Monday, 23 November 2009

With respect to swords

I have enjoyed my fencing beginner's course with Cambridge Sword but something I find amazing, shocking and at the same time fascinating is the complete disregard for the weapon as an object of beauty, of spirit and as something to be respected.

At the start of the lesson we collect our equipment from the main 'Salle' and transport it over to the smaller one. This entails bringing a bunch of foils which are more often than not unceremoniously dumped on the floor and sometimes kicked into a corner! I understand that in fencing this is simply seen as another piece of equipment but having trained in iaido where the blade should be shown respect it shocks me a little.

The katana or indeed the iaito can be something of beauty and article to be loved in some way. Respect must be shown not only for spiritual reasons but for practical reasons: it's a weapon and deadly! Cleaning, caring and ensuring safety is paramount. The idea of using the sword sensibly is referred to as Satsu jin ken, katsu jin ken or life giving sword, life taking sword. A sword irresponsibly wielded can lead to death and destruction whereas a sword user with good intentions can use his or her sword to 'give' life.


Sue C said...

Hi Chris. I absolutely agree with you. A good sword must be pretty expensive to buy but money aside its an object of beauty and great craftsmanship and should be respected. In fact I think this of all martial arts equipment - even the gi. I'm always surprised by the number of people who turn up in old tatty stained gis, or fail to tie their belts correctly. They just look a mess.

Littlefair said...

The dogi (dobohk in Korean) is an interesting area actually. I think many martial artists like to cling on to their 'original' gi or belt because of some quaint idea of nostalgia. Some say it contains Ki but I think it sounds a lot like superstition to me.

Besides I *love* a nice, harsh new dobohk! My preferred in the past has been Blitz Tournament Silver.


Sue C said...

I'm an Arawaza fan myself - medium weight cotton, Japanese fit (ie. shorter legs and sleeves), don't trip myself up that way!