Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Give your warriors techniques - and they will starve someday short of techniques, and will be defeated...

...Give your warriors philosophy and they would be able to implement techniques appropriately". Antonio LaMotta
figure 1-1
Striking Techniques (Excerpt from Shinobi-Kai Scroll)
figure 1-2
Itsu-tsu no Kamae (Five Fighting Postures)
Excerpt from Shinobi-Kai Scroll

This Chapter is dedicated to the techniques of the long and the short swords (daisho).  These following techniques represent the core of Shinobi Kai, the striking and counter-striking systems of kenjutsu, based on the study of the words of Miyamoto Musashi.
The Quick Strike
...(top-center, figure 1-1: one hand at the pommel and one hand at the blade - supporting the ridge of the blade) is the illustration that represents the philosophy of Quick Strikes. In these techniques, the hands are always positioned far apart - on the tsuka (this will allow better control and leverage of the sword). These techniques (Quick Strikes), because of its speed, are the only techniques that do not require a preceding subterfuge (or a fake). Holding the tsuka with your hands close together (like holding a baseball bat), will give you power and speed, but will not have any control in maneuverability. With your hands apart you have leverage, directional maneuverability and quick strike ability (striking single handed by holding by the pommel and pushing and releasing the hand by the tsuba).

  • Observing on this particular illustration (figure 1-1, top-center), the right hand's purpose is to (push) flick the blade with minimum effort as the left hand guides the blade to its target (similar to a whipping action). This technique of strike can be as quick as an arrow. The ability to be able to implement these techniques on both sides must be attained. Variations of this application must be done from less obvious stances (itsu-tsu kamae). Observe the videos to see numerous strikes to the opponents hand from hassogamae posture, as well as to all other targets. Note the probing strikes with both sword and staff. They were meant to hit the targets before any initial reaction to parry. If done in a proper speed, these strikes are hard to observe on the video. With the hands far apart, the same effect can be attained as in the representing illustration.
All targets are exposed to the Quick Strike techniques: head, hands, forearm, eyes, collar bone, inside of upper leg, ankles, feet, and neck from any least suspected positions. This is the secret of the Quick Strike.
"My favorite application is to fake high, moving out of my opponent's range, I cut low across my opponent's leg. It's a classic Sasaki Kojiro's style, but don't forget - Miyamoto Musashi had defeated him with a stick; boku-to (wood-sword ) or boku-ken (also: wood-sword). You can elaborate on that. Always must keep your body and spirit straight and focused - and make your enemies' bodies and spirits twisted and warped. This is the way of The-Red Leaves-Falling...
... In my study of Iaido, the first cut had to be practiced as directed to the wrists (deflecting the attacking sword to either side - instead of a low cut to the torso) for the reason that your opponent's sword's momentum has the tendencies to deliver the blade in your head quite strongly.

And for some reasons that you may want to avoid cutting your opponent's hands off, reverse your blade. When you understand these, you will become a better samurai - a better man"... ...under construction

NOTE: This video shows the initial strikes to the hand - using the Sword, Naginata or Yari, and the Tonfa. The purpose of this move is to disable the opponent and to force the opponent to abort the attack. In this exercise, choreography is not used and the students are asked to attack the best they can - even to grab at the naginata's blade, that was Gary Claff. Dan Hundley is the sword that ran from the pair of tonfas, after taking a loud crack on the side of his chest armor. The tonfas are made of hard wood, it can break wrists without any problem. Clifton Banks smiles allot.
Some of the strikes on this video uses the ridge of the sword. The mode of striking with the ridge of the sword neutralizes your attacker without severing his limbs. There are other options than just maiming your opponents. To be an effective swordsman, one has to be fully aware of the orientation of his sword. This is the highest standard of kenjutsu.
The same exercises are practiced by other students (Michel Nerrant and Dal Go). To properly draw your sword, first you must evaluate the situation, then twist your scabbard to either cut or strike mode. This is the proper way to teach Iaido. Other schools will teach you just to cut, any fool can do that.
KENJUTSU: Most practitioners today don't really know what kenjutsu is. It's neither a style nor a lineage of some sort of fencing method. Kenjutsu is a term, derived from ken no jutsu - much like ken no kakuto and tojutsu or to no jutsu. It merely states (sword-fighting). The only tradition in kenjutsu is to keep your techniques secret from your neighboring warriors to better defend yourselves someday.

Sakakibara Kenkichi is the leading pioneer warrior that ......under construction

As for the Chinese writing, the Japanese borrowed the same writing system, but leaving-out over two-thirds as many it went on, and later they developed the japanese short strokes: katakana and hiragana, to further assist the japanese system of writing. ......under construction

Miyamoto Musashi is the epitome of kenjutsu. His whole life represents the growth and the resulting wisdom of the way of the sword. Strength and speed is not enough, you must have compassion. You must resort to everything and anything, even fighting with a mere stick. Many writers that didn't understand a lick of what he wanted to accomplish wrote wrongly about him. He much rather take prisoners than hack their arms off - and he most certainly did take-in numerous prisoners in a few battles during the christian civil war in Japan. I will elaborate on this.....under construction

Tadashi Yamashita, advanced sword techniques class - Shinobi-Kai Dojo, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Second Timing Strike
All maneuvers are a matter of movements. When one movement is underway, it normally continues on until it finishes that particular order. You have to strike your objectives during this movement while the opponent is locked in this order (unable to defend or retaliate).
To make striking effective (in any kind of attack), the strike must be preceded with a subterfuge (or a fake). This is the application of a realistic stimulus preceding the actual strike, cut, or thrust. The more realistic the stimulus, the more effective and successful the strike would be. (SEE VIDEO, 1:47 - 3:10)
In this case, a set of multiple stimuli is highly effective - with each motion being useful for implementation of a parry and an immediate counter strike, if necessary.
The correct management of the application of a blundering stimulus is to: 1) position your attack in a (chambered manner), this is your fake (the opponent will motion to parry this seemingly real strike; 2) (to be able to strike the opponent from this position without having to re-chamber will present a great advantage), strike from here without wasting any move, this will keep you ahead of the opponent. This technique is also highly applicable in Musashi's Injuring the Corners.
Whatever the opponent attack is delivering, disrupt the gate's opening momentarily, apply a subterfuge - get in position and strike as soon as the expected opening happens. Observe the videos for multiple fake applications.
Feigning retreats are also sub-techniques that are important parts of the Second Timing Strikes. Feign a step back while re-chambering low - in this way you're stepping out of his range. As he chambers to strike you - deliver a high thrust as his body leans forward towards you. One has to disrupt the gate even when turning one's back to the opponent, then followed again by a feign and strike (a sweeping strike to the legs often works well with this).
"Just worry about cutting and killing your Opponent" is a major mistranslation and misrepresentation of Miyamoto Musashi's ideals. This is due to hasty applications, thinking that they have what it takes to translate his words. You have to know how to find peace in hell before you can start understanding what musashi have to say. To be able to make sense of an attack that is about to kill you - and instead neutralize it and win a follower instead of an enemy, is what Musashi is trying to portray right from his grave.
Speed and Brawn is replaced by wisdom, accuracy and compassion (mind, body and spirit).

Thrust to the Face and to the Heart
The thrust is the most important technique in the strategy of kenjutsu. Especially when the opponent is coming-in strongly. Initiate the feigning techniques correctly then position your point at the center and he will run right into your sword.
Point the sword at the opponent's face (or jab). When he parries, drop your point and let his sword pass, only to come up at the other side and jab at his face again. After much practice with this technique, one can easily circle under the opponents parries and come up on the other side again, after the opponents parry passes. initiate a one handed lunging thrust, cut to the neck, thrust to the eyes, and/or a lunging thrust to the groin (hara region). See: video clips. There are a few ways to circle under his sword (swing the point; bind or trap then swing the point overhead; press - release then swing the point under; or push his guard up from underneath and simply thrust quickly). Most attacks (95%) can either be stopped, neutralized or killed by the simple thrust or the circling jabs. The targets are: the neck (murasame, matsukaze), eyes, throat, under the arms (arteries), wrists (tendons), chest cavity, inside of the legs (arteries), groin, feet, and hands.
Circling over or passing over the top is more dangerous, you will have the tendencies to take your sword point away from the gate while he is left there in control of it. Circling under is the better and faster way of detour (you still have a thrust to the groin to keep him away or to stop him).
To quickly parry, leave your point stationary and maneuver your guard (fist). This is quicker than trying to manage the whole sword in close situations (the point tends to get heavy). Your hand is closer to the center of gravity of the sword, therefore, it will move quicker - rather than trying to muscle your point. Your point will naturally line-up itself for a thrust and this is the time to launch it. This is how to maneuver in a closed-in situation.
Double Sword Technique
The double sword techniques are most helpful against multiple opponents or subduing one's opponent and taking-on prisoners. Miyamoto Musashi proved this during the Christian War in Japan. To have this skill, one have to be proficient in using one sword in each hand. Musashi had mentioned that one should train in doing this from the start. (SEE VIDEO, 3:10 - 3:26).
Knowing the methodology of the Gate, one would recognize the doubled defensive potential in having a sword in each hand. The offensive potential in this method is also doubled, rendering your opponent out maneuvered.
Your opponent has to make an initial step in order to deliver a strike at you. There is your first target, strike at the leg. Your second target is a cut across the forearms, cutting the attacking sword down. You can achieve accuracy through much practice of this technique.
While one sword is doing the cutting, the other sword is parrying or providing cover. A simultaneous feign and strike is also manageable, feigning and thrusting at two opponents at one time.
Use the corner of your blade and tsuba to trap or bind and maneuver your opponent's sword around. Through practice, you will see that any impending position of your sword is applicable in warranting an effective guard upon the Gate. Your sword can close or disrupt the gate at any time or position. There is no particular angle or position necessary. Focus on closing or disrupting the Gate opening, this is where your opponent's attack will go through. Do not over extend and wander too far from the Gate region, this will weaken you. Closing the gate (parry or strike that disrupts the center opening) should be continuously flowing (dispatched) and with counter-strikes ready to be implemented without having to re-chamber (this is the secret equation).
Always sweep-around low at the leg to stop any incoming attack from the rear. Also, sweeping overhead-parry will stop unseen thrusting attacks from behind. I have caught many incoming strikes just doing so.
Some attackers would apply tourniquets so as not to bleed excessively before they can finish their attack, but an accurate cut to the wrist will make their fingers fall open - unable to grasp their weapons.  This damage will be permanent, unless you fish each tendon from above the elbow and sew them back together.
The double sword technique is actually more tolerant. With a single sword, what you might have to hack down or kill, could be gently neutralized with a double sword. Musashi had proven this many times.
The ideal targets with the double sword are the leg, groin, wrist or forearm, thrust to the heart, eyes, and around the neck areas (murasame and matsukaze). You can throw those cute stances away, they mean nothing to you. If you were a sprinter (runner) would you pose your different running stances and/or jumps right before you go. You would look really stupid won't you? You can pretty much tell who's going to fall first and how fast by the way they look in their cute stances.  These individuals are bound to make another cute one, that's when you time your strike.  What Musashi is trying to convey is that the five stances are segments of movements. Study this diligently.
On the Length of the Sword
To make a long story short, one has to parry or block near the center of gravity of one's blade (this would be close to the hand-guard of the sword ).  This method will enable one to have a positive reaction on impact (not straining with your hand or hands, to try to stop the incoming attack).  At this rate one should be able to counter attack with a strike or cut with a proper length of one's blade to the opponent's hand area.  A longer blade would require a longer hilt (sword handle) to be able to apply the proper leverage of the weapon.  This is why a nodachi requires an extra long hilt.  One can thrust with one's hand at the pommel (for better distance), and one is required to maneuver the weapon as close to the center-of-gravity to be able to apply appropriate leverage.  The idea is to bind one's opponent's sword away (using the area of the hand-guard or close to it) and conquer the center to attack.  The more leverage - the better one can implement the bind-and-throwing method, to gain the center attack.  One has to study this method and applications thoroughly.

To Capture the Sword
Place an attack forward to his head with a good leverage.  As soon as he parries, exert a pressure directed towards his head or neck.  This will prompt him to hold his block in place (fearing that if he moves his sword elsewhere, his head will get cut-off).  At this point of shock ( a fraction of a second), you can capture his sword, or deliver a strategical punch or kick that would effectively throw him off or let him fall back.  This is the way to capture the sword or neutralize an initial attack. Only an idiot would not try this first before cutting anyone apart. 
After learning these techniques thoroughly, one does not need a sharp sword in order to neutralize an attack (whatever weapon).  One can implement a strike to effectively stop what's going through the gate, what's holding the incoming weapon, and/or capture the opponent's weapon.  One can effectively break an attackers forearm with the ridge of one's sword, or with a solid hard-wood stick - without cutting or severing an opponent's arm.

The Gate
My interpretation of Musashi's Gate is that it is the area or sector that you must control or manage.  It is the void sector or area of intersection of both the enemies attack and your counter attack.  This sector is between you and your opponent.  If you would hold a small shield (the size of a European Buckler), extended towards your opponent who is holding a sword, you will be denying him a straight shot of attack against any part of your body - including your feet.  Now, you do not want a buckler extended-out for any extended period, for the opponent will just figure a way to cut your arm off.  Instead, you must strike (in a punching motion), with your buckler towards the center of your opponent, and this will deflect your opponent's attack, (regardless of what angle of attack).  In kenjutsu, this perfect timing of the buckler is replaced by a perfect timing of your sword maneuver.  Now, the buckler is not needed.  As soon as your opponent flinches for an attack, you must check the gate with your sword, but in a way that you have the next move.  In other words, anytime you parry or block, place your sword in a chambered position, so that your next move is a strike to your opponent's any vital target.  Miyamoto Musashi insisted on speaking about this sector in the process of  teaching the techniques of swordplay.  UNDER CONSTRUCTION....... 

Strategy of the Sword
The way of the sword (kenjutsu) and strategy are one. Strategy is not a mere collection of techniques, manpower, technology or even chronicles of previous maneuvers. To dispatch all these resources and expect to win against something that is unknown is suicidal. Man-power and techniques are not sufficient to win - one must know the enemy, timing, and the terrain by heart or by reliable information.
Know your enemies' weapons, their potential and their applications. One has to know enemies' weapons or forces practically well. This is how to resolve an effective neutralization of one's enemies' attacks. It's irrelevant how strong the enemy forces are or how much larger they are, as long as they are not engaged to cause unbearable damage. (See: Injuring the Corners - The Book of Five Rings). This is when to apply evasive maneuvers and strike sporadically to damage the enemies less protected sectors (in large scale combat: guerrilla tactics). In this case, sectors are areas that provide support to the main attack and are detrimental to the enemies' maneuver such as: legs, hands, supply lines, information lines, and the head. Sun-tzu went to great length to make a point on treating the vanquished population well, not harming any non-essential or non deadly forces.
Strategy conforms to the way of nature, universe, the multitudes, and the harmony of their existence. Any plan that works against the way and is not in natural harmony will eventually fail. "It's just like riding the waves of nature". A strategy; martial, scientific or medical, will be able to have success providing it's in harmony with nature. "If you're in harmony with God and nature, then who would be your enemy"?
The moral of the story, most people would dispatch David's fight against an armor-clad giant as a losing battle. As arranged, they fought on a dried-up river bed, full of David's ammunition as far as the eyes could see. In case of close situation, David does not need to stoop down to reach for a rock, he has a pouch with five already picked stones in it. He discarded his fighting staff. It had no use against a sword and a full armor. In David's illumination, Goliath had already lost before he clamorously stepped into the battlefield.
Rule Number I: Absolute power corrupts absolutely. It must be realized that absolute power belongs to God and no one else. We merely borrow skills and talents for as long as we can harmonize with the ways of the universe (the Way). As soon as we become selfish or turn the center of the universe towards our selves, the web of the universal correlation will eventually fail and we'll soon realize how small we are. We have seen examples of this in biblical chronicles, history and in the present. No doubt that we will see more in the future - hoping it's not ourselves.
Power is used widely in all sports. Both participants will possess their best, and in a pitched contest both would try to prove who has the higher trajectory. In the way of strategy, one would apply the use of leverage, technique, and subterfuge without using or spending precious energy and resources. On the other hand, one would lure his enemies to implement drastic and expensive maneuvers rendering delay and exhausting the enemy's resources.
In Kenjutsu, one becomes enlightened on the way of the universe. If one is in harmony with the universe or God, then, who would be your enemy? Miyamoto Musashi declares that one can win against impossible odds. The true way of the sword is to win, not by using force, suicide missions, muscle-in, or the diving cut. Sure there is a use for everything - one must employ such techniques with well aimed supports (use them as subterfuge). One must not use such precious commodities in vain. ...
Rule Number II: Strategical detente. In both rules of absolute power and subterfuge, detente is the way of giving the enemies enough rope to hang them selves. instead of implementing forcible frontal assault, detente allows the enemy to become lax and the resulting weakness, flaws, delays, information, and defensive openings are then appropriated with specific action. All missions are intended successful with sufficient supports provided. The nature of the danger is always unpredictable and thorough planning, harmony with nature, and consultation with God minimize the sacrificial outcome.
Strategical detente is the way of disengaging frontal assault, feeding your enemies a feign attack, false information, a set-up ( something that your enemy will instantly attack), then applying a countering maneuver as the enemy is in the middle of the motion of his orders (unable to react, retreat. and oblivious of your maneuver. Detente also administers corruption upon your enemies, when as they misappropriate their resources, their defenses crumble from within. Strategical detente administers substantial freedom to the enemy while protecting your own front and have counter moves well aimed and ready to attack. In swords, that would be as you stand with your sword out of the way, but with its point ready to thrust. The attacker is lured to jump in for an attack, only to misjudge his range and receive an unexpected counter-strike. ...
Rule Number III: Subterfuge. Forcing a strike by jumping-in as fast and as hard as you can before your opponent can notice you is a very poor technique. Miyamoto Musashi had mention this. Even if you were successful in this attack, you'll be on the ground and the rest of your opponents are much obliged to pounce on you and bash your head in. So much for the effort of that technique.
In strategy, there are ways to deliver ultimatum. The initial use of stimuli is applied to create appropriate reactions from your enemies. The counter attacks must already be in place, in order to dispatch and successfully obtain your objectives.
In the sword strategy, the opponents are bound to take one of the stimuli presented. The particular stimulus must be presented as realistic as possible. I have realized in my younger years that pretending to have tripped will make your opponent strike from where his weapon is positioned ( hoping to take advantage of the situation I suppose). How easy is that? The counter-strike is then accurately placed, minimizing or even doing away with the gore - in contrast of getting lucky using ones brawn and speed.
In all cases, you must keep your deportment and spirit straight. Let your opponents be twisted and warped in their spirits.  Kenjutsu is not a sport and will never be.  Compared to fencing, while they are busy trying to gain advantage against one-on-one situations, kenjutsu is mastered by winning against all odds and with any kind of weapons or none at all.  ..."kenjutsu will win because it will get your fat ass before you get off your stinking bunk bed", t.lamotta ...
Rule Number IV: Delegation. Leaders must have the ability to delegate tasks effectively, appoint scouts and agents timely, and must be able to conduct proper communication. ...
To Obtain leaders who are qualified is detrimental to one's plan. One must not be meddling continuously with one's officials, and must have complete trusts and patience with the appointed delegates. Also in the process of collecting information, one must possess the capacity to interpret or decipher all given information (true or false)...
Rule Number V: Espionage, in chapter 13 of the "Art of War" by Sun Tzu - he gave detailed information on how to manage spies. This was probably the first time that the kanji for (Nin or Shinobi) was used for.  The use of this kanji is to refer to all the virtues and diligence that the agents poses.  Spies were categorized in five branches, from assassins, saboteurs to double agents. In order to win the war you must know how to use these agents.  Spies must be paid very well.  You must know how to decipher messages from spies (whether they are true or false). Of course, you must know how to pick your spies, at this stage you would know how to detect them as well.  The Plant Agents are set in the sector where they would or be able to report valuable data about.  They live and work like they belong there, but the use of scouts also employs those who are indigenous to the sector.  The use of spies is an art in itself.  Spies are paid very well, but they are also dispensable (meaning: they are not expected to return or survive for too long).  The only way a spy will survive is if he possesses leverage against all sides (including a third party).
Rule Number VI: Harmony with the Universe....
Rule Number VII: F. A. S. T. ...focus, accuracy, subterfuge, and timing
Rule Number VIIIWinning by infiltration  without combat and the Trojan Horse Tactic....the Trojan horse can be any form of subterfuge or ......