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Way of the Samurai 4:4

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All the characters have a significance related to the spell. Each position of the hands is another prayer. And all nine together make the spell. Those are the nine signs. There are two ways of making the spell. Either by making the hand prayer shapes, or by drawing lines. Each line representing one of the hand positions. It is then necessary to focus the spell. And that is why the 10th character is used. This is called "the method of the 10th character". This sets the spell. You can use this method when you are going to sail on a ship. Even if the ship capsizes, you yourself will survive. So for protection against drowning in a shipwreck, the warrior drew the spell on his hand and then wrote a 10th, water character. Then you write a dragon. You write it like this. In battle, the warrior did the same to protect himself. Master Otake thinks that the idea people have of fighting warriors as Zen Buddhists is quite wrong. To follow Zen is to spend many hours in contemplation, which he feels is quite unsuitable for fighting men. They needed a practical religion that could put them quickly into the right frame of mind to fight. To complete the cure, the magical spell is stroked over the patient. She must then take it away, place it on a riverbank and walk away without looking back. The training session for advanced students covers all types of weapons. For each weapon, there are special exercises. After the sword sessions, they move on to single sword against short and long swords. These were the weapons carried by the samurai until just over a century ago. They could, of course, choose to draw only one of their swords. But once both were unsheathed, special coordination had to be learned to use them effectively. Crossing the two blades is a way of blocking an attack without damaging the blades. And from there, either sword can be brought in to cut the opponent down. Many fighting arts use a staff called a Bō by the Japanese. It is a brilliant weapon when handled by a master. The problem for a swordsman fighting against a longer weapon is how to get past it and reach his opponent. A well-placed blow from an oak staff can shatter a sword blade or a helmet. But the sword can make a lethal wound by the lightest of touches. Encircling the sword blade with a tip of the staff can flip the sword out of its owner's hands. The fighter with the staff must, however, always stay out of reach of the swordsman, since he has no close-quarters defence. Father and son practising sword against halberd. These are the most spectacular and elaborate katas of all. The halberd is a deadly weapon. Heavy, as sharp as a sword, and able to reach the weak places in armour from a distance. No good swordsman would permit this. And yet, he must move in to attack in range. Because of the length and weight of this weapon, it is held in the middle for balance. To counter these powerful strokes demands great skill from a swordsman. He only has a slight speed advantage, and the halberd has the butt end of its shaft available to parry blows. The warrior's problem when fighting the long spear is different. The man holding a spear will always try to use it at a distance. And the problem for the swordsman is to prevent its powerful momentum from striking him. The warrior must attack past the spear point, but his opponent can draw it back quickly. Master Otake uses his full willpower and energy to fight his way through. But even then, it is difficult to close with the spearman, who retreats. There are certainly many other techniques that the school thinks are too secret to be shown to outsiders. They would include unarmed combat using particularly dangerous techniques, since they were designed for the battlefield. Yet, at the heart of the teaching, in spite of the concentration on the art of killing, the founder's message is one of peace. He taught that fighting is the last resort, and to kill is evil. Among his teachings that have come down to us is one called the "Dwarf Bamboo". This Shintō-ryū term refers to a custom of the Founder. When he was challenged by visitors saying "Please let me try to defeat you", he would say "Fine, but let's sit down first". He would have a straw mat spread out on top of a stand of miniature bamboo. The mat was only held above the ground by the bamboo's thin stems. The Founder would then climb up onto this mat and sit down without the straw mat collapsing under his weight. Then he would invite the challenger to come up and sit with him. According to the legend, when the challengers saw this, they realised that they were in the presence of a saintly person and they would concede defeat, since they knew it would be impossible for them to copy such a feat. Master Otake despises the samurai who went around searching for fights and triumphantly killing. He thinks that they led distorted lives, and that it is wrong for them to be admired. They left nothing. But the founder of the Katori Shintō-ryū left a family that continues after 20 generations, and a school that has made no compromises in its teachings since the 15th century. And yet retains relevance for its 20th century pupils. The balance between the art of killing and following a moral way of life is one that many masters of fighting arts maintain. For them, and for Master Otake, the arts of war are also the way of peace.

Video Details

Duration: 9 minutes and 19 seconds
Country: Brazil
Language: English
Views: 178
Posted by: halfleaf on Apr 9, 2010

Way of the Samurai 4:4

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