Kenjutsu Archives

Wednesday August 22, 2007


Spent the first half of class watching a video of some Nakamura exponents doing Toyama-Ryu kata, then the second half of class doing the kata.

1 - Enemy to the front
2 - Enemy to right side
3 - Enemy to left side
4 - Enemy behind

I need to get some practice in outside of class, since I haven't been making it in enough to stay in good condition or keep my form. I've asked my sensei for a copy of the dvd we watched so that I can get them down before we move back to Kendo.

Saturday August 4, 2007

Making Steel

Helped my sensei make some steel today. This was his first time with a new smelter so he wasn't sure how well it would turn out. He started at 7AM and went till about 3PM, loading in charcoal and iron oxide every 10 minutes. To get the steel out we had to disassemble the smelter, brick by brick. By the end he was exhausted and I took over and tore the thing apart. 100 degree weather, boots, pants, long sleeves, gloves, hat, pulling molten steel out of a 2000 degree charcoal pit. It was a bit warm.

About 6 lbs. of steel out of 30 lbs. of iron ore and 110 lbs. of charcoal. Not quite as much as he was hoping for, but enough for a sword. Hopefully he'll have pictures and video we took of the whole process up on his website soon.

Wednesday August 1, 2007

Whackey Smacks

Was just 3 of us tonight so we worked on tachiuchi, which we haven't done in a long time. Went over some of the old Shinkendo stuff like uichi-komi, tsuki-komi, uichi-tsuki and juppon. Took a minute or two to remember them but my muscle memory is better than that of my mind apparently, because once we started going I had most of the motions down already.

My sensei is going to have a smelting this weekend, so I'm going to spend a few hours helping him make some more steel before heading to the gym. It should be educational.

Thursday July 26, 2007

Bamboo FTW

Finally got the pictures off my camera. At least one of them came out okay, showing the new koshirae with the blade.

Wednesday June 20, 2007

More Cutting Crazyness

My accuracy is getting better. I tried some multiple yokogiri as well as alternating kesagiri and was getting them pretty close to where I wanted them.

Something to work on. Now that I'm getting better at putting my cuts where I want them, I need to speed it up.

Still having some problems with power. My arms were still aching from my MT class earlier, so that definitely didn't help.

Really need to work on doing a string of cuts in a row, particularly alternating yokogiri. I'm able to get the first cut, but seem to flub the second one every time.

Wednesday May 2, 2007

I Have an Expensive Hobby - Part 2

I really suck at taking pictures. I tried to also get some shots of the blade + tsuba together, but the battery has died on my camera and I have yet to find the charger.

I had an entirely new tsuba constructed by the Fred Lohman Company. While it took a while to get it back, it was definately worth the wait. Fred did a fantastic job and exceeded even my high expectations.

If you can't tell from the pictures, I continued with the bamboo theme with bamboo fuchi/kashira, gold bamboo leaf menuki, a bamboo leaf tsuba and a green silk tsuka-ito.

Wednesday April 25, 2007

Yoko is my bitch

Got the fucking yoko-giri finally, on my first try. Subsequently nailed it 4-5 times each on both sides as if I'd been doing it for years. I was celebrating so much that my class made me a certificate on the fly and gave it to me "1st Consistent Yoko-Giri" , I'm going to have that fucker framed.

The issue was power. I just wasn't putting enough effort into the cut. This time I just let the shit have it and it went through no problem. My shinken cuts like a dream.

Next goal is the yama gata pattern, consisting of kesa - kesa/kesa/kiriage/kesa - yoko. Tried and got the first 5 just fine, but I'll need work on my kesa-yoko transition.

Wednesday April 18, 2007

All it takes is the right blade

Cut for the first time tonight with my new shinken. The thing is fucking sharp, had no trouble with kesa or kiriage. I tried a lot of yoko-giri and came very close to completely severing it, but I feel a lot more confident than I did before. I believe I'm getting close to getting it. More tameshigiri next week in prep for the upcoming demo. I'll be doing just kesa/kiriage.

Wednesday March 14, 2007

Damn You Yoko Giri

Just suburi and battodo tonight, for tameshigiri practice. I need a lot of work on my yoko giri, and while practicing some one-armed swings I ended up throwing my shoulder off whack and felt off the rest of the night.

Yoko Giri
* Arm should be fully extended, no bent elbow
* Feet should be angled 35 degrees towards the blade when starting
* Feet should be angled 35 degrees towards blade (ie, direction of swing) when finished
* Power and speed are vital.
* Don't scoop upwards at end of swing, it will throw hasugi off

Friday February 2, 2007

I Have an Expensive Hobby

Katana by Kurihara Nobuhide
Kurihara Nobuhide was a famous swordsmith known as a pupil of Yama-ura
Kiyomaro. Nobuhide was born in Echigo province, present Niigata pref. He
changed from a mirror maker to a swordsmith in middle age. In this context,
he was also good at horimono carving on the blade. He was a swordsmith of
ability. The Emperor Meiji ordered him to forge a special sword to dedicate
the Minatogawa Shrine founded in 1869. The Meiji Government ordered Nobuhide
to exhibit traditional Japanese sword a world's fair in Vienna in 1873.

He lived in his hometown for the rest of his days and passed away in 1880.
One theory holds that he committed suicide in a similar situation of his
master Kiyomaro.

This is one of his excellent work made in 1859.

It has a beautiful bamboo horimono on one side and a bonji character with
bohi on the other.

On the other side is a short bo-hi and the character for "wisdom".

All that being said, we're pretty sure it's actually a forgery (gimei) from the early 1900s. There's a slight difference in the signature compared to other works by the same smith that we've seen. If a forgery, they definately put a lot of effort into it, since the nakago appears to be the right age and the horimono (carving) was probably harder and more time consuming than everything else. If it was authentic, it would have been well out of my price range.

This is going to be my cutter once I get new koshirae. It's sharp as all fuck and the blade is in great shape besides a couple minor nicks in the kissaki. I don't believe the existing furniture actually goes with the blade, it feels very loose so I'm going to get it all redone.

Thursday January 18, 2007

How Do Yoko Giri

Did some tamishigiri in sword class last night. Cut 5 makiwara, I seem to do better the less I think about it. I really need my own shinken so I can get in the backyard and do some cutting on my own time. I'll never get anywhere cutting 4 or 5 every 3 months.

Points to remember :

* The lower the target, the sharper the cutting angle
* Follow through, I try to stop too early and lose power before I'm done cutting

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