SPEED OF BATTO (NUKITSUKE) To my knowledge and experience the speed of Nukitsuke is taught to all Iaido enthusiasts by individual teachers and instructors many times.
Jo, Ha, Kyu, are the three words to digest to improve Nukitsuke. In other words, slowly and mildly at the beginning, increase speed in halfway Then increase the speed and explode into action. Or more simply heighten speed towards the end. A simple explanation could be to Start slow and finish fast. But it is not so easy to connect these words because a psychological factor is involved. The following table shows the main difference between them.
JO : The intention and feeling is to pressurise the opponent with full mental and abdominal power.
HA : Build up the abdominal power and attacking spirit.
KYU : Concentrate the attacking power with a will and confidence of positive victory.
As shown above the psychological preparation contains plays a heavy role in taking Nukitsuke action. It is very difficult to explain in writing, but there is an inseparable connection between technicality and mentality within the study of Iaido.
BODY POSTURE JUST BEFORE NUKITSUKE.
For whatever movement, it is necessary to face the opponent squarely, deliver pressure and show confidence. It is the same with Nukitsuke. This is difficult to explain, but is even more difficult to show in action.
Turn the Saya outward with the left hand before action as preparation is one way, but is not a recommendable way. The body should face the opponent squarely until the last moment. Then pull the hip backward when the blade is dispatched from the Saya. Overdoing this action closely resembles the style of Shimomura Ha. Therefore it is necessary to study the differences between Shimomura Ha and Tanimura Ha.
To take Nukitsuke action, a degree of experience is necessary to maintain a pressurising power. To perform it involves an extremely lively spirit, heart and mind. In Iaido the target or opponent is invisible. But the action should be taken as if a target is present. Nihon no Tachi (the second stroke) relies upon the result of Nukitsuke. The first stroke called Shohatto is a vital movement. For example in Ukenagashi or Kaishaku a second move is not required against an opponents action. Therefore Nukitsuke should be done in effect to show that a second cut is unnecessary.
A LOGICAL EXPLANATION OF THE ANGLE OF THE EDGE.
The technical movement of Nukitsuke is set out above. At the beginning of the movement the edge is pointing upward. When about 10 c.m. of the Kissaki remains in the Saya. Turn the Saya outward with the left hand and take Nukitsuke action cutting the target horizontally. At this stage the target to aim for is the shoulder or chest of the opponent. However one ends up cutting the neck as the body automatically rises with Nukitsuke.
The condition of the right hand; Fingers must be relaxed at the beginning and squeeze gradually towards the end. The right fist moves straight forward until the Kissaki leaves the Koikuchi. The Kissaki draws a circular line from left to right cutting through the target. In Iaido (also in Kendo) Kiritsuke, Tsuki, Chiburi etc. demand this squeezing fingerwork is called Te-no-uchi. Without Te-no-uchi the performance will consequently be uninteresting and lacklustre. Taking positive action before continuing into the next move is a basic requirement in Iaido.
THE LOGIC AND TIMING OF NUKITSUKE ACTION.
There is a necessity to consider the timing and degree of the edge when the blade is dispatched from the Saya.
Logically the left hand turns the Saya outwardly according to the increase in action. This seems to be a reasonable and natural reaction.
Obviously the length of the sword makes a difference to the technique and timing of turning the Saya outward. With a long sword one needs preparation to draw and a big Sayabiki is necessary. On the other hand a short sword can be handled speedily with a small amount of movement.
A main element of Nukitsuke is Sayabiki (pulling back the Saya with left hand as the Kissaki leaves the Koikuchi).
Check the existence of the opponent. Put both hands on the Tsuka. Lift the toes to touch the ground. Lift the hips and start to draw the sword. The posture at this stage should be;
Turn the toes and grip the ground firmly.
Gently bring both knees together to meet on the centre line.
Lightly raise the hips.
With the right hand grip the Tsuka in a gentle manner and stretch out towards the chest of the opponent
The left hand holds the Saya at the Koikuchi in preparation to take Sayabiki action.
The edge of the blade is gradually twisted to the left with the right hand.
The right shoulder is unavoidably pushed forward.
Metsuke is towards the eyes of the opponent.
On these conditions Nukitsuke is taken stepping forward with one foot.
The posture at the end of Nukitsuke is to put power and strength on the left knee. Keep the knee, hips upper body an head upright. The Kissaki is slightly lower than shoulder level. The angle of the knee at about 90 degrees. Metsuke is kept upon the opponent with the head upright and the chin pulled in firmly. Maintain the body weight on the left toes, knee and front foot.
Points to check in this posture are;
The toes of the back foot touch the ground firmly.
The left knee holds the body weight. Therefore the Tanden must be pushed forward and downward to support the correct body posture.
The left knee, body and head must be kept upright.
If the right foot is placed too far forward or the body is leaning forward, the back knee cannot support the body weight and it will slip backward. To produce good results in performance and achieve technique it is essential to look after the floor of the Dojo. Try to keep it clean but not slippery.
The complete sole of the front foot must not touch the ground. Weight is put on the heel.
This is explained in Gorin no Sho by Miyamoto Musashi. It says The heel of the front foot holds the ground firmly and the toes are almost floating. It is indeed logical and understandable that if the body weight is placed on the front of the foot and toes, The knee will bend deeper and the body will lean forward making it difficult to do Nukitsuke. The blade control with both hands is important, but the right foot move is even more so. Repeated experimentation will yield results. Weight on the toes or on the heel? From a practical point of view it will be best to keep the weight between the heel and toes. Not withstanding there is a difference between Iaido and Kendo. In Kendo the right foot steps forward to strike. In Iaido this foot goes forward to cut. The aim of hitting and cutting is different.