SITUATION AND INTENTION
A person who is preparing to commit Seppuku is sitting in Seiza 1.2 meters away from you facing left.
Position (see diagram)
a] Sit in Seiza facing shomen
b] The person who is going to do seppuku is sitting in Seiza 1.2 metres in front facing left
c] Taking up an unpretentious Metsuke on the person concerned. Place the right hand on the Tsuka and raise the hips. The toes should be on the ground.
d] Survey the timing of the Seppuku. Start to draw the sword and stand up with the right foot taking one pace forward. When you have stood up the sword should be drawn completely.
e] Bring the left foot behind the right and the sword above the right shoulder.
f] Up to this stage the left hand is kept on the right hip. Continually observe the other persons actions.
g] When the Seppuku procedure is close at hand, step forward with right foot hand cut to the neck. The left hand grips the Tsuka during Kirioroshi action.
h] After Kirioroshi adopt a straight Kamae a little lower than Seigan/Chudan.
i] Place the mono-uchi on the right knee,left hand pushing forward left.
j] Re-grip the Tsuka with the right hand in a reverse manner. Swing the sword downward to put the Kissaki in the Koikuchi. Then finish Noto dropping the left knee to the floor.
k ] The Kaishaku technique must be done smoothly and quietly, because the target is not an enemy.
EXPLANATION OF THE MAJOR POINTS - ATTITUDE
The Kaishaku technique is not against an enemy or opponent. It is to assist a close friend or inoffensive person who is going to commit Seppuku. Therefore action should be kind, careful and heartfelt. The Kirioroshi action varies depending upon the persons rank in society.
For persons of low rank or people that had been prosecuted, the cut was made from the Teito position.
For people of middle class the cut was taken from Hasso no Kamae.
For people of high rank the was cut from Jodan no Kamae.
Also the timing of the cut varied from;
When the prosecutioner leans forward to pick up the Tanto with his right hand.
When he puts the Sanbo the small wooden tray used for the Tanto behind his back to stop the body falling over backward.
When the Kissaki of the Tanto is placed on the abdomen.
After the horizontal cut has been completed.
After the horizontal cut has been completed and the Tanto is being replaced on the Sanbo.
These methods were used depending on the differences of social rank, the determination of the Kaishaku, special will or Clan Rule etc.
The skin of the throat must not be cut to stop the head rolling on the ground. Completely severing the head is considered to be considerably impolite. This technique was used for convicted criminals.
Completely cutting through the neck is a morally rude and degrading. However leaving thin skin of the throat is not an easy technique to do. The 10th Master Hayashi Yasudayus records state, It is inevitable to fail sometimes. Therefore it is good etiquette to refuse to someone as a Kaishakunin. However if the prosecutee insists that you help him, it will be forgivable if the Kaishaku is unsuccessful.
KAISHAKU AND UCHIKUBI
Uchikubi was a method used for prisoners which equals hanging. As stated Kaishaku is entirely different. (See editors notes)
a] Kaishaku must be done without interfering with the prosecutioners mental commitment and peaceful mind. It is important to administer respect, sympathy and kindness.
b] Cut from a high position to round about horizontal height. The Hasuji (edge angle) must be used correctly to avoid touching the skull and jawbone.
c] Te-no-uchi control in Kirioroshi must be adequate. Too strong a grip will easily end up in Uchikubi. Also the left hand control must be correct.
d] The movement should be performed gracefully and carefully rather than a strong and fast action without mistakes.
e] The Chinugui technique is similar to Ukenagashi except for one distinct difference. In Ukenagashi, Chinugui motion is taken immediately after Kirioroshi. But in Kaishaku hold the Kirioroshi posture for a while to support and stabilise the body. Because the fallen head will pull the body forward.
f ] As stated The Kaishaku must be performed peacefully. Therefore when I kneel on the floor at the end of Noto I hold the same posture for a second to pay respect with a silent prayer. To express their feelings, some people bow after completion of this form. I think it is condonable to pay ones respects in this way, because this form does not exhibit Zanshin as much as other forms.
(Note: As explained in Kiso Iai Koza The partially severed head of the deceased could be resewn onto the body. The cut area would not show when redressed in a Kimono. The word seppuku is an loose term used to describe the ritual action of taking ones life. The English translation suicide hardly seems appropriate as it is is usually used to describe someone who is mentally disturbed. The usual term in Japanese in Junshi (ending ones life with ones master) and Saki or Maebaru departing before ones Lord more details can be found in Hagakure on this site.) It should also be carefully noted by beginners to Iaido that this particular form is not done in gradings, competitions or demonstrations. The latter also applies to Hayanuki).