Recently, I produced a DVD video based on Muso Shinden Ryu Iaido with the title "Secrets of Japanese Swordsmanship - The Hidden Movements". Although the video is based on the MSR the points are universal and can be applied to any style you may practice. The video took the 5 major movements of the sword in order as they appear in the kata and detailed them individually point by point. The video begins with the Nukitsuke, containing 25 points and continues through the furikaburi, kiritsuke, chiburi and noto. I felt that in order to develop ones technique first they have to understand how their technique works! Without this understanding there is no path to mastery of the Sword and sadly no functionality in its' movements. There is no free, flowing reaction to teki and consequently no "Mushin". Loosely translated, Mushin means action without thought. Engagement without thought is essential to successfully reacting to an opponents challenges.
It is my hope that through this series on the "points of technique" of the Sword that I might shed some light on the inner mechanics of how each of these 5 essential movements is done.
Let's start with the Nukitsuke. Drawing the sword from the scabbard directly to the opponent. I have isolated the Yokoichimonji (horizontal draw) into 2 parts. The first part of the draw covers everything that is happening as the sword moves through and releases from the saya (scabbard). The second part is the movement of the sword as it travels upon release from the saya to the target. The first half breaks down into 15 points while the second has 10.
I am going to cover 4 of the 25 points in todays discussion. Three of them are done with the left hand before the sword releases and the fourth one is done with the right hand during the cut. Please pay close attention to the left hand points as most of the focus in the draw is usually on just the right hand. I am attaching a youtube clip for your convenience to follow along if you would like to see this info as well as read it.
Point one - the left hand must pull the saya, back and away, off sword as the sword is moving forward! To often this is overlooked and the left hand remains locked in place.
Point two - the left hand must actively keep the sword from binding while it is moving forward by pressing the saya lightly inward especially as the sword is nearing the last third of the saya.
Point three - the first pad of the index finger and thumb of the left hand lightly pinch the mune (back of the blade) gently as the sword moves forward from the saya into the release.
Point four-the right wrist is alive and pressing the sword to the outside as the right hand moves from left to the right on a horizontal line. The feeling is as if you are pressing the wrist to the outside toward the outer side of your forearm.
I hope that you will find these points useful in your training! If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me through the contact page and I will be happy to help!
You can find the Secrets of Japanese Swordsmanship "The Hidden Movements" at Mountain Teachings.
Just click on the cover below!