I really need to work on the niceties of my reiho.

Not just because I could fail a grading for bad reiho faster than I would for mistakes in the waza, but also because it bothers me that it not nearly as tidy and precise as it should be. Reiho is the most important thing. I'm not kidding when I say that you could fail a grading for bad reiho even if your waza are perfect. It counts for far more than anything else. Bad reiho means bad manners and lack of respect.

During the koryu form of the kneeling part of reiho, one must grasp grasp the middle of the saya with the left hand, and the tsuba with the right, in such a way that every time I do it I feel like I'm going to pitch forward on my face. It's the left hand part that does me in, because I have no issue with the seitei form of this part of reiho. I don't think anyone's noticed it yet, but in order to make sure I don't pitch forward, when I have my left hand down to grasp the saya, I actually place the heel of the hand on the floor briefly and put a little weight on it, then kind of push myself back up, because I don't think I can get back up otherwise. If the sword were a little closer than it is, I could probably manager it properly; but it's got to be far enough out that I can bow to it without touching it or the sageo. In the kneel part of Muso Shinden reiho, though, the angle of the sword relative to the body is much greater than in the seitei form, and the tsuba is in line with your right knee. In the seitei form the angle is less and the tsuba is out past your knee. Maybe it's the right hand part  after all, because I'm leaning farther out.

Either way, It's not elegant; nor is my seitei reiho.

These videos discuss seitei reiho. I couldn't find any that detail koryu. I should bug my sensei into making some.

Were I a higher ranked person than I am, getting my thumb back inside the loops of the sageo might matter more; but I've been led to understand that Muso Shinden may be a little more lax on that point than Jikiden is. I have never been dinged for not getting my thumb back in; but they do expect us to grasp the sageo tidily.

The holding of the end of the sageo against the saya with the left hand during standing reiho is an old-fashioned way to do it. We now have to get it into the right hand; but since it's been almost a year since my ikkyu grading, I'll be jiggered if I can remember how I used to do that. During class I do kneeling reiho, but during grading - since I do all my waza standing - I do standing reiho as well.

We think of the sageo in thirds, so when you're gathering the sageo in the left hand so that the ends of it hang below the loops, the easiest way to do so is to slide your hand along the saya with the sageo in it, and when you get to the end of the saya, you grasp the sageo at that point then loop it up to your thumb. That about thirds it.

I read somewhere that the reason we angle the blade in front of us, is that were we training while the emperor was present, while in the phase of reiho where we'd be on our knees bowing to the sword, the emperor would be seated to our left, and it is treason to point the end of the blade at the emperor. So, we angle it away.

We also have a couple of things we do in my dojo during reiho that I don't think happen in other schools. One of them I've mentioned before, that when putting the blade on the right side to bow to sensei, we turn the ha (cutting edge) outwards, rather than towards us. This is considered a more agressive posture. Another thing we do is more bows. In our dojo the bowing process is:

1 - gather the sword and sageo in the left hand, turn towards the kamiza, move the sword to the right hand with the cutting edge facing downwards, and bow standing, move the sword back to the left hand.

2 - kneel, move the sword to the right hand and place it as we would were we bowing to sensei, and bow to the kamiza kneeling.

3 - staying on your knees, grasp the sword in your right hand (without picking it up completely), and turn towards sensei while keeping the sword at your right side, bow to sensei, and while doing so say "Onegai shimasu". That phrase has a lot of meanings, but in this context it's like "please let me train with you" or "please teach me".

4 - in the proper prescribed manner depending on whether you're doing seitei or koryu, bring the sword in front of you while you remain kneeling, and bow to it; then in the prescribed manner depending on seitei or koryu, pick it up and place it in your belt.

At the end of class we do it all again; but in reverse.

It's that second bow to the kamiza - the kneeling one - that's not always done elsewhere; and would certainly not be done during a grading. During a grading you'd bow standing to the judges, bow to your sword (kneeling or standing), and get on with it. Next grading for me, whenever it'll be, is for shodan - when they actually expect more from you than just making sure you do the waza in order and don't drop your sword. Also, don't make faces. Making a face is frowned upon, no pun intended. Be your best stoic self.

2017 08 13 - 20:05

, ,