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#355448 - 08/10/07 09:44 AM My sword got here :D
jpoor Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
My instructor ordered it from Japan and it arrived yesterday. He inspected and cleaned it and it's in good condition. Once I learn how to take it apart and reassemble it right, I'll get the date and such off the tang.

It has an interesting theme though; the furniture shows a Samurai having his way with a woman in various poses. My wife will be 'thrilled' about that
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

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#355449 - 08/10/07 09:46 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
seito Offline
Member

Registered: 09/30/06
Posts: 53
Loc: PA
Pictures?
_________________________
http://www.budobeyondtechnique.com/

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#355450 - 08/10/07 09:48 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: seito]
jpoor Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
Quote:

Pictures?




Eventually. I just made the switch from PC to MAC last night, so it will take me a while to get up and running full speed again.
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

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#355451 - 08/10/07 09:54 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Ordered it from Japan? A shinken? And it arrived this quickly?

How much did it cost?
_________________________
Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#355452 - 08/10/07 10:03 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Charles Mahan]
jpoor Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
He actually has ordered a few of them before one was really mine. I just got first pick since I was close to his house when they came in.

Yes a shinken, antique (I'll get the date later). As for cost, I don't think it's my place to disclose the deteails on what sort of deal he struck with the seller in a public venue.
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

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#355453 - 08/10/07 10:04 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
So...you're unwilling to disclose the price you paid or the name of the maker?

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#355454 - 08/10/07 10:11 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: harlan]
jpoor Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
I don't know the name of the maker. Once I learn how to take it apart, I might find the name (for sure a date) on the Tang.

As for price, you are correct, at least for now. Had I personally ordered it and done the negotiating, etc, that would be different.
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

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#355455 - 08/10/07 10:14 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: harlan]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
No offense intended Jim, but this smells more than a little fishy. Generally speaking, instructors do not go out and by a bunch of antique Japanese shinken to start a new Iaijutsu class. It's just not the way things are done. Most Iai folks don't train with antiques due to the liklihood of damaging them.

I strongly recommend you post pictures ASAP on Swordforum. Don't mention anything about your training, just present it as an antique sword you recently acquired and ask for opinions. That should be a reasonable way to get some unbiased opinions. Good close up photos, preferably including pictures of the nakago (the tang under the handle). Be sure to include pictures of the blade and the fittings.
_________________________
Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#355456 - 08/10/07 08:22 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Charles Mahan]
kaien Offline
Newbie

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 16
Take Charles advice, personally I am dissapointed if it is real that he would have you use it in class. Antiques should be used for show so that they will be around for future generations to enjoy. I really have trouble believing it is an antique, I might buy that the blade is antique and has been mounted on modern fittings. Still it shouldn't be used. I don't understand why telling us the price is an issue. If he got it cheap and it is real then kudos, if you paid a high price for it it still doesn't matter. Did you pay up front? Were you given any details prior to buying, such as the era it is from or who had owned it? Is there any obvious marks on it from battle? I saw one the other day with minor damage on it from a bullet, no blood though.

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#355457 - 08/10/07 11:10 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5821
Loc: USA
jpoor

Not meaning to "pile on" but that sounds a little strange.

How much cleaning does what sounds like a special order blade stright from the forge need?

(sure it would need some--but how much and what kind of cleaning needed to be done???)

Also sounds as if there were mutiple blades ordered--and sounds like this is not a one time deal either.

If it were me, I'd want to be there when my sword was "inspected and cleaned" esp if it were one that I had ordered for my personal use.

Also would have been a good time to show the student--in this case you the proper methods to clean the blade and what to look for during an "inspection."

I don't know the person involved--so I may be totally wrong but to me, with what information I have right now--this seems a bit odd.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#355458 - 08/11/07 04:05 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
jpoor Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
Hello again,

I was going to just let this thread die a quiet death as I am completely new to Swords and sword arts so I have very little knowledge from which to speak. However:

For those of you who are TRULY concerned about safety issues, I greatly appreciate the thoughts and concern. Put yourself in my shoes for a moment though if you would take the time.

First, My understanding of this sword is that it is somewhere in the 150-200 year old range and that it indeed has newer furniture. Once I learn how to properly take it apart and put it back together, I'll get the date off the tang simply because I am a CURIOUS creature, not because I feel the need to verify anything. In fact, I couldn't care less if it was made yesterday or 1000 years ago. It isn't meant to be some super special sword; the only requirements are that is is real, and my instructor wants us using sharp swords from the start.

Second, it is not my place to discuss business arangements of the school (here, in this school I am but a white belt in the unarmed style and today was my first sword class). Besides, money is not something often discussed in polite society anyway. ESPECIALLY if a third party is involved. My teacher made the business arangements, who I am I to disclose them?

An idea that was somewhat stated by an earlier poster is that there is a range of possibility here; either I got a really good deal, got completely ripped off, or somewehre in the middle. This is a utilitiy tool, not a museum piece.

Third, what good would it have done for me (who knows absolutley NOTHING) to have been present for the cleaning and inspection of the blade? The one thing I can think of is that I might have learned something. I assume however, that those things will be covered in class rather than one student at a time.

Bottom line, my instructor looked it over and I trust that if he thought it wasn't safe, he wouldn't have let me have it.

Just for the sake of argument, let's take this from the other side for a moment. Let's pretend that for some reason I doubted my instructor. It would be foolish for me to stay without resolving those doubts would it not?
Openly posting pictures of this sword in order to obtain opinions about it's "soundness" would be like a slap in the face to my instructor. Now, it turns out to be an awesome blade, in great shape and worth a truckload of money. What good is it if I have offended the man who will teach me to use it?

Ok, back to reality. I had actually intended to post pictures of it in a pure "Hey here's my new sord, ain't it cool" sort of way. However, now I can't really do that can I?

Now, back to the original purpose of my first post in this thread.

I just got a sword and had my first IaiJutsu class. I enjoyed it very much as it allowed me to see a side of my instrutor that I haven't seen as well as begin to learn something new. We spent the entire class covering safety, tradition, and manners. I really enjoy traditional, strict instruction.

Let's talk about that, shall we?

Thanks and Best,
jim
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

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#355459 - 08/11/07 05:47 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
kaien Offline
Newbie

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 16
I don't see how posting a picture of your (key word YOUR)sword is a slap in the face to him. And again, using a 200 year old sword for practice is a huge shame. How often does one use an antique to learn something? Since you are trying to be so logical, wouldn't a novice surely start with a novice tool? Swords are not supernatural, they do break down with age and repeated polishing. So apparently you have 100 - 200 year old sword that was hardly ever used, accept for perhaps only in polite society.

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#355460 - 08/11/07 06:00 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: kaien]
jpoor Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
Simply posting a picture wouldn't have been, however posting one to "check up" after him. . . that would be.
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

Top
#355461 - 08/11/07 09:07 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
Aeges Offline
Member

Registered: 12/06/06
Posts: 25
Jpoor, hello. I will not comment how I think the idea of practicing with an expensive antique is a bit odd; but I present to you another facet of this little picture debate.

I don’t want to usurp your instructor
I don’t want to debate the claim of authenticity.

I just want to see it. I mean, if it is real, a 150-200 year old sword, that’s something to see. They just don’t make them like they used to (due to metalergic and engenerical improvments I’m sure) and to see it would be a nice thing, especially since you went out of your way to make us aware of this purchase.


So would it be possible to get a picture, just to see the shiney?

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#355462 - 08/11/07 09:38 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Aeges]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
Jpoor: didn't mean to ask questions to put you on the spot. Hope you enjoy the class...whatever you get out of it. Personally, while I study kobudo, I'm an illiterate when it comes to sword arts. Having come across one in a real life scenario, I have a 'healthy respect' for them, and koryu. My only interest is concern for anyone learning on a 'live' blade.

Good luck in your sword studies.

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#355463 - 08/11/07 10:42 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5821
Loc: USA
jpoor

And with all due respcet nobody here is a mind reader---we only know what you tell us.

Sorry if I stepped on your toes--was not my intention.

I mentioned that yo ushould be there for the cleaning and inspection because that would IMO, be the perfect time/place to provide you with the very information as to what to look for--how to clean it--how to take it apart if needed---all the stuff that you currently don't know.

The weapon is there, he is inspecting it ANYWAY--would have been a good chance to kill 2 birds with one stone + go over the "care and feeding" of the weapon.

But different strokes for different folks.

I sincerely meant you and you teacher no disrespect--again, sorry if you got that impression.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#355464 - 08/11/07 11:29 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: cxt]
JKogas Offline
Prolific

Registered: 01/25/03
Posts: 10818
Loc: North Carolina
So what did you NAME it, lol?


-John

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#355465 - 08/12/07 05:46 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: JKogas]
kaien Offline
Newbie

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 16
http://swordforum.com/summer99/katana-shopping.html (Article location)


Shopping Among Antique Swords

Due to television and other influences, some may feel that the older the sword they acquire, the better the weapon. For martial arts use, purchase of an antique weapon is not recommended for various reasons. Firstly, old swords that are in an affordable price range tend to have problems - major rust and corrosion, forging flaws, and other things that can detrimentally affect the structural integrity of a sword. At various points in history, many swords were effectively mass-produced to meet demand and are thus of considerably lesser quality than the singular hand-made custom swords - and a beginner's inability to discern such blades from others can be a tremendous purchasing challenge.

Yet another reason is that some antique blades have been so polished down (for purposes of restoration over the generations) that the soft core steel is exposed (or about to be exposed) at which point such a blade has little value as a weapon and is thus "retired" from service! Antique katana should always be respected for their intrinsic and historic value because a lack of respect means depriving future generations from enjoying these relics (the Samurai saw himself as merely a temporary custodian of the blade, like one link in a long chain).

I could have misunderstood, but I felt you implied that any concern we or I showed was less than sincere. Here is a great article and I think explains it well. People who have that many Antique swords to sell do it for a living. People don't give things away that could otherwise fetch sometimes what some make in an entire year, or at least a third of that. They got them somewhere, and I would be willing to bet they weren't free.

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#355466 - 08/12/07 08:10 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: JKogas]
jpoor Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
LOL. I didn't, but if I had, maybe "triple X" would have been appropriate given the artwork on the tsuba and all.
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

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#355467 - 08/14/07 08:07 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
hedkikr Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 02/28/05
Posts: 2827
Loc: Southern California, USA
Disclaimer: I'm not a sword expert. I have seen many antique swords in museums in Japan. I have seen 3 antique swords in family & friend's homes. I took Iai-do for only a short time.

I have never heard of using an antique or even a new live blade for beginner practice either. The dull, practice blades are adequate for beginners because weight & dimensions are close enough to real to learn.

Also, unless you're 5' tall, this "antique" will be too short for most modern westerners. Too long or too short daito will make bad technique.

I also believe that all antique katana should be returned to Japan. Too many have been destroyed or spirited away due to post-WWII "precautions".

From the little I know, I don't believe you have a "honto no katana". If I'm wrong, I'll eat my words...just sounds a little fishy.

owari
_________________________
Ed Ichihara Smith - Shukokai

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#355468 - 08/15/07 01:03 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: hedkikr]
jpoor Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
Ladies and gentlemen,


Without getting into too much private detail. I know this sword is fake. The issue of where the deception was is unresolved, and may remain that way.

I have formally withdrawn from the class as well as the school in general.

This was a tough choice and I'm pretty torn up about it at the moment.


'nuff said
jim
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

Top
#355469 - 08/15/07 01:37 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
I'm sorry to hear things didn't work out. Good luck in your future endeavors. Let us know if we can help in any way.
_________________________
Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#355470 - 08/15/07 01:54 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5821
Loc: USA
jpoor

That seriously bites.

I'm sorry to hear that.

I wouldn't beat yourself up about it---it happens to almost everyone sooner or later--I know collectors that have been buying tsuba for years and every now and then they still get taken.

Anything we can do to help?
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#355471 - 08/15/07 02:29 PM Sorry :( [Re: jpoor]
Tashigae Offline
Mister Bendy

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 690
Loc: Samarobriva, Gallia
Sorry it turned out to be what we feared it to be, Jim.
I would have been so happy to see our doubts proven wrong...

Incidentally, it seems I was fooled in a way not unlike your own just two weeks ago. I bought a Han style Chinese sword (folded steel, differential quench, beautifully crafted fittings... Apparently top notch) that I was told was the work of a certain reputed traditional swordsmith, only to find a fault in the blade just the day after I bought it (can't believe I didn't see it when examining the blade in the shop). I contacted the said reputed Chinese swordsmith's forge, and although no definite answer could be given without seeing the sword I was told that a fake was more than likely and that there were a lot of them around. Ouch. I'm currently negotiating with the shopkeeper to trade the sword I bought for an equal-priced but faultless one. I consider myself lucky because even if the sword I'll end up with isn't what I expected it to be, the price I paid for it is still very reasonable for that kind of sword (even though not made by a reputed swordsmith).
Looks like my sword would deserve the same name as yours!
_________________________
文武雙全

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#355472 - 08/15/07 07:25 PM My sword got here :D [Re: Tashigae]
jpoor Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
In all fairness, I feel I need to point out that he has offered to buy the sword back.
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

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#355473 - 08/16/07 08:06 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
kaien Offline
Newbie

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 16
well thats cool, let him buy it back. Just curious, were the others similar to the one you got? There were multiple blades ordered at the same time right? Not sure what is in your area, but hopefully there is another school near by.

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#355474 - 08/16/07 08:57 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: kaien]
jpoor Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
I have not had a close look at any of the other students' swords so I can't comment with any accuracy on them. To do so would be improper.
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

Top
#355475 - 08/16/07 09:05 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
How so? I don't subscribe to 'don't ask, don't tell'.

Quote:

I have not had a close look at any of the other students' swords so I can't comment with any accuracy on them. To do so would be improper.



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#355476 - 08/16/07 09:07 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: harlan]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
I'm guessing he means that it would be improper to try to assess swords that he hasn't really examined. If he doesn't want to talk about it, that's his right.
_________________________
Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#355477 - 08/16/07 09:18 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Charles Mahan]
jpoor Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
Quote:

I'm guessing he means that it would be improper to try to assess swords that he hasn't really examined. . .




BINGO!
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

Top
#355478 - 08/16/07 09:18 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Charles Mahan]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
Not suggesting he should. I'm not one for rubbernecking at road accidents. You could be kind and close the thread.

Quote:

If he doesn't want to talk about it, that's his right.



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#355479 - 08/16/07 09:42 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Charles Mahan]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5821
Loc: USA
Charles

But would it be improper to tell other students to have their swords checked?

The "right" thing to do is often hard to figure out.

Some years ago I got badly ripped off by company best known as a major player in the modern, pretty high end cutting sword business--a representative seriously oversold a specific product and flat out lied when I asked direct questions prior to purchase.
Then lied again about the policy when I tried to return the flawed product.

I raised holy heck--the guy that did it is no longer employed there, and the flawed product is no longer carried.

Its hard to decide what the right thing to do might be.

One the one hand you don't want to cause problems and cast doubts.

Ont he other hand, if there are more swords like that floating around shouldn't people have the right to at least know that?

I don't know--wish I did, tough situation.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#355480 - 08/16/07 09:58 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: cxt]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

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

I agree. It's a tough call. I think that it might be nice if he shared the information with his former fellow students, but they may very well not welcome the information. I don't know that he has a obligation to tell them though. There's definitely a degree of Buyer Beware involved. Ultimately it's really only a call which he can make. He is the only person with all the facts and knowledge of the situation.
_________________________
Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#355481 - 08/16/07 10:30 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: cxt]
jpoor Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
I have weighed that choice over and over. I feel somewhat responsible for the safety of other students on the floor. The silver lining is that the instructor (we have been in contact several times) has informed all the students that were in class last night of the issue and offered them all refunds. He intends to do the same on Sat during the actual sword class.

My original intent in this post was to share my excitement over a new class and new experiences. I never intended to undermine anyone, and was even going out of my way to defend the school. The facts are the facts however and I can't change them.
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

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#355482 - 08/16/07 10:42 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
iaibear Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/24/05
Posts: 1304
Loc: upstate New York
Your former instructor is showing class. That he is letting all his students know the blades were of questionable quality and will make refunds, are points in his favor.

My question is, how is he as an instructor of sword technique?

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#355483 - 08/16/07 11:02 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: iaibear]
jpoor Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
I have no (or very little) idea. I went through one class which was all formalities, safety and terminology. No techniques.

He has left the door open for my return, and I may if I can resolve certain issues for myself.
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

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#355484 - 08/16/07 11:14 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Charles Mahan]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5821
Loc: USA
Charles

Good point.

Sounds like the teacher is trying to make things right.

And its much easier for me to comment as I'm not directly involved.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#355485 - 08/16/07 11:17 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

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Posts: 5821
Loc: USA
jpoor

Sounds to me like your makeing the best of a tense sitution, doing what you need to do.

For what its worth, I certainly don't see ANYTHING you posted as "trying to undermine anyone"--if you feel that way or are being accused of doing that--your not.

Not being directly involved its easy for me to comment.

Your in a much tougher situation.

I wish you good luck.
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I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#355486 - 08/16/07 01:27 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: iaibear]
jpoor Offline
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Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
Quote:

Your former instructor is showing class. That he is letting all his students know the blades were of questionable quality and will make refunds, are points in his favor.





I just met with him and we had a very nice talk. He bought back my sword as well as all of my uniforms (his idea and insistence, not mine) which goes way beyond what he was obligated to do by even the strictest of standards. He explained how the sword incident happened. Basically a party in CA, who has a brother in asia doing the buying. That of course would mask the origin of the swords. He told me he has ended a 17 year business relationship over this with the supplier of all his uniforms etc, until / unless the guy can make things right. Basically, he has done all that he can on that end.


He has invited me to return whenever / if I feel ready and once I make sure it's my head talking rather than my highly emotional heart, I might do just that. Of course without a uniform, a horse stance could be a scary sight

We discussed my issues outside of the sword incident and I have to say he was very persuasive. He is humble enough to say "what we do isn't perfect but it's the best we have." Of course I still have doubts and questions, but he has invited me to discuss them whenever I wish.

I feel I have to point out these new details in fairness to the man because as we all know there are at least three sides to every story. His side, her side, and the truth.
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

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#355487 - 08/16/07 01:30 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
harlan Offline
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Sound business practice. Don't let a customer leave dissatisfied.

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#355488 - 08/16/07 02:23 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
Charles Mahan Offline
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Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Great. Sounds like the visit went well and there are no hard feelings. Did the subject of what he was planning on teaching come up during the conversation? I'm not sure we ever really established what style he was planning on teaching and what his connection to that style was. Last I checked it wasn't really clear on the website.
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#355489 - 08/16/07 02:29 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Charles Mahan]
jpoor Offline
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Registered: 04/11/07
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No, we didn't really get into the sword class itself.
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

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#355490 - 08/16/07 06:02 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
Dereck Offline
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Registered: 10/04/04
Posts: 10413
Loc: Great White North
Forgive me for coming into this late, and jpoor I honestly feel for you. You were excited about taking these classes and you are also exciting in getting a new sword. You took the time to try to find out more about your sword to only find out that it was not legit. Now I read the Instructor purchased it back from you which certainly is a step in the right direction.

My thing is this. He teaches swords but does he not know anything about them himself? Could not he for many years being around them recognize fake swords? That it took you to bring this to light for him to react? It almost feels like he is trying to save face and is doing damage control by doing what he has done. I honestly think that if somebody on the internet ( http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t=82124 ) can see that it is a fake, would not he have? He uncrated them, he unboxed them, he held them in his own hands, and he gave them out. Would not he have known they were fake? Wouldn't he?
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#355491 - 08/16/07 09:36 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Dereck]
jpoor Offline
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The criteria he was judging by were : Full tang+ real ray skin + kanji on the tang = real sword. He showed me his Paul Chen sword which he assesses to be a Piece of crap (fake ray skin, plastic pin, gangly fittings, etc). I have to say the sword he showed me did look pretty bad, mine looked nicer, but looks are deceiving.

My thoughts were pretty much the same, I feel he _should_ have known. That said, he has told me that he has no excuse for his "ignorance" (his word, not mine), but that he never really bothered to learn about the swords themselves, rather, just how to use them. I choose to believe him, for to do anything else would just make me angry and upset again. That is certainly not the way _I_ would have done things for all those years, and I don't want to be on the floor with 15 other people who may be just a clueless about the safety issues and quality of their swords. In the end, he thanked me for bringing the issues to light, and in turn pointed them out to the other students in the class. That is more than a lot of people would have done. Many folks would have just told me "ok, you want to quit, don't let the door hit ya where your maker split ya." Instead, he has talked to me at length, invited me to return when I feel like it and even bought back my uniforms (who has ever heard of that?). I am not that important to the school in the scheme of things.

If he was truly as uneducated on that particular aspect as he said, then he has learned something. If not, then I have lost nothing more by choosing to take him at his word.
Looking back, I may have fallen into the trap of believing that "the instructor doesn't make mistakes in or out of the dojo." Using that flawed logic, when there was an issue, if it wasn't a mistake it had to be malicious. I suppose I"ve learned something too.
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

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#355492 - 08/16/07 10:27 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
Charles Mahan Offline
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Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
I can't really see how he can be a well trained instructor in a Japanese Sword Art, and not have learned some basics about swords. You can't train with real swords for any length of time and not learn how to spot certain signs of very poor quality, like a loose wrap. You also can't really be well trained in a genuine sword art, and not be aware of certain things, like the cost of decent training tools.

If these swords were genuine antiques which were in good enough shape to be used for training, they should not have come particularly cheap. $800+ is pretty much the super low end of acceptable training tools, and those are newly manufactured swords from reputable Chinese companies. I imagine antique swords which were actually in good enough condition to be used in training would be considerably more expensive. Japanese swords appreciate in value over time so long as they remain in good condition, and newly smithed Japanese blades START in the $4000 range. That's for a sword made by an apprentice with some less than perfect attributes.

This instructor says he teaches an art which proscribes that new students go straight from bokuto to shinken. One would assume that he would have some knowledge of usable training tools. The fact that he got taken in this way, and it was up to a student to discover the problems... Well that's just troubling and doesn't bode well for the quality of instruction.

Clearly I know nothing whatsoever of his JSA training credentials. I haven't been able to find any reference to his training history with regards to any particular style of JSA. He might be a truly reputable instructor from some obscure Japanese Koryu with great ties back to Japan. Then again he could be introducing a version of Aikiken. Or he could just be making something up that works with the Aiki principles that he might really be fantastic at. There simply is no way to know for sure based on the information available. But there are more than a few red flags about this whole thing.

The fact that he has offered to buy back the sword and has been very concilliatory about the whole thing goes to show that he is a nice guy, or at the very least image concious, but it still leaves a lot of red flags floating around.


[edit]BTW, I think we can rule out strong ties back to a Japanese koryu organization. The teacher in question officially took on the title of Soke in the summer of 2005 in an official awards ceremony. That's another red flag.


Edited by Charles Mahan (08/16/07 10:41 PM)
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#355493 - 08/16/07 11:10 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
Tashigae Offline
Mister Bendy

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 690
Loc: Samarobriva, Gallia
Quote:

I choose to believe him




I too would think he has given sufficient token of his good will to right the wrongs done, to deserve this belief. As you pointed out, few people would have gone to the lengths he did to correct what had happened. And his ignorance of genuine swords is perfectly believable: the rule of thumb generally applied within the EIF (European Iai Federation) is that one should only start handling a live blade around 4th dan or so. So the vast majority of practitioners, including a fair number of instructors, have never even touched a shinken - leave alone a true antique.

On the other hand, for the same reason, this idea of ordering a number of antiques from Japan for students that he insists should use live blades (and not any live blades but bloody antiques!) from day one, is one of the fishiest stories I've ever heard. I would take it as ample proof of his being in the con, IF he hadn't displayed such good will to fix things afterwards. But since it seems he's not, I think that the only other possible explanation for this most strange policy of his is that he has little knowledge of how things are done in the trade, and thus, most probably, too little experience in it to teach IMVHO.

Of course I may very well be wrong, having never met the man and merely speculating over a few data obtained through an Internet forum.I'm certainly less qualified to judge than you.
But from what you've told me, my opinion is that the steps he has taken after you've discovered the blades were fake are a rather rare feat of honesty indeed, no matter what mistakes he's made; and such honesty would earn him my respect (if not necessarily my trust for instruction). I think you've made the right choice.
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#355494 - 08/16/07 11:11 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Charles Mahan]
Charles Mahan Offline
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Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
E-budo has a forum specifically for this kind of stuff. I have posted a thread there and asked the wider JSA community for any info they can share on the instructor.

Unfortunately due to some upgrade efforts underway at E-budo you have to already be an E-budo member in order to read the forums, and the registration form is down.

For those of you who already have ebudo accounts, here's the link to the post I just made.

http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthread.php?t=37713
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#355495 - 08/17/07 07:16 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Charles Mahan]
harlan Offline
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Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
Thank you, Mr. Mahan, for doing that.

Have to say, from observations of some members, and private pms, there is something...cultish...about this group. I hope some former members will be willing to go public about a dojo that seems to say a lot on the internet...and yet...curiously...not much at all.

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#355496 - 08/17/07 09:07 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Charles Mahan]
jpoor Offline
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Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
Quote:

E-budo has a forum specifically for this kind of stuff. I have posted a thread there and asked the wider JSA community for any info they can share on the instructor.

Unfortunately due to some upgrade efforts underway at E-budo you have to already be an E-budo member in order to read the forums, and the registration form is down.

For those of you who already have ebudo accounts, here's the link to the post I just made.

http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthread.php?t=37713





Can't read it, not a member
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

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#355497 - 08/17/07 09:25 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
Charles Mahan Offline
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Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Nothing conclusive yet. Just someone who thought it was wierd to incorporate Tode(an old name for karate) into Aikibujutsu.
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#355498 - 08/17/07 09:48 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Charles Mahan]
Raul Perez Offline
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Registered: 08/08/02
Posts: 2805
Loc: Lake Ronkonkoma, NY, USA
I'm not too sure he has Tode elements in his system. From seeing limited techniques at the EC Get Together last year it looked purely japanese to me. However my conclusion is based off of an hour of participating in techniques he showed. It is not based on training in the system in its entirety.
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#355499 - 08/17/07 09:56 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Raul Perez]
jpoor Offline
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Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
Here is a novel idea folks. Why doesn't someone just ask him?

Asking me would do little good because I wasn't there long enough to know or even see everything the school trains.

What I can say is that there was a heavy mix of hard and soft fist. There were influences from Okinawa, Japan and China even. No kata, no free sparring, though he is in the process of starting up a tournament team and there will be a separate sparring class soon. At least that is the plan as I know it.

The folks you see listed on the black belt council section of the page visit fairly frequently and instruct aspects of their individual arts.
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

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#355500 - 08/17/07 09:57 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Raul Perez]
Charles Mahan Offline
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Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
I assume the poster in question was referring to this from the website.

Quote:

These elements are the foundation of our training:
• AIKI – soft and controlled art
• BU – technique of war
• JUTSU – our combative or Bushido (Way of the Warrior) origin
• TODE – applied hand and leg technique


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#355501 - 08/17/07 10:14 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Charles Mahan]
Charles Mahan Offline
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Registered: 06/14/04
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Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
I'd like to point out that I don't see any wrong with creating your own system and combining all sorts of different stuff to make it work. So long as you are honest about what you are doing. That certainly seems to be the case here. While he calls it Aikibujujutsu Ryu, which is certainly an odd name for a style, the website doesn't claim it is a legitimate Japanese Koryu or anything. So there is nothing wrong whatsoever with that.

My only real concern is not having any idea where his JSA training has come from. Swords are very dangerous weapons. They are designed to kill people. They are like guns which can't be unloaded and have no safety. You can quite literally cut off your fingers if you do something wrong. Much worse can go wrong.

What I'm getting at is that it really should be taught by people who have received some real training themselves. Especially if they intend to put live blades in the hands of new students who will then attempt to perform Iai. It's one thing to put a drawn sword in the hands of a newbie and have them swing it about. It's another thing entirely to try to teach that newbie how to do nukitsuke and noto with a live blade. I'm not saying it can't be done, but it should definitely be done with a qualified instructor handy to let the student know when they are doing something that might leave them with a crippling injury. I'm not saying this person isn't a qualified instructor, but what I've heard and read so far isn't promising. It would be nice to have some idea what his training history in Iai is. That's why I asked over at E-budo if anyone knew anything about him. Still waiting on a reply.
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#355502 - 08/17/07 12:25 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Charles Mahan]
cxt Offline
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Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5821
Loc: USA
Charles

I'm deeply cynical and suspcious at the best of times--that is a given.

But I've got some red-flags on the website itself.

Chief among them are:

1-No mention of exactly whom trained him, in exactly what in which he was trained, or for how long.

2-This little gem---"Our style was assoicated with a traditonal European System rooted in Japanese Aiki-Bujutsu for some 20 years, upon the death of its Soke, now stands alone."

Its all the stuff that it DOESN'T say that gives me pause. As does its very specificly vauge wording.

Like I said, I am cynical and deeply suspicious. Might mean nothing at all.
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I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#355503 - 08/17/07 12:35 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Charles Mahan]
Dereck Offline
Prolific

Registered: 10/04/04
Posts: 10413
Loc: Great White North
I've never go on E-Budo but I must have visited it many years ago as I could log in after I put my e-mail address in and it sent me my password. Nothing much there yet.

JPoor, I'm happy that you are feeling better by this and no matter what myself or others have said, it only matters about you. However I would just like to point out that as a person new to this you took just a small amount of time to figure this all out compared to the greater amount of time that this person has into this. Also I agree training with new people with real swords is fishy and something I have never heard of and would advise against. Even my nunchuck training we use the softer ones especially for beginners.

Earlier I pointed out that I felt this was "damage control". I work at a chemical company and I am involved in customer service so I know a lot about damage control. I feel that he probably is not a bad person but he also doesn't want a poor image of himself or his school to any potential students or any existing students. When faced with this problem he had to come clean or hide it and be bitten in the ass later with it. Again this is only my opinion but there are just too many red flags that go off for me. Again I am happy that things worked out in the end for you JPoor. You are the one that went through this and who the bottom line it should matter to.
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#355504 - 08/17/07 12:57 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: cxt]
jpoor Offline
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Loc: Fairfax, VA
as for # 2 That would be the World (or European, can't remember off the top of my head) Aikibujutsu Federation. I did a little searching on that recently, but didn't come up with a whole lot.

From what I understand, Mr. Anthony inherited the system from the former Soke (I've heard the name, but don't recall it as it wasn't a big part of daily class) I asked another student once, and they told me, but unless I write it down quickly I suffer from CRS sometimes.


I need to point out that I am not going to play the game of swaying opinion one way or another, but if there is an answer I can give, I'll give it.

The lack of obvious lineage caused me only minor concern at when I initially visited the school. Lineage doesn't make better MA as far as I'm concerned. A false lineage, however, comma, brings a whole other list of concerns (not saying any of his claims are false, just to be clear).

Mr. Anthony talks about lineage very rarely, and almost never in concrete terms. To give him credit though, I never said, who is your teacher and his, and his, etc etc.
The Aiki Bujutsu training made a lot of sense and was very well rounded. The thing that keeps me personally from returning for now is I can't deal with what I see as conflicting inconsistent instruction. I tried and was getting past some of it, but then this sword thing put me over the edge.

I'll explain:

There were several instances, but one or two will suffice. FIrst I have to say that I really do understand tweaks and adjustments made based on body type, strength, ability etc. In my mind these examples are not part of that.

Modern (or modified) fighting stance depending on which instructor was speaking. We're drilling and one of the senior students (a fairly new black belt) corrects my stance to a more "pigeon toed" position. That student walks off and one of the instructors comes up and "re-corrects" me right back to the way I was. Senior student # 2 comes by and "fixes" it to yet a different option. Back to the first student who gets frustrated and unhappy that he has to correct me again. It was almost a "you're not listening to me, get with it" vibe that I got, though that was never stated.

Next, jab from fighting stance. I almost never used a vertical fist, keep this in mind. Ok so instructor number one works on my jab and has me keep my fist at whatever angle it starts at in the guard up position. Not quite vertical, not quite horizontal, somewhere in the middle. The explanation is that this way is faster than rotating the fist. Ok I can try this for a while. So, I work to over come the muscle memory of rotating the fist. Along comes instructor #2 and says "I don't know what that is, that's not a jab, that might be some kind of goofy punch, but," etc etc.


Now, I'm not going to get into which version of each technique I prefer, there are many opinions on that matter. However, I feel fairly strongly that in the same school, the same techniques should be taught the same way by everyone, ESPECIALLY for something so basic. I addressed this and the answer was "they are really trying to help" (never doubted that, these are good people) and "different body types require different mechanics." Well, yes and no. If we're talking about a 110 pound person shoulder throwing a 280 pound person versus a 230 pound person throwing the same guy, ok I can buy that.
I can buy it at advanced levels, I'm not sure I can buy it for something as simple as the position of your fist for a jab.


I know that last bit was a bit off topic, but it was related in a way. I'm loathe to see another thread on this subject as I don't really go in for bashing a former instructor.


Edit: Dereck we must have been typing at the same time.

Bottom line, I'm still somewhat going through this. My life isn't ruined and I'm not wallowing in depression. I'm, however, still quite a bit upset over the matter.

As far as image goes, I'm sure there is something to that, it is after all a business. Knowing what I paid and what the gym took (60/40 in favor of the gym), though, there isn't a boatload of money being made. I would still recommend that anyone interested check out the school and make up their own mind. Personally, you couldn't drag me back to the sword class there, but the rest, maybe someday. There will be healing to do on both sides if that is ever to happen

On the subject of training with live blades, some very reputable instructors (some that helped me with the sword evaluation) have told me privately that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a live blade right from the start if done properly and safely. I know this is a hot topic for some, but it is not unheard of.






Edited by jpoor (08/17/07 01:05 PM)
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

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#355505 - 08/17/07 01:21 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
cxt Offline
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Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5821
Loc: USA
jpoor

I completely get what your saying.

You have to remember my deeply cynical nature--I'm not really joking when I cop to that.

Lineage certainly does not make a system automatically better--I have met people with MASSIVE credits in their CV of skills that can't teach worth a lick.

What bugs me is that if I was looking at somebodies resume--and they want me to hire them, which is pretty much the situation here--and they claimed a college degree and 20 years of training BUT, left OFF the actual school they went too and exactly where they worked, for how long, and with/under whom.

It just looks/feels weird and it stands out.

Most of my problem usually come down to how things get marketed.

The guy seems sincere--and his standing up over the sword snafu speaks well of him--or at worst his customer service is pretty good--which is NOT a bad thing.

The latter part of the post---sadly that is pretty "normal" there is pretty much always conflict between what a "senior student" and the head guy is going to tell you.

As a rule of thumb. do whatever the person standing in front of you is telling you--yeah, its irritating, but that is sometimes just what you have to do.

Or you can always POLITLY tell the person that your doing it as the head teacher TOLD you to do it--and ask THEM to help you clear up with the head teacher what your supposed to do.

Sometimes you have to get up-front with all the people trying to "help" you train.

Sometimes you have to CALMLY AND POLITLY tell whomever is standing in front of you that you paying a lot of your hard earned money to be hear and that guy says do it this way and this guy says do it that way--and you would really appreciate it if they could talk and get back back to you on how they want it done--please.

Sometimes it works wonders.


Edited by cxt (08/17/07 01:22 PM)
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I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#355506 - 08/17/07 01:30 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: cxt]
jpoor Offline
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Registered: 04/11/07
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Loc: Fairfax, VA
Maybe I was lucky, but I never had those type of conflicting instructions in my dojo in CA over a period of 5 years.

Even so, being that these were both new black belts, if we subscribe to the theory that BB is just the start I can understand. When were talking about the three actual instructors 8th, 6th and 4th Dan they need to be on the same sheet of music or at least be able to explain why they prefer a vertical fist over a horizontal one without saying what the other guy just taught you is total BS.

That's just my thought on it though.
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

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#355507 - 08/17/07 01:44 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
Charles Mahan Offline
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Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Quote:

Lineage doesn't make better MA as far as I'm concerned.




Well. I think lineage makes a lot more difference in a weapons art. You can muddle your way through with unarmed combat. You can puzzle things out on your own. Do a lot of sparring. Learn a few tricks, and especially if you have some natural talent, you can get to be pretty darn decent. Trial and error works, because while you may break a few bones, you aren't likely to get killed or maimed by accident.

Where unarmed arts differ from armed arts, particularly sword arts, is in the ability, or rather inability to test ideas. You can't really go out and pick a fight with another swordsman to put your ideas to the test with a real opponent. That used to be possible, but it's not anymore. So you can make things up all day long. They will make sense intellectually, and you will never have any idea if they are actually viable techniques. Creating a viable sword art from scratch, or synthesizing one based on unarmed concepts is all but impossible. Thus it is useful to understand the details of an instructors sword art background.

Then there are the safety issues. Accidents happen. Even to the very well trained. There was a gentleman in California who was a quite accomplished battojutsu guy who cut his thumb off. No urban myth. That actually happened. Then there was the incident of the guy who ran his arm through a couple of years ago and nearly killed himself in the process. Then there was the guy who ended up with a punctured lung when he let a newbie try doing some cutting in his backyard. That was talked about over at kendo world recently. Mind these types of injuries are really quite rare. But they are mostly rare because usually there is a qualified instructor handy to keep an eye on things and make sure students aren't doing something stupid. In order to know what to keep an eye out for, you have to have been trained. Thus the issue of lineage ends up playing more of a roll.

Now I'm not saying that someone can't start with no JSA training and create their own style and end up with something that is worth training in and with the ability to run class in a safe manner. What I am saying is that the odds are very low. And why would anyone bother when there are perfectly good instructors around? Instructors who do have the training in arts that have been proven by previous generations.


Quote:


On the subject of training with live blades, some very reputable instructors (some that helped me with the sword evaluation) have told me privately that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a live blade right from the start if done properly and safely. I know this is a hot topic for some, but it is not unheard of.




Therein lies the catch. That's why a proper instructor is necessary, particularly if you intend to put live blades in the hands of newbies. I've a pretty good idea of what would happen if I started having new students try to use a live blade in class. Now I could compromise the curriculum. Have everyone shorten their swords by a couple of inches. Pay close attention to what they are doing during noto. Lean forward instead of doing proper saya-biki etc. I can make it safer. Probably not safe enough, but safer. But of course, then I wouldn't be teaching the techniques properly. I would be ingraining some very bad habbits that would likely get the student killed in a real fight.

So yes it is possible, but no I'm not eager to try it, and while it is posisble and is done by some, it is also VERY rare. Particularly within the Iai world where the very act of nukitsuke and noto put the practitioner in no small amount of danger if they don't get things right. As I've said all along, this was not enough to be damning, but it is a red flag. Something worth checking up on.
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Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#355508 - 08/17/07 01:50 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Charles Mahan]
jpoor Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
I agree 100% on the weapons side. I didn't really state that I guess as I got off on the unarmed tangent a bit.

On a happier note, I will be going Saturday to visit a well established Sword class
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

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#355509 - 08/17/07 02:27 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5821
Loc: USA
Actually knowing that these guys were all highly ranked bothers me less.

Sure there needs to be a standard and yes they all should be on the same page.

But after many years people's arts tend to get a bit ideosyncratic, they tend to get the same place in slightly different ways.

Brand new BB on the other hand, the tendency is to follow a ridged "this is how its done" kinda plan.

(Please note I said "tendency" I certainly don't mean "everyone" here. )

I fully agree however that the teachers all need to be more or less on the same page.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#355510 - 08/17/07 02:54 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: cxt]
Raul Perez Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 08/08/02
Posts: 2805
Loc: Lake Ronkonkoma, NY, USA
In actual training avoid being overly theoretical or technical. As this will create a weakness.
_________________________
"I'm gonna come at you like a spider monkey"

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#355511 - 08/19/07 05:33 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Raul Perez]
jpoor Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
Well, I visited a Nakamura Ryu class on Saturday, and will visit a Mugai Ryu class on Wednesday barring any surprises. It was interesting to see and handle the swords and iaitios that are in use at the dojo.

I imagine that I'll be more into the Mugai Ryu as it is more formal and traditional. Since I won't be carrying a sword around for SD on a daily basis, the formality and tradition appeals to me. Of course I realize that this is also an effective art in the sense that it has been tried and tested in times when swords were actually used.

There are a lot of principles that should enhance my unarmed training in either art
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

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