Tuesday, December 24, 2013

I completed yesterday (December 21st) one of my goals for this year. I practiced each one of the MJER Shoden waza and Batto Ho waza 150 times - that is home practice and dos not include class practice. I also practiced Yoshukai Iai - the whole set - 120 times. The long term goal is to practice each waza 1000 times.

Katachi cannot be practiced solo, so far we are up to 350 times Ukenagashi Sono Ni, both parts. I certainly cannot say our execution is perfect, but it has improved a lot. When we first started, we would, maybe, get one acceptable waza each 20 or 30 repetition. Now there are times when I can perform properly 3 or 4 times in a row. 

How do I know they are good ? That's a good question. It feels good, it seems that the timing is good, the distance is good, the opponent's boken slides effortlessly on mine. Notice that I did not say it was perfect ! I am sure there will be things to improve, which I am not able to figure out by myself, and this is what seminars are about.

One thing I know is that our practice has improved, and that this is the only way to progress.

I practice 4 or 5 mornings per week - MJER Iai, Yoshukai Iai, then Zen, the whole thing takes about 1 1/2 hours. Some days I have to shorten it. 

We practice Katachi in class, usually Tuesday night for we have a 3 hours class. We only account for sets of 10. If you practice 3 times a waza, you don't really have the opportunity to improve it, so it does not count. We do 2 to 5 sets, each opponent does both Uchidachi and Shidachi part. It takes a while, but it is worth it. 

Practicing each waza 1000 times will take years, but we have time ! In 2014 I want to complete 150 of each Chuden and Okuden waza; for katachi: 1000 Ukenagashi Sono Ni - then we will switch to an other one, possibly Shinmyoken. 

What are your goals ? 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Visit Mokurai Dojo

Short home-made video of Mokurai Dojo where we train and practice in Tai Chi, Yoshukai Karate, MJER Iaijutsu and Soto Zen Buddhism.

Come train, practice or visit with us !

You can reach me at frederic.lecut@gmail.com or by phone at (334) 798 1639.

Mokurai Dojo - 610 Mitchell St, Headland, AL 36345, USA

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The words below are a paraphrase of Carl Long Sensei's closing statement at the end of our KNBK Instructor's seminar in November 2013. They perfectly express my deep feelings about Budo : 

"This is a good group, the technique is good, it will get better, and this is important. 

This being said, what is more important is that during these 3 days we spent together, each one of you gave something and learned something. So several of us became better persons, because of what they learned, because of what they taught, because of the interaction within the group. 

Budo is not just about you, about becoming better at it. Budo is about making the world a better place. If only one person becomes a better person, the world becomes a better place for everyone else. "

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It is never too late...

Taking up Exercise in your 60's will still help stave off major ill health and dementia, research suggests. 

A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine followed 3,500 healthy people at or around retirement age.

Those who took up exercise were three times more likely to remain healthy over the next eight years than their sedentary peers.

People who took up exercise in their 60s were also less likely to struggle with day-to-day activities such as washing and dressing.

After eight years of follow-up, a fifth of the participants were defined as healthy - not suffering from any major chronic mental or physical illness.

In the study, those who had regularly indulged in moderate or vigorous physical activity at least once a week were three to four times more likely to be healthy agers than those who had remained inactive, even after taking into account factors such as smoking. 
Get off your butts...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Lou Reed died happy, looking at trees as he did Tai Chi.


Lou Reed’s widow said he died while looking at the trees in his garden as he performed tai chi.


After doctors treating him for liver failure told him that nothing more could be done to save him, his wife took him to their home in East Hampton, New York, where he died on Sunday morning.

In a touching obituary she writes: “To our neighbours: What a beautiful fall! Everything shimmering and golden and all that incredible soft light. Water surrounding us. Lou and I have spent a lot of time here in the past few years, and even though we’re city people this is our spiritual home.

“Last week I promised Lou to get him out of the hospital and come home to Springs. And we made it!

“Lou was a tai chi master and spent his last days here being happy and dazzled by the beauty and power and softness of nature. He died on Sunday morning looking at the trees and doing the famous 21 form of tai chi with just his musician hands moving through the air.”

Lou Reed had been studying martial arts since the 1980's. In 2002, he started studying Chen Style Tai Chi.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Zen at War

A few years ago, 2 distressing books entitled "Zen at War" and "Zen War Stories" were published by Brian Victoria about the attitude of the Zen Establishment right before and during World War II in Japan. During this difficult period, a number of Zen Masters gave their support to the Japanese Imperial Army. This was very unfortunate, but they were very likely unaware of the atrocities committed in Korea, China and other Asian countries by the Japanese forces. (Are we really aware of what is going on in Pakistan or Afghanistan ?)

Apparently and according to various authors, Victoria tried to strengthen his case by distorting the words of a number of prominent Zen teachers. Among those are Kodo Sawaki, teacher of Taisen Desshimaru and Gudo Nishijima - and D.T. Suzuki who first translated in English the Lankavatara Sutra - among others - Excusez-moi du peu ! Quotations from these masters were mistranslated and taken out of contest to make them seem like war-mongers when this was quite the opposite.

I suggest you read this article and decide for yourself. 

I don’t know Japanese so I can’t judge of the validity of the arguments on the translations. However, I have been practising Japanese Martial Arts for a few years and I would like to add some wood to the fire of discussion. So here we go :

Zen does not preach the gospel of mercy, in fact Zen does not preach anything at all. Zen is practice.

The connection between Zen and Martial Arts dates from the beginnings of Zen in Japan – i.e. the 13th century when the Mongols of Kubilai Khan twice tried to invade (in 1274 and 1281). These were difficult times for Japanese society.
If you want to understand more about the connection between Zen and Martial Arts, I suggest you read Trevor Legett’s "Zen and the Ways” and “The Warriors Koans”, Taisen Desshimaru (another disciple of Kodo Sawaki Roshi) – “Zen and Martial Arts”, Yamaoka Tesshu’s “The sword of no-sword”, or Omory Sogen’s “Introduction to Zen training”. These are all books by men of great accomplishment in Zen and/or Traditional Japanese Martial or other Arts. 

The same sword and swordsman kills and gives life – no distinction. This is not a deep philosophical thing. If you see someone ready to hurt some innocent person, you slice them, your sword killed one person, and gave life to the other person. It is that simple. If you believe otherwise, you are mistaken. You might not be able to do it, but do not blame Buddhism or Zen for that. It is just that you were not able to do it.

There is no shame if you did nothing because you did not know how to handle a sword. No need to be killed yourself. However, if you are fluent in Martial Arts and are not able to use them when necessary, or if you use them too easily when you should not, you have a problem, and society has a problem. 

This is where Zen can help.

Yagyu Munenori was chief martial art instructor to the first and second Tokugawa shogun. (Early 17th century). Only once in his life did he draw his sword when a small group of rebels tried to assassinate the Shogun. Munenori, who was himself a disciple of Takuan Soho - sliced them down.
In his book “Heiho Kandesho” translated by Scott Wilson as “the Life-giving sword” Munenori clearly explains the identity of the life giving and the killing sword.

Things are not complicated. To become fluent at anything, you need to practice. It is true of Zen, it is true of Martial Arts. You need to practice Zazen, you need to practice Kendo or Calligraphy. If you don’t practice, you are wasting your time. 

And here I am, writing...

Monday, October 28, 2013

There is a plan...

I often read articles, blogs or books about Zen or Buddhism written by very knowledgeable people. They hold PhD.s in Religious studies; some can speak Chinese and Japanese, decipher the Tun Huang Manuscripts or read ancient Tibetan or Dogen's Japanese. They are scholars of all horizons and / or certified Dharma transmitted Zen Masters...

What they write is usually deep - and complicated. So quite a few other brilliant and sometimes vindictive persons enjoy arguing with them, and all we have is lots of bickering and arguing between experts or enlightened people. 

But is this really the point ? And what is really the point ? Is it to be right, or is it to be happy ?

Originally, there is this nagging frustration or insatisfaction - the human condition. And Buddhism is about overcoming it. There are different ways to achieve this, but originally, this is what it is all about.

There is no speaking about form, emptiness, the 3 poisons or the 4 Noble truth to someone whose child just died. 

There is a plan. 

There is a design for each and everyone of us. 

You look at nature : 

Bird flies somewhere,
Picks up a seed,
Shits the seed out,
Plant grows.

Bird's got a job,
Shit's got a job,
Seed's got a job,
And you've got a job too.

(Quote from Cold Mountain - the Movie, not the Zen poems...)

Thursday, October 24, 2013


During the October 2013 KNBK seminar in Pensacola, Carl Long Sensei introduced us to the the Shin-Gyo-So practice forms of the Ono-Ha Itto Ryu Kiriotoshi

The words 'shin, gyo, so' come from the three ways of writing in Shodo (Calligraphy), 'kaisho (equivalent to shin), gyosho and sosho'. Shin is a formal non cursive form, Gyo a semi-cursive one, and So is the cursive form.

" " - MU - Nothing - brushed in the 3 styles

In the Itto Ryu practice, the distance between opponents (Mai) and the target of the cut are different for each one of the 3 different ways: Shin (), Gyo () , So ().

GYO ( )
SO ( )
Solar plexus,
Suigetsu (水月 )
Throat, Nodo
( )
Head, Men
( )

Practice intensely and repeatedly...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Reality of War : War is violence and violence is unpredictable

The Dalai Lama, in an excellent analysis of the Reality of War, clearly states that although he is personally deeply opposed to war, he does not advocate appeasement in front of unjust aggression. 

I want to make it clear, however, that although I am deeply opposed to war, I am not advocating appeasement. It is often necessary to take a strong stand to counter unjust aggression. For instance, it is plain to all of us that the Second World War was entirely justified. It "saved civilization" from the tyranny of Nazi Germany, as Winston Churchill so aptly put it. In my view, the Korean War was also just, since it gave South Korea the chance of gradually developing democracy. But we can only judge whether or not a conflict was vindicated on moral grounds with hindsight. For example, we can now see that during the Cold War, the principle of nuclear deterrence had a certain value. Nevertheless, it is very difficult to assess al such matters with any degree of accuracy. War is violence and violence is unpredictable. Therefore, it is better to avoid it if possible, and never to presume that we know beforehand whether the outcome of a particular war will be beneficial or not.

A similar position is developed by Yagyu Munenori in his Heiho Kandesho : It is sometimes justified to kill a dangerous man to preserve the life of others. 

This kind of position is delicate. What exactly does constitute a threat ? If somebody verbally threatens to kill you, does that threat justify killing him in self defense ? 

If a country threatens to nationalize some of the assets owned by corporations of another country, is it justified to attack them to defend the interests of these corporations ? 

If a group of fanatics in a part of the world uses chemical weapons to kill civilians in the context of a civil war, is it a threat that justifies "punishment" ? 

Would this punishment really punish the guilty ones ? Would this punishment really prevent the recurrence of such an horror, or could it exacerbate it ?

War is violence and violence is unpredictable. Therefore, it is better to avoid it if possible, and never to presume that we know beforehand whether the outcome of a particular war will be beneficial or not.

The only people who gain anything out of any kind of war are the shareholders and employees of corporations of the armament industry and the politicians receiving funds from these corporations.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Kuan Yin

Kuan Yin (also spelled Guan Yin, Kwan Yin) is the bodhisattva of compassion venerated by East Asian Buddhists. Commonly known as the Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin is also revered by Chinese Taoists as an Immortal. The name Kuan Yin is short for Kuan Shih Yin (Guan Shi Yin) which means "Observing the Sounds of the World".

In Japanese, Kuan Yin is called Kannon or more formally Kanzeon; the spelling Kwannon, resulting from an obsolete system of romanization, is sometimes seen. In Korean, she is called Kwan-um or Kwan-se-um. In Vietnamese, she is called Quan Âm or Quan Thế Âm Bồ Tát.

Kuan Yin is the Chinese name for the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. However, folk traditions in China and other East Asian countries have added many distinctive characteristics and legends. Most notably, while Avalokitesvara can be depicted as either male or female, Kuan Yin is usually depicted as a woman, whereas Avalokitesvara in other countries is usually depicted as a man.

I always had a personal appreciation for Kwan Yin, for I believe she is the oldest goddess in the world. Her other names are Isis, Ishtar, Marie and Myriam, among others, and we have representations of her dating from way before humans could write...

The Venus of Brassempouy - 25,000 BP
This Satue of Kwan Yin moved to the Mokurai Garden last July. She greets me and I bow to her everymorning morning on my way to the Dojo.

John Blofeld wrote about her in a beautiful book :

She is the embodiment of selfless love, the supreme symbol of radical compassion, and, for more than a millennium throughout Asia, she has been revered as “The One Who Hearkens to the Cries of the World.”

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The unification of Japan

The second half of the 16th century saw the final unification of Japan.

3 men of exception carried out this amazing task.

  • Oda Nobunaga (1534 – 1582)
  • Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537 – 1598)
  • Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543 – 1616)

One of the various warlords plundering the land which was only nominally under the authority of an emperor isolated in Kyoto, Nobunaga began the process of unification.

Nobunaga only united about 30 % of Japan. He had given momentum for is successors but was assassinated by one of his disgruntled generals in 1582. 

Both Hideyoshi and Tokugawa were his faithful vassals. 

Hideyoshi,  a military genius, was the son of a farmer. He raised in the military through his own valor. He has often been compared to Napoleon. Practically, Hideyoshi achieved the process of unification.  In 1590, he was controlling most of Japan.

Tokugawa Ieyasu was a general and vassal of Nobunaga and Hideyoshi. After Hideyoshi's death in 1598, Ieyasu got rid of his son and installed the Tokugawa shogunate that would last 250 years. 

There is a Japanese saying: "Nobunaga pounds the national rice cake, Hideyoshi kneads it, and in the end Ieyasu sits down and eats it."

Friday, September 6, 2013


There is a vast potential, latent within human beings that remains undiscovered because of the limitation placed on consciousness by habitual preoccupations. 

The recommendation that all cravings be relinquished does not mean that detachment itself is a goal; it is a means of breaking through self-imposed restrictions and opening up this inexhaustible treasury of potential.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle.

"Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared."

This is generally attributed to the Buddha.  

If you try to figure out when and where He said that, from which Sutra it comes from, you better be patient and ready to never find it ! 

It is a common use to attribute to famous people words someone less famous said... Lao Tzu, Confucius, Abraham Lincoln and Einstein, among many others, are also credited with lots of apparently deep things they probably never said. 

Go figure...

Years ago, before I moved to the US, I suffered from depression. It lasted several month. It sucked. Nothing mattered to me anymore. The only time I was able to forget about my misery was when I would get on a mat to teach or study Ju Jitsu or Kendo. 

Once a month I would drive to Paris to study Ju Jitsu under Master Rolland Hernaez. I was just 1st degree black belt then. 

One night I had been driving 2 1/2 hours under rain and slit to get there, wondering why I was doing this, feeling sorry for myself - depression does that to you... I had arrived early at the Dojo and was changing clothes, by myself in the dressing room. Sensei Hernaez opened the door to see who was there. He looked at me, said nothing, and smiled - a big smile. I suppose he was happy to see me there. 

All of a sudden, my sorriness gone. Light had chased the darkness away. 

He must have been 7th Degree Black belt in Ju Jitsu back then. (Not counting his ranks in Karate, Judo and Aikido...) I was just a shodan, and this great Man  smiled at me... He did not have to do it, but he did and it made a big difference in my life.

Never waste an occasion to smile to people. It's easy to do, it is free to you, and you never know what you can bring them. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fighting across a Gate or Door

In his Heiho Okugi Sho translated by Thomas Cleary as  Secrets of the Art of Warfare,  the famous Yamamoto Kansuke (1501-1561) writes : 

In a fight across a doorway, there is an advantage when you are one against many. The advantage is that even though there are many opponents they cannot encircle you to strike. However, if they have time, enemies may come around  by another way, so you should keep yourself covered

About 450 years later, in his book Flashing Steel, Masayuki Shimabukuro Hanshi describes Moniri - a waza used in a particular case of such a situation.

Your enemies are lying in wait at a narrow entry gate ... Two ambushers are waiting on the far side of the gate while a third stalks you from behind. This presents a challenging situation because if you turn to deal with the attacker to your rear, the two in the front will rush through the gate behind you. But, if you attempt to pass through the gate all three will converge on you while you are confined within its framework...


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Samadhi in Action

Samadhi can be achieved through various means : Meditation - Dhyana in Sanskrit, Chan in Chines, Zen in Japanese, Son in Korean - is one of them.

Samadhi can also be achieved through action. Asian disciplines such as Budo (all martial Arts); Shodo - the art of Calligraphy; Chado - the Art of Serving Tea... are ways to achieve Samadhi through action.

The term DO (at the end of Budo, Judo, Shodo, ... etc actually means "Way". Budo is the Way of Martial Arts, Shodo the way of the Brush, Kyudo the way of the bow... This means that these disciplines : Martial Arts, Calligraphy, Archery are used as a way to realize Samadhi.

These ways were not developed exclusively by Asian cultures.Individuals and groups in the Christian and Muslim words have practised various ways to reach Samadhi. And it is also very probable that other cultures also developed them. However Asian people and among them the Japanese more particularly, have developed them in a more particular and systematic way than other cultures have.

This video of Mioko Shida is a perfect example of a non traditional Samadhi at work...


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bodhidharma's "Outline of Practice"

For various reasons, I have a personal affection for Bodhidharma: he left his country to come teach in another one, and he founded Shaolin Kung Fu and designed the Chi Gong Yi Jin Jing and Xi Sui Jing exercises.

We know little things about him. He is very much a legendary figure. But aren't legends and myth often based on reality (Which reality ?). 

Let us say that sometimes around 475 AD, an Indian Buddhist Master came from India to China to teach the Dhyana school of Buddhism. 

Bodhidharma left us a few short texts  - they are likely transcriptions of his teachings as it is doubtful that he could write Chinese. Today I would like to share with you the most known of these texts, entitled "Outline of Practice" 

It is the text of a translation by Red Pine. If you are interested in the other texts, I suggest you purchase the book The Zen teachings of Bodhidharma

Outline of Practice

‘Many roads lead to the Way, but basically there are only two: reason and practice. 

To enter by reason means to realize the essence through instruction and to believe all living things share the same true nature, which isn’t apparent because it’s shrouded by sensation and delusion. Those who turn from delusion back to reality, who meditate on walls, the absence of self and other, the oneness of mortal and sage, and who remain unmoved even by sutras are completely in accord and unspoken agreement with reason. Without moving, without effort, they enter, we say, by reason’.

To enter by practise refers to four all-inclusive practices: suffering injustice, adapting to conditions, seeking nothing, and practising the Dharma.’

First, suffering injustice. When those who search for a path encounter adversity, they should think to themselves ‘In countless ages gone by I’ve turned from the essential to the trivial and wandered through all manner of existences, often angry without cause and guilty of numberless transgressions. Now, though I do no wrong, I’m punished by my past. Neither gods nor men can foresee when an evil deed will bear it’s fruit. I accept it with an open heart and without complaint of injustice’. The sutra says ‘When you meet with adversity don’t be upset, because it makes sense’. With such understanding you’re in harmony with reason. And by suffering injustice you enter the path.’

Second, adapting to conditions. As mortals we’re ruled by conditions not by ourselves. All the suffering and joy we experience depend on conditions. If we should be blessed by some great reward, such as fame or fortune, it’s the fruit of a seed planted by us in the past. When conditions change, it ends. Why delight in its existence? But while success and failure depend on conditions, the mind neither waxes nor wanes. Those who remain unmoved by the wind of joy silently follow the path.’

Third, seeking nothing. People of this world are deluded. They’re always longing for something - always, in a word, seeking. But the wise wake up. They choose reason over custom. They fix their minds on the sublime and let their bodies change with the seasons. All phenomena are empty. They contain nothing worth desiring. ‘Calamity forever alternates with Prosperity’. To dwell in the three realms is to dwell in a burning house. To have a body is to suffer. Does anyone with a body know peace? Those who understand this detach themselves from all that exists and stop imaging or seeking anything. The sutra says ‘To seek is to suffer. To seek nothing is bliss’. When you seek nothing, you’re on the path.’

Fourth, practising the Dharma. The Dharma is the truth that all natures are pure. By this truth, all appearances are empty. Defilement and attachment, subject and object don’t exist. The sutra says ‘ The Dharma includes no being because it’s free from the impurity of being, and the Dharma includes no self because it’s free from the impurity of self’. Those wise enough to believe and understand these truth are bound to practise according to the Dharma. And since that which is real includes nothing that is worth begrudging, they give their body, life, and property in charity, without regret, without the vanity of the giver, gift, or recipient, and without bias or attachment. And to eliminate impurity they teach others, but without being attached to form. Thus, through their own practise they’re able to help others and glorify the Way of Enlightenment. And as with charity, they also practise the other virtues to eliminate delusion, they practise nothing at all. This is what’s meant by practising the Dharma.’

Please read and consider carefully. And if you don't agree try to figure out why some guy travelled thousands of miles from India to China 1500 years ago to teach this.
With the help of other masters, we will later try to get more insight in this important text.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

It sometimes takes a punch in the nose...

How many times have I told beginners in Karate to keep their hands up when sparring - and their hands go down. Always, it never fails.

And the one day they get popped on the nose - sometimes it breaks it, sometimes it bleeds - they remember and all of a sudden their hands stay up. Some of them even tell me I was right...  Well guess what ?

By the way, the same thing happened to me a long time ago. Since then I have consistently kept my hands up...

"When you are ready, the teacher will show up".

Actually, the teacher might have shown up earlier, but you did not pay attention. It is the same with teachings. You may have been told how to do it, maybe times and times, but until you really needed to learn, you just did not listen. 

Last June I had the honor to demonstrate Tameshigiri in front of Soke Katsuoh Yamamoto and a vast crowd assembled to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his founding Yoshukai Karate. 

I had planned to demonstrate Rokudan Giri - a classical 6 cuts exercise. 

  1. Left to right Diagonal downward cut
  2. Right to left Diagonal downward cut
  3. Right to left Diagonal downward cut
  4. Left to right Diagonal upward cut
  5. Right to left Diagonal downward cut
  6. Left to right Diagonal upward cut

I was cutting through a roll made of two tatami mats

It all went well for the first three cuts, then on the fourth one, the target got airborne and fell from the stand. Only 2 layers of straw had not been cut.

I stopped there as if this was exactly what I intended to do, and everybody - but me - was satisfied and impressed with my demonstration !

Two weeks later as I discussed the event with Patty Heath Sensei my instructor from the Big Green Drum Dojo in Pensacola, she asked me if I had lined my back hip with the target. I told her I had not, for nobody had ever told me to do so. To which she suggested that probably it had been told to me, but I had not remembered it. And very likely this is what happened. 

The next morning, I installed a double mat on the stand, aligned my back hip on the target, and performed a nice and clean rokudan giri ! 

I was so pleased and impressed that I cut a second target, with the same success !

Morals of this story :
  • If you want to cut, line up your back hip with your target...
  • Always listen to Sensei.
  • If you are the Sensei, sometimes it may be better to let a student struggle with a problem before you tell him how to solve it.

Train hard

Friday, June 21, 2013

Chambering the Sword

In a lot of our Katachi waza, Uchidachi pushes Shidachi backwards then cuts.

To be able to push your opponent, your kissaki needs to be in the center. When you push him you shuffle your front foot to enter into his space - your kissaki aimed at his face or chest. You keep pressing by taking a full step ahead with your back foot while raising your sword. When your opponent steps back, you cut him.

It is important to cut him WHILE he is stepping back - while his backing foot is still in the air. If your cut comes when his foot has already landed, it is too late. He could - and should - cut you.

If you chamber your sword behind your head, you give your opponent the opportunity to cut while it is behind you. You created an opportunity for you when you forced him backward, and you just lost it by chambering behind your head. Not very bright, you deserve to die !

Of course if both of you chamber behind your head, this does not apply, maybe you both deserve to die !

I suppose this is why in Itto Ryu we are told not to chamber our sword past our head, and why in Kendo the Men cut keeps the sword moving forward.
Practice this : Start at one end of the dojo and push your partner - ask him to cut you if he can - if you chamber behind your head, he should seize the opportunity. If you only chamber above your head, he should have no opening. 

BTW, this also works in Karate. It is very difficult to launch a successful move while retreating. Unless you are baiting the opponent - but this is a different story !

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Kenjutsu, Iajututsu, Kendo & Iaido

When I taught a Kenjutsu class at our Yoshukai Summer camp 4 students out of 15 showed up without any kind of sword...

Turns out a most students had no clue what Kenjutsu is about.

Let us try to clarify what Kendo, Kenjutsu, Iaido and Iaijutsu are.

Iaijutsu : Basically, Iaijutsu is about drawing your sword and cutting your opponent in one move. This is the intent. Ideally, your opponent is out on your draw (nukitsuke). As it is unlikely that he is fully dead, but more than likely wounded, you put an end to his misery with an additional move. It is also possible that you missed him on your first draw, or that this first draw was a purely defensive move needed to evade his attack. In that case, you proceed to other moves in order to get rid of your opponent. 

In a way Iaijutsu is more about duelling and street fighting.

The student of Iaijutsu generally performs moves by himself. It is somehow similar to Karate kata. It is important to supplement this training by actual practice with a partner, but at the beginning it is not necessary. 

Generally Iaijutsu is practiced with a Iaito : a blunt sword that allows safe practice by numerous students in a dojo.

Kenjutsu : In Kenjutsu you draw your sword and use it. This is more about battlefield combat.

The student of Kenjutsu immediately starts training with a partner.

Kenjutsu is usually practiced with a wooden boken. 

Iaido and Kendo are similar to Iaijutsu and Kenjutsu in their technical aspects. The techniques of Iaido are the techniques of Iaijutsu. The spirit of their practice is different. Whoever practices Jutsu is seeking technical mastery of the Art. Whoever studies Do is seeking self improvement through practice. However, this is not clear cut. The practice of Iaijutsu or Kenjutsu can also be a spiritual journey, and some senseless idiots practice Kendo.

Kenjutsu / Kendo Iaijutsu / Iaido
Practice With partner Solo
Type of fighting Battle field Street fighting
Training weapon Wooden Boken / Bamboo Shinai Blunt Iaito

Sometimes the term Batto-do or Batto-Jutsu is used to regroup the 2 disciplines under the same term.

There would be much more to say on this subject, but the point is simplicity. I apologize for the approximations. 

The next time you come to a Kenjutsu class, please bring a boken