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#114751 - 03/01/05 02:46 PM Re: Better Swordsmen? The Ninja or Samurai?

It all matters of the time of the fights of these two swordsman. Kawakami Gensai 1 of 4 hitokiri of edo (1603 to 1867) would kill any ninja with his lightning-like speed.

#114752 - 03/01/05 02:52 PM Re: Better Swordsmen? The Ninja or Samurai?
laf7773 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/05/04
Posts: 4065
Loc: Limbo

I hate to tell you this but the popular vision of what people today think the ninja are is nothing more than Hollywood BS and the result of too many ninjItsu fakes.

Care to give a little background on yourself?

#114753 - 03/01/05 02:52 PM Re: Better Swordsmen? The Ninja or Samurai?
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5844
Loc: USA

#114754 - 03/01/05 10:15 PM Re: Better Swordsmen? The Ninja or Samurai?
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Bear with me, this is my second time typing this response. Stupid back key on the dumb keyboard. Grumble.

Sorry for taking so long to reply. Somehow I missed it earlier.

[QUOTE]Originally posted by haibara_iaido:

I would like to say something directly to Charles Maham. I have been living in Japan for over 12 years and have been practice aikido and iaido for for over 10 of those. The information that I gave is directly from the test given to those who wish to take their third fourth or fifth black belt in Iaido.

Congradulations on having been fortunate enough to be able to train in Japan. The information stating that Saya no Uchi is another name for Iaido was on your third fourth and fifth dan Kendo Renmei tests? Or are you talking about the information you posted regarding ninjas? I would be genuinely suprised to find information about Ninja on a ZNKR exam. I'm assuming your Kendo Renmei based on the site you posted that is a kendo renmei url.

So in regards to this statement about sayano uchi that I gave, well it is exactly as it stands. If you wish to question this, by all means please do so. Here, I will give you a listing of my source. Just look at the third name from the list.

Could you provide translations for the text in question? I cannot read Japanese. The idea that Saya no Uchi is another name for Iaido runs contrary to everything I have ever read or been taught. I'm not gonna just take your word for this, and I'm afraid I cannot read your citations. I really could use that translation.

He is my teacher here in shizuoka. I would like to know who yours is. Maybe some American guy named john? Let me say that I would, without hesitation, take my teachers word over yours. I don't think 3 dan even qualifies you to lecture someone who holds two ranks above you.

First I did not lecture you. I gave some very good advice to the list in general. There is no solid information to be had on the subject of Ninja. The information I posted on Saya no uchi was for the list in general and not necessarily directed at you. I stand by my assessment of the term as written above.

Calling me down for daring to question a post written by someone who is apparently a rank ahead of me is a silly thing to do. Your background was not exactly common knowledge so I could not have known you are a fifth dan. As we are both aware, fifth dan is not exactly a rank with any real authority attached to it at any rate. Certainly not in Japan. And our ranks aren't really comparable anyway considering we are within different Renmei.

BTW which koryu did you say you studied? Takakura Ken iaido? That's a new one on me. Is that the ryu-ha you hold rank in? Or are you exclusively Seitei Iai?

I do in fact train under John Ray-sensei, but I haven't been a sandan in a couple of years. Ray-sensei's bio is available at In short, sensei is the senior representative of the Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Seitokai and Zen Nippon Iaido Renmei in the US. He holds the rank of Nanadan Kyoshi awarded by Ikeda Takashi-soke. Ray-sensei trained in Chiba Japan under Yamashita Noboru-sensei during the 80s. He moved back to the US in '91 and started the dojo I train in in '96(I think). Our dojo is a part of the Chiba region. The current head of our parent dojo in Chiba is Tanida Hiroshi-sensei Hachidan Hanshi. He will be here in three weeks to run a Koushukai and conduct a Shodan Shiken.

But without becoming bitter. I recommend yu just check for yourself. Or better yet, just get you chibby butt out of clear water, come to Japan to take your 4th dan test. Have you ever even been in Japan?
Due to issues of my wife's health I will be unable to attend the Golden Week events this year as I had hoped. I missed the dojo group trip a few years ago, so no I have not yet made the trip. My current plan is to make it next year for sure, and at the latest to make the shodan shiken in Kyoto for my rokudan exam.

Unfortunately my finances are not such that I can travel to Japan at the drop of a hat. Round trip airfare runs around $1000 or so from DFW airport to Tokyo. Not the kinda money I have just laying around.

What did you mean by "Get your chibby but out of clear water?" Would that be the Clear Water as in Clear Water Texas? One of my kohai has a dojo in Clear Water, but I do not train there. And I don't recognize the term chibby.

So before you question other peoples knowledge and accuse them of getting info from the web. be very sure you know what you are talking about.

As I have admitted on plenty of ocassions, I'm hardly an authority. I've been doing Iai for less than 8 years. I won't even come close to being any kind of authority for another 20 or so years. The subjects I post on are typically things I do know something about. Saya no uchi is certainly a term I am somewhat familiar with. And there really isn't much reliable information to be had on Ninja so those comments hold true as well.


For those of your who practice Budo, I wish you all the success. for those of you who like to read about budo and prance around thinking you know what you are talking about, that would be you grasshopper, pick up your shinken or in your case maybe a mogito and just praktice. Stop trying to be a guru.

I suspect I am the grasshopper mentioned above. I spend upwards of 9 hours a week training, and have used a shinken pretty much exclusively for a couple of years now. It's still teaching me plenty about saya no uchi. As I mentioned above, I am no guru, but I am not a fan of misinformation and do what I can when I can to dispute it. If you like, you are free to contradict me. It would help others to believe your assertions to provide a translation of the sources you mentioned. Or some other english language reference where someone uses the term saya no uchi in place of Iaido. Posting a reference to something like MJER Saya no Uchi as opposed to MJER Iaido would go a long way towards backing up your assertion that the two terms are interchangable. This is an english language board, and while some here do speak Japanese, there aren't many.

[This message has been edited by Charles Mahan (edited 03-01-2005).]

#114755 - 03/02/05 11:16 AM Re: Better Swordsmen? The Ninja or Samurai?

Charles, I think the links provided were just to show you who he learned this from. Neither page has a reference to saya no uchi.

I'm with you on this though. Saya no uchi is a key concept in our style (and presumably many others), but I have never, ever in my life heard the term used as another name for Iaido. Nobody practices "saya no uchi", it's a conceptual goal to reach in our practice of Iaido.

Haibara, with all due respect to your higher rank, you're one very condescending person. For one, it's impossible for anyone to guess your rank on the internet, so hitting Charles over the head with "How DARE you question your betters??!?!? I'm 2 dan above you!!!!" is ridiculously childish. You never said who you were and where you came from, don't expect respect when you step up to say something just because you have a Japanese name.

Second, all your insinuations about Charles being inferior because he's American are stupid. Our practice of Iaido didn't spring from a vacuum, it's all learned from Japanese people. So, please, stop that.

Of course you will take your teacher's word over anyone else's. However, WE haven't heard that teacher, we haven't seen anything about saya no uchi being another term for Iaido. To us, all you are is some random guy on the internet with an opinion. We won't give you credit just for saying something, we want references, texts, something substantial. Otherwise anyone can say anything and we'd have to take it at face value.

Perhaps there's some confusion as to what we're saying and we're in fact "both" right. Would you say "鞘の内をしましょう" in the same way as "居合道をしましょう"? 「鞘の内」と「居合道」は同じですか?

I apologize for my basic japanese, but I hope you still understand what I am saying.

#114756 - 03/02/05 11:40 AM Re: Better Swordsmen? The Ninja or Samurai?
laf7773 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/05/04
Posts: 4065
Loc: Limbo

I don't care what rank you claim; there will be no pulling rank in this forum section. This message board is for discussion. You made a statement that others, as well as myself, disagree with and it is to be discussed. You will not commit personal attacks here based on your "higher rank". No one here is a subordinate or a superior. If you want to discuss the subject then do so but you will not talk down to the members of this forum based on your rank. Disagreement is one thing; name calling and condescending remarks are another. This isn't the military and rank does not have any privileges here. A pompous arrogant attitude is also not welcome so i advise you to check your ego and attitude at the door before you find yourself on the other side of it.

#114757 - 03/02/05 12:18 PM Re: Better Swordsmen? The Ninja or Samurai?
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
[QUOTE]Originally posted by splice:
For one, it's impossible for anyone to guess your rank on the internet, so hitting Charles over the head with "How DARE you question your betters??!?!? I'm 2 dan above you!!!!" is ridiculously childish.[/QUOTE]

Especially in light of the fact that he was incorrect. He is apparently only one rank ahead of me, not two. A perfect example of how difficult it is to be able to tell strictly by someone's posts what rank they are unless they actually come out and say it.

If you're gonna pull rank, at least make sure you're aware of the relative ranks.

#114758 - 03/05/05 08:31 AM Re: Better Swordsmen? The Ninja or Samurai?

I`m really sorry for noticing this discussion
that late.

Normally I don`t care so much about more or less useful discussions - but in this case I feel responsible for at least trying to get some things corrected.
I will come back later and because so much is written, my next posting will probably be a little longer - and where needed, researched in my collection on Martial Arts.
What I can say so far, is that all in all laf7773 is right.

As far as I`m concerned with the question of straight ninja swords, there`s (as I heard) just a single real one (at least officially recognized as real ninja sword) in a japanese museum. I think it was the Iga Ninja Museum. With the eighties ninja boom, Manufacteuerers used this one as model (who should have bought a sword very similar to a katana while one can get "real" ninja weapons? At least in Germany, at that time one was often very proud "to be a Ninja" and not just a Samurai).)
It seems to me that straight swords would have been used more as hidden weapons (blade in walking sticks,flutes...) rather than as "normal" swords. That was possible, but not that common - who would not have wondered to see a Samurai with a straightbladed "Katana"?
Sorry, I have to go...

By for now,read you soon Wilf

#114759 - 03/06/05 01:12 PM Re: Better Swordsmen? The Ninja or Samurai?

As promised, here are my thoughts on the subject, as far as they can maybe bring light into the thing. i only wrote about things that I`m sure of, none of the things you`ll read of I did get by just viewing bad ninja films or books.

judokater,posted 02-15-2005 03:42 PM:
"'s didn's get in to fights verry often(they spreaded some powder in there opponent's face and flet)."

That`s partly right, but it`s like saying that Samurai didn`t know how to use the Yari (a straight spear), because they wore two swords in the belt. Sometimes they would use their swords and sometimes the Yari. If some writes at the PC, that doesn`t automatically mean, that he isn`t able to write on paper,too.

SwordCritter,posted 02-17-2005 11:56 AM:
"... the word ninjitsu, if i am correct, means art of stealth, and kenjitsu mean,..."

Actually there`s only "jUtsu", no "jItsu" (at least concerning what you wrote about) . I wrote about that in another thread in the "Martial Arts Talk"-section that is called
walltiger,posted 02-18-2005 10:00 PM:
1. "shinobigatana" or the now so called ninja-to was an inferior weapon...and almost never had any type of grain or hamon..."
2. "duals fought...lasted a total of a few seconds, was a case of who got in the first blow first, beacuse if you didnt you were dead - that simple...."

To 1.: There`s a video of Soke (Grandmaster)Hatsumi of the Bujinkan about Hanbo & Shikomizue (hidden weapons, in this video blades), there he`s presenting a few Shinobigatana - some are very equal to the swords used by the Samurai, some have "sawbldes", one has a Tsuka (sword grip) with a hidden knife. Therefore one should never say that a Shinobigatana has to look exactly like this or that or has to be of lower quality to be one.

To 2.: There`s another short thread in the "Sword Arts"-section that is called "Sword Size?", there I wrote down my opinion about that.

walltiger,posted 02-19-2005 04:44 AM:
" it says closer
that ninja used swords any different from those used by samurai or anyone else. ...all you did was substanciate my point..."

Well, I think it`s more important that the quotationed sentence starts with."There is no historical evidence..." (...that this is true).
What`s that?
When I say:"Maria doesn`t feel very well.", Would you read it as: "Maria (as it says closer) "...feels very well." ?

walltiger,posted 02-19-2005 05:21 AM:
" 210 from "the history and philosophy of kendo

1.: "kendoka (kendo students) would also work with a bokken (bambo sword) and the katana (practise sword)..."

2.: "kendo and/or kenjutsu were practised almost exclusivly by the BUSHI, known more commonly TODAY as the samurai. ..."

3.: (from Iaido chapter) "iaido derives from the ancient way of the samurai warrior (bushi), and the forerunner of the art we know today, IAI-JUTSU, was used in ernest on the battlefield, whereas iaido was designed to practise "the way of the sword". ..."

4.: "...the curved swords seen today are not the original japanese swords. indeed they were flat, strait swords of primitive construction,used for simple strikes and thrusts. it was around AD940, the middle of the heian period, that the single edged, slightly curved sword appeared and the supurb skill or the japanese warrior developed. ..."

6.: "in training a samurai (bushi) would use a bokken(woooden sword) or a katana (practise sword) to minimise injury when not in battle. ..."

To 1.: That`s a little confusing but if someone sees bamboo as a kind of wood, then the Shinai could really be called a bokken/bokuto (wooden sword) though this term is normally used for the massive sword, made of one piece of wood. If someone ever went to a seminar of a certain martial art, where the translator wasn`t student of that art himself,his teachers will surely have told him afterwards that the translation often didn`t come close to what was said. We should remember that there are for example Kanji with over 30 or more different meanings and only by beeing familiar with the context one can choose the right one needed. ...
Even in Kendo one can train movements without an opponent, so if one uses a real sword for that, why shouldnエt that be a Katana as we know it today?
"Practice sword" in this context doesn`t automatically have to mean that it can`t have a sharp blade.

To 2.: Therefore every "so called" Samurai has to be a monk, or how do you think -if "Samurai" is equal to "Bushi"- about the Yama-"bushi" (=Mountain warriors, members of religious sects, referred to as warrior monks also)?
The Samurai (the "ones who serve" - for example their Daimyo or whomever) were just a part of the bushi-class (=warrior class)as were the Yamabushi.When we talk today about bushi, the first picture we think of is the Samurai, people like the Yamabushi for example are just not that popular.

To 3.: Yes,iaido was designed to practise the way of the sword - in 1968.
Iaijutsu was a part of the techniques in many schools. In modern times Kendo as a competition orientated sport came very popular. As many Kendoka (Kendo practioners) were interested in Iaijutsu, in 1968, 11 Iai masters decided to develope -independent from their complexed schools- a set of just 7 Kata (stilysed exercises of moving) which should contain the extract of the different schools. In 1980 3 further Kata were added. These 10 Kata are known since then as the Seitei-Iai (standard Iai) of the Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei (Alljapanese Kendo Association). I`m not practising Iaido especially, but what I told you is written in a book of the German Iaido Association.

To 4.: you`re probably talking about the "Tsurugi", one of the earliest swords used in japanese history and influenced by chinese ones or similar ones. As you yourself (!!!) wrote, that type of sword was relatively soon in history replaced by the curved ones. Furthermore "original" in this context seems to have the meaning of "the swords first used". The text talks about japanese swords, not ninja swords. The tsurugi was used in higher classes ,too. Therefore, if you would be right, then that means that even the samurai used primarily straight swords.
Nobody would think of a modern european soldier as fighting with a stone axe just because once such weapons have been used here many,many years ago. How fast do you read the books? Sometimes it`s better to read twice to be sure to understand what`s exactly written there.

To 6.: It`s the first time ever that I`ve heard of safe Katana swords.
judokater,posted 02-19-2005 03:16 PM:
"...a ninja was an assassin...I would still say a Samurai (sorry for not using the correct term for samurai), because a they train more with swords then the ninja's do (in a fair situation)(and I am talking about two men that are at the same level in there own art)..."

The Ninja as an assassin: that`s more influenced by movies. It is not false, but mainly ninja were employed for gathering information... . It would`ve been more easy to find someone near the person one wants to get killed for that job than to use ninja. It could`ve been months or years until a Ninja came close enogh to kill that person - if he could at all.
Charles Mahan,posted 02-19-2005 09:13 PM:
From Charles`his link to Fay Gooman`s Masamune Dojo I copied this:
"...Beginners start their iai study with a bokken (wooden sword). As their iai improves, they progress to an iaito (unsharpened practice blade) and finally, after a number of years, a shinken (live, sharpened blade)."

It seems that Fay Gooman has changed her mind or -as I think- walltiger has misinterpreted his book.
walltiger,posted 02-20-2005 05:59 AM:
"as i have said, i was using the term ninja-to loosly. [URL="]"[/URL]
There are so many good Sites from Dojo worldwide, why gets walltiger his "hardly researched" infos from such one? There is nothing what would show that this Site is a serious one from an acknowledged Dojo of the Bujinkan,Genbukan or Jinenkan.
It looks like one of the Sites created by people which are influenced by Movies and books, yet not ever having done a single training lesson in the art themselves.
A few things are not totally false, the whole Site nevertheless does not at least to be serious.The things that are not false coul`ve been just copied for example from every twice book about Ninjutsu.
walltiger,posted 02-21-2005 07:19 AM:
"...but since alot of his (the ninja`s) time would be taken with learning poisons, learning archery, learning healing, learning to climb, learning to do so many things, his knowledge of the sword would be diminished generalistically unless he possessed real natural ability. ...a samurai is the better SWORDSMAN. for the obvious reasons..."

No,not really because the Samurai themselves missed probably much of their sword lessons, because they had to concentrate on so many other affairs,too.
Here`s an extract of a table from the book "Secrets of the Samurai, the chapter about the buke`s (military families) education:

-jugaku (chinese classics),
-shuji (calligraphy),
-gagaku (classical music),
-igaku (medicine),
-sugaku (maths),

-kyujutsu (art of the bow),
-unarmed combat with or without Yoroi (armor),
-Sojutsu (use of many different spears),
-suiei (swimming in armor),
-hojutsu (artillery & firearms),

-sado/chado (tea ceremony),
-shisaku (poetry),
torioi (hunting),
sokuseki (impromptu versification)
Greetings, Wilf (Germany)

#114760 - 03/06/05 02:17 PM Re: Better Swordsmen? The Ninja or Samurai?

I eat ninjas. They taste like chicken and scream like lobsters when they are being cooked.

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