Saturday, November 21, 2009

Iwanami - spare your fingers...

Nakamura Taizaburo was born in 1912. He began his study of kendo at the age of 15; when he joined the Imperial Army in 1932 he was already 3rd dan in both kendo and judo. After teaching kendo to the officers and noncommissioned officers of his regiment, Nakamura sensei was assigned to a boy's military academy as a fencing instructor; during this time he also studied Omori Ryu iaido. Later, Nakamura sensei was selected to attend the Army Toyama Academy where he became an instructor of actual-combat swordsmanship, bayonet, and knife fighting. He was dispatched to Manchuria as a "special fencing teacher" and instructed members of the select Yamashita Special Attack Force.

He founded the All Japan Toyama Ryu Iaido Federation and has been the Senior Master of Toyama Ryu until his death in 2003. In 1952 he founded the Nakamura Ryu.

In this excerpt from Thoughts on Iaido published by Dragon Tsunami Sensei Nakamura makes an interesting (and gruesome) point about the actual use of a waza similar to our MJER Iwanami

There are techniques in which the palm of the left hand is placed along the back ridge of the blade. These are ineffective and are a waste of time and dangerous. A case in point is that of Lieutenant Colonel Aizawa who cut his fingers employing this type of technique. Aizawa once had been a kenjutsu teacher at the former Army Toyama Academy and was an expert in kendo and bayonet fencing. In 1935, using his western model service saber, he assassinated the head of the Military Affairs Bureau, Major General Nagata (this action preceded the February 26 Revolt of 1936). After failing to kill the general with three cuts, Aizawa placed his left palm on the back of his sword at the mid point, assumed a bayonet fencing "half-right stance" and thrust strongly with his right hand, skewering the general completely through from back to front. This technique is very similar to the All Japan Iaido Federation's fifth form called "kissaki kaeshi" and Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu's "Iwanami". Aizawa cut all four fingers of his left hand to the bone. He later stated, "As a Toyama Academy fencing instructor, I was disappointed and embarrassed that I was unable to cleave the general in two with one stroke."

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