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#167558 - 07/14/05 05:44 PM Touching the Blade
yen Offline
Member

Registered: 09/04/04
Posts: 64
Click to see example image used without permission but heavily modified so no one is recognizable

In the art I practice, we never touch the blade. However, I have seen pictures from other arts (aikido for example) where folks with a katana or bokken block while placing 1 hand on the blade. I've also seen a move (from TKD I think) that had a followthrough attack with one hand on the blade.

I see disadvantages (hand dangerously close to edge, maybe not being able to counterattack as quickly) but I am admittedly a newbie to swordplay.

Is this something regularly done in other sword arts? What are the advantages to such a move?
_________________________
Jinsei Shinkendo

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#167559 - 07/14/05 05:56 PM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: yen]
Talimas Offline
Member

Registered: 02/03/05
Posts: 131
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
The biggest reasoning some styles do not touch the blade, is depending on the metals used to make your sword the oils from your skin will actually make pits in the blade. It has nothing to do with being close to the actual blade of the weapon, look at the way japanese sheathed their weapons, blade up in between the thumb and index finger. So the styles that hold one hand on their weapon typically used a different type of metal in creating their weapons.
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#167560 - 07/14/05 07:06 PM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: Talimas]
pgsmith Offline
Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 275
Loc: Texas
Quote:

The biggest reasoning some styles do not touch the blade, is depending on the metals used to make your sword the oils from your skin will actually make pits in the blade. It has nothing to do with being close to the actual blade of the weapon, look at the way japanese sheathed their weapons, blade up in between the thumb and index finger. So the styles that hold one hand on their weapon typically used a different type of metal in creating their weapons.



Sorry, but that is absolutely and entirely wrong. First, Japanese swords have been made out of steel from their inception. No other metals, just steel. Modern iaito are usually made from aluminum alloy, but they are treated exactly as a real blade. Second, the back of the Japanese sword, the shinogi and mune, are burnished. This means that they have been rubbed with a metal needle to seal the steel as much as possible. When contacting the blade, either in use or in resheathing, contact is always on the burnished portion to limit any damage from skin oils. As long as your sword is cleaned fairly regularly, no damage will result.

To answer the original question, different schools have different ideas and techniques. I don't know anything about Shinkendo kata since you guys keep to yourselves, but most schools have at least one or two techniques wherein the sword is supported for a cut or thrust.
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#167561 - 07/14/05 09:00 PM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: pgsmith]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Well all Iai students will come into contact with their blade more than 50 odd times per practice. Potentially far more often. If finger oils were that dangerous, we'd all have rusting hulks after only a few months of practice. With proper cleaning and reoiling, they hold up just fine.

Now I wouldn't do this to a $30K art sword with a super high quality polish or a 400 year old antique sword with an original polish, but most iai swords are working swords, not art swords. They are after all training tools.

Now as to the original question, I know of at least three styles which will put the left hand on the mune to either aid a block or add to a cut, Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu, Muso Shinden Ryu, and Hoki Ryu, although I would imagine it's not all that uncommon.
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Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#167562 - 07/14/05 09:11 PM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: Charles Mahan]
SwordsmanAJ Offline
Member

Registered: 07/12/05
Posts: 27
Loc: Where its cold half the year
Some Medieval and Renaissance Techinques require you to hold the blade to use the sword almost like a spear or even to use the cross guard to strike your opponent.

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#167563 - 07/15/05 04:51 PM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: pgsmith]
Talimas Offline
Member

Registered: 02/03/05
Posts: 131
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
I did not say Japanense swords were made from any metal other then steel, actually I said nothing about what metal Japanese swords were made from. My comment about Japanese swords was in reference to styles avoiding the blade, not the metal.

My comment was: The biggest reasoning some styles do not touch the blade, is depending on the metals used to make your sword the oils from your skin will actually make pits in the blade.

Which is true, no Japanese swords need not worry about this, but their are other types of swords in existance. As many flexible swords are often either a carbon steel or a iron combination, these sword types do need to worry about oils from peoples hands. Carbon especially will start to pit and rust very quickly (within 24-48 hrs) of someone handling the blade without wiping and cleaning.

Does this mean you can't use these swords and touch the blade, no, it just means its not nearly as practical.
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Some things move, most things breath, anything can be destroyed.

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#167564 - 07/15/05 06:24 PM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: Talimas]
pgsmith Offline
Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 275
Loc: Texas
This is your previous post, which you made authoritatively ...
Quote:

The biggest reasoning some styles do not touch the blade, is depending on the metals used to make your sword the oils from your skin will actually make pits in the blade.



That is incorrect. I know of no schools that worry about oils pitting the blade. None, nada. Therefore that is not even a minor reason, much less the biggest reason.
Quote:

It has nothing to do with being close to the actual blade of the weapon, look at the way japanese sheathed their weapons, blade up in between the thumb and index finger.



I've never seen a style that performs noto with their thumb and index finger. I have seen many that slide the blade on the top of their hand, and a couple that slide on the knuckle, but never one that slides between the thumb and index finger.
Quote:

So the styles that hold one hand on their weapon typically used a different type of metal in creating their weapons.



Swords were made of steel. No other metals, just steel.

Every part of your post was incorrect. That is why I said that you were totally wrong. If you are going to answer someone's question, please be sure that your knowledge is correct. Otherwise, bad information gets passed on as fact, and adds to the already large inaccuracies on the web.
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Paul

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#167565 - 07/15/05 06:37 PM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: pgsmith]
yen Offline
Member

Registered: 09/04/04
Posts: 64
Quote:


I've never seen a style that performs noto with their thumb and index finger. I have seen many that slide the blade on the top of their hand, and a couple that slide on the knuckle, but never one that slides between the thumb and index finger.




Strangely enough, while looking for an image to illustrate what I was talking about back in my first post, I came upon this image and was wondering what exactly he was doing. Is this what Talimas was referring to?

old folks iaido

As for hand oils hurting a blade, would they be any more damaging than the various fluids a blade is bound to come in contact with when attacking an enemy?
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Jinsei Shinkendo

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#167566 - 07/15/05 08:43 PM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: pgsmith]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Quote:


I've never seen a style that performs noto with their thumb and index finger. I have seen many that slide the blade on the top of their hand, and a couple that slide on the knuckle, but never one that slides between the thumb and index finger.





I'm pretty sure you have Oh not on the outtake mind, but during the return, which is still part of noto.
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Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#167567 - 07/15/05 08:50 PM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: yen]
Halley Offline
Member

Registered: 06/13/05
Posts: 126
Quote:

Quote:

I've never seen a style that performs noto with their thumb and index finger.


I came upon this image and was wondering what exactly he was doing.
old folks iaido




The motion seen here is not returning the blade to the scabbard (noto), it is letting the imaginary blood drain off the blade while checking the body of the imaginary foe. This is done in the *Eishin Ryu forms like hachihon me, among others.

As for the discussion about "just steel," that's hugely disingenuous. There's so many formulations of steel that it can hardly even be called a family of alloys, nevermind a single material. Each type of steel will have different reactions to corrosive or contaminative fluids. When finger touch blades, they do not just deposit oils, but can upset any protective oil layer already there, letting water in to start oxidization. That's why you should take care of your blade with the proper oils and storage.

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#167568 - 07/15/05 09:12 PM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: Halley]
smallkid Offline
Stranger

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 1
It all depends on what kind of situation yourin. ninjas for example didnt care about there swords for a couple reasons
1. wasn't theres in the first place they found it a are using it
2. once its broken they find a new one.

same with what kind of sitution like this i bought some crap swords at this store all for the sake of kejitsu drawing practice. in the winter i cut snow with it and it rusted no big deal though because it was cheap and it only for drawing.

back then ninjas they did onehanded sword work because the sword was just a distraction so they could ripe the eyes out of the enemy with claws in the other hand or use grappeling techniqes.

sorry if that was long but in all depends what ur doing ninjitsu sword is fun =D

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#167569 - 07/16/05 12:47 AM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: smallkid]
Yunsung Offline
Member

Registered: 12/20/04
Posts: 111
Loc: Bossier City, LA, USA
You're out of your mind.
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Justice is only useful when power is useless.-Socrates, the Republic

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#167570 - 07/16/05 08:41 AM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: Yunsung]
glad2bhere Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 08/11/00
Posts: 663
Loc: Lindenhurst, Illinois USA
I always chuckle when I run across a thread on this theme as it reminds me of hollering at my wife about putting her good kitchen knives in the dishwasher.

People, you really need to get a clue. If you need to touch the blade, touch the damn blade. If you DON'T need to touch the blade then don't. Most of what you are dealing with are injunctions that came out of the last 200 years of swordwork. Warrios of old wiped their swords on their clothes, used common rocks to dress the edges and might well have used a weapon they picked up off the battlefield as the one that they carried ONTO the battlefield.

The aura of sanctity that some folks wrap around the sword has a whole lot more to do with the revisionist thinking of Japanese nationalists than it does any practical purpose. If you want to go this route than we wind up going back to things like the sword is "the soul of the warrior".

Fer krine-out-loud, its a TOOL not a religious icon. Treat it with respect due a tool, keep it clean and light sheen of mineral oil and quit acting like its the HOLY-GRAIL-in-a-sheath. FWIW.

Best Wishes,

Bruce

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#167571 - 07/16/05 04:14 PM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: glad2bhere]
Nik_Miller Offline
Member

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 28
I dont know of any steel that will PIT within 48 hours. maybe blacken or patina but never pit, swords had to handle blood, which is far more corrosive than skin oil. Just clean it daily if you touch it daily a little discoloring is not going to make your sword fall apart, just dont do something stupid like let it outside for a week, then it may pit. like glad2behere said. its a tool, care for it like you would a tool, just keep it founctional, any tool that gets used isnt going to stay pristine forever.

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#167572 - 07/17/05 11:02 PM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: Nik_Miller]
RangerG Offline
Former Moderator

Registered: 04/18/05
Posts: 1026
Loc: Chester County, Pennsylvania
Well let me add a little bit here..it's not just the oil from your fingers...it's acid contained in that oil. If you clean the blade after handling it, there should be no problem. Take a non-ferrous metal like polished brass, a short period after handling, your fingerprints cause a discoloration. That's why brass is coated to prevent that from occuring. Now with steel, the reaction is not as fast, even with poor grades. I would think any reaction would be noticable with cutlery steel, and it can be prevented with care, regular cleaning and oil rag wipe.

Oh and I'm a Quality Engineer and have working knowledge of ASTM standards for metalurgy. I work with everything from 316 Stainless to Bronze every day of the workweek. My best friend is a master knife maker featured in knife magazines.

Pitting of a blade within moments of touching is just not going to happen..even with damascus folded steel. Just clean and protect it after the class.

I have very acidic skin..can't even wear a wrist watch..if touching a blade would cause pitting..all my survival and tanto knives would be rusted junk.
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#167573 - 07/18/05 10:54 AM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: RangerG]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
I think the misinformation that has been spreading about swordsmen never touching their blades for fear of rusting has come about from people who are not collectors hearing about or reading about collectors. Collectors are very concerned with maintiaining antique weapons in as close to original condition as possible. It protects the value.

The fact is that touching the blade of some antiques with old very fine polishes, particularly blades where all the protective oil has been wiped clean so that the handler can get a clear look at the grain, can burn a fingerprint into the polish. The only way to remove it would then be to repolish the steel. This ruins the blades original polish, which might have been antique and thus lowers the value of the blade. So the collectors get all ansy about people touching their blades. Then some other folks who know next to nothing about swords and read these guidelines on some collectors site, or get chewed out by a dealer at a sword show, and they start to think that these guidelines would have always been in place and applied to the Samurai as well.
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Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#167574 - 07/18/05 12:16 PM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: Charles Mahan]
pgsmith Offline
Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 275
Loc: Texas
Quote:

I'm pretty sure you have Oh not on the outtake mind, but during the return, which is still part of noto.



You guys really guide with the thumb and finger? I guess I never noticed that before. I stand corrected!

I agree with you about the collector viewpoint probably being the source for this particular misconception. Didn't mean to cause a big uproar, but "internet experts" repeating things that they've read somewhere as if they were facts is one of my hot buttons.

Hey Bruce,
Within the Japanese perspective, the sword is a bit more than just a tool. A sword is part of the Emporer's sacred regalia which proclaims him as Emporer. It is this reverence to the sword that has enabled the Japanese to preserve as many swords as they have. I have personally held Japanese swords that were over 500 years old, and could be used the same way today as they were then. The traditional schools of Japanese swordsmanship still contain a goodly amount of this reverence for the sword, which is passed on to their adherents.
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Paul

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#167575 - 07/18/05 12:44 PM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: pgsmith]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Quote:


You guys really guide with the thumb and finger? I guess I never noticed that before. I stand corrected!





Well. We're supposed to . Sensei has as long as I can remember. I've also seen other instructors use just their forefinger to guide. Like a lot of things it's hard to explain, but it would be easy to show.
_________________________
Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#167576 - 07/18/05 01:18 PM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: pgsmith]
glad2bhere Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 08/11/00
Posts: 663
Loc: Lindenhurst, Illinois USA
Dear Paul:

I understand. Please don't be put-off by my plaintalk. You are, of course, right about the role of the sword as an icon in Japanese culture. In Korean sword, it IS true that there is some symbolic nature to the sword and I think this follows in just about any culture, east and West. My experience in Korean sword, however, that the "reverence" one might encounter in THAT culture would be more along the lines of owning, say, a pistol, that you knew that your grandfather carried in WW I. Something like that. Not so much that its a pistol but that it has an heirloom status. Does this make sense?

BTW: Just as an aside I know a lot of gun-owners that don't like their guns touched either!



Best Wishes,

Bruce

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#167577 - 07/18/05 02:37 PM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: Charles Mahan]
MAGon Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/22/03
Posts: 1737
Loc: Miami, Fl.
Quote:

...Now as to the original question, I know of at least three styles which will put the left hand on the mune to either aid a block or add to a cut, Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu, Muso Shinden Ryu, and Hoki Ryu, although I would imagine it's not all that uncommon.




You can add TSKSR to your list. Fairly common when blocking a forceful cut from the opponent.
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Just when you think something is foolproof, they come out with a new and improved type of fool.

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#167578 - 07/18/05 02:54 PM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: MAGon]
splice Offline
Member

Registered: 01/24/05
Posts: 230
Loc: Ottawa, ON
Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu can also go on that list.

It certainly doesn't seem to be an unusual thing; all three styles I practice (Seitei Iai, Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu, HNIR) do it for different reasons and in different ways. Compare Soete Tsuki from Seitei Iai (originally from Hoki Ryu), Uki Gumo from MJER and Hari Tsuke from HNIR. All three touch the back of the blade, but all for different purposes.

Still, I think "don't touch the blade" is a requirement for anyone not practicing JSA. It certainly is a good guideline; unless you have a d*mn good reason for it, your hands just hold the sheath and the handle, that's it. Safer for the blade, and safer for the one who would touch it. Even being a JSA practicioner, I've no reason to touch any blade but my own, and just during practice.

That last part sounded kind of dirty.. eh, what you gonna do heh.

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#167579 - 07/24/05 06:21 PM Re: Touching the Blade [Re: splice]
Benjamin1986 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 611
Loc: Republic of Texas
Also, you can add that rapier blades were often held with a finger on the flat of the blade to help with point control (part of the reason for the elaborate rapier hilts instead of simpler, solid ones found on later smallswords).

However, as others have said, for most styles, touching the blade is not a good idea except in very specific circumstances (a hard block or controlled thrust). First, it does put your hand at risk, not only from your blade, but your opponent's as well. Second, it means you have to clean the blade after every practice. Third, ... do you need a third reason?
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