Sunday, May 8, 2011

Japanese fencing has no ‘blocking’ or ‘defending’ techniques



A very interesting idea...

"Japanese fencing has no ‘blocking’ or ‘defending’ techniques... It is useless simply to just stop or block the enemies attack. In deflecting or receiving a blade you must instantly turn it into an attack." (see the whole text below)




I never was very strong, and it is not going to get better with age. Whether in Karate or Kendo, I am reluctant to blocking a strong technique from my opponent, for I know that if that technique is very strong, it might well go through my block (I have a few of my Yoshukai friends in mind here : Travis Page, Paul Turner, James Ronnie...)
So I like the idea: no block, but deflect and counter in a same move.


The practice of Eishin Ryu Iai jutsu and Itto Ryu Kenjutsu, have helped me use that concept in Kendo shiai. The result is: less fatigue, I can last longer. Lasting longer is good, it helps you outlast your opponent until he is tired, then win. 
So, how do I apply this to Karate? I am not sure.  I am looking into this, and I'm not too successful so far. I have to find new techniques, and forget about the old ones, too strong, too straight. Little by little...


Takano Sasaburo (1863 - 1950) of the Ono Ha Itto Ryu, was an instructor at the Tokyo Shihan Gakko (Tokyo Teacher's College). The pPesident of the college was Kano Jigoro (1860 - 1938), founder of Modern Judo. (We are in good company...) The College housed the first department of Physical Education in Japan and was the first school to train martial art instructors for public schools.


Takano Sasaburo took the 68 shinai techniques of Chiba Shusaku Narimasa and reduced their number down to 50 techniques. He then revised  them so they could be practiced by school children using relatively short (but still longer than most steel swords) shinai.

Takano Sasaburo explained this teaching curriculum in a series of books still studied today.


Japanese fencing has no ‘blocking’ or ‘defending’ techniques. Against an enemy's attack, we evade, cut through their blade (kiriotoshi), or deflect and strike (ukenagashi). These cannot be categorized as blocking as these actions are done with the objective of cutting or thrusting the enemy. All these techniques are used to place yourself in an advantageous position. For example, when you are doing kiriotoshi the goal should be to cut the enemies body, and the instant you perform ukenagashi you must turn your blade and strike him. While doing this you must not even allow the tiniest opportunity for the enemy to attack you.

Its useless simply to just stop or block the enemies attack. In deflecting or receiving a blade you must instantly turn it into an attack. Simply blocking/stopping the enemies attack is not beneficial (in defeating your enemy).

Therefore, the merit of kendo is using “sen sen no sen” to take the lead and attack with strong resolution and overwhelming power, all the time without leaving any opening for the enemy to attack you. This will lead to a superb victory.

If you stop to think for a while, this method is not simply about flying blindly into an attack; rather it's about spending a long time working out when the right time is to attack, learning about what works when and what doesn’t (the principles)… only after you do this can you gain (true) victory.

(This is an excerpt from the excellent blog KENSHI247)

We can practice our arts in this way. Karate may be a little trickier, I will keep trying and let you know how I'm doing with it... There are a good supply of strong young stallions at the Dojo, always eager to see what they can do against the old man... There are even a few fighters I would rather have on my side than against me in a bar fight. I am thankful for them.  

"A vaincre sans péril, on triomphe sans gloire"

There is no glory in winning if you take no risk.


And then, how about applying this to Zen ?

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