Ryuseiken Battodo

Japanese swordfighting

Comparing cut sequences to Toyama-ryu/USBF

Different styles have different names for cuts and for cut sequences, so it might help if you find things on the net and can't seem to understand what they describe to understand a translation or mapping of the names.

From the descriptions and what I've seen from different Taikai, here's a little translation on cut sequences from the Toyama-ryu style as defined by the US Battodo Federation (a Toyama-ryu organization):

First of all, our kiri-age, the rising cut, is called gyaku-kesa, the reverse of kesa-giri, in their style. Otherwise, it is pretty much the same. Also our makko-giri is also called yoko-giri, or shinchoku-giri in other styles (Toyama-ryu or Nakamura-ryu).

Toyama-ryu's inazuma (lightning cut) is kesa-kiriage-kesa versus our own kesa-suihei-kesa. The name is the same, but they are different sequences.

Toyama-ryu's mizu-gaesh (water cut) is similar to our standard tsubamegaesh, i.e., cut kiriage below, suihei above the kiriage as the goza is falling. However, their cut sequence starts on the left-hand side versus ours on the right. It takes getting used to. The same name mizu-gaesh is also used to describe our full tsubamegaesh where there is a nikitsuke-kesa (draw-cut kesa) first then previously described sequence; however, they do not have the switch-step suihei after this as we do.

Toyama-ryu's Nami-gaesh (wave cut) doesn't have a parallel in our style but is an interesting one to try if you have two stands: kesa on one target, kiriage on the second, then suihei across both targets in one swing.

Their Yokonarabi cuts are what we refer to as multiple-goza cuts. The name stems from the side-by-side positioning of the goza on the multiple pegs. Our names map to the number of goza you are cutting: nihon-giri (cutting two goza), sanbon-giri (cutting three goza), or gohon-giri (cutting five goza). This may get confused with another sequence I'll describe next. Also Toyama-ryu asks for only a single kesa-giri across the multiple goza. For us, this is only partial. To say that you can cut the full sequence on multiple goza, you have to do kihon-toho (i.e. kesa, kiriage, suihei) across all those goza cleanly.

There are two other cut-sequences that can be confused here: cutting multiple goza rolled in a single large target (Toyama-ryu's futomaki), or cutting multiple times on a single goza.

Futomaki (Large roll) indicates that several goza are all rolled together into one large roll and then soaked. This makes the target larger around requiring a more of your sword to cut across the target. However, you can argue that is a little easier than cutting multiple goza side-by-side: the distance your sword has to travel across more yokonarabi goza is further than for single futomaki of the same number of goza. On a sword there is a "sweet spot" most effective for cutting, but the larger the distance the more outside the sweet spot you have to go. In other words, you have to enlarge your technique (and develop more power) with yokonarabi.

Cutting multiple times on a single goza is a measure of accuracy. They are also named by the number of cuts you perform on a goza, typically five (gohon-giri or godan-giri) or six (roppon-giri or rokkudan-giri). Each names means the same thing, just pronounced differently based on how Japanese numbers are counted.

Our godan-giri is the same as that for Toyama-ryu. Our rokkudan-giri is different as defined by Shihan McGraugh: right kesa, right kesa, left kiriage, right kesa, then one suihei, and then opposite suihei. Toyama-ryu's rokkudan-giri is cutting to right kesa, left kesa, left kesa, right kiriage, left kesa, right suihei.

The final one is something we don't do currently because we do not have the proper stand: dotton-giri (Toyama-ryu's dodan-giri). This is a stand called a dotton (or dodan) where you can stack goza on its side and make a vertical wall of stacked goza. You then cut a makko-giri straight down (at 90 degrees to the goza) through as many goza as you can.

Dotton-giri is different than cutting yokonarabi even though you may go through the same number of goza. For one, when the sword cuts into the targets the force down the targets is pushed back up, making it easier to cut. For yokonarabi you have nothing to push against and therefore need to work harder and faster. It is also a different swing since it's a vertical cut; this angle allows you to use your abdominal muscles some versus your sides. Most styles require you to stand with your feet in parallel, so you need to bend your knees more to get lower, as well as your body. This is very much a "power" cut. I've seen a video of Saruta soke going through 10 goza in this way.

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Comment by Sebastian on April 15, 2008 at 4:54pm
Very good blog.

Web sites & Resources

Matsuri: A Festival of Japan (2008) - Phoenix, AZ, Feb 23-28, Heritage Square

Battodo Ryuseiken in Japan. Also a partial site in english.

The Kodenkan of Tucson

The UofA Ryuseiken Battodo on the ASUA site

Tameshigiri.com - where we get goza. The ordering and shipping process are given.

Hanwei/Paul Chen swords

The Knighthawk Armoury builds some interesting realistic looking goshinken. They're expensive but they claim to be pretty durable (not yet tested by us).

Folding a Hakama the proper way

Woodall's Custom Workshop makes nice cutting stands for tameshigiri.

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