack, then fades back just as the attack comes. As soon as the attack passes harmlessly, he quickly enters, striking the opponent's forehead.

Purpose. To evade an attack by fading back, and to mount a rapid counter attack. Requires tori to wait until the last possible moment, so that uke is fully committed to the attack.

1. Uke: Stands ready with bokuto extended.
Tori: Stands ready with bokuto extended.
2. Uke: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.
Tori: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.
3. Uke: Steps forward, extending bokuto to match with tori.
Tori: Steps forward, extending bokuto to match with uke.
66 4. Uke: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead. STRAIGHT -LINE
Tori: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead. DRILLS
S. Uke: Steps forward, cutting straight down center.
Tori: Steps backward, keeping bokuto overhead.
6. Uke: Remains in place.
Tori: Strikes to uke's forehead.
7. Uke: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.
Tori: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.
8. Uke: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front.
Tori: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front. Comments. After sufficient practice, when the mechanics of this drill are mastered, begin to experiment with distancing and timing.

Distancing is crucial to avoiding the initial attack so, after practicing at a safe distance, begin to close the gap until the ukes downward strike barely misses but tori's more extended forehead strike can reach its target. Some stepping adjustments during the drill may be necessary to achieve this effect.

The timing of the steps is also essential. A vital part of tori's evasion is giving uke the impression that his attack is going to succeed, so tori must give way just as the strike is about to make contact. The counter attack must reach uke before he has time to recover from his strike and mount another attack. Practice carefully to avoid injury.

67

TWO-PERSON DRILLS

68

5. Parry and Counter Attack • Overhead Attack

-+---

-l-- --+-

-t----+-

--f- ___j__-
~ • ~ ~
t
7 -t--

Scenario. A swordsman and an opponent face off against each other, the swordsman with his sword in the sheathed position, and the opponent extending his sword out in front. As the swordsman steps forward to engage, the opponent raises his sword overhead to attack. The swordsman draws and cuts his opponent in the same motion, then parries the downward attack before finishing the opponent with a downward strike.

Purpose. To draw and cut in one smooth horizontal motion, just as an attack is begun. Also, to parry a downward cut from the position of horizontal extension.

1. Uke: Stands ready with bokuto extended.

Tori: Stands upright with bokuto in the sheathed position.

2. Uke: Continues to stand ready with bokuto extended.

Tori: Steps forward, beginning to draw.

STRAIGHT-LINE DRILLS

69

TWO-PERSON DRILLS

70

3. Uke: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.

Tori: Steps forward, drawing bokuto in a horizontal arc ..

4. Uke: Steps forward while beginning downward cut.

Tori: Parries downward cut without stepping.

5. Uke: Completes downward cut.

Tori: Continues parrying motion until sword is in the overhead position.

6. Uke: Remains in place.

Tori: Cuts downward without stepping.

7. Uke: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.

Tori: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.

8. Uke: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front.

Tori: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front.

Comments. It is best to begin practicing this drill at a slightly exaggerated distance for safety. Be sure that there is sufficient clearance that none of the strikes can actually make contact. Work on the basic stepping and cutting motions until they can be performed without hesitation.

Once the drill becomes smooth and safe, begin to decrease the distance to make contact between the two swords more realistic. Since any of the cuts in this drill could easily injure a training partner, be sure to practice with control, especially when performing at a realistic speed.

While the tip of the sword is used in the horizontal draw and cut in this form, the parry must be done with the more sturdy koshi portion of the sword (the third ofthe blade nearest the handle). The intent in the downward cut, which should be directed just to the side of the actual training partner, is to drive through the opponent's body beginning with the koshi, and allow the natural arc created by the movement of the arms to draw the sword back during the cut This helps to assure a realistic slicing feeling, which is preferable to the ineffective hacking done by many swordsmen.

6. Parry and Counter Attack • Rising Draw

-t-

-t--

-+--

-+---+-

STRAIGHT-LINE DRILLS

71

TWO-PERSON DRILLS

72

7

---j----

-1----

Scenario. A swordsman and an opponent face off against each other, both with swords in the sheathed position. As the swordsman steps forward to engage, the opponent draws his sword upward to attack. The swordsman draws and cuts his opponent in one motion, then parries the downward attack before finishing the opponent with a downward strike.

Purpose. To both get the sword out of the scabbard and cut the opponent. Also, to parry a downward cut and finish the opponent with a downward cut.

1. Uke: Stands upright with bokuto in the sheathed position.

Tori: Stands upright with bokuto in the sheathed position.

2. Uke: Begins to draw bokuto in an upward direction.

Tori: Steps forward, beginning to draw.

3. Uke: Raises bokuto to the overhead position. STRAIGHT-LINE
Tori: Draws across the front in a horizontal arc. DRILLS
4. Uke: Steps forward while beginning downward cut.
Tori: Parries downward cut without stepping.
5. Uke: Completes downward cut.
Tori: Continues parrying motion until sword is in the over-
head position.
6. Uke: Remains in place.
Tori: Cuts downward without stepping.
7. Uke: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.
Tori: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.
8. Uke: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front.
Tori: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front. Comments. This drill is similar to DrillS., though the timing for tori's defensive draw in Step 3 is slightly different. Practice both drills many times to make the correct response instinctive.

Other applications for the horizontal draw are possible, and once these two drills have been practiced many times, it is useful to consider other attacks against which it could be used. In all possible scenarios, this draw must begin just as the opponent forms his intention to attack, and must end just before the attack is actually performed. The kind of perception needed to become aware of another's intention to attack can only be learned through long-term, concentrated practice.

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TWO-PERSON DRILLS

74

7. Wrist Control to Counter Attack

-j-

-+--

2

-+---1--

-+---+--

-+-- -j--

1. Uke: Stands upright with bokuto in the sheathed position.
Tori: Stands upright with bokuto in the sheathed position.
2. Uke: Remains in place, manifesting intention to draw.
Tori: Steps forward with the left foot, beginning to draw.
3. Uke: Begins to draw.
Tori: Steps forward with the right foot while drawing quickly
in a 45° downward arc stopping at uke's wrist.
4. Uke: Steps backward.
Tori: Steps foreward, raising bokuto overhead.
5. Uke: Steps backward.
Tori: Steps foreward while cutting downward. 75 --j----- I
I
~ •
~ ~
4 f'.
l
6 ---j--

Scenario. A swordsman and an opponent face off against each other with swords in the sheathed position. As the swordsman approaches, the opponent begins to draw his sword. The swordsman draws first, bringing the tip of his sword into contact with the opponent's wrist to stop him from drawing, then finishes him with a downward strike.

Purpose. To flip the sword quickly out of the scabbard into a position against an opponent's wrist or forearm, in order to stop him from drawing.

STRAIGHT-LINE DRILLS

TWO-PERSON DRILLS

76

6. Uke: Remains in place.

Tori: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.

7. Uke: Remains in place.

Tori: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front.

Comments. The secrets to this controlling attack to the wrist are speed and timing. The sword must flip out from the scabbard to the opponent's wrist in an instant, just as he begins to draw, but before too much of the sword is removed from the scabbard. It is helpful to grasp the tip of the sword with the thumb and forefinger of the left hand as it leaves the scabbard, building up a kind of spring pressure on the blade by applying torque with the right wrist and arm. When the tip is released from the left hand, it will snap into position, providing enough practice has gone into keeping the arc on the correct line. Be careful to practice this move with control at first, or an injury to uke's wrist may result.

8. Overhead Control to Counter Attack

-+---

I -- ------r-

STRAIGHT-LINE DRILLS

77

1. Uke:
Tori:
2. Uke:
Tori:
3. Uke:
Tori:
78 TWO-PERSON DRILLS

----t- -j---
/ • . ~ ~
~ ~ ~
7 ---+-

-j---

Scenario. A swordsman, his sword sheathed, faces an opponent who has his sword extended toward him. As the swordsman approaches his opponent, the other man raises his sword for a downward attack. The swordsman draws quickly, controlling the timing of the attack by extending his sword against his opponent's arms. He then parries the cut, and finishes his opponent with a downward strike.

Purpose. To draw quickly, extending the sword against an opponent's raised arms, to stop or delay a downward strike.

Stands facing tori with bokuto extended out in front. Stands upright with bokuto in the sheathed position.

Remains in place.

Steps forward with the left foot, beginning to draw.

Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.

Steps forward with the right foot, drawing the sword and extending it to a position against uke' s forearms.

4. Uke: Steps forward while beginning to cut downward. STRAIGHT-LINE
Tori: Steps forward, parrying uke's cut. DRILLS
5. Uke: Completes downward cut.
Tori: Completes parrying motion.
6. Uke: Remains in place.
Tori: Steps forward while cutting downward.
7. Uke: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.
Tori: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.
S. Uke: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front.
Tori: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front. Comments. Though the purpose of the major movement in this drill is similar to that of Drill 7, its execution is somewhat different. Besides the higher position of the arm and the extended sword, this movement cannot be performed with the same quickness as the previous one. Bringing the sword into a strong position so far from one' s own body requires quite a lot of time, in swordsman's terms, so it must be done only when the opponent provides a relatively large opening, such as that which occurs when the sword is being raised from the extended position to the overhead position. In this case, too, the tip of the sword is not flipped into place with the wrist. Instead, the entire edge is brought into contact with the opponent's arm using the strong extension of the swordsman's right arm.

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TWO-PERSON DRILLS

80

9. Angular Matching • Entering

-j-

--t-

2

----j-

-f---

----+---f-

1. Uke: Stands facing tori with bokuto extended out in front.
Tori: Stands facing tori with bokuto extended out in front.
2. Uke: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.
Tori: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.
3. Uke: Steps forward, extending bokuto out in front.
Tori: Steps forward, matching uke' s extension bringing bokuto
down along a 45° angular path.
4. Uke: Remains in place.
Tori: Steps forward, keeping pressure against uke' s blade.
5. Uke: Remains in place.
Tori: Steps forward, maintaining pressure, to cut uke's neck.
8l -

-+--

6

--t-

-f---

Scenario. A swordsman faces an opponent. Each has his sword extended toward the other. As they move forward to engage, the swordsman cuts on an angle, to end up with his sword on the left, or outer, side of the other's cut. He then slides forward to cut while maintaining control of the opponent's blade.

Purpose. To engage with an angular matching motion, which confers an advantage over the opponent who engages with a straight downward motion.

ANGULAR DRILLS

TWO-PERSON DRll..LS

82

6. Uke: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.

Tori: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.

7. Uke: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front.

Tori: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front.

Comments. The essential principle behind this drill is that matching with or intercepting an opponent's sword gives one a slight position advantage. Any further forward motion on the part of the opponent will pass safely by, and his efforts to readjust his position will require enough time to make countering relatively effective.

It is important to press the initial advantage immediately, since split seconds are sufficient in swordsmanship to mount counter moves and attacks. In this drill, that means moving from the angular matching position to slide in and attack without hesitation. Begin practicing with a pause after the match, but as the drill becomes more comfortable, reduce the hesitation until the entering flows directly from the moment of contact with the opponent's sword.

10. Angular Matching • Parry and Counter Attack

--j---

---t-

2

_ ___[_

-j-----t-

-l---+-

ANGULAR DRILLS

83

TWO-PERSON DRlLLS

84

-1--- -----11--

7

---\-

Scenario. A swordsman faces an opponent. Each has his sword extended toward the other. As they move forward to engage, the swordsman cuts on an angle, to end up on the left, or outer, side of the other's cut. When the opponent tries a forward thrust, the swordsman moves under the attack while parrying, then finishes him with a downward strike.

Purpose. To use angular matching, and then parry a forward thrust by an opponent.

1. Uke: Stands facing tori with bokuto extended out in front.

Tori: Stands facing tori with bokuto extended out in front.

2. Uke: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.

Tori: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.

3. Uke: Steps forward, extending bokuto out in front.

Tori: Steps forward, matching uke's cut by bringing bokuto down along a 45° angular path.

4. Uke: Steps forward to thrust at tori. ANGULAR DRILLS
Tori: Steps to the left with the left foot while raising bokuto
across the front to deflect" uke' s thrust.
5. Uke: Steps forward to continue thrust.
Tori: Brings right foot toward left while continuing to deflect
uke's thrust.
6. Uke: Remains in place.
Tori: Slides right foot back, bringing body to face uke, while
cutting downward.
7. Uke: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.
Tori: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.
S. Uke: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front.
Tori: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front. Comments. Bringing the sword in front of the body is a fairly safe way to deflect a forward thrust, but it is crucial to maintain strong extension in the arms to keep the opponent's sword from reaching a vulnerable area. The shift from the matched position to the deflection must be done smoothly and quickly enough that uke's attack does not hit home before the block takes effect. To practice this, begin slowly and rehearse the motion until it becomes smooth. Uke should gradually increase the speed of the step that brings the thrust forward, and also increase the amount of rigidity in the arms holding the sword. Be careful that uke does not make this a downward cut, however, since that would call for a different response.

85

TWO-PERSON DRILLS

86

11. 45° Counter Attack

--+-

2

-+---- --+-

/

/--+-

---\- -L-_
~ • ~ ;'\
_A • ~ ~
7 -L-_ I

Scenario. A swordsman and an opponent face off against each other with swords extended. They move together to engage, and when the opponent mounts an attack, the swordsman moves off to the right, evading the attack, and counters.

Purpose. To simultaneously avoid an attack by stepping to the side and to counter attack with a forehead strike.

1. Uke: Faces tori with bokuto extended out in front.
Tori: Faces uke with bokuto extended out in front.
2. Uke: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.
Tori: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.
3. Uke: Steps forward, extending bokuto to match with tori.
Tori: Steps forward, extending bokuto to match with uke. ANGULAR DRILLS

87

TWO-PERSON DRILLS 4. Uke: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.
Tori: Steps off to the right with the right foot, keeping body
aligned to face uke, while raising bokuto overhead.
5. Uke: Steps forward, cutting downward.
Tori: Slides left foot out to the right to bring the body into the
long stance, facing uke, while beginning downward cut.
6. Uke: Remains in place.
Tori: Completes downward cut.
7. Uke: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.
Tori: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.
8. Uke: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front.
Tori: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front. 88

Comments. The trick to making this evasion work is to remain in front of uke until the last possible moment, so that he commits fully to the straight line attack. Additionally, tori's evasive stepping must be extremely smooth and fast to make it possible to counter attack just as uke is completing his attack. As usual, it will be necessary to begin by practicing slowly until both parties are comfortable with their roles. Later, uke can add speed to his attack and tori can practice waiting as long as possib~e in the vulnerable position, moving just before being struck. Please use caution when practicing this way; it is not as simple as it sounds to perform these steps correctly and fast at the same time.

12.450 Parry and Counter Attack

2

/--+-

ANGULAR DRILLS

89

TWO-PERSON DRILLS

90

/---+--

/

--+- -+--
.~ • ~ ~
~ ~
8 Scenario. A swordsman and an opponent face off against each other with swords extended. They move together to engage, and when the opponent mounts an attack, the swordsman moves off to the right while parrying the attack, and counters.

Purpose. To parry an attack while stepping to the side and to counter attack with a forehead strike.

1. Uke: Faces tori with bokuto extended out in front.

Tori: Faces uke with bokuto extended out in front.

2. Uke: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead. ANGULAR DRILLS
Tori: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.
3. Uke: Steps forward, extending bokuto to match with tori.
Tori: Steps forward, extending bokuto to match with uke.
4. Uke: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.
Tori: Remains in place. 5. Uke: Steps forward, cutting downward.

Tori: Steps off the to the right with the right foot while raising the sword horizontally in front of himself to parry uke's cut.

6. Uke: Remains in place.

Tori: Slides left foot out to the right to bring the body into the long stance, facing uke, while beginning downward cut.

7. Uke: Remains in place.
Tori: Completes downward cut.
S. Uke: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.
Tori: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.
9. Uke: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front.
Tori: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front. Comments. This version of the off-angle counter attack adds a degree of insurance to the period in which tori waits to draw uke's attack. Instead of counting entirely on the step to bring him to safety, tori deflects the attack while beginning to move.

It is important to extend the arms holding the deflecting sword enough to bring them into a strong position, and keep the tip (extending off to the left) lower than the handle. This will help redirect the force of uke's cut. Use the side of the blade when deflecting, since the opponent's sword will slide off toward the tip. On those occasions when it is necessary to block outright, stopping the attack, the sharp edge of the sword must be used, since Japanese swords are not nearly as strong from the side as they are from the edge, but all the parries shown in this book are deflections, not blocks, so the side of the blade can be used.

91

TWO-PERSON DRILLS

92

13. Rising Draw • Counter Attack

-]-- _:---+-

-f---- -\--

-t--- ----1-

--t- -1-
~ • 4 ~
• • -
7 -+----

Scenario. A swordsman, with his sword in the sheathed position, faces an opponent whose sword is extended. They move together to engage and, when the opponent mounts an attack, the swordsman counters with a rising cut. He then steps forward and finishes the opponent with a downward cut.

Purpose. To simultaneously draw and cut in a large, rising are, at just the right moment to either cut the opponent before he cuts, or to freeze him in the attacking position long enough to allow entering and counter attack.

1. Uke: Faces tori with bokuto extended out in front.

Tori: Faces uke with bokuto extended out in front.

2. Uke: Remains in place.

Tori: Steps forward, turning bokuto edge downward and beginning to draw straight ahead.

ANGULAR DRILLS

93

;
TWO-PERSON DRILLS 3. Uke: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.
Tori: Steps forward, drawing straight ahead in a wide, rising arc.
4. Uke: Remains in place.
Tod: Steps forward, raising bokuto toward the overhead position
while protecting himself from a downward cut.
5. Uke: Remains in place.
Tori: Completes the motion to the overhead position.
6. Uke: Remains in place.
Tori: Steps forward, cutting downward on a slight angle from
right to left.
7. Uke: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.
Tori: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.
8. Uke: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front.
Tori: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front. 94

Comments. The rising cut is very difficult to execute properly, due to the problems of getting the sword out of the scabbard smoothly and of generating power at the tip of the long blade. Add to these problems the unique distancing and timing of the draw, and it is easy to see why this technique requires a great deal of practice. With the bokuto, practice holding the handle firmly in the right hand, and drawing the sword through its arc by using the entire power of the arm, rather than that of the wrist. Study the distance at which the tip might engage an opponent as well, since it is greater than the effecti ve distance of the horizontal draw, but less than the distance of a fully extended sword.

The timing ofthis draw and cut is pre-emptive: it must beat the downward cut. Since the sword travels through a large are, the rising cut is also slower than many other cuts. The draw must then be started just as the opponent begins to think about attacking, setting out a very difficult task for the swordsman who wishes to use it. Only constant practice will allow one to develop the kind of insight required to perceive another's intention.

14. Rising Draw= Parry and Counter Attack

+-- -I-

--\-----+-

~--j---

ANGULAR DRILLS

95

TWO-PERSON DRILLS

96

- -I~~ I

7

---t-

-+----'-

Scenario. A swordsman, with his sword in the sheathed position, faces an opponent whose sword is extended. They move together to engage and, when the opponent mounts an attack, the swordsman counters with a rising cut. He then steps forward while parrying the opponent's cut and finishes him with an angular cut.

Purpose. To simultaneously draw and cut in a large, rising arc, and then to parry the ensuing cut while entering for the finishing stroke.

1. Uke: Faces tori with bokuto extended out in front.

Tori: Faces uke with bokuto extended out in front.

2. Uke: Remains in place.

Tori: Steps forward, turning bokuto edge downward and beginning to draw straight ahead.

3. Uke: Steps forward, raising bokuto overhead.

Tori: Steps forward, drawing straight ahead in a wide, rising arc.

4. Uke: Steps forward, beginning a downward cut. ANGULAR DRILLS
Tori: Steps forward, turning bokuto in front of himself to parry
uke's downward cut.
S. Uke: Completes downward cut.
Tori: Completes the motion to the overhead position.
6. Uke: Remains in place.
Tori: Steps forward, cutting downward on a slight angle from
right to left.
7. Uke: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.
Tori: Steps backward, raising bokuto overhead.
S. Uke: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front.
Tori: Steps backward, extending bokuto out in front. Comments. Because the rising cut does not penetrate as deeply as some other cuts, allowance must be made for the opponent who completes his original attack after being cut. It turns out that simply changing the angle of the sword so that it bisects the centerline provides a convenient parry for the coming attack. With practice, this motion can be blended into a forward step to create a smooth, invasive, finishing motion.

97

~ Closing Remarks

There is no way that a book of this length could be considered comprehensive. There are many different styles of Japanese swordsmanship, and many approaches to learning those styles. Most swordsmen these days lack a solid foundation of skill, however, and no matter how fancy their techniques, or how advanced a form they demonstrate, one often questions their ability to move with good balance, to cut strongly, and to control the sword. One might assume that students would want to master the basics before moving on to advanced techniques, but experience shows that this is not the case.

The drills shown in this book are just a few of the many possible ways to practice the basic skills that so many students lack. Like all martial arts skills, they require long-term, repetitive practice. A student or instructor with a solid foundation and some imagination could probably invent many more drills like these, for the purpose of practicing various swordsmanship skills, and those drills might be quite valuable, but this writer has yet to meet any iaidoka outside of Japan who have a broad enough base of skills to do so with authority, and he cautions against any too hasty decision that one is a good enough swordsman to begin inventing techniques.

Though none of these drills is taught in any traditional EishinR yu dojo, nearly all of them are in fact smaller pieces ofEishin- Ryu techniques, isolated so that a certain principle can be practiced in a concentrated manner, or applications of such techniques, used to show how a skill ordinarily practiced solo could actually be used to defend against an attack by an opponent. Even in Japan, this writer has seen many old iaidoka who, in spite of having twenty or thirty years experience, do not understand how certain techniques work, and perform them incorrectly because of this lack of knowledge. We can avoid such pitfalls ourselves by careful study, introspection, and hard training.

99