Friday, 19 March 2010

Three exciting things!

1. I have a new katana! (see picture). For a while now I have had difficulty controlling my previous bokken. It is too big and too heavy. It is a standard 40 inch bokken weighing 660g. This doesn’t sound very heavy but I have found it a bit unwieldy! I can’t chiburi properly with it, my cuts are ‘wobbly’ and imprecise, and I have difficulty putting it back in the saya.
My new katana is only 33 inches long and weighs 350g. It is made from red oak and feels pretty strong (it makes a lovely whooshing noise when making cuts!). Sensei told me that the correct length for a sword is that the blade should be the length of your arm (measured from the axilla to the wrist). The length of the blade is 23 inches and my arm measurement is 22 inches, so without actually getting one made to measure, this is as close as I’ll get to the perfect length sword. It is actually called a ‘youth’ size which suits me!

Apart from trying it out at home I haven’t had the chance to use it in class yet – can’t wait for Sunday so that I can put it through its paces!

2. I have finally bought the correct kobudo gi for my organisation (see picture). It’s quite jazzy isn’t it? I wouldn’t feel at all right wearing something like this in my karate club – I much prefer the simple white gi with a single patch on it. However for my kobudo club it somehow feels okay! The only problem is the organisation my kobudo club belongs to has an obsession with patches and I am eventually going to have to spoil the gi by sewing on badges until I look like a boy scout! But at the moment I’m resisting.

I actually like the idea of  wearing a different gi to the two clubs I belong too. I know it shouldn’t matter what I wear – a different coloured gi won’t make me better or worse – but somehow it symbolises that I occupy a different place in each club. In my karate club I am a fairly senior brown belt and expected to work at a high standard and help out more junior grades. In kobudo I am the most junior member of the club hoping other people will help me!

Wearing the correct gi also gives a sense of belonging. When you join a new club as a junior it takes time to fit in and to be accepted by the other members. You have to train hard, listen to advice and criticism with good grace, show you’re not afraid to have a go and eventually you gain their respect. I feel after 9 months I’m just starting to achieve that. Having the right gi somehow helps me feel more accepted.

3. I’ve saved the best ‘till last! I have booked onto a seminar with Ian Abernethy. It’s not until July but I wanted to guarantee my place early. I’m really excited about this. I am currently reading his book ‘Bunkai-Jutsu’, which is really good by the way, and I listen to his pod casts. To actually meet the man in person and work on some bunkai under his guidance sounds like a fantastic opportunity. I’ll post about how this seminar went in July.

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Frank said...

Congrats on the new bokken! It's very handsome... :-)

Sue C said...

Thanks Frank! It's gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

I do believe it’s not correct to refer to practice swords as ‘katana’, the correct term would ‘bokken’ or ‘bokuto’ when its wooden and ‘iaito’ when it’s metal but unsharpened. ‘Shinken’ is used to refer to real, sharpened swords as shinken means ‘live blade’ or ‘combat-ready blade’

Enjoy the seminar.

Sue C said...

Hi Zara,

Okay, I agree, what I have is a bokken. If a Shinken is a live blade what is a katana?

Anonymous said...

The katana is the quintessential or classic Japanese longsword, slightly curved, single edged with a distinctive tsuba (handguard) and a handle long enough to allow it to be wielded with both hands. It should be at least over 60 cm in length (90 cm is not uncommon) otherwise it’s considered a wakizashi or short sword. Both the katana and the wakizashi were the distinct weapons of the samurai-class (the symbol of their authority and rank) and were usually worn paired, this is called daisho.

Shinken could as well refer to a wakizashi or a tanto that’s sharp (so any sharp, edged weapon), in any case it’s used in iaido/ battojutsu and kenjutsu and to denote the exercise is done with the real thing as opposed to a practice weapon.

I hope this answers your question.

Sue C said...

Thanks for that Zara - now I am a little wiser than before!

Rig said...

Hope you have a good time on Iain Abernethy's seminar, I've attended a number of them and found them to be extremely interesting and thought provoking.

Sue C said...

Hi Rig, nice to hear from you again. I'm really looking forward to the seminar, I'm really starting to get into bunkai now so I'm hoping to learn lots!

Michele said...

Very exciting!

My last weapon purchase was a custom made pair of kama. I am on the lookout for new tunfa.

I look foward to reading about the Iain Abernethy seminar. We watched a few of his DVD's in the dojo. Excellent.

Sue C said...

Hi Michele,

I never thought I'd get excited about owning a wooden sword before I took up martial arts but I feel really proud of it!

I'll keep you posted on the Iain Abernethy seminar.


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