Monday, 13 December 2010

Iai-jutsu grading result...

What ever your views on the kyu grading system in martial arts (my views on this will be the subject of my next post), I am pleased to announce that my husband and I both passed our iai-jutsu grading on Sunday!
I was a little more nervous than usual about this grading. The requirements were much more exacting than for our other level one weapons and a higher standard of precision and etiquette were required. It took me a long time to master even the most basic elements of using a sword such as just smoothly pulling it out of the saya (scabbard) and returning it again (without looking). I nearly always had the saya upside down so that the sword wouldn't fit in! Eventually I got the hang of it and now it's hard to understand why I couldn't do it in the first place - but that's the nature of learning.
There were a lot of 'differents' associated with this grading compared to previous kobudo gradings: different venue, different grading officer, even different uniform (we had to wear our hakamas). There was also a lot of waiting about before the grading, about 2 hours, so it was hard to stay warm and it was too cramped to practice properly as you need a lot of space when you are wielding a sword and we had to wait in the hallway of a small infant school. 
Finally it was our turn to grade. We started with the reishiki ceremony which we did simultaneously. I'd been fretting about some of the details of this rather elaborate show of etiquette - do we bow before we swap the sword to the right hand or after? Is it left hand or right hand down first when doing the full seiza bow? Do we start walking with the right foot first or the left foot? All these details matter. However, on the day we both managed to perform it flawlessly so the grading got off to a good start.
After that we were graded separately (apart from partnering each other when required). The grading officer looked at us and said, 'How about ladies first?' chance for some sneaky revision whilst watching my husband grade first then. Amazingly I remembered everything, didn't make any mistakes and didn't stand on or trip over my hakama!
Then I knelt on the edge of the mat whilst my husband was graded, just getting up to partner him for his disarming techniques and wrist throws. His performance too was error free and looked really neat and precise. I felt very proud of him.
Then it was time to line up and get the results. "Pass with honours". Both of us. Wow!
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. said...

Well done to both of you. How great that you could grade together. I find the ceremony that goes with Japanese swordmanship both beautiful and fascinating. of these days...



Sue C said...

Thanks Marie, I would certainly advocate a bit of sword training to enhance your karate - you'll soon have lovely flowing but powerful katas!

Perpetual Beginner said...

Congratulations! I'm sure you're both deservedly proud of yourselves. The Iai-jutsu sounds fascinating.

Michele said...

Congratulations to both of you!

John Coles said...

Congratulations. Interesting that you've sword work in your karate. Definetly not the norm. I've recently been teaching and training a couple of guys who want to do their shodan sword grading in Jan de Jong jujutsu (as I call it). I'm finding so much can be learnt from even simple sword work. The 'kata' they are doing involves two people, an attacker and a defender. One very interesting thing that is learnt from sword training is not to bounce around when engaging like so many martial arts (including boxing) teach. You stand your ground or move around deliberatly and slowly, then explode to attack or defend. A different way of approaching sparring and free fighting than is generally advocated.

Etali said...


I admire you for being able to handle those weapons. I'm still stuck at the stage where I keep getting the blade the wrong way round. The ceremonial stuff is so confusing, too.

Nick Guinn said...

Congratulations to you both!

Side note:
You passed so you probably don't need any suggestions but I thought I would post my two cents anyway. Also to everyone, different schools of swordsmanship can use slightly varying ceremony. Some etiquette for the sword I have learned changes where you place the sword during Reishiki based on if you trust the person you are bowing too. Some changes are made on which direction the blade is pointing even. I cannot hope to remember it all.

Anyway, when you bow, I have found the best way for me to remember which hand goes down first. The sword hand is always the last to leave the sword and the first to come back.

On the return it is always the first to retrieve the sword too.

At least that is the way we were taught.

Again, Congratulations.


Felicia said...

Congratulations, Sue (and to your hubby as well :-)

Journeyman said...

Well done!

One of the things that fascinate me about sword work is the commitment to technique. There is no "I'll try this and back off or block if it's not going my way..."

The total commitment and the likelihood of complete victory or ultimate loss rides on one motion or movement. It ties in nicely with the Samurai's mindset of accepting death before each encounter.

Congrats to both of you.

Sue C said...

Thanks to everyone for your good wishes.

Hi John, We haven't done any 2 man kata stuff yet - sounds interesting. Not sure if anything like this will appear on the syllabus. So far I've just done draws, cuts and disarming techniques.

Etali, I was like you only a few months ago - keep practicing and it will all fall into place soon.

Nick, our reishiki ceremony requires the sword to always be facing away from the person being bowed to to show you are not a threat. The hand thing - you're right! It's all to do with the sword hand - that little nugget will help me to remember in future, thanks!

Journeyman, You're right, you can't lose focus for even a second when your partner strikes at you with their sword and you have to disarm them quickly - distance and timing are critical. The distance you have to cover is much greater than with empty hand techniques so you need to move pretty quick as well. I think good footwork is also essential. It's all quite a challenge!

Chase said...

Fascinating! Congratulations to both of you, deserve it.

Sue C said...

Thanks Chase....

SenseiMattKlein said...

Sounds like a fantastic grading, Sue. Congratulations to the both of you.

Sue C said...

Thanks Matt


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