10 : THE FUNCTION OF BOTH FISTS IN CUTTING AND THRUSTING ACTION - May 1936
Explanations of the two fist function are set out in the following three examples;
1, The strength of gripping the Tsuka with both hands is neither too strong or too soft. In other words, the strength of the grip on the Tsuka should be adequate and depend upon the thickness of the target
2, Single handed Kirioroshi (right hand only) requires a special grip controlling technique.
3, Single handed Kirioroshi (left hand only).
In the case of 2 and 3 above;
a) The target is easy to cut.
b) The target is small and shallow.
c) Is a potential cut before arriving at the main target.
Addition : The specifics of correct Tenouchi should be studied through Gorin-no-Sho.
11 : REGARDING UCHIOROSHI (KIRIOROSHI) - March 1936
Kirioroshi in Iaido is the final positive act of cutting. The theory of Kirioroshi as Kendo. The difference in form is;
a, In Kendo the Shinai stops as it hits the target.
b, In Iaido after the sword hits the target it continues to move until it reaches the finishing location.
For example in the case of Shomen Uchioroshi, the cut starts from the top of the opponents head and carries through the body until the Kissaki reaches waist level.
Addition : The major significance of Uchioroshi is to cut an imaginary target from a correct distance which means that Mono-uchi correctly covers the target.
With exception to Tameshigiri there is never a visible target therefore movements can appear to look unreal. This is why one must always imagine an invisible target during practice.
To connect with the opponents head in Kirioroshi, both fists and hands must be flexed backwards quite deeply when doing Furikaburi. Then the elbows must straighten as the sword descends cutting down over the opponents head. If the elbows are not bent enough in Furikaburi the possibility of reaching the target is diminished. Therefore to improve Kirioroshi, Furikaburi must be analysed beforehand. Also if the Kissaki is higher than the Furikaburi level the Kissaki will not reach far enough in Kirioroshi. Oh-e Sensei instructed that the Tsuba should be hidden behind the head and that the Kissaki should be lowered 30 to 45 degrees behind the head. To increase the circular movement elbow control is acceptable. The study and understanding of this logic is important for practical Furikaburi.
12 : SITTING FORMS IN IAI - February 1938
The formal sitting position indoors is Seiza. Tatehiza is informal compared with Seiza and mainly used outdoors. It is much more comfortable especially when wearing Gusoku (Shin and foot protection).
Addition : Both Seiza and Tatehiza are not just sitting for the sake of it. Iai commences the moment the sitting position is taken. At this stage Nukitsuke preparation is essential.
13 : MOVING THE RIGHT HAND TOWARDS THE TSUKA - May 1936
When starting to draw the sword the right hand movement towards the Tsuka must not look big. Also the right hand palm must not be shown. When the left hand thumb pushes the Tsuba to separate blade and Saya, the right hand moves to the Tsuba unknowingly and unnoticeable.
Addition : According to Oh-e senses tuition, continuous movement of both hands for Nukitsuke are;
a, The left hand moves from the waist to the Tsuba to open Koikuchi.
b, At the same time the right hand moves to the Tsukagashira fingers straight.
c, Bring the right hand to Tsubamoto to grip the Saya.
d, Push the Tsuba forward with the left thumb.
e, Begin to draw the sword turning the Saya outward.
The right hand must not suddenly grab the Saya. The fingers must feel the Tsuka (position and angle) Whilst moving, Metsuke must be animated.
14 : REGARDING MOVEMENT IN IAI - May 1936
Within Iai training all movements;
a, Must not be taken too tensely or over-relaxed.
b, Forms must be generated with “Ken-tai-Ichijo” (a togetherness of sword and body).
c, When movement is suppressed, Shin, Ki, Ryoku (heart, spirit, power) must be maintained in harmony.
d, Do not cut with the sword.
e, Pressurise the opponent with power from the Tanden.
f, In drawing the sword cut with power from the Tanden.
g, Noto is also done with Tanden power.
h, After Noto, Zanshin must be maintained until returning to the starting position.
Addition : How to use the body in facing the opponent is a major subject to discern. There are many books written by the old Masters including Gorin-no-Sho. Some of these Great Masters have written explanations of posture and movement based on their experience. It is not so difficult to read and digest this logic. The difficulty is in actually doing these things. As the books state; Draw with Hara! Cut with Hara!
Do Noto with Hara!
How can we express Hara within movement?
In my experience I would like to express Hara as taking all movements naturally both in Kendo and Iaido.
The hands, shoulders body and feet should assume a Shizentai (natural) posture. Beginners often seem to hold unnecessary power for too longer periods. Shizentai cannot be taught on paper. One will finally come to understand it through repeated practice. The only answer is possibly within enjoyable diligent practice.
15 : KAISHAKU - January 1936
The meaning of the word : Kaishaku is to nurse or attend with respecting the will of the opponent/colleague and following that will gracefully towards its objective. Kaishaku is not Head Chopping. The cutting technique is different to other Kirioroshi using both hands. The skin of the throat must remain to stop the head rolling on the floor. (See editors note) To do this controlling with left hand Tenouchi is an important function. With regard to Kaishaku I was taught by my teachers as follows;
1 There are three Kamae positions from which Kirioroshi is done.
a, Jodan-no-Kamae in favour of persons of senior status to oneself.
b, Hasso-no-Kamae in favour of friends or those of an equal status.
c, Teito position with one hand (right hand).
2, When cutting the neck in Kaishaku the skin of the throat must remain. However in executing a prisoner the sword cuts completely through the neck.
3, The Timing of Kaishaku. The beginning the cutting action should be at the instant the Ki of the sitting person is activated. That is to say;
a, The moment the upper body inclines forward to pick up the Tanto on the small wooden stand (Sanbo).
b, The moment the neck is stretched to place the Sanbo behind the body with the left hand.
c, The moment the Kissaki of the Tanto touches the stomach.
d, The moment the Tanto stops at the end of the horizontal cut to the stomach.
e, If the above chances are missed, the last chance is when the dying person leans forward to replace the Tanto on the Sanbo.
Note : The head of the deceased would be resewn onto the body to be sent back to the family In dressing the deceased in a Kimono for the wake, the cut area would not show.
An old maxim says, The Seppuku-to (Sword used for immolation) Is to be placed about one foot in front of the body. To pick up the blade one has to stretch out ones arms and the neck inclines forward. This is the instant the cut is made. (From the book Bugaku Shosui)
Addition : The manner and ceremony of Kaishaku was particular to each individual Han (Clan) ever since the Bushi Period. The method Oh-e Sensei established is a representation. Nevertheless Kaishaku is acknowledged as a sacred ceremony in all sword schools. It must be done quietly and carefully to avoid making mistakes.
16 : NOTO - August 1935
Regarding Noto; All movements must be done very quietly maintaining Zanshin until the action is concluded. Noto action in Oku-Iai is very fast. Nevertheless the feeling equals Seiza and Tatehiza in that it must accommodate quietness within the speed
. Addition 1, It is essential that Zanshin is sustained in Noto. Many practitioners seem to be concentrating on looking fast and smart. If there is no Zanshin it is not a true Iaido Noto. All techniques have their own Kamae, logic and feeling.
2,When Oh-e Sensei performed Noto, the Tsukagashira is directed front-downward towards the expiring opponent. In Jikiden Ryu it should not be pointing anywhere else.
3, In Jikiden it is taught that edge of the blade should be upward at;
a, The beginning of Nukitsuke.
b, Finishing Noto. Except that when Noto action begins The blade should be directed left-forward. At this time the left hand controls the angle of the Saya. Allow the blade to met with the Koikuchi. Then the both the blade and Koikuchi face upwards to complete the move.
4, In my opinion the best instruction to follow is that of Hokiyama Namio Sensei.