Technique advice

Discussion in 'Koryu Bujutsu' started by Pointy, Jan 26, 2016.

  1. Pointy

    Pointy Valued Member

    Apologies for two threads in a row!

    I'm currently studying Iaido, and have been for about 3 months. Yes, I know Iai is a gendai art, however as you koryu folk are *far* more experienced with Japanese pointy things than I, I thought this would be the best place to ask.

    There is one cut from the basic techniques in praticular that is giving me some trouble, the diagional cut from the opponent's shoulder to opposite hip (their 11 o'clock to 5, or, 1 to 7). I'm having a hell of a time figuring out how to move my wrists. As far as I understand, at the end of the cut, the sword's 'pommel' (I know, no pommel) must be on one's centre line. I can do this, sort of, at the cost of putting a large strain on my wrists (to the point of pain) and I cannot keep a good grip on the sword.

    Of course, I have talked to, and been corrected by, my teacher about this. However when he demonstrates it I cannot clearly see how he is doing it. I will keep asking him, but if I could have a look at a video or a book it may just 'click'.

    Do any of you know of any good videos or other sources that go through Iai cuts step by step in detail? Or any other advice?
  2. Aegis

    Aegis River Guardian Admin Supporter

    It's been a while since I did iaido, but this looks promising:

    [ame=""]Iaido Kata Seitei 05 Gohon-me - Kesa-giri - High quality - - YouTube[/ame]
  3. pgsmith

    pgsmith Valued dismemberer

    I'm sorry, but I can't envision how you would strain your wrists doing a kesa giri cut. It is exactly the same as a kiroroshi cut (straight downward) except that your hips have shifted and so have shifted your center line. You need to discuss your problem with your instructor.

    It is a very simple matter to find very detailed seitei iaido videos on youtube.
  4. Pointy

    Pointy Valued Member

    Apologies for the late reply.

    Thank you Aegis. I had come across those particular videos online and found them to be quite helpful in reviewing the kata.

    I did not imagine that I was doing it correctly as I was straining my wrists to complete the cut! I am not moving my hips at all, as you mentioned, so that may be part of the problem. Of course I will speak further with my instructor, the goal of my post was to try to find something to watch or read and I can mull over it between practice.

    What videos or channels would you recommend?
  5. pgsmith

    pgsmith Valued dismemberer

    I would not recommend any. Videos can serve as a reminder of what you've learned, (I forgot there was an extra step there!) but are a poor choice for trying to learn directly (how am I supposed to hold and swing this sword?). Since you say that you cannot complete a cut without straining your wrists (I still can't envision that), then I think you need to work with your instructor to get your basics down better before looking at videos.

    Just my thoughts on it, worth what you paid for them.
  6. Heraclius

    Heraclius BASILEVS Supporter

    My personal approach to things like this is to tinker with my form - changing little things to see what feels better, and then going back and getting corrections from my sensei. You'll get there eventually, but I found it took quite a while before I was consistently happy with my form on any level.

    P.S. the "pommel" on a katana is called the kashira.
  7. Pointy

    Pointy Valued Member

    Your advice is appreciated.

    Reading my original post again, I clearly didn't communicate my issue properly. Its not that I strain my wrists with each cut, that would be extremely alarming, rather it is the effect of continuously excuting the cut incorrectly. Or perhaps my wrists and forearms are a bit weak.

    Anyway, I will speak with my teacher in the next class and get this sorted out.

    I think I will be well dead before I'll be happy with my form! :p Thanks for your input.
  8. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    Not used to that sort of sword but I have found generally with sword work that strain in the wrists is an indicator that either the feet,hips, shoulders, or elbows are not correctly aligned. Because the wrists are flexible they can make up for many errors in stance.

    I recommend that you pay as much attention to the positioning of the feet, the relationship of hips to feet, of shoulders to hips, of hips to elbows and of elbows to wrists as you do to the gross movement of the blade.

    I have never understood why japan's martial artists insist on training in baggy trousers that make it almost impossible to see how to stand correctly and how stance should be coordinated with movement - daft.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
  9. pgsmith

    pgsmith Valued dismemberer

    Ah, that makes much more sense. What I've seen in beginners that may account for that is you may be flexing your wrists at the end of the cut to stop your sword's motion, rather than keeping your wrists strong and using your arms and center to stop your sword's motion. Of course, that is only a guess since I can't watch you practice. Make sure and tell your instructor before class starts that it does this so he can keep an eye on what you're doing to determine how to fix it.

    It's a different training philosophy in the Japanese arts. Their outlook is that a person should figure these things out on their own. Takes a lot longer generally, but the knowledge, once it comes, is deeply ingrained. It's the same training philosophy that allows a foreigner to learn quite a lot without having to learn the language as it's mostly watch and copy. Explanations and reasons are more of a Western outlook.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
  10. Pointy

    Pointy Valued Member

    Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll do what I can in this week's practice, as well as speaking with my instructor, and see how it goes.

    I have a funny feeling there won't be a quick fix. :p
  11. Pointy

    Pointy Valued Member

    Had forgotten about this thread!

    I do not have any (bad) pains or aches from preforming the cuts now. I would put my issue it down to three things;

    1. Starting with a heavier 'bokken' and 'iaito' than was advisable, for the length of time that I was training for (2 hours). This would have made straining my wrists (and elbows) easier.

    2. Not having the functional strength to preform the cuts, which would have added to '1'.

    3. Compensating with my wrists for poor technique and alignment.

    Hopefully this will be of use to someone else. =)
  12. ludde

    ludde Valued Member

    Almost always the answer to this type of questions is "You need more practice".

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