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#114229 - 01/15/05 04:22 PM newbie seeking help
Anonymous
Unregistered


I am looking into pursuing kenjutsu/kendo-- i have a few simple questions/concerns if someone would be so kind as to answer:

*being 47 with bad knees and a bad right hand wrist (recovering from severe DeQuervain's Tenosynovitis), I am concerned about the stress on knees with the iado positions i see in books (meditating, rising from floor, etc). Anybody have knowledge of this, remedies (knee pads-- do they work?)? Does kendo also involve similar stress on knees (kneeling meditation, rising from floor actions, etc)? I must admit, my concerns over the physical stresses just mentioned on this 47 year old body have led me to contemplate even just studying the art on my own, for fun, rather that subject myself to the formal routines involving a ryu and sensei where peer and sensei pressure in the least might cause excessive knee and wrist stresses. I read another post here on Teaching One's Self-- I understand the issues I believe, but if someone is just pursuing the artform for fun and sport, what is the harm of e.g. learning Kendo with a few friends (without using actual live swords, wearing protection, etc)?

*premature I am sure, but what color uniforms do kenjutsu and kendo newbies wear-- is it white as in karate? I saw white, blue, black uniforms on some websites, I was sort of hoping one would not need to buy white and then later another color given the expense of the uniforms (far more expensive than a karate gi)

Thank you in advance for any replies.

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#114230 - 01/15/05 07:11 PM Re: newbie seeking help
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Well to answer a few of your concerns...

Your age is not really an issue. There are plenty of examples of 80 year olds within the federation I belong to. The knee issues will be a problem in some dojos not in others. Depends on the style and instructor. We have a couple of folks with bad knee trouble and they simply don't do the kneeling forms, or they do standing versions of the kneeling forms.

The wrist thing might be more of an issue. The obvious suggestion is to be sure that when you purchase your training weapons you go on the lighter side. The good news is that most types of training weapons come in some fairly light varietes. That's really something you should discuss with your instructor, when you find one. It's something you'd really have to see in action to make any kind of call on.

As for kendo and iaido uniforms, there is a general correlation between black and iaido, and blue with kendo, but it's hardly a hard and fast rule. It varies from one dojo to the next. Something you should ask your instructor. Eventually within Iaido circles at least you will probably want a formal uniform for tests and demonstrations. Those are the big sleeved kimono you can find at various budo supply stores and the gray looking striped hakama. The formal stuff isn't cheap, but it's something you only wear 3 or 4 times a year so it lasts a LONG time as long as you take care of it.

Now in answer to your question about self-training "I understand the issues I believe, but if someone is just pursuing the artform for fun and sport, what is the harm of e.g. learning Kendo with a few friends (without using actual live swords, wearing protection, etc)?" The answer is simple. Who cares what anyone thinks, your just messing around whacking people with sticks. It's not like your actually doing anything real or meaningful. Just good old fashioned wacky-smacks like you were a kid. The point I'm making is that you aren't learning kendo or pursuing an art-form. You're playing wacky-smacks.

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#114231 - 01/16/05 07:25 AM Re: newbie seeking help
Anonymous
Unregistered


[QUOTE]
Well to answer a few of your concerns...
Your age is not really an issue. There are plenty of examples of 80 year olds within the federation I belong to.
[/QUOTE]

It is now or never-- I really need to get into some sort of light exercise; I am working on the weight loss, going well the past two weeks (losing 2-3 lbs/week eating all the food I want to, emphasizing stir-fry vegetables [=fiber!], adding flax seed [=fiber!] to oatmeal, no candy, etc.

[QUOTE]
The knee issues will be a problem in some dojos not in others. Depends on the style and instructor. We have a couple of folks with bad knee trouble and they simply don't do the kneeling forms, or they do standing versions of the kneeling forms.
[/QUOTE]

Thank you. Since the sensei of the iaido/kenjitsu dojo is a friend of mine, I am sure he could help me make adjustments if I decide to go that route. I am going to observe his class jan 25, that should be useful.

[QUOTE]
The wrist thing might be more of an issue. The obvious suggestion is to be sure that when you purchase your training weapons you go on the lighter side.
[/QUOTE]

Yes I need to feel how light the swords can be; perhaps with that and a wrist brace, and not going full speed or full deceleration while training, I can do it. I bought a $30 Kill Bill knock-off sword, which is what started the whole idea of looking into kendo or kenjitsu/iaido; how much lighter do real lightweight iaido swords get compared to my cheap steel knockoff?

[QUOTE]
Now in answer to your question about self-training ... The answer is simple. Who cares what anyone thinks, your just messing around whacking people with sticks. It's not like your actually doing anything real or meaningful. Just good old fashioned wacky-smacks like you were a kid. The point I'm making is that you aren't learning kendo or pursuing an art-form. You're playing wacky-smacks.
[/QUOTE]

I can not help but believe SOME kendo or iaido or whatever would be learned, but of course not near the level learned with a sensei. 'Whacky-smacks' may not be so bad, and I am glad to see that acknowledged; what is wrong with whacky-smacks, if no actual swords are used (use split bamboo, e.g.), and adults realize the risks (I have the right my pursuit of happiness after all and if this does it for why not?)? Doing whacky-smacks certainly seems better than sitting watching movies, if no expectation of learning proper form exist, and if no expectations of earning any belts exists, and safety is foremost (not using blades; using protective face masks and padding and armor).

With due respect, I have read many threads on this forum bashing self-teaching-- I clearly see the side of martial artists regarding this, especially when safety is a concern, but I think serious martial artists also need to understand that not everybody wants to sign up for the martial arts 'religion' and adhere to strict religious policies/faiths. What does it matter if some people self-train for fitness and fun as the bottom line, as long as (1)there is not a safety issue [e.g. there should be little physical danger sparring in full kendo armor using split bamboo practice swords-- or correct me if this wrong], as long as rank advancement (colored belts) is not a desire, as long as such self-taught students realize they may not be learning 'proper' form (as in exact forms taught down the years by others), as long as self-defense skills are not an expectation. If the bottom line goal is fitness and fun, and expectations are realistic, it seems more tolerance is needed. Philosophically, at age 47 I figure I have 30 years or so left to live and I want to enjoy them. Those of you who are twentysomething still see immortality and all the time in the world to pursue proper forms, advance, etc., but 10 years passes FAST, and if e.g. two people desire to pursue self-taught kendo (or do not even call it kendo, call it whacky-smacking using Kendo gear), taking safety into priority, and not intruding into dojos where other form is practiced, and not claiming to teach others kendo/other, what is the harm? It seems to me the harm is in denying that. On this philosophical issue I would love a good debate here (having been a former bible-banger, now an atheist with philosophy being my 'religion', I see some interesting parallels between some martial arts/dojos and religion, as you can tell in my posting here).

Ok now I will await the flaming replies (smile).
[IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/smile.gif[/IMG] Beowulf

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#114232 - 01/16/05 07:42 AM Re: newbie seeking help
Anonymous
Unregistered


[QUOTE]Originally posted by Charles Mahan:
..Now in answer to your question about self-training.. The point I'm making is that you aren't .. pursuing an art-form... [/QUOTE]

Why wouldn't someone pursuing iaido or kendo through self-teaching not be pursuing an art form? That does not make sense to me.

Since I am an artist,
http://sparlo.net
analogous to the martial arts someone can pursue oil painting [an artform], sculpture, etc. without formal instruction and they are indeed pursuing an artform (Rodin, the most famous sculpture ever, was kicked out of art school being told he would amount to nothing as an artist; an unusual exeption, but interesting and not an isolated case); of course they will do better if they learn from an expert or take a class (like martial arts), but that is not always possible nor desired by such a person (maybe their health prevents it, maybe their work schedule interferes, maybe they are an introvert and prefer learning on their own, etc.)

[This message has been edited by Beowulf (edited 01-16-2005).]

[This message has been edited by Beowulf (edited 01-16-2005).]

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#114233 - 01/16/05 10:50 AM Re: newbie seeking help
laf7773 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/05/04
Posts: 4064
Loc: Limbo
Once again, you can't compare art (painting, sculpting, etc..) with learning a sword art. Yes in the grand scheme of things they are both arts but there is a big difference.

Art (painting) is in most cases an inherent talent that comes out with self-exploration and vivid imagination. It can be taught in some cases but a large number of people who seek art instruction have talent they are only looking to refine. There are a few who seek out art instruction who have no talent in hopes of being taught. The point is the majority of artistís ability comes from talent not teaching. Like i said teaching is usually for refinement f their skills. There is also no one-way of doing things in art. There isn't one certain way you MUST hold a brush or chalk. The means to the end can be vastly different for several people.

With a sword art it's much different. While a person may have the ability to learn quickly or natural ability there is no way to get around the need of a teacher. Each form of iaido has it's own standards and practices. The grip of the sword varies from style to style as does things like stance (even if only slightly), blade length and even who to wear your hakama.

[QUOTE]Why wouldn't someone pursuing iaido or kendo through self-teaching not be pursuing an art form? That does not make sense to me.[/QUOTE]

The reason has a lot to do with what i stated above. Each form of iaido is very specific. If youíre out swinging a bokken or shinai you are not teaching yourself iaido. I don't know much about kendo but i'm pretty sure the standards are the same. So while you may be getting exercise and having fun you are not pursuing any art form in particular art. In addition there is the standard argument that you are teaching yourself bad habits that will have to be undone if and when you do seek instruction.

If your only doing it for fun and exercise thatís fine, but lets call it what it is. What it's not is practicing or teaching yourself an art form.

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#114234 - 01/16/05 04:24 PM Re: newbie seeking help
Anonymous
Unregistered


[QUOTE]Originally posted by laf7773:
Once again, you can't compare art (painting, sculpting, etc..) with learning a sword art. Yes in the grand scheme of things they are both arts but there is a big difference.[/QUOTE]

I disagree-- see my comments that follow.

[QUOTE]
Art (painting) is in most cases an inherent talent that comes out with self-exploration and vivid imagination.
[/QUOTE]

IMHO, not at all-- art is generally learned (hence art schools, art classes, thousands of art books), contrary to what most people think. Art is very logical, mathematical (Da Vinci wrote an entire book on this regarding painting, and I have learned it myself with drawing and painting the human figure, as well as teaching a college course on Art and Science at my college).

[QUOTE]
It can be taught in some cases but a large number of people who seek art instruction have talent they are only looking to refine. There are a few who seek out art instruction who have no talent in hopes of being taught. The point is the majority of artistís ability comes from talent not teaching. Like i said teaching is usually for refinement f their skills. There is also no one-way of doing things in art. There isn't one certain way you MUST hold a brush or chalk. The means to the end can be vastly different for several people.
[/QUOTE]

I disagree, and I am an artist. Art techniques, at least classical art (as opposed to slapping paint on a canvas and calling it abstract art), are learned, either through self-study or classes. And there are many 'one-ways' of holding a brush and chalk and doing things in art, if the results are to be achieved.

[QUOTE]
With a sword art it's much different. While a person may have the ability to learn quickly or natural ability there is no way to get around the need of a teacher. Each form of iaido has it's own standards and practices. The grip of the sword varies from style to style as does things like stance (even if only slightly), blade length and even who to wear your hakama.
[/QUOTE]

Interesting. So iado can be learned different ways as you yourself state-- varying styles, grips, etc. So in this way art/painting *is* like learning iado, that is there are various ways (at least according to what you say). You have contradicted yourself.

[QUOTE]
The reason has a lot to do with what i stated above. Each form of iaido is very specific. If youíre out swinging a bokken or shinai you are not teaching yourself iaido. I don't know much about kendo but i'm pretty sure the standards are the same...
[/QUOTE]


[QUOTE]
If your only doing it for fun and exercise thatís fine, but lets call it what it is. What it's not is practicing or teaching yourself an art form.
[/QUOTE]

I respectfully disagree, but I guess we differ on the definition of 'pursuing an art form'. Philosophers such as Ayn Rand have written entire books on what is art and what is the puruit of art forms (read her "Romantic Manifesto" essays/book if interested, as i have, then let's talk more). In essence, art or an art form (according to Ayn Rand and other metaphilosophers) is anything creative either visually or performed that captures the attention of the viewer causing them to contemplate universal truths. What is art or an art form can easily be applied to the martial arts, as there is art surely in the attire and performance of a kata, iado, or kendo sparring session-- regardless of whether the performance follows strict guidelines imposed by various 'Federations' and such. I suspect the great amount of defense against self-teaching has as much to do with the danger of such 'Federations' and dojos/senseis worrying over losing their memberships and psychological holds on practitioners, again an interesting parallel to priests/churches and religious/cult followers. Well I am sure you will have the last say being the moderator, I have said what I needed to say.

Peace [IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/smile.gif[/IMG]

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#114235 - 01/16/05 06:43 PM Re: newbie seeking help
laf7773 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/05/04
Posts: 4064
Loc: Limbo
I'm an artist too, one with no lessons and i don't just slap things together and call it abstract. I know of very few people taking art lessons of any kind who had no talent to begin with. If they did take lessons with no talent to start they rarely stay with it because they donít tend to get the same results as the students with talent.

[QUOTE]Interesting. So iado can be learned different ways as you yourself state-- varying styles, grips, etc. So in this way art/painting *is* like learning iado, that is there are various ways (at least according to what you say). You have contradicted yourself.[/QUOTE]

No i haven't contradicted myself. To put it simply, if you have some basic talent you can teach your self various techniques for painting, sketching and so forth and still get the same results. You can't do that in iaido. It will not happen. While there are differences from one style of iaido to another they are in many cases slight. This is one small reason you can't teach yourself iaido. Unless you are under instruction you will not notice the differences, that is until someone with experience points them out to you. When it comes to effective technique the basics are pretty much the same across the board. Not saying they all have the same techniques but the basic principle behind how the techniques work is the same.

We are not talking about the philosophical meaning of art. We are talking about styles of sword use. This has nothing to do with the "artistic" nature of the systems. This also has nothing to do with "federations" loosing students either. I personally could care less if anyone looses students. I don't teach and i don't attend any dojo. What this does have to do with is people with no knowledge of iaido, kenjutsu or even kendo thinking they can simply mimic what they see in books and on videos, or even worse just hashing it out alone, and believe they are effectively "teaching" them self any form of sword art. The reason for the "defense" against people teaching themselves is based on the number of people who come through with hopes of taking up sword training but for what ever reason they are unable to start now. In the mean time they want to do something till they can receive instruction, unfortunately self teaching is NOT the way to go. You will give your self bad habits in terms of stance, angle/direction of the blade, posture, body movement/placement and any number of other areas that will slow your progress in training.

[QUOTE]Well I am sure you will have the last say being the moderator,[/QUOTE]

That's kind of cheap. Not once have i stopped a thread to get the last word.

Like i said before. If you want to go out to your back yard with some friends, bogu and shinai and just have fun and work up a sweat that's fine. If you are looking to seek out an instructor later i advise against it because you will be teaching yourself bad habits. It has nothing to do with anyone loosing students. Regardless of the number of iaido kata/techinques or whatever you learn on your own or how good your think you are getting you are not learning batto-do or MJER and will not be until you seek instruction in an art.

I do have one issue. Why are you posting this kind of question here if you have a friend who is an iaido instructor? Why are you worried about the peer pressure of a dojo when you could more than likely get private lessons from your friend? It just seems funny that someone who looks at structured sword art students as "religious/cult followers" would come to a forum to seek advice from those same "followers" instead of just asking your friend.

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#114236 - 01/16/05 07:22 PM Re: newbie seeking help
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Ok there is a risk of words being put into my mouth here. I see nothing wrong with Whacky-Smacks in the same way that I see nothing wrong with Tae Bo. At the same time, people learning Tae Bo shouldn't be under the delusion that they are learning a martial art. It's just funky aerobics.

Self teaching a sword art out of a book is kinda like trying to learn brain surgery from a high school text book. If you get one of those cheap plastic brains they use in a high school anatomy class and an exacto knife and cut away at it, surely you are learning brain surgery. I mean yeah you'll never be good enough to teach at Harvard Medical school but your learning brain surgery.

No. Sorry it doesn't work that way. It takes many years of personal instruction for an instructor to pass on the collective knowledge of several hundred years of how to kill people with swords and live to tell the tale. What makes you think a couple hundred pages of text and photos can capture any reasonable amount of that information?

The point is that self teaching and whacky smacks cannot teach you anything real. It's just goofing around with sticks. There will never be anything more to it than that, no matter how long you do it or how many books you read. It's just whacky smacks.

With swords there is very much a right and wrong way to do things. You can't just fumble around and figure it out on your own.

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#114237 - 01/17/05 12:38 AM Re: newbie seeking help
Anonymous
Unregistered


Part of the the problem I see here is the use of the word "art" in martial arts. The translation of the word "jutsu" is not only art, but also technique, means, conjury, and is used in the words "shujutsu" meaning a surgical operation, and "gakujutsu" meaning science or learning. Neither of these can be "learned" without some instruction. Which is why it is usually suggested to have a "sensei". We translate sensei as teacher, but also means "earlier life", that is one who has already been experienced in whatever it is you are trying ot understand.
Can random, safe wacking on one another be considered an art? Sure why not. It just not the same art or technique that generally considered to be a Japanese sword art/technique. To reference this in the world of painting as art, would be like saying my throwing blobs of color on a piece of paper is the same school as the the impressionalists. Both can be called art, one is just more recognized. Should my blobs or the stick wacking survive and generate a following for years to come, then they will be elevated form the ranks of amature pass times and be considered great styles to be copied and learned from.
I commend and encourage anyone working to improve they fitness and am sure that a good teacher can adjust techniques to accommodate most knee and wrist injuries. Start slow, have fun, and you will train for a long time.
R. A. Smith

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#114238 - 01/17/05 07:25 AM Re: newbie seeking help
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
I guess that's kinda how I feel about the subject. It may be a worthwhile endeavor with benefits all it's own, but it's not a Japanese Sword Art. It's whacky smacks.

A good example of this is the SCA. I've seen a number of SCA practices. Known a lot of folks in the SCA, and I have a great deal of respect for their sword and board guys(ie the guys with armor, shields and big sticks that whack the bejesus out of each other). I suspect that within a generation or two regional schools of combat will emerge that will stress particular sets of techniques. Within 3 or 4 generations there will probably be full on martial arts which bear a striking resemblance to Japanese koryu.

Will the be Japanese koryu? Well no. It is western style fighting for the most part. Will it be a reborn school of German Sword Fighting. No. It will be a different thing altogether. It will be a fighting system which is fairly combat effective WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THE SCA. And I think that's an important distinction.

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