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  1. #1
    FinalLegion's Avatar
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    Question about swordsmanship...

    Hey there folks. As I only have a very passing and tertiary knowledge when it comes Japanese sword arts, there's a question I'd like to ask.

    When blocking with a sword (specifically a katana), do you ever use the edge to block a strike? We see this in film and television all the time but is that how one would actually block a strike?

  2. #2

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    Question about swordsmanship...

    There's different schools of thought on that. I've seen people block with the sharp edge, claiming it's because it's the hardest part of the sword... and I've seen people say that's ludicrous. Both sides adamant in their belief.

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    Fuzzy's Avatar
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    Major can of worms across the board for weapons styles.

    This guy makes a bunch of great points on the debate(He's HEMA not JMA): https://www.youtube.com/user/scholag...at+in+parrying

    Basically what he's saying, and what my view is, is that you're goning block with whatever you need to block with in the situation, to avoid dying.

    From a Japanese standpoint I've trained Aiki-ken with two different instructors, one taught us to parry with the flat or the spine, the other didn't care.

    As far as FMA goes Doce Pares doesn't seem to care, at least in my experience of it. The one Illustrisimo lesson I had at a seminar strongly emphasized flat-parrying.

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    Correct me if in wrong, but isn't the mune the softest part of a shinken? Not sure I'd want to block with that. Also, it seems like taking the time to twist the sword so the spine is blocking would be a huge waste of time - for the blocking and readjusting to counter - plus the tsuka would be unwieldy and insecure in your hand. At least I would think so. Some of the more "combat oriented" sword styles I've been exposed to emphasized control and minimized movement. A lot of the blocks for overhead strikes were done at an angle reminiscent to how you would use a sharpening/honing steel on a chefs knife.

  5. #5
    Chili Pepper's Avatar
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    I was taught to avoid hitting edge-on-edge for a few reasons - one being, that as the thinnest profile part of the blades, it is possible for the two blades to "lock" together when they notch each other.

    That said, if there was a blade swinging at my head, I'll block with whatever happens to be the most expedient.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chili Pepper View Post

    That said, if there was a blade swinging at my head, I'll block with whatever happens to be the most expedient.
    Exactly my thoughts, lol.

    I get theory behind the edge being the hardest so you should block with it, but that also makes it the most brittle. I have Japanese chefs knives, made similarly to swords, and they are notorious for their sharpness and brittleness (I was honing mine wrong and it's got some chips in the blade edge).

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    Quote Originally Posted by daishi View Post
    Correct me if in wrong, but isn't the mune the softest part of a shinken?
    I'm sure you're right (Its been a long time since I've done anything Japanese sword related). The spine blocking could've been a misunderstanding on my part, or it could've been lack of blade knowledge from the instructor, I just remember being taught it.

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    I've seen people do it before. I can't remember who or where - but it struck me as real odd. It just looked odd, uncomfortable, slow, and unsound.

  9. #9
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    W. Rabbit's Avatar
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    I don't know much about Japanese swordplay, but Chinese saberplay is similar in that the edge is for cutting and slashing (vs stabbing)...that can be your opponent or his weapon. In a life or death situation like real sword fighting, like fuzzy said, whatever keeps your head on your shoulders.

    There are some advantages of using the side of the blade to block vs the blade...but that may be my own style talking...the Single Moon saber form that I learned includes a lot of 1-2 combinations that involve blocking with the side immediately continued by a slash with the blade. Blocking with the edge first would interrupt the "flow" of the slashing technique.

  10. #10
    Chili Pepper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daishi View Post
    Correct me if in wrong, but isn't the mune the softest part of a shinken? Not sure I'd want to block with that.
    When we say "softest", it doesn't mean the spine of the blade is Silly Putty. First of all, it's still steel, and second, the difference in the hardness between the spine and edge is minute.

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