Ryuseiken Battodo

Japanese swordfighting

I had the students at UofA club on Monday "cut" quite a bit. Not actually cutting targets, but more swinging with intention to cut each time. I think we ended up with over 400 swings each over the span of an hour and half. There were several goals:

  • building stamina - lots of continual cutting will help you find where you run out of breath and energy, and how long it takes to recover
  • thinking under pressure - there were several exercises and some required a specific order of cutting while working as fast as you can
  • maintaining form - its hard to maintain form when being rushed
  • conserving energy - this is more to see who can conserve their energy while maintaining form. The idea is to cut, but once you can already get all your basic cuts on real targets regularly, it becomes one where you aren't throwing more energy into each cut than what you need.

We had everyone being timed to push the sense of urgency and stress. The time they took was there more as a motivation factor (competing with others) than a hard measure. When I did it with another class and we did not time it, I could see the urgency factor drop dramatically. People needed to work under the gun so to speak.

The first exercise:
  • six "targets" spaced out appropriately
  • three cuts required on each one
  • need to vary the cut sequence as you move between targets
  • make each swing with intention to cut
  • rotate through the six targets, four times = 6 x 4 x 3 = 72 cuts

The second exercise:
  • six targets, spaced out beyond easy reach (requires you to step)
  • cut each target once
  • move between targets as quickly as you can
  • and cut all targets in the shortest time

The third exercise:
  • same as second but 3 cuts per target

The fourth:
  • four targets, one per each diagonal
  • cut each target once
  • you have to rotate at least 180 degrees as you go between each target (you are always spinning around)
  • timed

The fifth:
  • 8 targets
  • do happogiri, cutting each target once
  • alternate and rotate directions
  • timed

The sixth:
  • same as 1st, but 6 targets x 3 cuts x 6 rounds = 108 cuts

Except for the first and six exercises, each one was repeated three times.

The more complicated fourth and fifth ones messed up folks thinking often. As you are turning, spinning and trying to perform specific cuts, you sometimes forget what you are supposed to do. That's the point of the exercise: working under stress. There's little time to thing, so your brain almost interferes with your instincts. Part of it is to help build that instinct to take over.

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Comment by Steve Waldstein on May 4, 2008 at 4:56pm
I'm gonna have to try this.

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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