12/21/2012 3:05pm, #1
Unarmed ko-ryu kata representing armed kata (?)
My Bartitsu club has been experimenting with some of the jujitsu kata detailed in E.W. Barton-Wright's 1899 article series "The New Art of Self Defence".
We don't know much about the ryu represented in these pictures, which were among the first technical photographs known to have been taken of the Japanese martial arts. However, a number of the unarmed techniques seem to be most plausible as stylized representations of kenjutsu waza, especially counters to having your sword-arm seized as you're drawing your katana.
The text reads:
The four little photographs produced herewith show a very pretty and effectual method of overthrowing an assailant who seizes you by the right wrist with both hands.
As soon as your arm is seized, as shown in the first photograph. you raise your hand in front of your chest towards your left shoulder. But if your opponent is too heavy and strong to admit of your doing this, you must step slightly towards him with your right foot and bend your knees sufficiently to admit of your hand being nearly level with your left shoulder.
Then straighten your knees and turn sideways to him. You will at once feel that you can break his hold whenever you please. Directly this stage has been reached, re-arrange your feet in such a way that you may exert your strength to the best advantage in the direction you desire - i.e., so that you may easily throw your assailant off with a sweep of the arm. But before using your strength, bend your knees well, in order to be well under your work. Then, with a vigorous movement of your arm, accompanied by the lifting movement supplied by straightening your knees, you throw him off his balance, and turn him partly round, so that your right hand comes in front of his face.
Now take a long step behind him with your left foot, seize him by the chin with your right hand, and by the back of the head with your left hand. Then, by bringing your left foot back again with a long stride behind your right, you impart a circular twist to your assailant's head and neck, which will throw him heavily upon his back.
My question is, was this type of "swordless sword kata" known to have been practiced in Japanese martial arts schools during the latter part of the 19th century, and are there any similar examples?
12/22/2012 10:55am, #2
Although I can't speak for the specific ryu-ha, these types of techniques are quite generic when you consider the weapons used in previous era.
katatedori (wrist control or grabs) typicality seen in jujustu and of course aikido waza were the historical legacies of carrying bladed weapons, its therefore not surprising to see techniques which attempt to control the right arm.
In terms of practicalities, if someone isn't carrying a long or short sword, then the nature of arm control or partial imobilisation as seen in the illustrations (morote dori) isn't really relevant other than maintaining a connection to the old school ways.
Therefore; the resulting technique which is shown again isn't entirely relevant because in a modern swordless society, who in the right mind would want to double grab an arm in the way ?
That said, yes, these techniques still exist in Koryu and gendai budo in one form or another.
Last edited by Rock Ape; 12/22/2012 11:30am at ."To sin by silence when one should protest makes cowards out of men".
12/22/2012 10:34pm, #3
That's pretty much what we figured, thanks. Do you know of any specific cites of unarmed kata that represent counters to a sword-arm seizure?
12/23/2012 5:06am, #4
I can put you in contact with one of a couple of friends living and training in Japan who are far more knowledgeable than I.
Let me check they don't mind me providing you with an email addy and I'll comeback to you."To sin by silence when one should protest makes cowards out of men".
12/24/2012 8:30am, #5
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Just to chime in a bit. There are numerous kata within Hontai Takagi Yoshin Ryu Okuden (Muto Dori section) that deal with counters to having your sword arm grabbed and also disarming the person with the short sword or long sword.
Quite a few of the ryu ha have these techniques with in them.
Merry Christmas to everyone.
12/25/2012 2:38am, #6
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Damn. Troy beat me to it. :-/
Yes. In Takagi Yoshin ryu, there are a lot of kata against sword seizing. There's even a type of hidden weapon that is a reversed bladed wakizashi used to counter sword seizing.
12/25/2012 8:37pm, #7
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There's already been good replies, but I'll see if I can add anything (although almost exclusively from an aikido perspective, so take with a bag or two of salt).
I've been told that the double wrist grab / morotedori is to be considered way out on the "exercise" end of the exercise-application spectrum. It allows uke to increase the effect of their one handed grab for tori to train with, used similarily to having two ukes take the same grip on the same arm. For that reason, some people consider it a little rude to show the atemi in the morotedori techniques ("Hey, don't put that fist anywhere near me, I was kind enough to do this silly grab that doesn't let me parry it").
Some people practise tori starting with the elevated elbow as a further test, but as you point out it could well be to simulate uke blocking a sword draw. However, from my limited experience of drawing if the saya is mobile enough in the obi then the elbow shouldn't be elevated during the draw (RockApe or somone else can give a better view of types of drawing it the elevated elbow is common in any ryu's view).
The elevated elbow style morotedori is also similiar to sankyo / kote hineri / upward spiralling forearm control. If the ryu practise this and/or expect to meet others who practise it that could be another possibility.
The subsequent pictures in the example suggest to me that this is not being practised here as a weapon retention. Since tori is keeping his hips square to uke and has thumb towards chest instead of thumb down: it looks like the attempted draw is being at best abandoned for the empty handed techniques, at worst leaves the weapon unsecured.
To balance that view, the first batto in TSKSR has a jerk back to the left shoulder, all be it from a differeent start, which can be seen as part of a weapon retention.
Another way that the 2-on-1 grab is practised by some is with the hand held behind tori, which could either be for a practical grab from behind in a group attack or as a further check handicap tori's power so they can work on technique.