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Class Notes – Kenjutsu 03

November 6, 2012

I taught two sessions with pretty much the same material. The lessons began with a simple warm-up (joint mobility exercises for shoulders, elbows, wrists and fingers, then the regular spine sequence), then I reviewed Tsuki Komi  and Tsuki Gake.

After reviewing those two waza, I moved on to teach Kiri Age (斬上). Essentially it is evading the opponent’s tenchi kiri by stepping forward and cutting up under the arms. If it is a plain tenchi kiri you can step forward easily. If the blade is angled slightly on the way down (cutting at the neck rather than the top of head), you may have to lower yourself a bit as you step forward. Don’t just lower your head to avoid the blade. Bend your knees more so you don’t compromise your balance.

Which side do you step forward with? It depends. If you have another opponent to the left of the first attacker, you should step forward with your right side so that you don’t give your back to the other opponent. If your other opponent is to the right of the first attacker, you should step forward with the left so that you can still keep an eye on the other fellow.

You can also use a kiri age cut to respond to a tenchi kiri if you are in seigan no kamae (正眼之構). Angle yourself off a little bit (as you would in sanshin, sui no kata) and let your blade cut at the opponent’s wrists or hands. Then bring your blade around to hamstring the opponent.

Some of the guys got to move on to Kiri Sage (斬下) also. I taught it this way: you can start in either a causal hasso no kamae (八相之構) or tenchi no kamae (天地之構) that is more centred. Opponent cuts at your neck from your left, and you move forward to choke the attack by locking your tsuba with his tsuba. Then cut down at his neck.

It is very important to grip your handle correctly. For this you have to grip it in the blocking grip. Your opponent would be holding it in the cutting grip, and that difference is what allows you to easily choke his attack and succeed in your own.

It is also important that when you are supplying the attack for your fellow trainee to Kiri Sage against, keep your feet properly aligned. There is a common tendency for people to bring their back heel beyond (the line created by your foot, arm and body) when doing this cut, and that makes it ridiculously easy to Kiri Sage against them. Your training partner doesn’t really get to learn this technique properly if you do this!

This is also the reason why one of the first things I teach newbies is not to have their back heel beyond when they are doing their kamae!

Now it might just be that when you are doing Kiri Sage, your opponent realizes that he is so dead, and decides to try to kill you anyway instead of trying to escape the Kiri Sage. That way his buddy coming next has one less opponent (you) to face. One way for him to do that is, instead of dealing with your blade heading towards his neck, he cuts down at your legs. If that succeeds, he may hamstring you (so you can be easily killed by the next attacker) or cut an artery (so you bleed to death).

When you feel the downward movement on your tsuba, go down too. Pull your leg back as you sweep his blade past you, then cut upwards kiri age style once his blade is past. Don’t dismiss the threat of his blade and think it is fine for him to get your leg since you got his throat. This kind of attitude is not conducive to long-term survival!

Also, here is the vid I mentioned during class, UFC fighters face up against US Marines with weapons. Watch how those MMA fighters moved when the stakes felt higher, the environment was entirely different from a cage match and there were weapons involved.

Interesting, isn’t it?


We will continue to spend some time with these the next lesson. If all goes well, we will also move on to the next waza on the list. So keep turning up for class, collect the whole set!

俊傑 (Shunketsu)

From → bujinkan

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