2012-06-15

[Budo] Seitei Iai and Tachi Uchi no Kurai

This evening we practised Tachi Uchi no Kurai and the first 7 (of 12) of Seitei Iai.  Tachi Uchi is partner practise with two bokuto (wooden swords). 

So, I've decided that these posts are almost entirely for me.  I don't know enough to explain concepts well to a general audience, and I need to explore some boring points for my own benefit.  Sorry! 

In the future they'll probably get more concise.  Who knows!  Important points that will be gone over below involve controlling speed and not rushing and understanding distance.

Tachi Uchi

The first technique in Tachi Uchi has 3 variants.  In the first one, your opponent is advancing upon you, you both have your swords sheathed, they draw striking for the knee, you draw and block, you match, and then you strike for their head, they raise their sword and block.  In the second variant, it's the same, but you do not match, you go straight from the block up and attack while they go straight up to block.  In the third, it's like the second, except the opponent steps to their right to avoid your attack instead of blocking.  I think they strike you (no actual contact) but I can't recall.  :)

The second technique involves you approaching one another as in the first, you block (sword in your right hand), but this time your left hand reaches over and grabs their hand (their right one, holding their sword) taking control of their hand and sword, you move your sword above theirs so you can with your right hand thrust it into them, your left foot (now forward) moves behind their right (forward) foot and your forearm goes behind theirs so your elbow is sword of behind theirs (between their arm and their body).  You take their balance by pulling their arm toward you while pulling in your elbow to drag them over your knee.   It's a bit awkward to practise at first when you're not familiar with how to move someone. :)

The third technique has you both drawing your swords into chudan, then into hasso with your opponent taking a step forward and you a step back, then you advance towards one another, you strike to the right side of their head first, then to left, with them stepping back and striking to catch your strike.  They think you'll strike a third time, but instead of that, you start moving to tsuki them in the "throat" (but we make sure to aim for the top of the chest pressing down to avoid manslaughter during practise).  They'll only have half-stepped back before realising this, switching feet, and taking a half-step forward again to strike your head.  You sort of do ukenagashi, where you raise your sword to meet theirs as you step out to your left.  They may strike only your sword, sparing you, and your sword comes around to allow you to strike them on the head.

I couldn't really get the fourth one today.  For that, you advance, you do something (match?  I've already forgotten!), then they step back into hasso and you go into waki kamae, sort of baiting them.  When they try to strike, you step forward with your right foot, moving off the line, and cutting into their arm pit.  (Normally, you'd go through their forearm and throat, but this is just practise, kids!)  I think I struck my sempai's elbow with my bokuto trying this a number of times. O_O

The last one we did was the fifth one.  They start in hasso and you gedan.  They strike for your head and you step under it, raising your sword to catch theirs.  Since neither of you can take control at that point (in theory you make an effort to and fail).  Then you both sort of try taiatari (like tsubazeriai but not at the tsuba since we're not wearing kote) and neither can get the advantage so you push off of one another both into waki kamae, left feet forward.  They try to strike, so you shift your left foot back bringing them together, so they miss in their swing, and you bring your sword up and swing down on their head (but of course, this is just practise). 

Things I need to remember is to react sooner get my sword up their when I'm trying to get under someone else's sword, like in the 3rd and 4th techniques.  I didn't do too terribly for the 3rd, but my 4th was consistently awful.  It didn't help that my sempai is notably shorter than I, so it is hard to swing from waki into her shoulder while still trying to bring my hands up sort of above my head (hence why I got her elbow).  The solution there is to react sooner.  But I am reminded that if you react too soon, they'll just respond by striking where you're going and not where you were. 

Another thing I have to improve is my sense of distance.  I apparently move in too closely, killing myself.

Iaido

The other week, we did kata 12 through 7 in Seitei Iai, so now we did 1 through 7.  I'm happy to go over 7 twice since it's my faaaavourite.  This past week I looked at The Manual again to try to remember how to do some of the later ones.  I have the general idea of the first half already, mostly because I practised 4 of them for the grading (+7).

The first one is Mae.  From a sitting position, you draw, cuting horizontally at an aggressor, then shift forward and cut vertically, then chiburi (fling the blood off) and noto (sheath it).  A comment for me was that it looked like my sword must be really heavy because you could see a lot of force in its movement.  I need to remember the principle of Jo-ha-kyū.  All through the rest of the night I ended up cutting without much speed.  I have a bad tendency to cut like a kid and try to go fast and hard, as though that will help me win a battle.  I was probably going too slow and softly to compensate, but it felt better.  Another point was that I should make better use of my saya when doing noto. If I do, I could even use a longer sword than my 2.6.  (2.6 is fine by me.)

The second one is Ushiro. It's like Mae, but you're initially sitting facing away from your opponent, you start to get an inkling they may attack, so you slowly rise, then pivot on your right knee 180° and basically do Mae.  I am remembering to raise my feet onto my toes while still on my knees, but I need to keep my left foot more central initially.  I'm remembering to not pull my iaito (sword) out of the saya and instead more pull the saya off the iaito.  Right before it breaks out of the saya, though, I need to make sure my right foot has finished pivoting around and is more square than it has been, so that when I draw, I can finally shift my left foot out of that central position it remained in without losing my balance.

The third one is Ukenagashi.  Someone is advancing on you as you sit from your left side.  You look, grab your sword, bring your left foot forward to your right knee and your right knee up while starting to draw your sword up (you're going to block their attack if need be).  You rise more, your left foot pointing 45° away from towards your opponent's direction, your right foot coming forward to join meet it, but aiming 0° towards your opponent.  You're just almost standing up and your right hand is holding your sword up raised a bit above your head to catch their attack if need be.  Then you raise it vertically as you bring up your left hand to it and then cut down (kesa?), with your left foot pulling back.  Then do a weird chiburi and noto.  I messed this up on several of those details.  My right knee wasn't off the ground, I stood up too straight (too tall with your sword above you and they'll cut right under your sword), my feet were in the wrong spot, and my cut didn't go all the way through the person.

The fourth one is Tsuka-ate and it's one of my favourites.  You're sitting in tatehiza.  Then you move forward to thrust the tsuka gashira (end of the handle) into their suigetsu (solar plexus), you draw your sword and horizontally thrust it into another attacker behind you before turning to face the first opponent and cutting them.   I often go too high, to their face, rather than their suigetsu.  I need to remember to actually look for my opponent behind me and back in front before thrusting and cutting respectively.  After thrusting into the one opponent, I have to remember to keep my tip down as I raise my hands to cut the person originally in front of me (as the sword has been thrust into them, it'll come out though :D). 

The fifth one is Kesagiri.  You take two steps forward and on the third you draw , actually cutting upwards along their kesa (into the lower abdomen of one side of their body and out between the neck and shoulder on the other side).  The cut ends with the sword vertical above you where your left hand comes up to join it for a second swing back down along the same line.  Things for me to work on are remembering to keep my feet and hips square to the opponent, and for all of us is to try wait to turn your saya: instead, start drawing on your third step and shortly before your sword exits the saya flip it slowly.   Part of the reason is because if you flip it first and then draw, your hand will be gripping it to draw which makes it difficult to cut easily along kesa.  You want to be pushing the sword out as you do in other techniques, and with a relaxed hand, closing the fingers on it as you've drawn and are starting to bring it up.  I also need to remember where hasso should be.

The sixth one is Morotezuki.  It involves walking forward, doing a one handed draw and cut forward, going to chudan, then tsuki into the suigetsu.  Then turning to cut a person behind you and then turning again to finally cut the first person.   I need to remember when I draw the sword to actually get it pointing out there before cutting down, and that the thrust is aimed at the suigetsu.  The two turns and cuts are slightly different in how you handle the sword.  For the first cut, the sword is initially sticking in someone.  For the second, it's sitting at the bottom of the slice you made through them, so the second one, the sword can come up as you pivot more directly.   There's an important distinction in how to hold the sword in each case, but I can't articulate that right now. 

The seventh one, my faaavourite, is Sanpogiri.  Here you walk forward and initially threaten to draw at the opponent directly in front of you, but once again, brave little you is totally outnumbered, so you first draw vertically and then with one hand cut the guy now coming at you from your right.  It involves a small step forward right which I need to remember.  The sword is consequently at a bit of an awkward angle coming down on them (stopping in their face) because you're facing almost 45° away and not square with them.  Then you twist your body to your original left and cut (no shifting of the feet, but pivot on the balls of them).  I need to remember to keep my weight in the right place to not lose my balance (back a little more than I do).  Then you finally attack the guy who was originally in front of you, by your shifting your right foot towards him, squaring up with him, and keeping your left hand in front of you (that is, you don't raise the sword, pivot, and then swing, you pivot and the sword follows as you advance and swing). 

Aftermath

And then we ran away and ate curry.

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I am aeronautical, vanship-style.  I am olympic and mythical.  I rest on my laurels.