Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei Iaido

Discussion in 'Koryu Bujutsu' started by Smitfire, Nov 6, 2012.

  1. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    I've become very interested in Iaido recently and it seems a vast and complex subject.

    I wondered how Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei Iaido was viewed in the world of Iaido and Koryu arts?

    As I understand it Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei Iaido is a modern Iaido style (the later kata only being added in 2000) made by combining elements from older Koryu styles of Iaido (Musō Jikiden Eishin-ryū, Musō Shinden-ryū etc) into some sort of "standard" for people that do Kendo?
    Because of this is it viewed as somehow lesser by practitioners of older or more "authentic" Iaido styles?
    Is it seen as watered down perhaps?
    Or seen as just as worthy as other Koryu styles?

    There are two clubs near me, one does Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei Iaido while the other does Hasegawa Eishin Ryu. Quality of instruction aside would the Hasegawa Eishin Ryu club be seen as closer to authentic Iaido than the one that does ZNKRI?
  2. pgsmith

    pgsmith Valued dismemberer

    Not necessarily 'lesser', just different. ZNKR iaido was originally formed as a way for kendo practitioners to become acquanted with how to use a sword, rather than just a shinai. It has since taken off, and formed its own methodology and movements. It is seen as different because the root of every koryu sword art is how to kill the other guy without dying yourself. The root of ZNKR iaido was how to properly maneuver the sword. One is not necessarily any more viable than the other in today's world.

    That being said, I know nothing about sword arts in York, although ScottUK could probably help you out there. I am a bit concerned about a group that says they practice Hasegawa Eishin ryu since, as far as I know, that art split into MJER and MSR iaido quite a number of years ago. I was unaware that anyone still practiced the original art under that name. It is worth investigating though, in my opinion.
  3. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Ah right...that makes sense.
    So is it well documented as to what arts the ZNKR kata and movements came from?
    So at least the roots can be explored even if your main style is ZNKR?
    Maybe see how the ZNKR have changed?

    Here's what I've seen. No idea if they still do the Iaido bit (or even if the club is running).


    *The site is very buggy and needs "css" removing from the url to see the information on some pages.

    The ZNKR club is in Selby.

    In the korean sword discussions there was lots of talk of the demonstrations betraying a lack of proper foundation because they didn't show basic sword principles.
    Would such a thing be true of ZNKR or are the foundations in pragmatic sword still evident?

    (thanks for answering questions! :) )
  4. ludde

    ludde Valued Member

    Ditto what pgsmith says.
    Different but not lesser. After some years of training I could see myself do iaido, if it had not been for a bunch of other practices I would want to do first.
  5. pgsmith

    pgsmith Valued dismemberer

    The ZNKR kata were devised by a committee of advanced practitioners from a number of different koryu arts. While the kata can be traced back to the schools they were based on, they were only based on those kata. The ZNKR (also called seitei) iai kata were altered from their original forms to give seitei iai its own coherent base, rather than an amalgam of the different arts.

    Hopefully one of the UK guys will have some information on those folks for you.

    ZNKR iaido is a good way to learn the basic use of the Japanese sword. There are very specific requirements to advancement and, due to the world-wide nature of the ZNKR, you can stop into any dojo that practices seitei iai and their kata will look just like yours. If I remember right, you are required to demonstrate koryu kata along with ZNKR kata at yondan and above. (one of you seitei folks correct me if I'm wrong). They also regularly have iaido competitions for seitei iai that you can do, if you're so inclined. You are also guaranteed a certain level of competence in a seitei iai instructor as the rules governing seitei iai are pretty strict.
  6. ScottUK

    ScottUK More human than human...

    Indeed it is!

    With the exception of the extremists, ZNKR is well-received and has it's place in JSA.

    Pretty much spot-on.

    See my comment above.

    It has a particular role, not 'equal' or 'better' or 'worse'. It suits some people, it doesn't suit others.

    I would choose the dojo that has the strongest connections to their teachers in Japan. I have seen koryu-only dojo that have been jolly crap and miles off the mark, and to use your words, 'less-authentic' dojo do better koryu iai.

    Go visit them both.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2012
  7. Kogusoku

    Kogusoku 髭また伸びた! Supporter

    *points to himself* Yep, I'm extremist. :)
  8. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Ah so what are your thoughts on ZNKR?
  9. Dean Winchester

    Dean Winchester Valued Member

    I'm staying out of this.

  10. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Oh dear...can of worms is it?
  11. ScottUK

    ScottUK More human than human...

    Ah, Kogusoku's biased 'cos the entire ZNKR slept with his ex-girlfriend. Ignore him. :D
  12. Dean Winchester

    Dean Winchester Valued Member

    Well I'm not going to side with either of them.

    I'm a student of both of them. :D
  13. Dean Winchester

    Dean Winchester Valued Member

    Yeah I hear that although they all looked nice while doing it she fell asleep from boredom before they'd finished.
  14. ScottUK

    ScottUK More human than human...

    Then they weren't kodansha. ;)
  15. Dean Winchester

    Dean Winchester Valued Member

    I don't think it is appropriate to comment on how small the may have been.......
  16. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Come on guys...spill the beans.
    I started this thread to find out how ZNKR is viewed in the wider Koryu community and when it starts to get juicy you all go quiet.
  17. ScottUK

    ScottUK More human than human...

  18. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Valued Member

    Okay, I'll try to fill in the gaps.

    Confession first, I'm an extremist, same as Steve.... however, I agree completely with Scott. Seitei Iai absolutely has it's own, very well received and respected, place within JSA. It's probably the entry point for many sword slingers, and there's nothing "inauthentic" about it. It is Japanese sword, it is Iai, it's just not Koryu... but it's never made any pretense of being Koryu. It was developed, as Paul said, to give Kendoka an idea of how to actually use a sword, rather than just whack at each other with them bendy bamboo sticks they like so much...

    The complaints that more "Koryu purists" have against Seitei, though, is very much that. It was not developed to focus on the usage of a sword combatively, as there are a number of traits and aspects of the performance of a range of kata that are rather, uh, idealistic and hopeful when it comes to actual combat. That said, the mechanics are all very sound and pragmatic, the sword and it's relative position is always thought about, proper movement and body position is ever-present, and the use of the sword as an instrument to cut is never forgotten. It is a sword art, through and through.

    To get back to the complaints, though, one major one is that it is "Iai formed by a committee", leading to compromises of individual combative principles (riai), homogenization of technique, and so on, as well as the direction that the development of Seitei Iai has taken has seen it get further and further from the usage of sword in combat, or even in simply being there to help Kendoka gain an understanding of how to manipulate a sword, and instead, has gotten rather introverted, leading to rather pedantic levels of precision and pin-point positioning, mainly to emphasize the development of self through the use of a sword (the aim is to gain ever greater control over your body and the weapon, and, in doing so, gain ever greater control over the mind and self).

    Koryu practitioners (who don't also do Seitei... thinking that people are one or the other is not really correct... my Muso Shinden Ryu teacher is a Seitei teacher primarily) often are looking for the combative mentality that isn't necessarily present in Seitei Iai... which is kinda where the issues come into it. However that shouldn't be taken as saying that Seitei Iai and it's waza (techniques) don't have combative reality to them... just that the mentality is different... which tends to leave many Koryu practitioners a little less than enthralled with it.

    Did that help?
  19. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Massively thanks. It seems the background of sword arts can be just as complex and involved as the arts themselves. :)
  20. ScottUK

    ScottUK More human than human...

    Personally, I think the koryu extremists don't have a problem with seitei iai - they have a problem with the seitei extremists who think that seitei iai is the be-all-and-end-all of iai.
    I actually disagree on both points. The combative mentality is there, and it is no different to those who say they do 'iaijutsu'. Without this combative intent, the practitioner is just dancing.

    I would say that over the years, seitei iai is very much returning to what you could consider 'the old way'. Hanging onto the 'form over function' mentality is a big error, if you ask me.

    A massive grading point for kodansha: "Is it rational as budo?" If no, you don't get your yellow belt, Grasshopper.

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