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Aikido & Kendo, The Sporting Way 3:4

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Master Oba has lived through these developments. He knew the masters who initiated them. And the long arguments that divided the world of Aikidō. There are now two main schools. One, the school of Master Ueshiba, has rejected the sporting way. The other follows the teachings of Master Tomiki, who led the movement for change. Tomiki Sensei started this modern Aikidō but teachers of traditional Aikidō did not approve of his ideas. He started with very few students, but then more and more young people came to him - like these fish. I am sure that our Aikidō will expand more and more amongst the young people. Middle-aged people, people who are not so strong and ladies, will all practise our type of Aikidō. We want to expand all Aikidō both the traditional style and our modern style. Aikidō is now purely a defensive system, where every move is taught as a reaction to an attacker. The defender almost never hits the attacker, but relies on throwing, pinning, and immobilising techniques, as well as pressing nerve centres and other vital points. A very sophisticated knowledge of the ways in which the joints of the arms and legs won't bend lies at the heart of Aikidō. Practising the fighting techniques also instills calmness and relaxation. You can't be thrown repeatedly like this unless your mind and body are in a passive state. All these qualities make Aikidō ideal for use in schools and universities. And it's from these places that Tomiki's Aikidō has drawn its basic support. In free-form sparring, students can use any techniques they like to defeat each other. A rubber knife stops the risk of injury but gives the sparring a more lifelike quality. The knife man is always the attacker. The unarmed man, the defender. This was the martial art of the samurai women. It is called Naginata. After the name of the weapon that they used. It's similar to the Western halberd. The blade is made from the same steel as the Japanese sword blade. It is a powerful weapon when handled skillfully. Almost as effective as a sword, with a longer reach. As always in the martial arts, they practise with wooden weapons. This was not a sport for the samurai women. It was their defence when their homes were attacked. They had the reputation for being ferocious fighters and for dying as bravely as their men. To use the naginata properly, it must be twisted through a half-circle, so that the shaft is used almost as much as the blade. A series of slashes build up into a potent attack. Blows showering down in an arc from above, or siding upwards from below. Sawada Sensei shows her mastery of the weapon by the way she wields it, and the ease and precision with which she stops and changes direction. Before 1945, Naginata was the usual physical training for girls at school in Japan. After the war, Naginata almost disappeared as a result of the American prohibitions. Sawada Sensei, with her colleague, Yoshida Sensei, were two of those who led the revival. When the practice of martial arts was permitted again, all the remaining Naginata schools combined to develop a modern form. Traditional Naginata was the art of cutting. New Naginata is the art of striking. Sawada Sensei teaches the classical style in the mornings, but in the afternoon, the class turns to the modern combat sport. Sport Naginata schools are the most popular women's martial training in Japan today. Besides learning basic techniques, the women test each other's skills in contest. To reduce the chances of injury, the training weapons have been modified. They have a light split bamboo blade on the end of the shaft. Armour covers the main target areas, which are the head, neck, shoulders, forearms, trunk, and shins. The contestants must shout out the name of their target just as they launch an attack. And the judges then decide whether the blow strikes home accurately or not. The evolution of the Japanese martial arts has not been a simple process, because they are so deeply involved with the nation's religion and culture. The martial arts became a way of meditation, a part of Zen Buddhism, and sometimes not even a way of self-defence. These ritualistic strokes with swords could be used for fighting, but that is not the purpose of the practice. These men are concentrating on reaching perfection in their actions. For them, the perfect performance of the ritual is to achieve a state of Zen. This perfection can be expressed in many ways, by calligraphy, or the tea ceremony, or in the martial arts. For many Japanese, this is enough. They are content to perfect their art. However, development was possible. Out of the trance of Zen sword practice, came the violent sport of Kendō. But it is not just a sport in the Western sense. Within it, there is also philosophy and a way of life. It's because of this complexity that Kendō attracts many Westerners to study it. Some give up their settled lives and travel to Japan to practise. This is what Les Denniston did 3 years ago. He left Glasgow and came to Kyoto and supports himself by teaching English. Les performs his solitary exercises on the roof of his flat. Completing a thousand sword strokes each day before going on to the dojo to practise. Before starting Kendō, I would have described myself as aggressive, very aggressive. But, ah, you lose your aggression or you learn to control it. I started originally because I was very fat, and I became interested, and... After I lost weight, I became interested in the spirit, the mind of Kendō. But it can really change you. It becomes your life. Kendō is not a sport. A sport you play for enjoyment, or for entertainment. Kendō, the Japanese call Kokoro No Shigyō, spiritual training. And I became really interested in that aspect of Kendō. Les was lucky. He was accepted into a small dojo with several Kendō masters. One evening a week is devoted to the practice of ritual sword strokes.

Video Details

Duration: 10 minutes and 9 seconds
Country: Brazil
Language: English
Views: 91
Posted by: halfleaf on Apr 20, 2010

Aikido & Kendo, The Sporting Way 3:4

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