japanese swordsmanship

Black Belt Hall of Famer Dana Abbott outlines the moral code that guided the samurai and explains how it applies to modern martial artists who train with the sword.

Excellence in Japanese swordsmanship demands that a martial arts practitioner — whether that person trains in kendo, kenjutsu, iaido or another style — make a conscious effort to learn and execute correct sword techniques, practical cuts and the samurai way of life.

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Are you getting adventurous today and thinking of carving the Thanksgiving turkey with a samurai sword? Let's hope the turkey's tender as can be this Thanksgiving so you don't bend your blade cutting through it!

The subject of Japanese swordsmanship during the holidays is a delicate one. Thanksgiving Day is definitely not the time for practice. When you're standing in front of a roasted turkey,katanadrawn and relatives looking on, the last thing you want to do is rehearse your swing. It won't impress anyone.

The time to hone your technique is now. Then, when the moment of truth arrives, you'll be able to razor off perfect slices of juicy white meat like Miyamoto Musashi. (If you tried to slice up your bird this Thanksgiving and ran into trouble, then this article is for YOU so you can bone up for next year's Thanksgiving.)

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Japanese swordsmanship master Toshishiro Obata founded his art of shinkendo in response to the incompleteness he found in other samurai training. Learn how he set out to develop his own art rather than change those already in existence.

If you want to be a swordsman, you have your work cut out for you. For true samurai education, you must learn how to properly handle and maintain a real blade. You must master the basic body-sword mechanics and train safely and effectively in two-person and solo forms. You must study combat strategy, etiquette and the philosophy of the warrior — all elements of the samurai code of bushido.It's a tall order, to be sure. For guidance in this quest for samurai education, which is one of the most popular in the martial arts, Black Belt turned to Toshishiro Obata, a renowned master in samurai training who now heads the International Shinkendo Federation in Los Angeles. Before delving into the essence of samurai education and samurai training according to Toshishiro Obata, some background information will help put things in perspective.

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Do not allow anyone to swing a sharp sword at you. You'd think that would be common sense—like “Don't walk in front of a speeding bus." Apparently, though, while people walking directly and deliberately in front of oncoming traffic is blessedly rare, it's fairly easy to see videos of people in a dojo or a demo standing or sitting while some “master" swings a sharp sword at them. Sometimes, they're prostrate, with a watermelon or some other fruit on their exposed belly, allowing Master Bozo to hack it to pieces. Other times, they're in various poses, looking like department-store mannequins, holding fresh produce in different ways while the master wanders around, whacking away as if he's creating a salad. This is almost insanely stupid. Let's get some initial observations out of the way. First, cutting fruits and veggies laid on bare skin or held in the hand without cutting into the flesh below is easy to do, even with a dull blade. Japanese swords cut not from the touch but from the horizontal sawing action. Teachers in classical swords schools in Japan sometimes explain the mechanics of good cutting by tapping a blade against their palm. As long as they just hit straight on, the blade, although razor sharp, doesn't cut. Further, just as it's possible to slice into the rind of a melon and split it using a butter knife, a dull sword can work the same way. So these masters aren't proving anything about their supposedly incredible control.

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